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How a Healthy Diet Can Improve Your Oral Health

If you view the body as a complex machine, and the food you eat as what fuels that machine, it becomes easier to understand how what a person eats effects their overall health. What you eat affects more than how much energy you have, and whether or not you feel sluggish. The food you eat also affects the health of your teeth and gums.

Never has the human diet contained more sugar than what people eat today. Whether it’s candy bars, sodas, sweetened fruit drinks, or other non-nutritious snacks, the excess sugar people put into their bodies can cause long term problems for their teeth and gums. But what concerns dentists the most is that many people don’t realize the how their diets can affect the health of their teeth.

A Sweet Dilemma
Diets high in sugar provide fuel for the sticky bacteria in your mouth known as plaque. Whenever you ingest sugar, the plaque in your mouth begins producing acid that eats away at your teeth’s enamel for at least 20 minutes. The more sugar you eat, the more acid attacks your teeth, and the weaker your teeth and gums become. Plaque occurs naturally in everyone’s mouth, and these types of acid attacks are entirely natural. But due to the higher amounts of sugar in today’s diets, the frequency of these type of attacks happen more often, which leads to a higher rate of tooth decay and gum disease in children and adults.

Brushing and flossing help to combat the damage plaque inflicts on your teeth and gums, which is why your dentist always recommends taking your oral health seriously. Brushing helps to remove excess plaque and food particles from your teeth and washes away harmful acids. Flossing removes food particles plaque can use as fuel that get trapped in-between your teeth and gum line where your brush can not reach. Combined, brushing and flossing help keep your teeth and gums healthy and strong. However, the problems with many modern diets is how often people consume sugar outside of eating a regular meal.

Constant snacking throughout the day provides plaque with plenty of fuel to attack your teeth and gums. Even if you brush in the morning after breakfast, and again after dinner, each soda, cookie, power bar, or sweetened cup of coffee you drink in-between those meals can cause damage to your teeth. Remember, every time you consumer sugar, plaque produces acid. So snacking three of four times a day means your teeth experience over an hour’s worth of damage. Repeating this behavior over several months or years, and you begin to experience the serious effects of tooth decay.

A Healthier Alternative
By controlling and monitoring your diet, you can help ensure your teeth and gums remain healthy. You can do this in several ways:
    •    Eat a variety of foods to ensure a balanced diet. Fruits and vegetables contain lower levels of sugar than starches and carbohydrates, so be sure to maintain an equal balance to keep a lower sugar intake. 
    •    Reduce the number of times you snack throughout the day. Whenever you do snack, eat a piece of fruit, a serving of vegetables, some yogurt, or a slice of cheese instead of reaching for that candy bar or can of soda. 
    •    Foods not eaten as part of a larger meal do more damage to your teeth because your mouth produces more saliva during bigger meals that helps to wash away excess food particles and plaque acids. If you can’t brush immediately after a snack, rinse your mouth out with water instead. 
    •    Maintain your schedule of brushing and flossing, and be sure to schedule regular appointments with your dentist for checkups and cleanings. 
Not only will this type of diet help your teeth and gums, it will also help improve your overall health.

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