National Nutrition Month, which is celebrated every March, strives to help Americans better understand how eating right can help keep them healthy. While it’s certainly true that what we eat affects our overall health, your dentist in The Woodlands wants you to know that our food choices also play a key role in our oral health.
Most of us know that proper nutrition involves increasing the intake of vegetables and decreasing foods that contain a lot of sugar or fat, but outside of those basics, nutrition isn’t really well understood. The truth is, nutrition is complicated and recommendations vary from person to person based on age, gender, height, weight, as well as activity level. Nutrition is so confusing that the Food Pyramid Guide from the United States Department of Agriculture has changed two times since it was originally created in 1992. However, the Department of Agriculture is trying to simplify nutrition and has created a website called MyPlate. This is the best place to find out what’s best for you and your family’s nutritional needs. Now, even though nutrition as a whole can be complicated, you’ll find that some of the simple basics you already know are the same. This includes eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and dairy.
Focusing on choosing good foods is beneficial for overall and oral health, just like how eating too much bad food can negatively affect both. Take your Woodlands dentist’s least favorite thing — sugary foods and drinks, for example. Sugar is high in calories and can cause weight gain and an increased risk for heart disease. Sugar also poses dangers to our mouths by fueling bacteria and causing them to release an acidic byproduct. This acid easily eats away at tooth enamel which makes teeth more susceptible to decay, cavities, and sensitivity. One of the harder parts of nutrition is understanding that just because a food doesn’t taste sweet doesn’t mean there isn’t a risk of sugar complications. Take carbohydrates as an example. Carbs are sneaky and result in something called the hidden sugar effect. They break down into simple sugars as we eat them, which again fuels mouth bacteria and increases the likelihood of decay.
There are plenty of tooth-friendly foods to choose from, and many aren’t only nutritious but also delicious. When picking foods and snacks for your family, try some of these foods that are good for your oral health:
There is a direct correlation between what we eat and how healthy we are. This also applies to how healthy your mouth is. Select foods and portions from your MyPlate recommendation, limit your intake of sugary foods, including carbs, and drink plenty of water to help fuel your body and protect your overall and oral health.
Lastly, don’t forget to also brush your teeth twice a day, floss once a day, and see your dentist in The Woodlands to further keep your teeth in tip-top shape.