Hi, allow me to share some knowledge that will help you maintain or improve your dental health.
We all know that your body needs the proper amount and type of nutrition to stay healthy and perform important functions for daily life which includes fighting infections. A well-balanced diet is the key to providing the body with such nutrients and has an important role in promoting overall health and wellness. Your oral cavity represents the first step of your digestive pathway which is responsible for the uptake of those nutrients into your body. Your dental health relies on proper nutrients from your digestion such as vitamins, minerals and proteins to maintain the health of your oral tissues such as your bone, mucosa and gingiva. These oral tissues then maintain the health of your teeth.
The most important step is having regular dental appointments to make sure that you have a healthy dentition allowing you to chew your food properly. Missing teeth or not having healthy teeth will impair your ability to chew your food and therefore stress your digestive system. Your oral cavity has an important role in making your food smaller and starting the digestion with enzymes from your saliva; therefore, supporting your stomach and intestine in the digestion of food and uptake of nutrients.
Always choose fresh and healthy food whenever you can, ideally directly from the farm, a local farmer’s market or from the fresh food section of your local market. Highly processed food tends to have a lot of sugar, salt and preservatives added to make them taste good and last on your store’s shelf for a long time without spoiling. Fresh food is much healthier for you.
Reduce Food High in Sugar
The type of food you eat is really important. We are currently facing an epidemic of fast food which tends to be low in good nutrition and high in sugar and starch. Sugar in carbonated soda drinks is damaging your teeth by causing cavities. The problem with sugar is that it feeds the oral bacterial that cause dental decay or cavities. Even though a lot of food contains some form of sugar you should avoid foods that are high in sugar. You should start the habit of reading the nutrition label of the foods you buy. These high sugar items should not be a food staple. You can eat them on special occasions as a treat.
Reduce Acid in Your Mouth
Most foods tend to be acidic and our teeth are made of calcium. Calcium will dissolve in an acidic environment. Hence, acidic food will allow for demineralization of calcium in the enamel of your teeth. This is a problem because it will make it easier for the oral bacteria to create cavities in those demineralized tooth surfaces. Normally we have a neutral pH of 7 in our oral cavity. Acidic food will result in that pH to drop and if it gets below 5.5 then the calcium in your teeth becomes weak and you start to develop a lot of cavities. Luckily our saliva is a buffer system. It will quickly neutralize the oral acids within about 20 minutes after you eat. Because of that you should brush your teeth after you eat and then give the saliva a chance to re-establish a neutral pH by not eating anything or drinking anything other than water until your next meal. If you snack every 15 minutes on something sugary or take sips of carbonated soda then your oral cavity will always be in an acidic state because your saliva will not have enough time to establish a neutral oral environment. Sip on water instead of soda in between meals. The time plays an important role in this. It is okay once in a while to have a treat and consume sugary food or soda, but not every day and not all day or your teeth will pay the price.
Here are my Tips
- Eat a variety of foods from each of the five major food groups to maintain a balanced diet: Milk, Meat Vegetable, Grain and Fruit.
- Try not to snack between meals and if you do then choose healthy snacks such as cheese, raw vegetables, plain yogurt or a piece of fruit.
- Slowly reduce your daily sugar intake. For example reduce the sugar in your coffee by 50% to start with and then slowly eliminate it completely several weeks later. Use spices to make foods that are low in sugar more fun for the first few weeks until you get used to less sugar.
- Try to sip water or ice tea without sugar instead of drinking soda.
- Reserve your sugary or acidic foods such as chocolate, candy or soda for special occasions once or twice a week, but don’t eat them all day long. Remember, you need to limit the time your teeth are exposed to sugar and acid.
- Brush your teeth after lunch or chew a sugar free chewing gum to increase your salivary flow and help reduce the time your mouth is in the dangerous acidic state.
- Take care of your teeth and your teeth will take care of you.
Article written by SBNC’s Chief Dental Officer Domenic M. Caluori DMD