A list of nutrients is all very well, but when you’re standing in the grocery aisle, you still need to know what actual food to buy.
Luckily, you don’t have to do anything special. Eat a mostly whole foods diet with lots of lean protein and fresh vegetables. Avoid most processed foods, especially those that are high in simple sugars. Take your fish oil. Want to go for bonus marks? Here are a few foods, nutrients, and/or supplements that may play a specific role in oral health.
Milk –It’s not just your bones that benefit from milk; your teeth get stronger and healthier when you drink, too, because it contains calcium. Calcium helps protect your teeth against periodontal (gum) disease and keeps your jaw bone strong and healthy. Since women are more likely to get periodontal disease if they don’t absorb enough calcium from their daily diet, it’s especially important for eat and drink plenty of calcium–rich foods. Drinking 1% low–fat or nonfat (skim) milk will help you gain the most nutrients without the extra artery–clogging fat of 2% or whole milk.
Wild Salmon –Fatty fish like salmon and Atlantic mackerel are one of the few good food sources of vitamin D. Vitamin D is critical for oral health since it allows your body to absorb and use calcium, a nutrient that protects your teeth and gums from disease. The vitamin D found in salmon makes it easier for your teeth and bones to get the full power of calcium from the foods you’re eating.
Oranges –This may come as a surprise to you, but citrus fruits like oranges help keep your gums healthy by strengthening blood vessels and connective tissue, including the connective tissue that holds your teeth in your jaw. It’s the vitamin C in citrus that is so powerful. Vitamin C also helps reduce inflammation, which may prevent or slow the progression of gingivitis, so make oranges, grapefruits, and other citrus regular features in your fruit bowl!
Strawberries –Like oranges and other citrus fruits, strawberries are brimming with gum–building vitamin C. Vitamin C is required for production of collagen, a key protein that maintains your gums’ strength and integrity — and strong gums are an integral part of overall oral health. Just a half a cup of fresh strawberries delivers more than 70 percent of the daily value for vitamin C!
Water –Your teeth can also benefit from water. Water helps wash away food debris and keeps your saliva levels high. Believe it or not, saliva is actually your mouth’s best defense against tooth decay because it contains proteins and minerals that counteract enamel–eating acids. Saliva is made up of 95 percent water, so if you want to avoid unnecessary cavities do yourself a favor and stay hydrated. Water also displaces sugary drinks like soda and sweet flavored waters, which can damage tooth enamel and promote decay.
If we don’t take care of our teeth and gums, we risk tooth decay, gum disease, and even bone loss. Meanwhile, the state of our teeth and gums can often signal systemic problems, including cardiovascular disease, celiac disease, diabetes, sinus infection, rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel disease, gastroesophageal reflux, alcoholism, and more. In fact, your dentist can sometimes diagnose these conditions before your doctor!
Brush at least twice a day. The best time to brush teeth is after meals. Choose a toothbrush with a small head for better access to back teeth. Soft bristles are kinder on your gums. Use fluoridated toothpaste. Fluoride helps to harden tooth enamel and reduces your risk of decay.
Brush thoroughly. Tooth brushing should take between two and three minutes. Floss your teeth daily. Use a slow and gentle sawing motion. Limit acidic drinks like soft drinks, cordials and fruit juices. Food acids soften tooth material and dissolve the minerals in tooth enamel, causing holes (cavities or caries). In severe cases, teeth may be ‘eaten’ right down to the gum. Limit sugary foods.
Bacteria in dental plaque change sugars into acids. Protect your teeth from injury. Wear a mouthguard or full-face helmet when playing sports. Try to save a knocked out tooth. If possible, hold the tooth back in place while you seek immediate dental advice. If this is not possible, wrap the tooth in plastic or place it in milk and seek dental advice immediately.
Avoid using your teeth for anything other than chewing food. If you use them to crack nuts, remove bottle tops or rip open packaging, you risk chipping or even breaking your teeth. Visit Downtown Concord Dental for regular check-ups. You should also visit Concord CA Dentist Dr. Aaron K Lee, DDS if you have a dental problem such as a toothache or bleeding gums.