Nutrition for Your Teeth and Gums
Why do we think of our dental health, skin health, and bone health as separate entities? At Dr. Katie To, Center for Integrative Wellness and Cosmetic Dentistry, we take a holistic approach to dentistry, which means dental care that promotes whole-body balance and wellness.
When it comes to nutrition, the diet that supports healthy teeth development and maintenance makes good sense for your entire body and is designed to ensure that your smile—and your body—stay healthy and functional for a lifetime.
Tooth Decay Is Not Just about Sugar
When we think of cavities, those of us from a certain generation may recall hearing public service announcements that try to sway kids away from the high-sugar treats they seem to love. Sugar is indeed one culprit when it comes to poor dental (and body) health, but it is not the only one. And all sugars are not equal.
Sugar found in whole fruit is less harmful to teeth than processed candy and sticky gummy bears. Fruit also contains fiber and essential vitamins for optimal whole-body function.
Processed carbohydrates, particularly those found in processed potato chips, commercial cereal, crackers, bagels, and breads stick in the grooves of the teeth and rapidly turn to sugar by interacting with saliva in the mouth.
Acid Softens Enamel
Bacteria need food to reproduce, and sugar is their favorite and most accessible energy source. During the reproductive cycle of bacteria, an acidic byproduct forms. The acidic environment of the mouth softens enamel, making it particularly prone to decay. Saliva restores the pH of the mouth and enamel rehardens. If the biofilm (white, sticky substance called plaque) stays on the teeth, it hardens and houses bacteria and irritates gum tissue, causing gum disease.
Fruit juice may seem healthy, but many of them contain as much sugar and acid ad sodas and soft drinks. Water helps to flush away food particles and keep the mouth at a healthy pH, which is why it should be your go-to drink all day long. Coffee, wine, and tea also have high acidity and can also stain teeth.
What Foods Promote Good Oral Health?
Now that we know which foods to avoid to prevent cavities and gum disease, how do you know which foods will give you strong, healthy teeth and gums?
Think whole foods.
- Colorful fruits and vegetables
- Fibrous whole grains
- Beans and legumes
- Lean proteins (meat, fish, chicken, pork, soy products, eggs)
- Unaltered fats and oils (olive oil, avocado, coconut oil, flaxseed oil)
Basically, any food that does not need an ingredient list can fall under the umbrella of “healthy.” When we alter the structure of food or fill it with salt and fat, we make that food less healthy than its natural state.
Vitamins and Minerals for Healthy Teeth
Many people choose to get their nutrition from whole foods, and others like to supplement their diets with nutrients they may fall short on consuming. Some supplements that may support healthy teeth include:
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin A
Vitamin C is also essential for optimal gum health. Because smoking depletes vitamin C, it is particularly important for people with a tobacco habit.
Dental Supplements and Tinctures
We work with some of the leading nutritional dental supplement companies to help patients improve their oral health naturally. We have a line of products in our Katy dental office that Dr. Katie will be happy to present as part of your overall dental wellness plan.
Learn More about Natural and Holistic Dentistry
If you would like more information on a tooth-friendly diet in Katy, TX, or you need resources to quit smoking for good, our knowledgeable and compassionate team can provide advice and resources to have a healthier smile and body through good nutrition. Dental nutrition is a hot topic, and we would love to share what we know with you and your family.