Our bodies are complex systems. Every organ, bone, and blood vessel functions as part of this system, and nothing is capable of functioning on its own.
Folks often think about their oral health as separate from their bodily health, but what’s good for your body is good for your mouth and vice versa!
In honor of National Nutrition Month, here are some nutrition tips that will improve your oral health (while also improving your overall health!). This list is certainly not comprehensive, but it’s a great place to start if you want to pick one or two items to focus on this spring!
Who doesn’t love a good snack?! Unfortunately, continual snacking provides an environment for bacteria to thrive and attack your tooth’s enamel.
Eat remineralizing foods
Protect tooth enamel by eating remineralizing foods such as meats and cheeses. Nuts and milk are also thought to help keep teeth strong.
Eat firm, crunchy fruits and veggies
These tend to be high in water (think a crunchy apple or celery stick!), which dilutes the effects of the sugars they contain. They also help gently brush your teeth, and stimulate the flow of saliva to wash away bacteria.
Don’t eat acidic foods on their own
Citrus fruits, tomatoes, and lemons should be eaten as part of a larger meal in order to minimize the acid they contain.
Chew gum with xylitol
Sugar-free gum made with xylitol helps stimulate the flow of saliva – the best protector of teeth we possess.
Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages
There are much tastier and healthier alternatives. Plain ol’ water is a wonderful hydrator, and carbonated water with a slice of lemon makes everything feel fancier! Soda, juice, and sports drinks are not good for teeth (and your body doesn’t like that much sugar at a time either).
Don’t brush teeth too soon after meals
Feel free to floss, but don’t brush too soon after eating something too acidic or sweet. You don’t want to brush that stuff into your teeth. Wait half an hour, swish with water, and then brush away.
Eat more arginine!
This amino acid is thought to help prevent cavities and gum disease by breaking down dental plaque. Sources include meat, poultry, fish, and dairy.
By focusing on food choices that improve your oral health, you’ll also be doing the rest of your body a favor! And the more often you make healthful choices, the better you will feel physically and emotionally, which will keep the cycle going!
We encourage you to check out the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics website for more information on National Nutrition Month.