You can help beat tooth decay and prevent other dental issues with the foods you include and exclude from your diet. The foods we eat impact our health, including our our dental health.
Common dental issues
Gum disease, also known as gingivitis and periodontal disease is an infection of our gums, having several causes. Two causes of gum disease are smoking and high blood sugar levels. Aim to have blood sugar levels in the 70-180 mg/dL range 70% of the time, as noted on a continuous glucose monitoring system. If using fingersticks, then aim for 70-180mg/dL most of the time.
Dental erosion is the wearing away of the outside surface of your teeth (the enamel) caused by acid from foods and beverages. Dental decay is cavities or dental caries, that can come from bacteria in plaque buildup on your teeth. Both conditions eat away at the enamel.
Seeing a dentist for regular checkups can help prevent these issues and treat them to help prevent further issues.
Foods to eat to help beat tooth issues
Eating healthy foods helps you beat tooth issues and fight off other diseases. Nutrients from the foods we eat enter our bloodstreams and are carried to all parts of our bodies, including the gums which supply the teeth with nutrition.
Of particular importance for the mouth, are vitamin C and calcium. Some foods rich in vitamin C are fruits and veggies. Examples are melons, broccoli, potatoes, citrus fruit, and peppers. Foods rich in calcium are dark green veggies, cheese, dairy milk, almonds, and calcium-fortified foods.
Other foods important for overall health are legumes, veggies, fruits, whole grains, seafood, seeds, and nuts, and dairy for calcium. For those who avoid dairy, include foods rich in calcium.
What about sugar?
Cut down or stop using beverages with sugar, including energy and sports drinks. Eating excessive sugar causes more harmful bacteria that can lead to decay. Sugarcoating our teeth can couple with bacteria and begin to decay our teeth. In the current 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, a decrease in sugary foods and beverages was recommended because of the result of eating excessive sugary foods on dental caries. The 2020 Guidelines are to surface by the end of this year and are being reviewed this August. The recommendation to decrease sugar will continue, and the amount is expected to be lower.
For persons with diabetes, excessive sugar can result in high blood sugar levels, making diabetes challenging to manage. The excess sugar from food is coating the tooth exterior and simultaneously leading to high blood sugar levels, which fuel the gums that are feeding our teeth.
Other tips to beat tooth issues including sensitivity
Drink water after a meal to clear your mouth of food and drinks
To help neutralize some acidic foods such as coffee, wine, and citrus fruits, eat cheese or drink milk.
Cheese may also help with remineralization of dental enamel.
Use a straw when drinking acidic drinks, including fruit juice. Aim the straw so that the liquid does not bathe your teeth.
Avoid sticky sugary foods
Our diets are important for our overall health, and making regular visits to your dentist can help you to keep a healthy mouth.