March is National Nutrition Month, which makes it an appropriate time to contemplate your dietary choices. In addition to fueling your body, the types of food you consume have a significant effect on your oral health. As a respected Portland-area dentist, Dr. Julie Spaniel shares some of the best and worst foods you can eat for stronger teeth and gums.
Let’s Start with Sugar
Undoubtedly, sugar has the most potential to cause harm to your oral health because it leads to tooth decay. While you may associate sugar with desserts, sugars are in most processed foods, even if they don’t taste sweet. Check the ingredients for fructose, glucose or sucrose: all of these sugars can lead to cavities.
Cutting out sugars entirely may not be realistic (or desirable) for everyone, but you can take steps to better protect your teeth. Since your teeth are prone to enamel erosion each time you eat sugars, you are much better off confining your sugar consumption to mealtimes rather than snacking on sweets between meals. You may also want to brush immediately after eating something with sugars, even if it is not a time you normally brush.
Highly acidic foods can also contribute to tooth decay. Any food or beverage with a pH value below 5.5 can erode the teeth. For that reason, it makes sense to limit your consumption of:
- Sodas/Sports drinks
- Citrus fruits and orange juice
Dietary Choices That Help Your Teeth
Rather than make this entire blog a list of things you should not eat, let’s also give attention to foods that help promote stronger, healthier teeth. Foods that are rich in calcium like cheese, milk, leafy green vegetables, yogurt and nuts can help to rebuild your tooth enamel. Since phosphorus has a similar effect, you can also rebuild enamel with proteins like fish, red meat, poultry and eggs.
Eating (non-acidic) fruits and vegetables can also help to balance out any sugars you’ve eaten during the same meal since they quickly neutralize acids on your teeth and prevent erosion.
When it comes to beverages, nothing tops water. Not only does water help to wash away the sugars and acids on your teeth, but keeping your mouth moist promotes its overall health. It is a smart idea to drink water with every meal and snack.
Meet Dr. Spaniel
Although a good diet can help prevent tooth decay, it is no substitute for regular dental care. To schedule an appointment with Dr. Spaniel at Summerwood Family Dental and ensure that your teeth are cavity-free, please call (503) 906-8600 today.