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How Your Diet Affects Your Oral Health

In the US today, the majority of the population gets gum disease (or at least pre-gingivitis) at some point in life and almost everyone has one or more fillings in their mouth from past cavities. Part of the reason for this reality is the relatively unhealthy diet that typifies modern American culture.
We all realize that brushing, flossing, using germ-killing mouth wash, and seeing a dentist/periodontist once or twice a year is crucial to oral health. But all too few of us understand how big an impact what we eat and drink (or don’t eat and drink) has on the health of our teeth and gums.

Foods To Avoid Or Limit To Protect Your Oral Health
Just because it’s edible doesn’t mean it is good for you – that’s obvious enough. But which food and drinks should you be especially concerned to avoid or to limit your consumption of?

First of all, avoid high-sugar foods and drinks like candy, sweets, and sodas. Consumed only occasionally and in limited quantities, these need not be a problem, but made a regular part of your diet, they can cause plaque and tartar build-up that may lead to tooth decay or periodontal disease.

High-starch foods like potato chips, pasta, crackers, or white bread are also likely to encourage poor oral health. Refined flours and starches are worse than natural and whole-grain starch.

Any sugary foods that stay in your mouth for a long period of time, like lollipops or hard candies are especially bad for your teeth and gums. Sticky foods like caramel, dried fruits, or anything likely to get stuck on or between your teeth is also a big no-no.

Limit snacking because continual snacking throughout the day keeps acid levels high in your mouth too long and could cause tooth enamel erosion. Eating snacks or sweets right after meals and drinking plenty of water daily will help clean your mouth naturally through water and saliva.

Foods To Include In Your Diet For A Healthy Mouth
There are also many foods that are actually good for your oral health. These foods can actually be “strategic” and help prevent cavities and gum disease.

Apples, carrots, celery, broccoli, or any food that requires a lot of chewing and scrapes your teeth clean are beneficial. The chewing action triggers saliva output, which assists the food itself in cleaning teeth and “scrubbing” them through the action of the food’s texture against tooth enamel.

Vitamin C helps to maintain gum health. Find it in citrus fruits, kiwi fruit, strawberries, leafy greens, and bell peppers. Phosphorous from eggs, red meat, fish, and soup broth helps to strengthen tooth enamel. The omega-3 fatty acids found in cold-water fish like salmon (and in walnuts) can reduce the risk of gum inflammation.

Calcium from milk, yogurt, and other dairy products will strengthen both teeth and the alveolar bony ridge into which teeth are naturally rooted. Polyphenols from cocoa, teas, berries, and eggplant are thought by many to slow bacterial growth and to reduce the risk of oral cancer.

Aged cheeses are also good for you because they help balance pH levels in your mouth, and chewing sugar-free gum will increase salivary output, which will help flush food particles out from your interdental spaces.

These are just a few of the many ways that what you eat can either help or hurt your oral health. For more dietary advice to help protect your teeth and gums, contact Ormond Beach Periodontics today!

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