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Ballston Dental Arts
900 N Taylor Street, Suite 150, Arlington, VA 22203

An Overview of How Diet Affects Oral Health

Have you ever heard that an apple day keeps the doctor away? The saying is meant to illustrate that a healthy diet helps keep bodies healthy. A good diet also keeps mouths and teeth healthy. A balanced diet rich in nutrients helps protect the mouth’s microbiome. The good bacteria that make up the microbiome help strengthen teeth and prevent plaque and gingivitis.

What Foods Damage Teeth?

Some foods negatively impact the mouth’s microbiome which makes it more likely someone will develop dental health issues. Some foods damage the enamel of the teeth and make them more susceptible to decay. These include highly acidic foods along with foods that are high in starch, sugar, and carbohydrates. Controlling the amount of sugar and acid in a diet helps prevent tooth decay.

The Difference Between Tooth Decay and Erosion

Many people don’t understand the difference between tooth decay and enamel erosion. Tooth decay is also known as cavities or caries. Decay is caused by a build of plaque and is worsened by diets high in sugar. Tooth erosion occurs when a diet is full of highly acidic foods and liquids that over time weaken the enamel covering the teeth.

The Link Between Diet and Gum Disease

Around 90% of people worldwide have some sort of gum disease. These include gingivitis, which occurs due to a build-up of plaque on the teeth that leads to cavities and gum issues. Periodontitis occurs when dental plaque hardens into calculus which allows harmful microbes to infiltrate the gumline which in time results in both lost teeth and damage to the soft tissues of the mouth. There are links between gum diseases and chronic illnesses like diabetes, lung issues, and heart disease. All of these issues are caused or worsened by eating a diet full of foods that are bad for the teeth. Another disease with a clear link between nutrition and gum issues is scurvy. Scurvy is caused by eating a diet deficient in vitamin C. The illness causes bacteria that produce acid to attach to the gum line.

Foods That Can Damage Teeth

Foods can damage teeth in many different ways. However, some foods are high in acid, which causes enamel erosion, and also high in sugar which worsens tooth decay. These foods and drinks include sour candies, red wine, citrus fruit juices, sodas, vinegar, and most alcohol. No one is saying that these foods should never be eaten, but it’s best to eat them in moderation and brush and floss after consuming them.

Foods Rich in Nutrients Teeth Need

A healthy mouth needs a diet that’s high in vitamins A, B, C, D, E, and K2. Of the B vitamins, eating foods rich in B12 and folate is very important for optimal oral health. Minerals required to maintain good teeth include calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, and zinc. These nutrients are all found in foods that are part of a balanced diet that’s good for the entire body.

What to Eat to Have Healthy Teeth

Scientists suggest eating dark green leafy vegetables like kale or spinach, whole grains, legumes and beans, fresh produce, cheese, and sugar-free gum. These foods are packed with the vitamins and minerals that promote a healthy mouth microbiome and promote high saliva levels in the mouth. Mouths with sufficient levels of saliva are less prone to experience tooth decay. Gum helps promote saliva production. When it comes to staying hydrated, water is best. It helps wash away plaque in its early stages and also dilutes any acids from other foods or drinks that linger in the mouth. Green tea provides needed antioxidants to the mouth, and milk is a good source of calcium which works to strengthen the enamel on the teeth.

Oral Hygiene Is Key

No matter a person’s diet, it’s important they maintain good oral hygiene. Everyone should floss once a day and brush at least twice using fluoride-enriched toothpaste. After consuming foods or drinks high in acid or sugar, it’s a good idea to brush as soon as possible to get the residual sugars and acids off of teeth and out of the mouth. Of course, it’s vital to see a dentist twice a year for a preventive cleaning to make sure the mouth is healthy.

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    9:00 AM – 5:00 PM
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  • Wednesday
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Ballston Dental Arts

900 N Taylor Street, Suite 150, Arlington, VA 22203

(703) 291-3111