With summer just around the corner, now is the time to clean up your diet and slim down for the warmer months. Although we often associate diet changes with weight loss and changes in our waistline, it can have a huge impact on dental health as well.
The body is intricately linked, making all areas of health interconnected. The foods and beverages you consume can affect the health of your gums and teeth along with your general health. Fortunately, there are many nutritious staples to include in your diet that benefit your overall wellness while aiding your dental health.
Is Sugar Actually Harmful to Dental Health?
Candy and other sweet treats are notorious for wreaking havoc on dental health, but just how dangerous is sugar for your teeth? Many patients are surprised to find out that sugar itself isn’t what causes dental problems; it’s what happens when bacteria already present in your mouth metabolize these sugars.
Bacteria in the mouth will feed upon the sugars you consume and create an acidic substance as a byproduct. This acid will then begin to erode the outer protective layer of the tooth, known as the enamel. After enough time, the enamel will eventually be stripped away, leaving the inner layers of the tooth vulnerable to decay.
Cutting out excessive sugar from your diet is a great way to improve your dental health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Americans should keep their intake of added sugars to less than 10% of their total daily calories. This is also similar to the American Heart Association’s recommendation of no more than 6 teaspoons of added sugar per day for women and 9 teaspoons for men.
Despite these recommendations, most Americans are still consuming way too much sugar. According to the University of California, San Francisco, the average American will consume around 19.5 teaspoons each day. This equals out to approximately 66 pounds of added sugar each year, per person!
A simple way to reduce your sugar intake is to cut out any sugary beverages. Sodas, juices and sports drinks are filled with sugars that exceed what you should be consuming daily. Dr. Stuart J. Froum was recently featured in Forbe’s ‘Why Healthy Workplaces Are Good For Business’ article highlighting the benefits of replacing soft drinks with nutritious alternatives like fruits and veggies.
He explained, “Fruits have more health benefits than just increasing energy, they also contain vitamins and minerals that are beneficial to your overall health including your teeth.”
Best Foods For Healthy Teeth
What foods should you include in your diet for better oral health? Take a look at this mouth-friendly foods list to incorporate these options into your daily diet:
- Cheese: Whether you prefer mozzarella or feta, including cheese in your diet can help protect your teeth. Cheese is rich in calcium and protein, which are essential nutrients for strengthening the tooth enamel. A study published in the journal of the American Academy of General Dentistry found that eating cheese also raised the pH in test subjects’ mouths. This helps combat acidity in the mouth and lower the risk of tooth decay and enamel erosion.
- Apples: If you’re craving something sweet, opt for an apple! Apples are a great sweet treat with plenty of fiber. This is a mouth-friendly snack because the act of chewing an apple will actually promote saliva production. Saliva is important because it acts as a natural defender for your teeth.
- Leafy Greens: Leafy greens like spinach and kale are excellent to add to your diet because they promote a healthy smile. These nutrient-dense snacks are high in calcium, folic acid and a type of B vitamin believed to help treat gum disease in pregnant women. Try adding a handful of spinach to your next smoothie to easily include leafy greens in your daily diet.
- Carrots: Like apples, carrots are a great crunchy snack that promotes the production of saliva. Carrots are also a great source of vitamin A, which benefits your dental health by preventing dry mouth and oral cancer.
- Yogurt: Yogurt is another great dairy option full of calcium and protein to strengthen your teeth. Probiotics found in yogurt can also benefit your smile because it slows down the growth of cavity-causing bacteria. Be sure to steer clear of sugar-filled yogurt and opt for plain or greek yogurt to fully enjoy the dental health benefits.
- Nuts: Eating different types of nuts won’t just keep you satiated. It will also benefit your smile because it is packed with important nutrients like calcium and phosphorous. The most beneficial nuts include almonds, cashews and Brazil nuts.
- Onions: Although onions won’t give you the greatest breath, they will help you maintain a healthy smile. Raw onions have antibacterial properties that will defend your mouth from cavities and gum disease.
- Celery: Celery is a great low-calorie snack that can help remove plaque from your teeth and gums. The texture of this crunchy snack works as nature’s floss and helps to scrub away plaque when you chew. This is another option that promotes saliva production to protect your teeth.
Contact Stuart J. Froum, DDS In Manhattan
Improving your dental health can be as easy as cutting sugar and making a few small changes to your diet. However, it’s important to still have the help of a dental professional to truly keep your smile beautiful and cavity-free.
To learn more about how Dr. Stuart J. Froum can give y