So much of what we hear and read about healthy teeth and gums involves good dental hygiene. Although brushing and flossing are the best ways to prevent dental problems, the dietary choices we make each day can have a huge impact on the health of our teeth and gums.
Deciding to just “eat healthy” sounds deceptively simple. Many foods consumed regularly – like fruits, breads and some vegetables – contain starches or sugars that can attack our teeth. There are many drinks that can also harm our teeth.
How Can Food Harm Our Teeth?
“Colonies of bacteria cover the surface of our teeth with a sticky film called plaque, resulting in tooth decay and gum disease,” advises Dr. Derek Conklin, a Dentist in Sandy, Oregon. “The bacteria break down sugars and starches from food and produces acid that wears away tooth enamel.”
When not brushed away thoroughly, the plaque hardens into tartar and leads to more serious problems with teeth and gums. Sugary and/or sticky snacks and desserts provide the best home for bacteria. Sugary drinks, like juice or soda, are also harmful to teeth.
The Crunch Factor
Foods that have a high crunch factor are especially good for teeth. Crunchy fruits and vegetables like apples, carrots, and celery naturally get rid of bacteria that cause plaque. They also encourage the flow of saliva, which also helps to naturally clean teeth.
Crunchy foods aren’t the only ones that can help maintain healthy teeth and gums. A well-balanced diet consisting of milk, cheese, yogurt, fruits, vegetables and grains high in fiber content can keep your smile healthy and strong.
After You Eat
In addition to your diet, nothing can replace good dental hygiene for healthy gums and teeth.
“There’s no substitute for brushing and flossing regularly,” Dr. Conklin, a Dentist in Sandy, Oregon, points out. “Use a soft-bristled toothbrush twice a day, focusing on those hard-to-reach areas.” Once your teeth have been brushed and rinsed, follow it up with a thorough flossing between teeth to get rid of food particles.
If brushing after each meal isn’t an option, rinse out your mouth with water or chew sugarless gum. Both of these options can help decrease acid and get rid of potentially harmful food particles.
Don’t Forget the Dentist!
Consistent visits to the dentist are necessary for maintaining a bright, healthy smile. The American Dental Association recommends visiting the dentist regularly, which is usually every six months if there are no extenuating circumstances. These appointments, along with a healthy diet and good oral hygiene, can help keep your teeth and gums free from harm!
Kelly Wilson is a busy mom and freelance writer who lives with her family in Portland, Oregon.