Proper nutrition acts as an effective way to ensure optimal health and prevent the occurrence of disease. Moreover, receiving adequate nutrients from a variety of healthful foods and beverages can positively impact dental health. Certain foods with poor nutritional composition can increase the incidence of tooth decay and other detrimental dental conditions, leading to the need for treatments such as root canal therapy or dental implants. Additionally, combinations of certain food substances can elevate the risk for cavities.
Current research suggests that antioxidants are often found in foods like fruits, beans, and vegetables—may positively affect immunity and increase the body’s agency to fight infection and inflammation, which aids in protecting an individual’s teeth and gums. Certain foods have even been demonstrated to have a significant consequence on the mouth’s ability to manage decay-causing bacteria.
Calcium operates as one of the best nutrients for oral health. Items such as milk, yogurt, and fortified juice assist in promoting healthy teeth and bones, which diminish the risk for tooth loss. For individuals who dislike dairy products, adding powdered milk to cooked dishes can confer the same benefits. In particular, cheese releases a burst of calcium. This calcium can attach itself to an individual’s teeth, immediately assisting in remineralization of tooth enamel.
Fruits and vegetables—specifically ones that are crisp such as apples, carrots, and celery—aid dental health by removing plaque from teeth and freshening breath. Furthermore, antioxidant vitamins like vitamin C help fortify gums and other oral tissues from harmful bacterial infections. Research points to a link between fresh cranberries and their ability to hinder oral bacteria from forming damaging plaque.
Folic acid, a member of the vitamin B group, stands as an excellent choice to promote dental health due to its ability to support cell growth throughout the body. Green leafy vegetables such as spinach and kale should be eaten regularly. Additionally, brewer’s yeast operates as a substance rich in folic acid.
Cavity-causing agents feast on the sugars found in foods such as soda, candy, cookies, and pastries. These agents transform the sugar into acid, which bombards tooth enamel and results in tooth decay. Acidic foods—like citrus fruits, juices, pickles, sour candies, and wine—can erode tooth enamel to become overly sensitive and discolored.
The timing of meals can also affect oral health. Foods that require a lengthy chewing time, or that are held in the mouth such as hard candies and cough drops can significantly damage teeth as sugar is held against teeth for a long time.
Many health professionals discourage snacking on sugary, starchy, and acidic foods throughout the day. Ideally, individuals should avoid these foods to preserve optimal oral health. However, if an individual wishes to enjoy an occasional treat, it is recommended these sub-prime foods be consumed during a meal to minimize contact between acid and an individual’s teeth. Additionally, the body fashions extra saliva to digest bigger meals; thus, harmful bacteria are washed away before they can negatively impact teeth.