A healthy diet is important for your overall health and your oral health. Follow these healthy eating guidelines to help protect your teeth.
Every food you eat or beverage you drink comes in contact with your teeth, which means those choices continually impact the health of your teeth and gums. So it’s important to focus on eating healthy foods that also help promote oral health.
That means moving away from sugary, sticky, and acidic foods and drinks. Instead you’ll want to focus on eating a well-balanced diet that boosts your intake of tooth-friendly nutrients such as calcium.
With these healthy eating and drinking guidelines, you can reduce your risk of enamel erosion and cavities, and keep your smile looking healthier, longer.
Skip sweets. Cavities have long been linked with a diet rich in sugary, sticky foods as well as poor oral health habits, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). So it’s important to limit sugary foods and drinks. That doesn’t just mean candy, cookies, and cake. Sodas, some sports and energy drinks, and even juices are high in sugar. You might also be surprised to find high amounts of sugar in certain brands of spaghetti sauce, cereal, and canned fruit, so it’s important to check the sugar content in everything you eat or drink.
Eat non-stick foods. Sticky foods like raisins, honey, and molasses, along with starchy foods like bread and potato chips, can cling to the surface of your teeth and increase the risk of cavities, says Ginger Hultin, RD, in practice in Seattle, and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics (AND). Eaten in moderation, with good oral health practices such as brushing and flossing regularly, these foods are acceptable in small amounts.
Watch out for acidic foods. While eating fresh produce like oranges and tomatoes is an important part of a healthy diet, citrus fruits and certain other types of fruit are acidic, which can affect your tooth enamel. Try eating them with a meal — as opposed to on their own — so they’re less likely to harm your teeth. Keep in mind that acidic fruits in other forms (think lemon juice and cranberry jelly) are still acidic.
Beware of teeth-staining drinks. Certain drinks, like coffee, tea, and red wine, are likely to stain your teeth. That doesn’t mean you can never enjoy a morning cup of coffee or a glass of wine with dinner — just drink plenty of water with it to help wash away these tooth-staining properties.
Eat a balanced diet. The ADA recommends eating a well-balanced diet that includes vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean protein such as fish or beans, and dairy to help keep your teeth healthy.
Incorporate healthy fats. Healthy fats are an important component of an anti-inflammatory diet that promotes oral health. The AND recommends choosing heart-healthy fats such as olive oil, avocado, and fatty fish like salmon. The importance of including these types of omega-3 fatty acids in your diet. Work with your dietitian if you aren’t sure how to incorporate healthy fats into your diet.
Get enough calcium. Adults should get at least 1,000 to1,300 milligrams of calcium daily, depending on their age, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. Along with milk and other dairy products, foods that are high in calcium include beans, almonds, and leafy greens, the ADA says.
Drink water. If you’re thirsty, reach for a glass of water. “Plain water is best to protect the teeth and for so many other health-supporting benefits,” says Hultin. “Other beverages that aren’t sweetened are safe for teeth, including unsweetened coffee and tea.” If you do indulge in a sweet beverage, chase it with a drink of water — this is one way to wash some of the sugar off your teeth. Water also helps for Fluoride for tooth.