As we head into the summer, we may find ourselves snacking a bit more than usual. Although given the way that life has been over the past few months, you may already consider yourself a professional snacker. Either way, it’s important to be mindful of what you’re consuming, especially if you have a passion for mindlessly chowing down.
When it comes to your oral health, it’s about more than just watching your sugar intake these days. You need to consider factors like: food quality, food consistency, nutritional composition, and even the combination of foods that you’re eating.
So let’s start by taking a look at factors that can impact your dental health:
What is food quality?
Simply put, food quality refers to the characteristics of food that make it acceptable to consumers. This includes, but is not limited to, factors like: color, size, shape, texture, and flavor. For quality food ideas, think: leafy green vegetables, fruits, whole grains, healthy fats and healthy sources of protein.
What is food consistency?
Without getting too scientific, food consistency generally refers to the texture and makeup of food. For example, starchy foods like bread, crackers & potato chips can stick to your tooth’s surface and essentially feed bacteria, which can lead to oral health concerns like tooth decay and cavities.
Why do I need to care about nutritional composition?
Most importantly, the food we eat supplies the rest of our body with the nutrients it needs to remain strong and healthy. Our bodies, bones, teeth and gums rely on us to consume foods that function to renew tissue and help fight infection and disease. If you exercise poor nutrition, your mouth is often the first place to reveal your unhealthy habits.
What should I eat & what should I avoid?
Generally speaking, foods that are calcium-rich and protein-rich can be beneficial to your oral health. Your best bet is to stay away from empty calorie foods like candy as well as sweets and snack foods (cookies, chips, etc.) because not only do they lack nutritional value, but they also contain sugars that stick to your teeth and invite bacteria to join the party. When bacteria join the party, acids are released and the result is tooth decay.
So what specifically can I eat in order to improve my oral health?
Here are 5 types of foods that can help to protect your tooth enamel and, in turn, improve your oral health:
- Foods Rich in Calcium: From calcium-fortified juices and milk to other dairy products, there are a wide range of foods in this category that you can consume in order to promote healthy teeth and bones.
- Cheese: Yes – we said cheese!, releases calcium that mixes with plaque and sticks to your teeth acting as a protective mechanism against acid that causes tooth decay. Moreover, it can help to immediately rebuild your tooth enamel.
- Fruits & Vegetables: Bite into something crispy like an apple or tasty raw veggies like carrots and celery to clean plaque from your teeth while simultaneously freshening your breath.
- Vitamin C: Considered an antioxidant vitamin, this, along with other nutrients from fruits and vegetables, can protect your gums and other tissues from bacterial infections. Citrus fruits, strawberries, tomatoes, broccoli, and red & green peppers are all good sources of Vitamin C.
- Protein-Rich Foods: Meat, poultry, fish and eggs are good sources of phosphorus, a mineral that helps to protect and rebuild tooth enamel. In other words, foods that are high in phosphorus are your oral health friends.
While this is just a snapshot of foods that can help to protect and rebuild your tooth enamel, we’re happy to continue the conversation with you. If you have specific questions about anything that you eat on a regular basis that you’re unsure about or that you’re looking to replace or supplement with something more nutritious, let us know and we’ll talk you through it. Your oral health is important and we’re here to help you improve it in any way that we can!