Healthy Nutrition for Your Mouth, Gums and Teeth!
A healthy diet will help your bones and muscles to grow strong and for all of your body’s systems to work together, so you can stay healthy. Plus, a healthy diet is necessary to keep your mouth, gums and teeth in good shape, too. Whatever you eat first passes through your mouth, and usually requires some chewing with your teeth and gums. If you choose to eat unhealthy foods regularly, it will be very difficult to maintain a healthy smile, even with good dental practices like brushing and flossing. Learn about the best foods for your dental health to keep all your pearly whites looking and feeling good.
Basic Nutrition Needs
The foods that are best for dental health are generally the same types of foods that growing children and adults require for overall health. In general, it’s a good idea to eat plenty of fresh vegetables, which provide plenty of essential vitamins and minerals. Some vegetables can even help clean your teeth! Whether or not you eat meat, it’s also important to eat plenty of proteins, which can include beans, dairy, nuts and even some vegetables, as well as meat and fish. Eating a balance of whole grains, fruits and dairy products can further round out a balanced diet.
- Healthy Living: Childhood Nutrition
- Nutrition for Kids: Guidelines for a Healthy Diet
- Nutrition Australia: Children
- Eat Right for a Healthy Mouth and Teeth
- Nutrition Basics
It’s fairly easy to plan a healthy breakfast, lunch and dinner. The question is: are your snacks as healthy as your main meals? To become a smart snacker, avoid too many sweets or salty foods. Instead, have some fruit, yogurt, sliced vegetables or whole grain crackers with cheese. For protein, snack on natural nut butters, a handful of pumpkin seeds or a hard-boiled egg.
- Snack Ideas
- Kid-Friendly Healthy Snack Recipes
- Healthy School Snacks
- PhysiciansCommittee: Healthy Snacks for Kids
- Stay on Track with Healthy Snacks
Diet and Tooth Decay
Eating a healthy diet is extremely important to protect you from one common problem: tooth decay. If you eat lots of sugary foods or drink sugary beverages, your teeth can cause tooth decay. In other words, all that sugar can eat holes into your teeth! Even fruit juices or milk, which are generally healthy, also contain sugars. If you drink these beverages, remember to brush your teeth afterwards. For really healthy teeth, don’t drink sodas or other very sugary drinks at all.
- Tooth Decay in Children
- Sipping, Snacking and Tooth Decay
- Sip all Day, Get Decay
- British Dental Health Foundation: Diet
- Diet and Dental Health
Common Added Sugars (and their names)
If you eat whole foods, you don’t need to look at the ingredients. For example, when you eat fish, fresh fruits and vegetables or grains like rice, there aren’t any extra ingredients. When you eat processed foods, like candies or bottled sauces, then your food contains lots of ingredients. Often one of the ingredients is sugar. This “added sugar” is sometimes written on the ingredient list as something else, like “corn syrup,” “dextrose,” “glucose,” “fructose,” “sucrose,” “raw sugar,” or “evaporated cane juice.” These are different types of the same ingredient: sugar. Avoid eating too many foods that contain sugar, whatever it’s called on the label.
- Added Sugar in the Diet
- Sugar 101
- Added Sugar: What You Need to Know
- Sweeteners – Sugars
- What are Added Sugars?
Foods That May Harm Dental Health
If you want to protect your teeth, gums and mouth, you can start by removing or limiting certain foods from your diet. Sugar is one of the worst foods for your teeth’s health. If completely removing sugar from your diet is too difficult, choose to eat sweets alongside other foods, which can help “wash away” any sugar remaining on the teeth and gums. Acidic foods, such as pickles, breath mints or citrus juices, can also damage your teeth. Like any other harmful foods, they are best when eaten alongside other foods, and you can help avoid problems by brushing your teeth right afterwards.
- About Kids’ Teeth
- How You Eat Affects Your Oral Health
- Oral Health Fact Sheet
- Abrasive Eats: Five Foods that are Harshest on Your Teeth
- 14 Best and Worst Foods for Your Teeth
Foods That May Benefit Dental Health
It can be sad or difficult to remove favorite foods from your regular diet. However, you can also eat more of certain healthy foods to improve your dental health. For example, hard cheeses and certain dairy products can strengthen teeth. Plus, they can cause you to produce more saliva, which cleans your teeth as you eat! Eating vegetables rich in vitamins and minerals can help prevent gum disease.
- Food, Dietary Habits and Dental Health
- Oral Health Tips
- Dental Health: General Information
- The Best and Worst Foods for Oral Health
- ABC News: Best & Worst Foods for Your Teeth
Tips to Reduce Your Risk of Cavities
Cavities are one of the most common problems with dental health. A cavity is a hole that forms in a tooth. Luckily, you can help stop cavities from forming by doing several things. Brush your teeth and floss them at least two times per day. Ideally, brush them after every meal. Finally, limit how many sugary snacks or drinks you eat or drink each day, and never drink a glass of milk or a sugary beverage right before bed.