How Does Nutrition Affect Dental Health?

Dental Health has always been a main concern for most people around the world. Decades ago however, regular folks were not entirely aware of many unhealthy activities affecting their everyday lives. In previous times, dental health was never directly involved with a well-balanced nutrition. Back then, the scientific community had not yet discovered a direct correlation between a balanced diet, and dental health. It is not just about brushing our teeth everyday, or about flossing regularly. Having adequate dental health has a lot to do with what we eat. We truly are what we eat and it reflects directly in our smile.

Ignorance about nutrition and dental health has ran rampant for decades. This allowed for activities that directly affected people’s quality of life. This has been the norm throughout time, and only when the general public begins to notice red flags, do we start to ask questions. For instance, back in the 50’s, marketing campaigns encouraging people to smoke cigarettes were as common as McDonald’s advertising happy meals. This was obviously before newfound, science-based proof, linked tobacco inhalation to lung cancer, killing people all over the world.

In this new age of technology, people are waking up to the fact that nutrition and dental health actually go hand-in-hand. A “proper” diet means eating three meals a day in a balanced manner, helping the body obtain nutrients needed for a healthy life, and well-being. If one’s diet lacks necessary nutrients, our mouths could develop difficulties when fighting off any kind of infection.

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So then, why is nutrition so important for dental health? Well for starters, a poor diet is more likely to bring about tooth decay and gum disease. All foods that are rich in carbs, sugar, and starch, are main contributors in producing poor dental hygiene symptoms. In due time, acids form in and around the dental plaque are, leading to tooth decay all because of poor dietary habits.

Any kind of food that contains sugar can produce tooth decay. Since nearly all food groups contain certain sugar levels, including dairy and vegetables, this might be cause for concern. However, these aliments are part of our everyday diet because they also contain nutrients our body needs to function properly. In order to learn to control sugar intake, we must read the instructions behind every single product consumed. Choosing products low in carbs and sugar is an excellent way to start monitoring daily sugar intake.

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What is considered a balanced diet?

A proper diet means leading a balanced nutrition so the body can receive necessary nutrients that will prolong good health. The body renews itself every day, forming new muscle tissue, new bone tissue, as well as new skin and blood cells. Every single food the body digests on a daily basis needs to be nutrient-rich. Proper balance of nutrients can provide a consistent base for tissue creation within the body. If the body is low in any kind of the vital nutrients, it will become increasingly difficult for your mouth to deal with any infections.

Education about nutrition needs to start at home. Parents often ignore the need to carry out a healthy, well-balanced diet from childhood. Since our teeth do not fully develop for the first six years of life, it is imperative to maintain a diet rich in calcium, phosphate, and properly controlled levels of fluoride. By doing so, children will continue their development process with a strong set of teeth capable of resisting tooth decay and cavities.

Balanced Diet

A balanced diet must include:

  • Proper levels of carbohydrates.
  • Essential levels of fatty acid found in all fats.
  • Essential levels of amino acids found in protein.
  • 15 different basic vitamins.
  • 25 different basic minerals.
  • Water! Lots of water!

Our bodies are not capable of producing all the nutrients it needs on a daily basis. Certain vitamins are especially difficult for the body to produce, which is why we require supplements to facilitate this process.

The Agriculture Department in the United States recommends the general population to lead a diet as follows:

  1. 6 to 11 portions of bread and cereals.
  2. 3 to 5 portions of vegetables.
  3. 2 to 4 portions of fruit.
  4. 2 to 3 portions of dairy products.
  5. 2 to 3 portions of protein which include red meat, fish, eggs, birds, beans and nuts.

If you must, for some reason, have a diet rich in sugar or starch, dentists recommend you eat those during meal time, instead of in between. Try to avoid sticky foods, as they can lead to excessive tooth decay and cavities. They can also contain ingredients that produce acid, slowly harming the tooth’s enamel. The less we expose our teeth to these types of ingredients, the stronger they will be against decay. Please remember to brush your teeth three times a day and floss regularly. By following these pointers and feeding properly, one will certainly enjoy a healthy smile, and a long life.

Tips to Pick Meals Properly

Ingesting food rich in sugar is the leading reason for tooth decay. Learning how to avoid consuming these products will help you protect your teeth, leading to better dental hygiene. In order to maintain a balanced diet, eating from the five main food groups on the nutrition pyramid is essential. When choosing a snack between meals, make sure to select something healthy like cheese, raw veggies, natural yogurt, or simply a piece of fruit.

Japanese studies have concluded from a group of approximately 950 adults, that consuming dairy products containing lactic acid (milk, yogurt, cheese) brought more risk of having any kind of dental disease. Periodontal health of every participant in this experiment was evaluated according to two parameters – depth of the periodontal bag, and gum tissue clinical insertion loss. Investigators found that participants who consumed 55 grams or more of lactic acid-rich beverages, presented a significantly higher risk of having periodontal disease.

Investigators also speculated the prebiotic effect of Lactobacillus bacteria possibly being directly related to healthy gums. Another Japanese study proved that drinking green tea can also result in healthier gums due to the anti-inflammatory properties it carries. According to American scientists, people who like tea can prepare a black tea with no sugar, lemon or milk. This helps suppress bacteria growth that causes tooth decay or cavities in the mouth. Studies from the United States also proved a direct correlation between low vitamin C intake and gingival disease. Consuming fruits and vegetables with high vitamin C content can help with healthier dental hygiene.

Maintaining a healthy smile for either you or your children depends on various factors. We already know that flossing, regular brushing, and dental appointments are very important, but keeping a balanced diet also plays a major role in dental health. Although avoiding high sugar foods is not entirely necessary, we can consider them a direct threat to our teeth instead of an elemental part of our daily routine. This will protect your dentures in the long run and keep you from unnecessary pain. In order to improve your family’s dental health, consider adding a few products low in sugar to your daily meal-plan.

What about beverages?

Another important part that heavily affects dental health is knowing which drinks to have, and which ones to avoid. When thirsty, we get to choose from a great array of beverage options: sodas, energy drinks, water, hot coffee, etc. Depending on which drink you may pick, we can already tell if your choices affect your dental health or not.

The ADA (American Dental Association) has published several articles about this topic. They recommend all consumers pick beverages to strictly hydrate, and not for taste. The need to contribute to good nutrition may not always be as strong as the need to savor your favorite soda. Drinking between 8 and 12 cups of water a day however, is of vital importance when it comes to dental health. Fluoride water can also benefit and prevent dental cavities, and many health-conscious consumers are now drinking more bottled water than ever. A study shows that Americans have guzzled down over 5 billion bottled waters in the past decade, more than double compared to a decade before. This means people are learning that drinking water is the healthiest method for maintaining proper health.

If bottled water is the main source for drinking water, fluoride benefits could be getting lost in the fight to prevent tooth decay and cavities. Water flowing from distribution systems are the main source of fluoride in the United States; this is not the case in other countries like Mexico or Canada. Other types of healthy drinks that can be good for teeth are those that contain 50% fruit juice, with no sweetener, or low-fat milk.

Though rare, babies and children can still develop severe tooth decay. This happens when babies have frequent and prolonged exposure to liquids that contain sugar, such as sweetened water, or fruit. Tooth decay can also occur when the baby falls fast asleep with the feeding bottle, or when it’s used to calm a hyperactive baby down. Liquid sugar gets deposited around the baby’s teeth, as soon as they fall sleep. Bacteria in the mouth uses this sugar as food, producing acids that attack the teeth during the process. Every single time a baby drinks these liquids, an acid attack occurs for around 20 minutes or more, after multiple attacks the tooth can decay.

The ADA also warns people to limit the intake of sugar-heavy beverages. Some non-diet sodas can have no less than 11 teaspoons of sugar. A sugar increase in your diet can dramatically decrease your dental hygiene. Many different types of bubbly soda, even sugar-free diet sodas, contain acid that can destroy the tooth’s composition. Coffee, tea, energy drinks, sports drinks, wine, sodas and other dark-tint beverages, are also frequently responsible for tooth decay. Beverage intake through a straw is the best possible way to prevent stains and cavities. Brushing your teeth right after consuming one of the beverages in question, and visiting your dentist regularly, will help you keep your teeth squeaky clean.

A constant, healthy Dental Hygiene is very important to prevent decaying, or cavities. The ADA recommends brushing your teeth at least twice a day with fluoride-based paste, floss between the teeth for any residue, eat healthy, limit snack intake, and visit your dentist regularly for professional clean-ups, or denture exams. This will ensure longevity in maintaining proper dental health.

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