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Eating Well Supports Your Dental Health

Posted by Elder Health Plans, May 9, 2018

You already know that diet is an important factor related to many health conditions, such as digestive tract disorders, heart disease, obesity, and cancer. You should also add dental health to that list, because even though we don’t often think about it, what you eat affects your teeth and gums a lot more than you would think!

Sugar is one of the most common culprits leading to dental problems. A diet high in sugar encourages acid formation in the mouth, which then increases the risk of tooth decay. This is one of the primary reasons your dentist will advise you to avoid cookies, candy, soft drinks, and so on. In particular, sticky candies are the worst, because it can be difficult to brush away the residue they leave behind.

However, added sugar lurks in more foods than you would suspect. In particular, packaged foods often include high amounts of sugar, so make sure to read labels carefully. Words like “fructose” and “sucrose” indicate sugar. Of course, avoiding packaged foods altogether is generally recommended for better health. Preparing fresh foods yourself gives you control over the ingredients, so you can certain of what you’re actually eating.

Sodas are bad for another reason. They often contain phosphoric acid and citric acid, which can erode the enamel on your teeth. Look for these ingredients in other foods, too.

Alcohol dries out your mouth, lowering your resistance against gum infections, so limit your intake of alcoholic beverages. If any of your medications cause dry mouth as a side effect, talk to your doctor or dentist. You might need to take additional steps to prevent gum disease.

We’ve talked a lot about foods you should avoid, or at least limit… Now we’ll steer you toward some good foods that will promote dental health:

  • Fruits and vegetables, for their fiber content
  • Dairy products, for their calcium and other minerals
  • Unsweetened green or black tea – their polyphenols kill or inhibit the bacteria in plaque
  • Sugarless chewing gum after meals, to promote saliva production
  • Plenty of water

And, of course, remember that no matter what you eat, you still need to brush and floss your teeth twice per day. Visit your dentist for regular check-ups, every six months, and promptly report any concerns or symptoms in the meantime.

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