Our mouth is the gateway to the rest of our body, so when we choose the foods we eat and the drinks we consume, it’s important to consider the impact our diet can have on our teeth and gums, as well as the rest of our body.
Studies have shown a strong link between nutrition, oral health and overall health. In fact, according to a study published by the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, tooth decay “is the most prevalent, chronic, common and transmissible infectious oral condition in humans.” Furthermore, a person’s overall health can be affected by tooth loss, since “declining periodontal health” can lead to diminished dietary quality because of lack of essential nutrients in a person’s diet.
In addition to practicing good oral hygiene and visiting the dentist regularly, it is crucial that a healthy diet be part of our lifestyle. This includes avoiding “bad” foods, as well as incorporating “good” foods into our meal plans.
Foods to avoid
- Candy, sticky sweets and junk foods like chips. All contain sugar that stick to teeth and feed the bacteria that leads to tooth decay. Plus, they have no nutritional value.
- Soft drinks. In addition to the sugars found in sports, fruit drinks and energy drinks, the acidic nature of these beverages attack the enamel of the teeth, increasing the risk for tooth decay.
- Foods with added sugars. The FDA recommends that the daily intake of calories from added sugars should not exceed 10 percent of total calories. Read labels and watch for common added sugars, especially in foods we think are healthy.
- Foods with low nutritional value.
Good foods for oral health . . . and overall health
- Fruits, vegetables
- Protein: lean beef, skinless poultry, fish, eggs, beans
- Calcium rich foods: low-fat dairy products, dark green leafy vegetables
- Whole grains: rolled oats, brown rice, whole wheat bread
- Avoid between-meal snacking
- Wearing braces? Make sure healthy options are brace-friendly
- Brush teeth with fluoridated toothpaste twice a day for two minutes
- Floss daily
- Visit the dentist regularly
For more information on nutrition and oral health, check out these articles:
Colgate Oral Care Center: Connection Between Food, Oral Health “Strong”