Nutrition and Oral Health

It’s no secret that eating a balanced diet is an important part of maintaining good health. From an early age, we learn from our parents, doctors, and teachers that what we eat and drink plays a big role in how our bodies function. What you may not know, however, is that what you choose to consume can also affect your oral health. Here at Dillehay Orthodontics, we’re passionate about creating beautiful smiles, but that’s only one part of our mission! Our team is all about helping patients improve the health of their teeth and gums, too.

One obvious way we’re able to achieve this is through orthodontic treatment, but a nutritious diet is also a vital part of that process. As an orthodontic patient, it’s more essential than ever to maintain good oral health. To help you gain a better understanding of how nutrition is linked to that, we’ve put together some expert information on how your diet can protect your teeth – or negatively affect them. We’ve also included a few tips on what you can do to maintain a happy and healthy mouth, so keep reading below to find out more!

Nutrition: a building block for oral health

Nutrition can actually affect our oral health before we’re ever even born. Nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus, and protein are consumed by an expectant mother, and in turn, help a baby’s teeth begin to form and mineralize properly. Processes such as this continue throughout our lives. Our teeth will develop and mineralize throughout our teen years, while the oral tissues never stop recycling. However, a variety of vitamins and minerals are needed in order to accomplish all of this successfully!

Not only is good nutrition a building block of oral health, but it can also be an effective preventative measure. Nutritional deficiencies can reduce your resistance to dental disease while inhibiting your body’s ability to fight off certain kinds of infection. And while your diet can help prevent tooth decay and enamel erosion, the reverse is also true. Human mouths are naturally hospitable to many different kinds of bacteria, but not all of them are helpful. In fact, many are harmful microorganisms that thrive on any added sugar in your diet.

When this kind of bad bacteria begins processing ingested sugar, acids are produced that can eat into the enamel of your teeth. This can set the stage for cavities, gum disease, and loose or even lost teeth. When we encourage you to avoid consuming too much added sugar in your diet, this is just one reason why!

A healthier diet can lead to a healthier mouth

Whole grains, vegetables, and fruit can be excellent sources of healthy vitamins and minerals, along with starch-rich staples like bread, rice, and potatoes. Many of these foods are safe for braces, too. However, even naturally occurring sugar can cause dental issues when it is consumed in large enough quantities. Moderation is key when it comes to any kind of sugar, as is a regular dental hygiene routine.

Let’s take a look at some specific examples of good choices that can give you a stronger smile and improve your oral health:

Milk and other dairy products
Who needs a reason to eat more cheese? Not us! Even so, dairy products like cheese, milk, and yogurt can be excellent snacks since they’re full of calcium to keep bones and teeth healthy and strong.

Whole grain bread and pastas
Certain whole grains contain complex carbohydrates that give bad bacteria less digestible food to grow on. There also contain a number of different nutrients that can help your whole mouth stay healthy.

Chicken, red meat, and fatty fish
Although protein is typically the star of the show with these foods, they also contain phosphorus, a vital component when it comes to strengthening your teeth and protecting the tooth enamel.

Fresh fruits and vegetables
It’s kind of a no-brainer, but eating a wide variety of fresh fruits and veggies is one of the best things you can do for your overall health. Leafy greens, in particular, provide a boost to your oral health since they contain high amounts of magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, beta carotene, calcium and magnesium, all of which are instrumental in improving and maintaining oral health.

Although soda, juice, and sports drinks are the big sellers in America, that doesn’t mean they’re good for us or our smiles! These beverages are notorious for leaving behind sugars that provide a banquet for bad bacteria, resulting in acids that eat away at the enamel of the teeth. Sodas and juices also tend to contain phosphoric, citric, or malic acids that can exacerbate enamel erosion.

While it may not be flashy as other drinks, plain old water is beneficial to you in a multitude of ways. It helps to wash away any leftover food and debris, and also dilutes the acids produced by harmful bacteria. Drinking more water can help bring a dry mouth and bad breath under control, and goes a long way towards keeping your mouth clean and healthy, reducing the risk of cavities and even gum disease.

Dillehay Orthodontics assistant with patient

Dillehay Orthodontics can help you find your healthiest smile

Now that you know what you choose to eat and drink can have a big impact on your oral health, it’s up to you to help this process along by adopting a healthier diet. Paying attention to your nutrition and making healthy choices will give your smile an extra sparkle, and can give your total body health a boost, too!

At Dillehay Orthodontics, we have an expert team in place to provide the treatment options and expert support you need to achieve a healthier, straighter smile! If you’re in Wichita or any of the surrounding communities and want to learn more about how good nutrition can improve your oral health, we’re happy to help. Dr. Dillehay, Dr. J.K., and the rest of our talented team would love to meet you and work with you towards improved oral health and a better smile.

We offer FREE consultations, and are proud to provide patients of all ages with information on improving oral hygiene at home for a healthier, stronger smile that lasts a lifetime!