Your nutritional habits significantly influence your oral health.
In fact, becoming more conscious about your diet — and how it affects your mouth and teeth — can help you avoid some major oral and dental health issues. Aside from your oral care routine, nutrition is the most powerful tool you have for preventing gum disease and tooth decay and loss.
Oral Health Problems Associated with Poor Nutrition
Tooth decay and gum disease are largely preventable. Proper dental hygiene and regular oral health examinations are essential to avoiding these common conditions, but diet is equally important.
Consuming too many sweet and sugary beverages increases your risk of tooth decay. Bacteria in the mouth feeds on the sugar in these foods, converting it to acid that attacks the tooth enamel.
But it isn’t just sodas and sweets that cause problems. Chewy, sticky foods (like dried fruits) and starchy foods (like bread and crackers) can become stuck in between the teeth, leading to cavities. Acidic foods such as citrus fruits and tomatoes can erode tooth enamel, leading to tooth decay.
Poor nutrition is a direct cause of gum disease. When your diet lacks the appropriate nutrients, oral tissues become less able to resist infection. Not only can this contribute directly to gum disease, but it can cause it to progress more quickly.
Plan Balanced Meals to Promote Better Oral Health
To ensure optimum oral health, think carefully about your food and drink choices. The most effective way to ensure your diet contains the proper nutrients is to plan meals and shop for ingredients in advance.
Be sure to include a wide variety of foods from all five major food groups. Focus on whole grains, fruits, vegetables, lean proteins and low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Stay away from fad diets that limit or eliminate certain food groups, as these eating plans can result in nutritional deficiencies.
Planning your meals ahead is a good way to develop proper eating habits and avoid making bad food choices when hungry. And drink plenty of water with every meal. Keeping your mouth moist can help protect the tissues in the mouth from decay.
Limit Between-Meal Snacks for Better Oral and Dental Health
A light snack here or there isn’t generally a problem for your oral health, as long as you choose something healthy, like raw carrot sticks, cheddar cheese cubes or an apple. However, snacking too often can lead to oral health problems.
When you eat a meal, excess saliva is released in your mouth. Its purpose is to wash away small bits of food and lessen the effects of digestive acids. Both of these functions are designed to help keep the teeth free of decay and cavities. When you eat a small snack, however, excess saliva is not necessarily produced.
Also, most of us brush and floss after meals, but not after snacks, so snack foods are more likely to cling to your teeth and cause decay.
Here at Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery of Utah, we are committed to providing compassionate care and treatment for your entire family. We have three convenient locations in the Salt Lake City, Utah, area, in Cottonwood Heights, Tooele and South Jordan. Contact us for all of your oral and facial surgery needs, from dental implants to facial injuries. We look forward to helping you with a lifetime of oral health.