8 tips to support your oral health through your diet
February 19, 2019
We will never tell you what you can and can't eat, but we will tell you about all the ways we know of to protect teeth, bones, and gums through preventative oral care. Here are 8 tips on ways to support your oral health through your diet!
1 - It sounds so simple, but drink water! Staying hydrated is important for sufficient saliva production. Saliva fights bacteria, plaque, and tartar. It’s the first line of defense in our mouths to protect our teeth! Eating a lot of candy? Drink water. Eating a lot of acidic foods? Drink water. Working out a lot, maybe causing a dry mouth? Drink water! This is the number one prevention tip we give to patients, and it goes miles in protecting a person’s teeth from acid attack, erosion, and cavity causing bacteria!
2- Calcium is king when it comes to our teeth. Having sufficient calcium in our diets is important to have strong and health bone structure - and that includes the bone structure in your jaw and mouth! Strong and healthy bones in our jaw will hold our teeth in place and keep our bite stable and secure. Insufficient calcium intake could lead to weak jaw bone structure, and potentially tooth loss.
3- We know the sugary sodas can be bad for our teeth, but you should also be aware that flavoured soda water can cause tooth erosion. With sugary sodas like Coca-Cola, the sugar is the main culprit - feeding bacteria in our mouths that cause acid erosion. With flavoured sodas, they are usually flavoured with citric acid or other fruit acids, which can also cause acid erosion. How can you protect your teeth? Make you are using a remineralizing toothpaste (ex. contains fluoride) for two minutes twice a day. This will keep your enamel strong, so it can protect itself against the acid attacks. You also will want to… you guessed it… drink water and stay hydrated!
4- Add a little parmesan on top of that tomato sauce and pasta! Not only does it taste better, but the acidic nature of the tomato sauce can be hard on your teeth, and adding a bit of dairy can actually help to neutralize the pH of the meal. A lot of your oral health comes down to keeping the pH in balance. We often also recommend adding a splash of milk or milk alternative to your tea and coffee in order to neutralize the acidity in those beverages.
5- Kombucha is awesome, and has a whole bunch of great benefits for your digestive tract and body. But it’s also extremely acidic. When consuming acidic beverages like Kombucha, sports drinks, or lemon water - never hold the beverage in your mouth for long. You want the beverage to pass your teeth with limited to no contact to protect them from erosion. Straws can help to minimize the contact that the beverage has with your teeth also!
6- Let's talk about the obvious “no-nos” dentists like to bug you about - sugar. Guess what? You can eat sugar! We don’t think there are any “no-nos”. But it’s all about balancing it out, and keeping the sugar particles from settling into the nook and crannies in your mouth! Sugar is especially bad for causing bad breath. The bacteria that is in our mouth feeds on sugars and excretes smelly acids behind them - the cause of the bad breath. The best way to clear away this smelly bacteria and sugar fuel they like to eat? Flossing. Flossing regularly will in fact get rid of that bad breath by reaching those spots between teeth and under our gums that brushing can’t get to.
7- Alcohol is fun. Alcohol also dehydrates (that’s why you get that horrible headache the next day!). And you guessed it - drinking water will help counteract the effects of alcohol on our mouths. Some alcohols, like wine, can also be very acidic. Making sure your enamel is strong and your saliva production is in gear will keep your teeth protected from the negative side effects of drinking. (As for staining caused by wine, see your dental hygienist for regular cleanings and they can polish those right up - at Citizen you also get a free laser whitening with every regular dental hygiene check up!)
8- Mostly - try to understand which foods in your diet are acidic, and which are more alkaline. Salad dressings for example, can be very acidic, where most vegetables are more alkaline. Pair these foods together to balance the pH of your meals, and be sure to stay hydrated. Our overall health is affected by our oral health - infections and bacteria your body is fighting in your mouth takes resources away from other parts of the body, weakening your body’s immune response. These infections and bacteria can also lead to other issues in your body through the bloodstream!
Every person's body is different. And every person should listen to their body first. It's not about "shoulds" and "shouldn'ts". It's about doing what works for you and will work with your lifestyle!