A balanced diet and good eating habits are as important for the teeth and gums as they are for the rest of the body. What we eat and how we eat it can have a major effect on our dental health. A balanced diet includes a variety of foods from each of the food groups to assure that all the needed vitamins and minerals are there. Some vitamins and minerals are especially important for dental health. These include:
- vitamin C for healthy gums
- vitamin D to help the body use calcium
- calcium to build healthy teeth.
The recommended dietary allowance for calcium is 800 milligrams for adults and up to 1,200 milligrams for teenagers and pregnant or nursing mothers.
The When and What of Dental Health
When food is eaten has big effect on dental health. Dentists recommend snacking less frequency and avoiding foods that stay in the mouth a long time. If you’re going eat these foods, they should be eaten as part of meals, since there is more saliva in the mouth both break down the sugars that feed dental bacteria and to carry them away. Typical offenders are sticky, chewy or greasy foods such as candy, cookies, cakes, granola bars, marshmallows, dried fruits and French Fries. Sipping sweetened soft drinks or sucking hard candies are likewise hard on teeth.
On the other hand, good snack foods include raw vegetables, plain popcorn, nuts, sunflower seeds and cheese. Nuts and cheese seem especially to protect the teeth from decay, although they are high in fat.
Tips for a Healthy Smile
To keep your smile healthy, try these tips:
- Watch out for “hidden” sugar in processed foods, such as ketchup, canned vegetables and peanut butter. It is often in the form of corn syrup in the list of ingredients on the label.
- Keep healthy snacks on hand for when the urge strikes.
- Snack less often and floss and brush after snacking.
- Avoid sweet snacks as bedtime, when saliva flow is low.
See your dentist for regular oral hygiene appointments, floss and brush daily and observe these dietary tips for dental care. Your dental bills are bound to be greatly reduced and your smile as sparkling as ever.