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The Link Between Nutrition And Teeth…

If you are a regular LFLC reader, you know by now that we’ve touched on how nutrition and food can affect cravings, preventing disease, autoimmune disorders, healthy growth in children, the aging process and much more!

But did you know that what you eat can also affect your oral health? I mean it only makes sense that what we use to chew the food we consume will be affected! If a healthy body and mind isn’t enough reason for you to focus on your nutrition, then maybe strong teeth and healthy mouth will!

We’re going over what causes poor oral health, foods and nutrients to eat to prevent tooth decay and what types of foods to avoid. We even put together some healthy teeth snack options to bring to work or pack into our kid’s lunch!

The Culprits For Poor Oral Health

I’m sure you can guess one of the biggest culprits for poor oral health: sugar! That really comes to no surprise as sugar is linked to obesity, poor immune function and many different chronic illnesses.

When a cavity forms in the mouth, the first source comes from sugar. Bacteria will feed on the sugar forming acids in the mouth. The acids then can “eat” away at the tooth and if a certain area gets worn away repeatedly, a cavity may form.

This is linked to the next biggest culprit: acids. Essentially, acids are what is the most detrimental to oral health, but since acid is formed in the mouth by sugar, both need to be mentioned!

How Calcium Helps Your Teeth

It is no secret that calcium is good for oral health and here’s why. The teeth and bones are made mostly of calcium, so consuming enough through your foods is essential to keep them healthy. A strong jaw bone is also necessary for protecting our mouth from decay and disease. Calcium-rich foods you may want to include in your meals or snacks are milk, cheese, yogurt (bonus points for this because it contains good bacteria that can fight the bad bacteria in the mouth!), almonds, sesame seeds, broccoli and leafy greens!

Other Key Nutrients For Oral Health

Don’t think that you can only drink a glass of milk every day and expect your teeth to be strong and healthy! There are other nutrients and foods you should include in your diet.

Water

Water helps the digestion of food, improves bad breath, prevents bacteria from forming in the mouth and eliminates toxins for the body. Aim to drink at least 8 glasses a day!

Vitamin C

The main protein component of teeth is collagen. Collagen is made in the body and it needs vitamin C to help with production. Growth, repair and maintenance of teeth also need a healthy amount of vitamin C in the body. Include some oranges, red bell peppers, papaya and strawberries into your healthy meals and experience all the side effects of good oral health!

Vitamin D

We know that we need calcium for strong teeth, but vitamin D is just as important! Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium into the bones. If the body lacks vitamin D, enough calcium will not be absorbed. Some milk products can be fortified with vitamin D, making them a double whammy! But of course, direct sunlight is the best source of vitamin D.

Vitamin A

Tooth enamel contains a protein called keratin. For the body to properly produce keratin, it needs vitamin A. Foods rich in vitamin A are animal sources such as liver or eggs. However, orange vegetables such as carrots and sweet potatoes contain beta-carotene, which gets converted to vitamin A in the body.

Vitamin K

Vitamin K can actually fight against bacteria forming in the mouth because it interferes the enzymes that form acids. It also works helps in the production of a protein called osteocalcin, which works with vitamin D to bring calcium into the teeth. Vitamin K is found in eggs, yogurt and parsley!

Green Tea

Polyphenols that are found in green tea can help fight off the bacteria and germs in your mouth. Tea also contains fluoride that is essential for strong teeth.

Anthocyanin

Anthocyanins prevent pathogens from forming in the mouth. Foods that contain these are cranberries, blackberries, red cabbage and black rice.

As you can see, a plethora of nutrients is important for good oral health. Like most health conditions, it is important to include a wide variety of healthy foods to ensure you are getting a wide variety of nutrients. Eating high amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables, healthy fats and lean proteins may help strengthen your immune system. A strong immune system will help your body fight off any infection, including those that can form in your body.

Teeth Healthy Snacks To Bring To Work

• One apple and one tablespoon of almond butter: Crunchy foods such as an apple can help clean the teeth while almond butter provides calcium to build strong teeth and bones.
• Raw Carrots and Hummus: Like apples, raw carrots are crunchy which can help clean the teeth from bacteria and plague.
• Greek yogurt topped with blackberries: Yogurt contains dairy, which provides calcium in the body while the berries contain anthocyanin to prevent pathogens in the mouth. The probiotics (good bacteria) in the yogurt also help fight off the bad bacteria in the mouth.
• A smoothie made with spinach, strawberries, papaya and chia seeds: Strawberries and papaya are high in vitamin C to help produce collagen in the body, while the chia seeds contain high amounts of calcium.

Foods To Avoid For Oral Health

Now that you know all the foods and nutrients to include, here are the ones to avoid!

Sticky foods such as toffee and chewy candies can become stuck in-between your teeth. When this happens, it can be hard to get rid of them by just normal brushing and this is what leads to bacteria forming in your mouth.

Starches such as chips or french fries because, like sticky foods, can easily become stuck in-between the teeth. Since these foods convert into sugar, if they are stuck for long, they can start decaying the teeth.

Hard foods can chip teeth and damage your enamel. The enamel of teeth is the hardest part of the body to help break down foods, but it wasn’t made to constantly chew extremely hard foods such as candies or ice.

Foods or drinks that dehydrate you should also be avoided to protect your teeth. Saliva production is lowered when the body is dehydrated, and saliva is important to wash away food debris and plague. Another reason to drink enough water!

If you have any concerns regarding your teeth or general oral health, please go and see your healthcare specialist.


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