There are countless reasons to focus on good nutrition, such as living longer, feeling great and losing weight – but often overlooked is how your diet can affect your teeth. March marks National Nutrition Month, a time to bring attention to the importance of making informed food choices and developing great eating habits. However, while you may be focusing on your diet, you shouldn’t ignore your oral health. Below, Dr. Mazen Natour breaks down what foods fall into which health bucket (healthy diet foods versus healthy smile foods), and which are best for you to focus on for all around great health benefits.
Foods that are BAD for a Healthy Diet and Healthy Smile
You’re probably already aware that sweets and candy aren’t good for your teeth, not only because they offer no nutritional value, but because of the amount and types of sugar that they contain can adhere to the teeth. The bacteria in your mouth feed off of these sugars and overtime, this can lead to tooth decay.
Beverages such as sweetened coffee and soft drinks can be harmful to your teeth as they may leave behind sugars and lasting stains. Sipping these popular drinks causes a constant sugar bath over your teeth, promoting tooth decay. Yellowing of the teeth can not only be damaging to your teeth but can reduce your confidence level too. Whitening procedures are available to fix stained or discolored teeth, but avoiding these drinks from the start can benefit your smile and your health overall.
Foods That Both Your Doctor and Dentist Will Smile About
The mouth, teeth and gums are essential for chewing and swallowing — the first steps in the digestion process, which delivers needed nutrients into the body so it’s important to make sure your teeth and oral health are in good standing.
Plain yogurt, leafy greens and almonds are healthy foods that may benefit tooth health thanks to their high amounts of calcium. Protein-rich foods like poultry, fish, milk and eggs are good sources of phosphorus, which along with calcium, plays a critical role in dental health by protecting tooth enamel and keeping your jaw bone healthy and strong. Protein is also present in these food items to build and repair tissues, enzymes, hormones and other body chemicals to benefit your overall health and strength.
Most importantly, water is essential in both oral and bodily health. Water can not only energize us, help curb hunger, keep us hydrated, clear our skin (the list goes on), but water is great to rinse the mouth after eating if you can’t brush right away and to help keep salvia flowing in the mouth which helps to remove food particles in between brushing and flossing as well.
Everything in Moderation: What about the Foods that Are Good for a Healthy Diet, but Might Be Bad for My Teeth?
Lemons are highly acidic and they break down the protective surface of your teeth, called your enamel. Enamel is there to protect and strengthen your teeth, but acidic foods and drinks work fast to break it down. If a patient is constantly consuming lemon water throughout their day, they could be at risk for weakening the structure of their teeth. While lemon water may be good for some aspects of your health (like helping to speed up your metabolism), it may not be so good on your pearly whites.
Additionally, one item that might be beneficial to your health but not so friendly to your teeth is apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar is known as a trendy diet fad for its many different health benefits such as helping to lower cholesterol and preventing indigestion, but it is mainly used for weight loss. This trendy beverage is very acidic which as mentioned, can be damaging to your teeth and enamel.
Lastly, berries are another culprit that may be deemed a healthy snack, but due to their sweetness and rich deep color, they can cause harm to a healthy white smile. The deep colors of berries like blackberries and blueberries can stain the teeth, and all around, berries are typically high in sugar. It’s important to brush your teeth or rinse your mouth after consuming.
Tips and tricks to balancing a healthy diet and maintaining good oral health include consuming these items in moderation and considering new ways to consume them (like through a straw). Incorporating fruits like berries into a smoothie and drinking it through a straw can be a way to enjoy these nutritional meals without having to worry as much about the effects is may have on your teeth.
Remember to try and eat right during March in order to protect all parts of your health, including your dental health. It’s important to make note of what ingredients are in your foods and drinks since your teeth are always directly and immediately affected. Contact our office if you want to learn more or if you’d like to schedule an appointment today by calling (212) 518-6494.