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Bahar Rowhani, DDS
Protect Your Teeth Watch Your Diet
Dr. Ronald Hauptman, DDS and Bahar Rowhani, DDS

Protect Your Teeth Watch Your Diet

Protect Your Teeth

Watch Your Diet

You know that brushing and flossing are good for your teeth and gums. But did you know that what you eat and drink can play an equally important role in oral health? Or that consuming the wrong things can cause tooth decay, gum disease, and halitosis (bad breath)?

Plaque, that sticky film that rests on your teeth between brushings, is made almost entirely of bacteria that occur naturally in the mouth. As soon as you begin to eat, these bacteria change the food into acids that attack the enamel on your teeth. The result can be cavities and tooth decay.

Poor diet leads to malnutrition. A diet low in vitamin C and magnesium might contribute to gum disease. A typical vitamin B deficiency can cause glossitis, in which the tongue becomes swollen and red. And a vitamin C deficiency might result in petechiae small, bleeding red spots in your mouth.

What are the foods that promote
oral health?

Foods high in calcium and phosphorus, such as cheeses, meats, nuts and milk.

Crunchy fruits and vegetables, which have high water content and stimulate saliva, washing away food particles.

Foods high in protein, which limit the growth of plaque.

The worst foods for your teeth are sugary snacks, like candy, cakes, and cookies. Foods that contain “simple sugars” such as white bread and pasta, should be eaten in moderation, as should sticky foods, which stay in the mouth a long time. Foods that easily enter the spaces between your teeth, such as crackers and potato chips, can also be harmful.

What about beverages? The healthiest choice is probably water, especially if it is fluoridated. Water clears away bits of food, reducing plaque production. Other healthy choices include milk and unsweetened tea. Black and green teas are rich in antioxidants, which kill the tiny organisms responsible for bad breath and tooth decay.

Avoid sugary and carbonated drinks. Even diet sodas are harmful because the carbonation damages tooth enamel. If you simply must drink that can of soda, whether diet or not, use a straw positioned behind the front teeth. This limits the liquids exposure to your front teeth.

When you eat is almost as important as what you eat. Bacteria in the mouth are especially active for around twenty minutes after eating. Limit snacking and confine eating mostly to mealtimes. The harmful effects of acidic foods like citrus fruits and starches like white bread and potatoes can be minimized by consuming them with meals, when saliva production is highest.

It is fine to chew sugarless gum between meals, as the motion dislodges food particles and creates saliva. As a bonus, some gums have a natural sweetener called xylitol, which may reduce bacteria in the mouth and buffer the effects of acid.

When combined with a comprehensive oral care program, a good diet will help you get a healthy mouth and smile. Of course, it is still important to brush at least twice and floss at least once daily, immediately after meals when possible.

See your dentist often so problems can be taken care of early, when they are most treatable.


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