Is Food Affecting Your Oral Hygiene? How to Choose the Best Diet for Healthy Teeth

Maintaining good oral hygiene is essential to having healthy teeth, but what many people don't realize is that the food you eat also has a significant impact on your dental health.

Discover which foods you should avoid and incorporate to determine the best diet for healthy teeth.

How Does Your Diet Impact Your Teeth?

A good diet not only betters your body's health, but it alsoExternal link opens in new tab or window affects your teeth's health. For example, a diet high in sugar and processed foods can lead to tooth decay and, in general, poor oral hygiene; a balanced diet rich in nutrients can help keep your teeth healthy and strong. You should also pay attention to what your body tells you through signs.

Subtle Signs of Poor Dental Health

Cavities, plaque build-up, gingivitis, pain—these are all visible signs that you may not be eating the healthiest diet. On the other hand, you may be eating a healthy diet and have other issues contributing to poor tooth health that result in similar symptoms. In either case, you should also consider these less noticable signs:

  • Constant bad breath

  • Slight tooth discoloration

  • Change in saliva production

  • Sudden sensitivity to hot or cold substances

Although these signs may appear small, you should take notice of the types of food you eat and their effects on you. Not everyone reacts to food in the same way. Thus, your teeth could potentially be more sensitive and reactive to even healthy foods.

What Foods Cause Tooth Decay?

Despite being popular types of food, two huge culprits of tooth decay are sugars and starch.

  • Sugars: When you eat or drink sugary substances, the sugar mixes with the bacteria in your mouth and forms acidic plaque. This acidic plaque then eats away at your enamel, causing cavities.

  • Starch: Foods like chips, crackers and bread contain starch. When you consume starch, it gets trapped in your mouth and turns into sugar. This sugar then causes the same problem as natural and processed sugar.

Other Foods That Contribute to Tooth Decay

Besides sugar and starch, there are other foods that contribute to tooth decay.

  • Citrus: While citrus fruits are healthy in many ways, the acidity in them can wear away at your tooth enamel.

  • Dried Fruit: Surprisingly, dried fruit is full of sugar and can get stuck in your teeth, leading to cavities.

  • Ice: As much as people love chewing on ice, it can External link opens in new tab or windowdamage and crack your teeth.

  • Alcohol: Too much alcohol dries out your mouth and leads to a decrease in saliva production. A dry mouth is the perfect environment for bad bacteria to thrive.

Even though these foods can damage your teeth, it’s okay to consume them in moderation.

What is the Best Diet for Healthy Teeth?

The best diet for healthy teeth is unique to each person, but these types of foods are great to include in your diet.

Healthy Beverages

  • Water: It is essential not only for survival but for healthy teeth and gums. Water helps rinse away food and bacteria, and it also aids in saliva production. Saliva is important because it contains fluoride, which helps prevent cavities.

  • Green and Black Teas: These teas contain polyphenols. These plant-based compounds can help reduce the growth of bacteria in your mouth.

Healthy Foods

  • Dairy: Dairy products are high in calcium, which keeps your teeth strong.

  • Cheese: While cheese contains dairy, it also contains casein. Casein is great because it helps protect tooth enamel.

  • Nuts: Nuts are a good source of protein. Protein aids in healthy teeth and gums.

  • Fruits and Vegetables: Fruits and veggies contain fiber, which helps clean your mouth. They also contain vitamins and minerals that are good for your overall health.

For the best dental health possible, try incorporating these foods in your meals.

Daily Practices to Ensure Optimal Dental Hygiene

Besides diet, there are a few things you can do on a daily basis to remove bacteria and plaque.

  • Use floss at least once a day

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day.

  • Brush your tongue after your dental care routine.

You should also try to brush your teeth right after you consume sugary foods and drinks. This will help remove the sugar from your teeth and prevent cavities. Lastly, make sure to see your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings.

Visit Your Dentist Regularly

Visiting yourExternal link opens in new tab or window dentist regularly—twice per year—can prevent build ups of tooth decay or other issues. During your appointment, your dentist can also personally tailor the best diet for your healthiest smile.