Taking good care of your overall health and your mouth is essential if you want to make the most of your smile. Brushing your teeth twice a day, first thing in the morning and before you go to bed with fluoride toothpaste, as well as flossing nightly and having regular check-ups with your dentist will help you maintain good oral health. Your diet, smoking and drinking alcohol also have a significant impact on your oral health.
Diet and Oral Health: What you eat and drink can be responsible for tooth decay. For that reason, a healthy diet is essential. What does a healthy and balanced diet include? Lots of vegetables and fruits, whole grain products including bread, rice, pasta and potatoes, the latter of which should be consumed with their skin, which is nutrient dense, lean protein and low fat dairy products. Portion sizes should be small and consistent with food guide recommendations. In regards to beverages, water is best consumed throughout the day. Drinks that contain high amounts of sugar including soda and juices should be avoided. If consumed on occasion, it is best to consume these beverages with a meal.
Sugar consumption and tooth decay are directly related. While sugar is found in many obvious foods such as soda, fruit juices, chocolate milk, cookies and cakes, pastries, ice cream products, candy, maple and flavored syrups and jams, it is also found in seemingly healthy food items such as whole grain breads, yogurt, tomato sauce, peanut butter, granola or energy bars and breakfast cereal. Sugar occurs naturally in foods such as fruit and milk, but we don’t need to cut down on these types of sugars since they are natural sugars that are easily processed by our body, and in the case of fruit, the sugar is absorbed slowly due to the fiber content within the fruit. Eating fruit as a whole is a very healthy snack; however, if the fruit is processed for juices the naturally occurring sugars are released and the quantity of fiber is reduced significantly. Once released, these sugars fuel the bacteria in our mouth resulting in tooth decay. As such, it is best to consume fruit juices or smoothies at mealtimes.
Smoking and Oral Health: Smoking damages teeth by staining them yellow-brown, increases the risk of gum disease and causes bad breath. Scientific studies demonstrate delayed healing in smokers due to reduced blood supply to the jaws compared to non-smokers, in addition to a higher risk of complications following oral surgery. This is in addition to many other well-documented serious health problems such as cancer.
Alcohol and Oral Health: Alcohol is highly acidic and can erode the outer surface of the teeth, leading to a loss of enamel and tooth decay. If this happens, you may need to go to your dentist to see how the damage can be repaired. Drinking in excess has also been linked to an increased risk of developing mouth cancer. The most important risk factors for mouth cancer are the combined effect of smoking and drinking alcohol.
In summary, when making food or beverage choices, carefully consider your options and avoid or minimize things that stain your teeth or increase your risk of tooth decay and oral cancer. The team at Green Leaf Dentistry is here to maintain and restore your oral health, so don’t hesitate to reach out to us to schedule your check-up. We are always happy to help!