Protect Your Teeth with a Healthy Diet

Dental Health
By: Spirit Dental
August 15, 2023

Woman preparing a salad

We all know how our diet affects our physical health. Carbs and sugars certainly taste great, but too much can lead to issues like weight gain, heart problems, diabetes and more. 

It’s no surprise then that what we eat and drink can also harm our teeth. Before you rifle around in your pantry, check out which foods to avoid and which to try incorporating into your daily diet.

How diet impacts oral health

The foods and beverages we consume play a crucial role in maintaining the health of our teeth and gums. A diet high in sugary, carbonated and acidic substances can have detrimental effects on oral health, while foods rich in gluten and starch can also contribute to certain issues. 

Sugary foods and beverages, like candies, gluten-heavy cakes, cookies, and soda, can create a favorable environment for harmful bacteria in the mouth. These bacteria feed on the sugars, producing acids that erode tooth enamel, leading to tooth decay over time. Keep in mind that there are some foods surprisingly high in sugar, like:

  • Low fat yogurt
  • Pasta sauce, barbecue sauce and ketchup
  • Fruit juice
  • Protein and granola bars
  • Breakfast cereal
  • Canned soups

Additionally, carbonated drinks, especially sugary sodas, are trouble for oral health. Not only do they contain high levels of sugar, but they are also acidic — a combination that increases the risk for enamel erosion and tooth sensitivity. Regular consumption of carbonated drinks can weaken the protective layer of enamel, making teeth more susceptible to decay and other oral issues.

Other acidic foods, including citrus fruits, tomatoes and vinegary dressings can also contribute to enamel erosion. Acidic substances soften the enamel and make it more vulnerable to cavities. Bread, crackers, pasta and other starchy foods can also indirectly affect oral health. When these foods get trapped between teeth, bacteria forms that contributes to gum disease and decay.

Finally, a diet high in sugary, acidic and/or carbonated foods and beverages can result in dry mouth, or xerostomia, a condition where the mouth doesn’t produce enough saliva to keep it adequately moist. Saliva plays an important role in maintaining oral health by washing away food particles and neutralizing acids produced by bacteria. 

Tips for keeping a healthy mouth

Maintaining a healthy diet promotes good dental hygiene and overall well-being. Here are some practical tips for integrating a healthier diet into your lifestyle. 

  1. Incorporate calcium-rich foods: Calcium is essential for strong teeth and bones. Make sure you have plenty of dairy products in your diet like milk, cheese and yogurt — or opt for fortified non-diary alternatives. Leafy greens like kale and spinach, as well as almonds and sesame seeds, are also great sources of calcium.
  2. Choose crunchy fruits and veggies: Crisp fruits and vegetables like apples, carrots and celery can help clean teeth naturally by stimulating saliva production and scrubbing away plaque. Their high water content also helps maintain moisture in the mouth, reducing the risk of dry mouth and protecting gums.
  3. Stay hydrated with fluoridated water: Fluoride is known for its protective benefits against tooth decay. Drinking fluoridated water helps strengthen enamel and makes it more resistant to acid. Opt for tap water that contains fluoride or consult with your dentist about supplementation if needed.
  4. Consider probiotic foods: Probiotics are found in yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and other fermented foods, and are proven to keep a healthy balance of beneficial bacteria in the mouth. This balance is crucial for preventing the growth of harmful bacteria that can cause cavities and gum disease.   

Having a good diet doesn’t only help your teeth and gums, but also provides a slew of other benefits: better focus, more energy and improved mental health.

The dentist has your back when you’re reaching for that snack 

We’re by no means telling you to eliminate carbonated, sugary or acidic foods altogether. Enjoy your favorite snacks in moderation! 

And to further protect your teeth and gums, never miss a dental appointment. From exams and cleanings to treating any identified issues, a professional dentist will be able to maintain or restore your teeth so you can eat that cookie, chip or other treat knowing your smile is well cared for.

Get an affordable dental quote and start your dental health journey today!

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