Your Diet, Oral Health, and Nutrition

Your oral health and diet are tied together with nutrition.  Alongside numerous medical studies that show oral health is so closely linked to overall systemic health (the body),  what you eat can affect the condition of your teeth, gums, and supporting bone structures.

Sugar is typically the main culprit, and it has unfortunately taken a bad hit in the news.  Sounds odd right?  It makes foods taste good and sweet.  Its found naturally in many foods like fruits and some vegetables.  Natural fruits like oranges, watermelons, mangoes, and apples taste great when its fresh and sweet.  And that cold glass of sweet orange juice to start your day off at breakfast.  Then there are snacks and deserts!  Chocolate cake, pumpkin pie, candy cars, and donuts; aside from these products traditionally being loaded with fat, its sugar content can be so high it may exceed that of FDA guidelines!

But why does sugar have a negative effect on one’s teeth?  Is sugar directly bad for your teeth?  Bacteria likes sugar, and when bacteria encounters and “eats” the sugar, it releases a powerful enzyme (think of it like a working machine).  If this enzyme finds its way onto the tooth’s surface, it softens the tooth’s surface and causes the area to weaken.  In essence this enzyme the bacteria releases makes the tooth susceptible to having a cavity because the tooth no longer has a proper protective outer coat.

Other culprits that may have a negative effect on your teeth include acidic products like that found in soda, lemon, lime, and even energy drinks!  What happens is that the acid erodes and literally “eats” and erodes away the protective enamel layer of the tooth (also known as erosion).  With an acid level approaching that of our digestive enzymes in the stomach, its no wonder they can be so harmful.

So how do we combat cavities?  It all starts with good oral health.  Proper hygiene through brushing and flossing will help remove sugars and acidic foods from your teeth. A good diet is also important.  It’s okay to eat food containing sugars as long we as eat the sugars in controlled quantities, and limit the intake to a short period of time (ie. don’t sip on lemonade all day long).

Chewing a sugarless gum or drinking lots of water during the day can also help to decrease the risk of cavities.  Orbit is a brand of sugarless gum that is worth looking into.  The gum promotes salivary flow, which helps washes away the sugar and acid.  And the water literally helps washes the sugars and acids away from your teeth and keeps it clean.

If you have any questions about diet and dental health for your family Bellevue dentist, give us a call today!

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