More and more, dentistry and nutrition are overlapping. Recently, the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics published a paper that recommended a heightened level of nutritional awareness in order to maintain oral health and overall well-being. So in this post, we’ll explore how certain food ingredients can affect your teeth and your overall health.
The “OSE” Problem
Terms ending in “-ose” indicate a sugar ingredient. Examples include: maltose, fructose, sucrose, glucose, and high fructose corn syrup. Foods with these ingredients create more bacteria in your mouth, which begins the decay process. They also are linked to heightened risk of diabetes and heart conditions. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), the top sources of added sugar in the diet are (in descending order of prevalence):
- soft drinks, energy drinks, sports drinks (we covered this topic in our last blog.)
- grain-based desserts (cakes, pies)
- fruit drinks
- dairy-based desserts (ice cream)
- ready-to-eat cereals
- sugars and honey
- tea (sweetened)
- yeast breads
The best way to avoid added sugar is to read food labels. If sugar is listed as one of the first ingredients, we recommend looking for healthier options.
Eating a variety of foods as part of a well-balanced diet may not only improve dental health, but increasing fiber and vitamin intake may reduce the risk of other diseases. Here’s a list of some of the most smile beneficial ingredients:
Calcium: Calcium is an important part of a diet for people of all ages. When a diet is low in calcium, the body leeches the mineral from teeth and bones, which can increase risk of tooth decay and the incidence of cavities. The Food and Drug Administration recommends 1,000 mg of calcium daily for women younger than 50 and for men of any age, and 1,200 mg for women over 50.
Vitamins B12 and B2 (riboflavin): You also can develop mouth sores when you do not consume enough of the vitamins B12 and B2. Red meat, chicken, liver, pork, fish, as well as dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese, are good sources of vitamin B12. Vitamin B2 is found in foods like pasta, bagels, spinach, and almonds.
Fruits and Veggies: These foods help stimulate saliva production, which washes harmful acids and food particles away from teeth and helps neutralize acid, protecting teeth from decay. Many contain vitamin C (important for healthy gums and quick healing of wounds) and vitamin A (another key nutrient in building tooth enamel).
Water: Thanks to its ability to wash away bacteria and coat teeth with cavity-fighting fluoride, water is the best beverage choice you can make for your teeth and body.
Special Note for Vegetarians
Please tell us if you adhere to a vegetarian diet. People who do not consume any food of animal origin can experience deficiencies in calcium, vitamin D, riboflavin, vitamin B12 or complete proteins.
The Importance of the Link
Take a look at how certain health conditions are linked to oral health symptoms:
- Recent studies have shown the same bacteria that promote gum disease also can promote heart disease.
- For many years, people with diabetes have been known to be at special risk for gum disease as well.
- Dry mouth, often a symptom of undetected diabetes, can cause soreness, ulcers, infections, and tooth decay.
The above list proves that issues with oral health could point to larger issues with overall health. Yet many people are unaware of these links and don’t address the issue with a dentist or doctor until their conditions become serious.
We want all families in Jacksonville to be happy and healthy. If you have any questions about how a certain ingredient affects your oral health, please feel free to contact our dental office. We’ll help in any way we can.