Most of us know that eating a balanced diet is important for good health. From our parents and teachers to doctors and commercials, the message is everywhere that what we eat and drink plays a role in how our bodies function. But what you may not know is that what you choose to consume can also affect your oral health. We’re passionate about smiles here at Brady & Ford Orthodontics, but that’s only one part of our mission here. We’re committed to helping our patients improve the health of their teeth and gums, too!
One way that we’re able to achieve this is through orthodontic treatment, of course, but a nutritious diet is also an important part of that process. As an orthodontic patient, maintaining oral health is even more imperative than usual. To help you gain a better understanding of how nutrition and oral health are linked, we’ve put together some expert information on how your diet can protect your teeth or negatively affect them. We’ve also included some tips on what you can do to maintain a happy, healthy mouth, so keep reading to find out more!
Did you know that nutrition can affect our oral health before we’re ever even born? It’s true! The nutrients that an expectant mother consumes, such as calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus, and protein, help a baby’s teeth begin to form and mineralize properly. This is a process that continues throughout our lives. Our teeth will develop and mineralize throughout our teen years, while the oral tissues never stop recycling. However, a variety of vitamins and minerals are needed in order to accomplish this successfully.
Good nutrition isn’t just a building block of oral health. It’s also a preventative measure! Nutritional deficiencies can reduce your resistance to dental disease, and inhibit your body’s ability to fight certain kinds of infection. And while your diet can help prevent tooth decay and enamel erosion, the reverse is true, too. Human mouths are naturally hospitable to many different kinds of bacteria, and not all of them are helpful. As a matter of fact, many of these harmful microorganisms actually thrive on any added sugar in your diet.
When bad bacteria begin processing ingested sugar, acids are produced that can eat into the enamel of your teeth. This can set the stage for cavities, loose and even lost teeth, and is a big reason why we encourage patients to avoid consuming too much added sugar in their diets.
Starch-rich staples like bread, rice, and potatoes can be excellent sources of healthy vitamins and minerals, along with whole grains, vegetables, and fruit. Many of them are safe for braces, too. However, even naturally occurring sugar can cause dental issues when it is consumed in large enough quantities. Moderation is key when it comes to any kind of sugar!
Take a look at some specific examples of choices that can give you a stronger smile and improve your oral health:
Milk and other dairy products
Not that anyone needs an excuse to eat cheese, but dairy products can be excellent snacks since they’re full of calcium to keep bones and teeth healthy and strong.
Whole grain bread and pastas
Certain whole grains contain complex carbohydrates that can give bad bacteria less digestible food to grow on. There are also many different nutrients that help your whole mouth stay healthy.
Chicken, red meat, and fatty fish
Protein may be the star of the show here, but these foods also contain phosphorus, a vital component when it comes to strengthening your teeth and protecting the tooth enamel.
Fresh fruits and vegetables
Eating a wide variety of fresh fruits and veggies is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. Leafy greens in particular boost your oral health since they contain high amounts of magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, beta carotene, calcium and magnesium. All of these minerals are instrumental in improving and maintaining oral health.
Soda, juice, and sports drinks are big sellers in America, but that doesn’t mean they’re good for any of us. All of the above are notorious for leaving behind sugars that provide an excess of sugar for bad bacteria, which can result in acid that eats away at the enamel of your teeth. Sodas and juices also tend to contain phosphoric, citric, or malic acids that can exacerbate enamel erosion.
It may not be as flashy as other drinks, but water is beneficial to you in a multitude of ways. It washes away leftover food and debris, and dilutes the acids produced by bad bacteria. Drinking more water can help bring dry mouth and bad breath under control, and goes a long way towards keeping your mouth clean and healthy, while reducing the risk of cavities.
For better or worse, what you choose to eat and drink can have a big impact on your oral health. Here at Brady & Ford Orthodontics, our talented team is dedicated to providing the treatment options and expert support you need to achieve a straighter smile and improved oral health. However, you can help this process along by adopting a healthier diet! Paying careful attention to your nutrition and making healthy choices will not only give your smile an extra sparkle, but can give your total body health a boost, too!
If you’re in Winnetka or any of the surrounding communities and want to learn more about how good nutrition can improve your oral health, get in touch with us today! Dr. Brady, Dr. Ford, and the rest of our team would love to meet you and work with you towards improved oral health. We offer FREE consultations, and are always happy to give patients of all ages tips on improving oral hygiene at home for a healthier, stronger smile that lasts a lifetime!
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