Sacramento, Calif. — As part of March’s National Nutrition Month, and in an effort to increase oral health awareness, the California Dental Association is highlighting the importance of a nutritious diet to help keep teeth and gums healthy.“Maintaining a healthy, nutritious diet plays an integral role in dental health as well as overall health,” said pediatric dentist and CDA President-Elect Lindsey Robinson, DDS. “Your eating patterns and food choices are key factors in the development of tooth decay.”Children and adults consume increasing amounts of sugar-filled sodas, sweetened fruit drinks, and non-nutritious snacks that affect their teeth. These items generally have little, if any, nutritional value and over time, they take a toll on teeth. In addition, a diet low in important nutrients can make it hard for the body’s immune system to fight off infection.Dental diseases related to diet may include the development of cavities, dental erosion, and periodontal (gum) disease, so it’s important to eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains, fat-free or low-fat milk, and fewer foods with sugar, cholesterol, and salt. Bacteria feed on what we eat, especially sugars (including fruit sugars) and cooked starch (bread, potatoes, rice, pasta, etc.). About five minutes after eating or consuming beverages, bacteria begin creating acids that can break down the tooth’s outer surface by attacking enamel.To help keep enamel intact, stay away from sugar-laden sodas and drink plenty of water, especially after meals, to keep gums hydrated and rinse away food particles that would otherwise remain in the mouth and promote bacterial growth that causes tooth decay. CDA also suggests loading up on fruits and vegetables as these foods promote saliva flow, helping to neutralize acids that attack tooth enamel.Most importantly, protect teeth throughout the year by brushing for two minutes, twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing regularly and visiting a dentist for a complete dental checkup on a regular basis. For more information, visit cda.org.
For more insight on diet and nutrition, read this article by Maria Perno Goldie.