To feel right, it’s important to eat right. That means a balanced diet full of foods that provide you, and your family, with the proper amounts of protein, carbohydrates, fat, vitamins, minerals and water.
If you don’t, your teeth will suffer. The tissues in your mouth will have a harder time resisting infection. You’ll be more susceptible to gum disease. Your children’s oral health will be forever compromised -especially if they don’t get the proper nutrients during the first three years of their lives.
Even if you eat right, your oral health could still be in danger. Most foods provide nourishment for bacteria in the mouth. Bacteria feed on sugar and turn it into acids that erode your teeth, which can lead to cavities. This doesn’t mean you should eliminate sugar from your diet. Just use carbohydrates – sugars and cooked starches – wisely and in moderation.
Carbohydrates aren’t the only decay-causing foods you need to be aware of. Here are some dos and don’ts for good dental health.
- Do watch what you eat. Sticky foods such as raisins, dates, dried fruits and chewy candy hold acid against teeth for a long time and increase your risk for dental decay.
- Don’t be a snack master. Every time you eat, acids attack your teeth for at least 20 minutes. The more often you snack, the more often you let that nasty acid loose.
- Don’t be a sucker for sugar. Do you spend the day popping breath mints, sucking on hard candy or sipping soda pop? If you constantly have a sugary food or beverage in your mouth, you’re giving those nasty acids permission to wreak havoc with your teeth.
- Do eat rounded meals. For the best dental health, carbohydrates should be eaten as part of a complete meal.
More Nutritional Musings
The National Dairy Council offers the following tips for keeping your – and your family’s – gums healthy and your teeth cavity free:
- Follow a nutritionally balanced diet with a variety of foods from the five major food groups: fruits; vegetables; breads, cereals and other grain products; milk, cheese and yogurt; and meat, poultry, fish or dry beans, peas, eggs and nuts.
- Limit between meal snacks. If you do snack, choose anti-cavity and nutritious foods such as cheese, plain yogurt, fruit, raw vegetables, peanuts, popcorn and peanut butter.
- Combine decay-causing foods, such as cookies and candy, with nutritious ones, like milk and cheese.
- Visit your dentist at least once every six months, brush with fluoride toothpaste and floss daily.
- Talk to your dentist about applying dental sealants to your child’s teeth
- Never allow infants or young children to fall asleep with a bottle of juice or milk.
- Water is always best at a child’s bedtime or naptime.
Another Reason To Drink Your Milk
According to the Journal of Dental Research, adults who drink three servings of milk each day have lots to smile about. They’re not only building strong bones, they’re keeping their smiles healthy. Researchers found that adults (especially those ages 20-39) who were not meeting their calcium recommendations were at greater risk for developing gum disease than their milk-drinking counterparts. To keep your gums healthy, you should try to get at least 1,000 milligrams of calcium a day, the equivalent of at least three servings of milk or foods from the milk group.
Don’t Forget That Toothbrush
While eating right is important, be sure to brush and floss daily, and use a fluoride toothpaste or rinse to keep your smile shining brightly.