How Diet and Nutrition Affect Our Oral Health

Taking care of your teeth and gums can help prevent bad breath, tooth decay and gum disease, even help you keep your teeth as you grow older. Healthy choices and proper nutrition can also promote oral health.

Here are four healthy tips to improve your oral health:

  1. Avoid sweets and acidic foods. The foods you eat have a direct impact on your teeth and gums. Sugars, including the corn syrup found in many foods and beverages, will greatly increase your risk for tooth decay as the sugars come in contact with plaque at the gum line. Sugar and acids if left in contact with teeth and gums will cause severe gum disease and gradual tooth loss.
  1. Eat more calcium rich foods including dairy, fruits and vegetables. Cheese lowers your risk of tooth decay by balancing pH levels (acidity) in your mouth. Cheese is also a rich source of calcium and protein which help strengthen tooth enamel. Yogurt can also help strengthen tooth enamel thanks to high levels of calcium and protein. Yogurt also contains probiotics or “good bacteria” found to be beneficial to your gums. Leafy greens, especially dark leafy greens like kale and spinach are good for your health and also help strengthen your teeth. Leafy greens provide folic acid, vitamins and calcium which reinforce the enamel of your teeth and help prevent gum disease. Apples, carrots and celery are crunchy and filled with water and fiber. Chewing these foods will promote saliva which rinses away bacteria, protecting both teeth and gums. Biting and chewing these firm, crunchy fruits and vegetables stimulates your gums while helping to scrape away pieces of trapped food and reduce bacteria on your teeth.
  1. Avoid chewing tobacco. Smokeless or chewing tobacco results in direct and constant contact of the tobacco with the gums causing them to recede. Prolonged use will contribute to progressive gum disease, underlying bone loss of the jaw line and eventual tooth loss. Chewing tobacco also causes an increased risk for dental decay and leads to chronic open, painful sores as a direct result of the acid that the combination of tobacco and saliva produce. Snuff, smokeless and chewing tobacco permanently discolor teeth and contribute to constant bad breath (halitosis). Tobacco shreds stuck between your teeth and the constant spitting will undoubtedly have a very negative effect on your social life.
  1. Don’t smoke! Smoking can lead to many similar negative effects as chewing tobacco and snuff including stained teeth, bad breath, increased risk of heart disease, and oral cancer. Additional dental problems associated with smoking include: Stained and discolored teeth
    Swelling and inflammation of your salivary glands
    Increased buildup of tartar and plaque on your teeth
    Bone loss in the jaw plus sores or lesions in your mouth
    Increased risk of oral cancers
    Slower healing of gum tissue with increased risk of gum disease. In addition to the general health concerns that are associated with cigarette smoking:Oral, pharyngeal and lung cancers, chronic bronchitis, emphysema and heart disease.

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