Nutrition and Dental Health

Nutrition and Dental Health

A healthy diet and good dental health go hand in hand. Your mouth is the first place nutrients from food enter your body. It is where the digestion process begins. Therefore, what we eat is so important for our overall health, and our oral health. According to the American Dental Association, your oral hygiene is the first to decline due to a bad diet.

Some foods fight bacteria, some foods feed it and help it grow. Lets look into the foods you should avoid, and those you should include in your diet for healthy teeth and gums.


Foods to Avoid


Chewy and Hard Sweets

Sweets should be avoided, or seldom eaten, especially the hard and chewy variations. Chewy sweets stick to your teeth, which allows bacteria to feed at their own leisure producing acid over time. This acid attacks the enamel on your teeth. Hard sweets also pose the same threat, but can also cause chipped and broken teeth.

Bacteria burns sugar to make acid, which dissolves the protective layer of tooth enamel and causes cavities

Matthew Messina, a dentist and spokesman for the American Dental Association (ADA)


Soft Drinks

Soft drinks are full of sugar. As we know, bacteria feeds on this sugar to produce acids that will attack the enamel on your teeth. If you are having a soft drink, consume the beverage quickly and not over a long period of time. This will give the bacteria less time to take action. If possible have some water after you finish your soft drink to dilute the sugars. Better yet… try substitute your soft drink for a glass of water instead.

Included in this is sports drink. Although they may seem like the healthier option, sports drinks are also full of sugar. Reduce the amount of sports drinks you consume, and substitute with water when possible.


Starchy Foods that can get stuck in your teeth

Foods such and bread and crisps can easily get stuck in your teeth. Try to avoid these where possible. If you have eaten these starchy foods throughout the day, take extra care when using your interdental brush and brushing your teeth that evening.


Foods to eat


Cheese, plain yoghurt, and other dairy foods

Cheese and other dairy foods contain calcium which strengthens the enamel on your teeth. They also contain alkali, which neutralises the acid left on your teeth after eating. Why not opt for the cheeseboard for dessert the next time you are out? These foods also contain a protein called casein which helps repair enamel.


Foods high in fibre such as fruit and vegetables

According to the American Dental Association, foods high in fibre help keep your teeth clean. Foods with fibre stimulate saliva flow, which is a natural defence against cavities. The production of saliva reduces the effect of acid on your teeth.


Fatty Fish such as salmon

Fish such as salmon are high in Omega 3 fatty acids which can help with gum health and keep teeth securely rooted, which in turns reduces the risk of tooth decay. They are also a great source of Vitamin D which is needed for the absorption of calcium. Calcium can then do its very important job of protecting the enamel on your teeth.


green and black tea

Green and black tea both contain polyphenols. This anti-oxidant will kill or hold back bacteria in the mouth and fight off disease. It also stops bacteria sticking to your teeth, and breaking down the enamel.


All of these foods are recommendations for healthier teeth and gums, but remember to stick to the RDA guidelines when consuming these foods.

It’s when we excessively use one thing that it can become a problem

Matthew Messina, a dentist and spokesman for the American Dental Association (ADA)


Nutrition tips for good dental health:

  • Plan your meals in advance to ensure you avoid sugary meals and snacks.
  • Avoid eating sugary snacks between meals. If you need to snack, stick to nutritious snacks such as nuts, veggies, plain yoghurt, and cheese.
  • Reduce the number of snacks between meals. If you are continually snacking throughout the day, the bacteria in your mouth will increase the levels of acid on your teeth. This in turn will weaken your enamel, causing tooth decay.
  • Know the right times to clean your teeth after eating and how often to brush your teeth. Get more information on how and when to brush your teeth here.
  • Drink plenty of water, especially after meals and snacking.
  • If you are going to have a sugary treat throughout the day, have it straight after a meal. Eating your dinner promotes the production of saliva in the mouth. This saliva then reduces the impact of the acid from the sugar, and helps wash away food particles.


If you are worried about the health of your teeth, you should see your dentist straight away. If you feel your diet is not providing you with the necessary nutrients you should talk to your doctor or nutritionist for further advice.

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