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Keeping your teeth for life through proper diet

Ever heard the phrase ‘You are what you eat?’ We all know it is true, but your diet also affects your dental health.

Your food choices will have a direct bearing on your teeth and gums, as will how often you consume them. Making the wrong food choices could mean your teeth are more susceptible to tooth decay, and could put you at an increased risk of developing gum disease.

Sugary Foods Increase the Risk of Tooth Decay

Just about everyone knows this, but do you know exactly why? Everyone’s mouth contains bacteria, and these bacteria thrive on foods that are high in sugars and carbohydrates.

Tiny particles of food remain trapped around your teeth and gums, every time you eat. These fragments of food are consumed by the bacteria in your mouth as they provide them with the energy to multiply. These bacteria produce acid and other toxins while doing so, and the acids will attack your tooth enamel. This has the effect of softening and weakening the enamel, and your mouth remains more acidic for between half an hour and an hour after eating.

If you frequently snack on sugary foods or foods high in carbohydrates, your mouth is likely to remain more acidic for longer periods of time and your tooth enamel will become progressively weaker exposing the underlying layer of dentin. Eventually the bacteria will eat away at the dentin, causing decay.

Foods that are naturally high in acid would also have this effect, so it’s wise to limit your consumption of acidic fruits and diet drinks.

A Poor Diet Will Increase the Risk of Gum Disease

Gum disease is a bacterial infection that initially affects the gums. If it progresses, then it will affect the gums and all the structures surrounding the teeth that normally hold them firmly in place.

Your body’s response to bacterial infection is to fight back through the production of antibodies, and it also sends essential nutrients to your gums to help them to heal. If your body lacks these nutrients such as vitamins and minerals, then it will be less able to fight bacterial infection in your mouth. It won’t be able to send nutrients to help your gums to heal, and the fight against the bacterial infection will be lost. Severe gum disease is the main reason teeth are lost, and it is thought that the disease can progress more quickly in people who have poor nutrition.

Choose your foods wisely for Healthy Teeth and Gums

If you choose your foods wisely, then you will have a much better chance of having a healthy mouth, and of course a healthier body.

Make sure your diet includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables that are packed full of vitamins and minerals and antioxidants to keep your gums healthy. Choose lean protein such as skinless chicken and the plenty of fish, and opt for low-fat dairy foods that don’t contain lots of sugar. This is all common sense, and of course it would be impossible to follow such a strict diet of time, but you can make plenty of healthier choices.

Sticking to three meals a day rather than snacking frequently will help decrease the acidity in your mouth. If you do want to snack them try to choose something healthy such as a small piece of low-fat cheese or crunchy vegetables. If you want to eat something more indulgent, then try to have it as part of a meal as your mouth will produce more saliva which will help to wash away the excess food particles. It can help to drink plenty of water after a meal, and to rinse your mouth around with plain water, or to brush your teeth after eating.