It is no secret that good nutrition and a balanced diet play a major role in good health. But, what is the role of diet in the maintenance of good dental health?
In general, the bacteria that cause dental disease are fueled by sugar. More sugar in the diet leads to more disease-causing bacteria. This is especially true of sticky sugars such as raisins, taffy, or “fruit roll ups” which tend to stay on the tooth longer, especially in the grooves of the back teeth.
Acidic foods and drinks may also contribute to loss of tooth structure. Cola flavored soft drinks are harmful in general; both because of high sugar content and high acidity. As a general rule, water is definitely the best drink for oral heath.
Cheese, milk, plain yogurt, calcium-fortified tofu, leafy greens and almonds, are foods that may benefit tooth health thanks to their high amounts of calcium and other nutrients they provide. Protein-rich foods like meat, poultry, fish, milk and eggs are the best sources of phosphorus. Both of these minerals play a critical role in dental health, by protecting and rebuilding tooth enamel.
Fruits and vegetables are good choices for a healthy smile since they are high in water and fiber, which balance the sugars they contain and help to clean the teeth. These foods also help stimulate saliva production, which washes harmful acids and food particles away from teeth and helps neutralize acid, protecting teeth from decay. Plus, many contain vitamin C (important for healthy gums and quick healing of wounds) and vitamin A (another key nutrient in building tooth enamel).