The Best Nutrition Strategies for a Healthy Mouth and Teeth

If you want to care for your body, you need to look after your teeth. Brush twice a day, visit your dentist, and eat a healthy diet. Read this guide for advice.

Best Nutrition Strategies for a Healthy Mouth

Image by Michael Stern on Flickr.  

The importance of good oral and dental health is something that should never be underestimated. Yet, it is frequently overlooked by huge swathes of the population. With the majority of adults needing fillings and other treatments to repair decay, there has never been a better time to start taking great care of your mouth. And the good news is that excellent dental health is an easy thing to achieve.

It all starts at home, with an adequate brushing and flossing routine. You need to brush and floss twice a day, sometimes more if you have eaten a lot of sugary snacks. But you should avoid over brushing or cleaning too firmly, as this can also harm enamel. On top of this, you need to keep up with regular dental screenings and exams. This is the best chance that you have of spotting signs of damage and decay early enough for teeth to be saved.

If your gums and teeth are in a reasonably healthy condition, you only have to attend check-ups twice a year. So, there really is no excuse not to give your teeth the tender love and care that they deserve. The final part of the puzzle is diet. If you do not eat healthily and regulate the amount of sugar that you consume, even brushing and flossing will not be able to keep up with the rate of plaque production.

This is why things like limiting fruit juices to mealtimes, swapping out candy for sugarless versions and sugar less gum, and drinking plenty of water are a sure fire way to a healthy mouth. While some of the detrimental impact of dietary sugars can be counteracted with a good dental care routine, the balance needs to be in favour of your teeth. In other words, to keep teeth healthy, you need to be giving them enough protection to balance out the bad stuff in your diet.

This is not always easy, especially for people who are used to drinking lots of carbonated sodas and grazing on sugar snacks throughout the day. However, the only outcome of this dietary style is degenerative tooth decay, cavities, and potentially tooth loss. So, it is time to take back control of your mouth and give your teeth the best possible shot at a long life. It is all about changing your routine and understanding the impact of a balanced, healthy diet.

These handy tips and tricks will help you to put together some effective nutritional strategies for a healthy mouth and teeth.

Why the Right Nutrients Have a Big Impact on Teeth

There is a very good reason why a lack of important nutrients can have an extremely detrimental impact on teeth. In fact, nutritional deficiencies are often shown in the mouth before symptoms develop anywhere else. This is because the mucosal cells (in the oral tissues) are replaced evert 3-7 days.

If you are lacking a certain nutrient or mineral, the cells will start to regenerate much more sluggishly or even begin to die. For example, periodontal disease is commonly linked to low vitamins and minerals in the blood. We need things like protein to support the development of mucosal and connective tissues. We need calcium to speed up the natural regeneration properties of teeth.

If possible, it is always a good idea to eat more omega 3 fatty acids as part of your diet, because the substance enhances the inflammatory response. So, fans of oily fish like sardines and mackerels have mouths that are naturally better at responding to signs of infection. As we know, this kind of improved function is vital when it comes to keeping periodontal disease and cavities of the gums at bay.

Understanding Which Foods to Eat for a Healthy Mouth

The following section will take a closer look at some of the best foods to eat for a healthy mouth and teeth. It will also outline some of the main culprits to avoid, so that you can reduce your risk of developing cavities.

Probiotics

According to dentists, probiotics are some of the best ingredients to indulge in if you want to have super strong teeth. They contain ingredients which stimulate the development of ‘good bacteria.’ You can find probiotic compounds in things like natural yoghurt, health drinks, and fermented dairy. It is believed that consuming lots of this friendly stuff will significantly reduce your risk of periodontal disease.

Cranberries

The reason why cranberries are so good for teeth is because they are rich in a compound called anthocyanins. You can also find it in everything from blueberries to red cabbage, black rice, eggplant, and raspberries. Anthocyanins make it harder for harmful pathogens in the oral tissues to stick around and multiply. In fact, a number of studies have suggested that washing and rinsing the mouth with cranberry infused products can significantly improve dental health.

Green Tea

Fans of green tea, rejoice, because the polyphenols that it contains are kind to teeth. They decrease the volume of bacteria present in the mouth and eliminate much of the toxic substances that it emits. And, green tea is filled with fluoride which is great for strengthening enamel. If that weren’t enough, green tea is also an effective and completely natural weight loss aid.

Pine Bark Chewing Gum

You may need to browse the depths of a health food store for this one, but it is worthwhile. Pine bark chewing gum is an old fashioned recipe that is not seen often on supermarket shelves these days. However, it contains pycnogenol, an ingredient that is known to reduce plaque and prevent bleeding gums.

Soy Products

Vegetarians and vegans will likely be quite familiar with soy and may already be seeing its benefits in the health of their mouth and gum tissues. If you have never tried it before, don’t be afraid to experiment. You don’t have to go full vegetarian, just swap out one meaty meal a week for something lighter, less fatty, and more nutritional. For people with soy rich diets, periodontal disease is less common.

Garlic and Ginger

It is a misconception to think that eating healthily has to be about sacrificing flavours. In reality, some of the most flavourful ingredients of all are the best for your teeth. For example, garlic and ginger are great for reducing the growth of periodontal pathogens. They are also an effective defence against colds and flu, because they bolster the immune system.

Whole Foods

The vast majority of diets require the dieter to swap out white ingredients for brown, whole wheat, and whole grain versions. This is because there is a lot of added sugar in things like white bread and rice. It does not need to be there, it has no nutritional value, and it can be replaced without losing taste. And, whole foods give your teeth and gums an excellent workout. The more saliva you produce to eat your food, the better protected your teeth will be.

Fluoride

Fluoride is a mineral that helps the teeth to stay strong and durable. It prevents decalcification, so without it, our teeth would likely weaken and be unable to withstand the pressure of chewing and eating. It also aids with the absorption of calcium and speeds up the remineralisation of damaged tooth enamel. In short, it is an essential mineral, so make sure that you get plenty by brushing your teeth regularly and drinking lots of water.

Recognising the Dangers of Obesity for Oral Health

This is an extremely overlooked issue, but an important one nonetheless. It might sound strange to speak of the mouth in terms of obesity and extra weight, but this area of the body suffers in the same way as any other. In obese patients, the surplus fat tissues start to accumulate in regions where they are not needed.

This can lead to the development of frustrating and unsightly lipomas (benign tumours inside the mouth). For some patients, these tumour like growths appear on the tongue or the salivary glands and reduce the overall function of the mouth. Therefore, you are likely to be given warnings by your dentist and your doctor if you gain a lot of weight very quickly.

With obesity now considered the second largest risk factor for inflammation in the mouth, dentist are clear on the fact that weight and dental health are connected. Most now believe that the only thing more dangerous for the oral tissue is smoking. If you are significantly overweight, you probably have high blood sugar levels, pro-inflammatory compounds, and an unhealthy saliva PH.

Your mucosal cells are likely to be a lot more porous and exposed. This makes them vulnerable to bacteria. And, if bacteria takes hold in the gum tissue, especially, it multiples quickly and starts to put pressure on the roots of teeth. If left untreated, this situation results in a root infection and a repair treatment must be performed. The repair for this kind of problem is a cheap root canal treatment. The dentist inserts a suction device into the tooth and removes the bad tissue.

How Unpredictable Eating Habits Affect the Mouth

It is worth pointing out that a well organised eating routine can be very beneficial for teeth. For example, eating a handful of carefully balanced meals every day is a lot healthier than picking and grazing at small snacks. The science behind this says that, every time you eat, your mouth needs to get to work on combating the sugars contained in the ingredients.

If you only do this a handful of times throughout the day, rather than lots of little times, the mouth doesn’t have to work so hard. So, ultimately, it is not about how much food you eat. As regards the health of teeth, it is more about conserving the resources of your mouth. The harder that the body has to work to maintain and repair teeth, the fewer resources it can spare for the rest of the organs.

This is why so many seemingly unrelated health conditions are actually linked to poor oral health in one way or another. The connection between good dental health and good physical health is simply not understood by most. But, getting a grip of this fundamental idea can mean the difference between many years of excellent health, with no cavities or decay, and a long time spent battling chronic sores, infections, and inflammation.

The Main Reasons Why Age is Tough on Teeth

The risk of developing periodontal disease increases alongside age. Unfortunately, the older we get, the harder it is to keep our teeth and gums healthy. The responsibility does not diminish though, because it only ever gets more important to maintain good oral health. As the teeth age, the gum and connective tissues get worn down and cavities start to emerge. To some extent, this aging process is unavoidable – the mouth wears just like any other body part.

It is possible, however, to minimise the damage and keep a close eye on signs of degradation, so that problems can be fixed quickly. If cavities and root infections are spotted and solved fast, the chance of them leading to tooth loss are small. The only reason why older people end up with dentures is because they have not been careful enough with their natural teeth.

If you are prescribed any medications, you need to check with your doctor that they will not lead to dry mouth. Currently it is believed that over 500 types of prescription medication cause this dental problem. It is characterised by a lack of saliva and, while this might not sound like such a big issue, it can significantly increase the risk of developing serious tooth decay.

As you age, don’t forget to treat your teeth as carefully as you would your heart, limbs, brain, stomach, and any other part of the body. Once you lose teeth, they are lost forever, and the gap created by a missing tooth often leads to a domino effect for degeneration of the jawbone and gum tissue. This is why dentists always replace missing teeth with an implant, bridge piece, or other replacement option.

Hints and Tips for Regulating Your Sugar Consumption

According to the World Health Organization, added sugars are the real enemy, though naturally occurring sugars should be closely monitored too. It recommends that people consume no more than 10% of their total energy intake in added sugars. For example, if you eat 2,500 calories every day, 10% is around 250 calories of added sugars per day (or 65 grams of added sugar).

The single best move that you can make to protect your teeth against sugar is to swap out natural and added sugar for artificial sweeteners. As of yet, there is no evidence to suggest that sweeteners like sucralose or aspartame have a detrimental impact on dental health. The same goes for stevia, which is a natural plant based sweetener. It does not appear to be harmful for enamel.

On the other hand, it is clear that much more research into the impact of artificial sweeteners is needed. For now though, it is considered a healthier choice to switch out regular sugar for a product like Splenda. You can use artificial sweeteners in tea and coffee, on breakfast cereals, in desserts, and as a way to flavour smoothies and shakes. The important thing to remember is that sweeteners are not a license to start consuming more sugar than normal.

If you do this, you are likely to change the makeup of your taste buds. They will start to crave more sweet and sugary foods than they did before. Keeping the mouth and teeth healthy is all about balance; it is about finding a way to eat the things that we need (including sugar), without contributing to the degeneration and wear of the enamel. For more comprehensive advice, consult your dental specialist.

Additional Advice on Keeping Your Teeth Strong

Smoking is one of the easiest and fastest ways to damage your teeth. There is only one way to reverse its harmful impact and that is to quit. Clearly, cutting down is better than taking no action at all, but the only viable solution is to give up the habit. If you do, your teeth will last longer and stay stronger, even as you age. For those who have recently given up smoking, it can be useful to have a whitening treatment to remove stubborn stains.

The typical whitening treatment is quick, effective, and affordable. They can be carried independently at home, or they can be performed by a dental professional. While the ‘in clinic’ procedure is always a little more costly than the ‘take home’ kits, it offers patients the best results. If you are considering a whitening or bleaching treatment of any kind, ask your doctor for advice first. They will be able to let you know about any likely side effects and make a judgement as to whether the treatment will be worthwhile.

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