We can always stand for a little self-improvement. Our diets aren't always put under scrutiny, and sometimes it's wise to check in with yourself. Exactly what are you putting into your body each day? The choices you make affect your systemic health, but they also determine the state of your mouth. Every bite and sip you take passes over your teeth and gums before entering your digestive system. Making sure that those foods and drinks are tooth-healthy will keep your oral health hardy.

Keep Your Teeth Bright and Decay-Free - Avoid These Bad Guys

If you make a conscious effort to eat right, that's the first step. Being aware of how much sugar you're consuming will help you make the right choices. Sugar is a top offender when it comes to whole-body and oral health - too much can lead to cavities, obesity, and diabetes. While dietary recommendations are always changing, the most recent from the The World Health Organization has cut down sugar consumption even further. The sugar we eat should only provide 5% of our daily energy. How does this translate? For a healthy adult, 5% means about 25 grams (6 teaspoons) of sugar. Check the nutrition information on the food you regularly eat to monitor its sugar content. You know that sugar causes cavities - that's been emphasized since childhood. But there are other pressing problems that certain foods and drinks cause. In addition to dental caries, you want to avoid sources of tooth stains and enamel erosion. Both lead to a duller, weaker smile. Some of these sources include:

  • Dark beverages - Enamel is porous. When you imbibe dark-colored drinks, staining compounds enter your enamel and lodge there. Time and habitual drinking allow these stains to build up and cause discoloration. Beverages are particularly problematic because they wash over your teeth and affect wide swathes of enamel. Limit coffee, red wine, cola, and dark fruit juices (all of which also cause other problems - which we'll mention in a second).

  • Acidic foods and drinks - Your enamel protects the inner layers of your teeth. When it wears away, it's easier for cavities to form and damage the dentin. Acidic snacks lower your mouth's pH, giving acids free reign to erode enamel. Choices like coffee, soda, and citrus fruit/juice are all dangerous in this respect.

Seattle Dentist's Tips to Build Tooth-Healthy Diets

Make sure your snacking and dining are built around the following choices.

  • Raw produce - Raw fruits and vegetables contain nutrients that you can't get elsewhere. They make especially wise snacks because they work like natural toothbrushes, removing bacteria from your teeth before they can affect your enamel. Be sure not to have too much citrus, as this is acidic. And don't choose dried fruit as an alternative to candy - it sticks to teeth, causing cavities.

  • Water - Water is wonderful for your teeth and your entire body. By drinking it throughout the day instead of soda or coffee, you rinse food particles from your teeth and also hydrate. Make this change, and you'll notice yourself feeling better and more aware & awake (even in the dreaded afternoon stretch).
  • Dairy products - Dairy contains phosphorous, calcium, and other enamel-strengthening nutrients. Yogurt (plain yogurt - the fruit-added varieties tend to be super sugary) and cheese also balance the mouth's pH, neutralizing acids to help prevent enamel wear. Additionally, cheese stimulates saliva flow, which washes away bacteria.

  • Lean protein - Lean meats like chicken and fish offer tooth-friendly nutrients that support overall oral health.

Looking for personalized tips? Schedule your next dental exam so that Dr. Okamura may evaluate your oral health and plan a path forward.

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Dr. Kim Dr. Kim

Dr. Kim Okamura

I'm Dr. Kim Okamura and this blog is a product of my love of dentistry. I dedicate it to all the patients I have served so that they may better understand my craft. The information here will give you and others the power to maintain and protect one of your most priceless gifts ... your SMILE.