The Role Nutrition Plays in Maintaining Healthy Teeth

dentist TulsaJust as visits to the dentist twice a year cannot take the place of a good daily oral health regimen, eating a healthy diet only occasionally is not going to go far in helping to maintain good oral or overall health. We only get one set of permanent teeth. It is important that we strive every day to monitor nutrition in an effort to keep teeth healthy so that they will serve us well throughout our lifetime.

What is Meant by Good Nutrition?

A healthy daily diet consists of fruits, vegetables, dairy, proteins, and healthy grains. These are the basics, but it is how they are prepared and consumed that will dictate their overall value.

For example, you can grill or bake just about any vegetable and it will retain good nutritional value; however, if you dip it into batter and deep fry it you’ve pretty much negated all its positive attributes.

The occasional snack food is acceptable, but a daily diet of processed carbohydrates and/or sweetened treats can be hard on dentition.

Foods high in carbs and sugar promote the formation of dental plaque, a sticky substance that when allowed to harden on teeth turns into tartar. This substance can lead to dental decay and the possible onset of gum disease.

And it’s not just about solid food … beverages are important, too. Watch sugar content and save soda consumption for special occasions. Drink water, water, and water. Need to make it more palatable? Try adding fresh fruit or a sugar free additive. Sparkling water is perfectly OK.

Are Any Snack Foods Acceptable? 

In addition to fresh fruits and vegetables, try enjoying yogurt (watch for sugar content), cheese, nuts (in moderation as they are highly caloric), popcorn, and seeds like sunflower seeds.

If you crave something specific, indulge in a small portion (a small scoop of your favorite ice cream), a piece of dark chocolate, or a couple of bites of your favorite dessert. The key is to limit these small entitlements to occasionally, not the norm.

Small slips will not have a major impact if they are limited and you have implemented a good daily oral health program consisting of brushing twice a day with a fluoridated toothpaste and flossing at least once daily. It’s also important to schedule a visit with our dentist every six months for a cleaning and dental exam.