DIET AND DENTAL DISEASE
What you eat affects the health of your teeth. Choosing the right foods can help you to keep your teeth healthy and avoid dental problems, such as tooth decay and gum disease. You need to know which foods can help to keep your teeth strong and which foods can cause problems for your teeth. If you do not get the proper nutrients in your diet, your body may be less able to prevent dental disease.
Practicing good oral hygiene is very important in maintaining healthy teeth and gums. This includes brushing your teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, flossing between your teeth daily, and visiting your dentist regularly to have your teeth cleaned professionally.
- Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet that includes a variety of foods in moderate amounts every day. Eat less of foods that contain high amounts of sugar or easily digested (refined), simple carbohydrates. Your diet should include:
- Fibre-rich fruits and vegetables.
- Lean sources of protein. These include eggs, lean meat, chicken, fish, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products.
- Whole grains. These include brown rice, whole-wheat bread, and pasta.
- Fresh, whole, and unprocessed foods. These foods help you to produce more saliva, which is important for good dental health.
- Try to wait at least 2 hours between meals, snacks, and drinks.
- Avoid foods that are rich in simple sugars or carbohydrates, such as candies, cakes, and syrups. Eating these foods often over a long period of time can increase your risk of developing cavities (dental caries).
- Avoid eating sticky or acidic foods by themselves, such as caramel, dried fruit, jams, or citrus fruits. If you eat these types of foods, eat them with meals rather than between meals.
- Chew sugar-free gum right after a meal or snack.
- Rinse your mouth with water after eating sugary snacks.
- Avoid sipping drinks that are sweetened with sugar, such as soda. Sipping these drinks for prolonged periods can increase your risk of dental caries.
- Avoid holding or swishing acidic or sugary drinks in your mouth.
- Any food or drink that contains sugar or is sweetened with sugar. These should be avoided in general or only eaten in moderation. This list includes fruit drinks, carbonated beverages, sport or energy drinks, as well as sweetened coffees and teas.
- Sticky foods. These include raisins, other dried fruit, and candies that are sticky, hard, or slow to melt. It is best to avoid these.
- Foods that are high in refined carbohydrates or higher in sugar. These include cookies, cakes, muffins, chips, and crackers.
- Simple sugars, such as sucrose, honey, and molasses.
- Acidic foods and drinks. These include tomatoes, citrus fruits, coffee, and fruit juice. These foods and drinks can weaken tooth enamel, and that can cause tooth sensitivity, erosion, and pitting.
- Foods that are high in vitamins C and A, such as fresh fruits and vegetables. These vitamins are important for keeping gums healthy and building tooth enamel.
- High-quality protein foods. These include lean meats, eggs, cheese, milk, yogurt, fish, beans, and legumes.
- Whole-grain breads and cereals that are low in sugar.
- Sugar-free chewing gum and sugar-free mints.
- Foods that are good sources of calcium. These include cheese, milk, plain yogurt, calcium-fortified tofu, leafy greens, and almonds.
- Water, especially fluoridated water.