The Connection Between Nutrition and Dental Health
Holistic dentistry is founded on the philosophy that your mouth is closely connected to the rest of your body. Your teeth and gums don’t exist in their own protected microcosm; instead, they are always positively or negatively impacted by your lifestyle choice and wellness. This means that the foods and beverages you enjoy on a regular basis can significantly influence your dental health for better or worse.
At Natural & Cosmetic Dentistry in Clearwater, Florida, Dr. Beata Carlson and Dr. Amber Gilton are dedicated to helping patients become educated about the connection between nutrition and dental health. If we can help you make more strategic food and drink decisions each day, your oral health will benefit tremendously!
Why Do Your Eating Choices Influence Oral Health?
The instant that food enters your mouth, changes start to occur. If the foods you eat are rich in sugars and carbohydrates, they are immediately converted into acids. Those acids begin attacking the teeth and triggering decay. By swapping highly processed, sugar-laden foods with fresher, more nutrient-dense options, you can prevent a number of dental problems and even encourage your teeth and gums to remain as healthy as possible.
According to the article “Oral Health and Nutrition” in the May 2013 issue of the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, “It is the position of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics that nutrition is an integral component of oral health… . Collaboration between dietetic practitioners and oral health care professionals is recommended for oral health promotion and disease prevention and intervention.”
Which Foods Should You Eliminate?
Foods made primarily of sugars and carbohydrates are the worst for your teeth and gums. Soda, juice, candy, cookies, pastries, processed dry goods, and other forms of added sugar threaten to cause cavities and tooth decay. If your diet consists mainly of these types of food, the tissues in your mouth will struggle to adequately resist infection due to nutrient deficiencies. This can accelerate the development of periodontal disease in your mouth and trigger serious dental complications.
Choose Foods That Support Your Oral Health
Avoiding sugary foods is an important start, but you also want to purposefully add certain foods into your diet based on their ability to strengthen your dental health. Foods rich in calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins C and D are all very teeth-friendly! Calcium promotes strong teeth and bones, phosphorus is a core component of enamel, and vitamins C and D support gum health.
Try to incorporate low-fat dairy, salmon, almonds, dark green leafy vegetables, eggs, lean meat, citrus fruits, and tomatoes into your weekly eating habits in order to nourish your body and mouth. They will actively improve the health of your teeth and gums while also enhancing the overall health of your body.
Remember to Consider pH Balance
Many otherwise healthy people fail to consider how the foods they eat impact the pH levels of their mouth. pH is measured on a scale from 0 to 12, with 7 considered neutral. Lower numbers equate to more acidity, which is why orange juice as a pH of 3 and black coffee has a pH of 5. High numbers show less acidity, like baking soda with its pH of 9.
When the body strays too far from a pH of 7, negative health consequences like inflammation, headaches, fatigue, and ulcers occur. Long term acidosis can even lead to serious health conditions such as arthritis, diabetes, fibromyalgia, and heart disease. By avoiding acidic foods and embracing an alkaline diet, you can support your body’s pH balance and protect your oral health as well! It just so happens that most acidic foods also contain added sugar, so cutting them from your diet offers multiple benefits:
- Processed foods like frozen dinners, cereals, and store-bought cakes
- Soda and alcohol
- Pasta, rice, and bread
- Cold cut meats
- Artificial sugars
Swap these acidic choices with water, unprocessed whole foods, organic produce, natural sweeteners, and plant-based protein.
The experts at Natural & Cosmetic Dentistry are always here to answer your questions and support you as you work to adopt a healthier eating plan. Call us today at (727) 888-6523 to get started!