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Understanding Diet and Oral Health

Understanding Diet and Oral Health
by Dr. Stephen J. Parr D.D.S. and Dr. Rita Dargham D.M.D.

Read Understanding Diet and Oral Health by Dr. Stephen J. Parr D.D.S. and Dr. Rita Dargham D.M.D. to learn more about Grove Smiles® Dentistry and our Dentistry office in Coconut Grove, FL.

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Your body is like a complex machine. The foods you choose as fuel and how often you “fill up” affect your general health and that of your teeth and gums. Many dentists are concerned that their patients are consuming record numbers of sugar-filled sodas, sweetened fruit drinks, and non-nutritious snacks that affect their teeth. These items generally have little if any nutritional value and over time they can take a toll on teeth.

Eating patterns and food choices among children and teens are important factors that affect how quickly youngsters may develop tooth decay. When bacteria (plaque) come into contact with sugar in the mouth, acid is produced, which attacks the teeth for 20 minutes or more. This can eventually result in tooth decay.

Not sure you’re getting the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals needed by your body (and your teeth and gums)? Check out the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Web site. The USDA oversees the nutritional health of the nation. The agency’s dietary recommendations are designed to promote optimal health and to prevent obesity-related diseases including cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and cancers.

The government’s recommendations recognize that people have different dietary needs at various stages of life. They offer guidance for children and adults based on their levels of physical activity. Your physician or a registered dietician can also provide suggestions for your daily food intake.

Foods that contain sugars of any kind can contribute to tooth decay. Almost all foods, including milk or vegetables, have some type of sugar. However, they shouldn’t be removed from our diets because many of them contain important nutrients. And they add pleasure to eating. To help control the amount of sugar you consume, read food labels, and choose foods and beverages that are low in added sugars. Added sugars often are present in soft drinks, candy, cookies, and pastries.

If your diet lacks certain nutrients, it may be more difficult for tissues in your mouth to resist infection. This may contribute to periodontal (gum) disease, a major cause of tooth loss in adults. Although poor nutrition does not cause periodontal disease directly, many researchers believe that the disease progresses faster and could be more severe in people with nutrient-poor diets.

How Does Food Cause Tooth Decay?

When you eat, food passes through your mouth. Here it meets the germs, or bacteria, that live in your mouth. You may have heard your dentist talk about plaque. Plaque is a sticky film of bacteria.

These bacteria love sugars found in many foods. When you don’t clean your teeth after eating, plaque bacteria use the sugar to produce acids that can destroy the hard surface of the tooth, called enamel. After a while, tooth decay occurs. The more often you eat and the longer foods are in your mouth, the more damage occurs.

Choose Foods Wisely

Some foods that you would least expect contain sugars. Some examples are fruits, milk, bread, cereals, and even vegetables.

The key to choosing foods wisely is not to avoid these foods, but to think before you eat. Not only what you eat but when you eat makes a big difference in your dental health. Eat a balanced diet and limit between-meal snacks. If you are on a special diet, keep your physician’s advice in mind when choosing foods. For good dental health, keep these tips in mind when choosing your meals and snacks.

Tips For Better Dental Health

1. To get a balanced diet, eat a variety of foods. Choose foods from each of the five major food groups:

  • Bread, cereals and other grain products
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Meat, poultry, and fish
  • Milk, cheese, and yogurt

2. Limit the number of snacks that you eat. Each time you eat food that contains sugars, the teeth are attacked by acids for 20 minutes or more.
3. If you do snack, choose nutritious foods, such as cheese, raw vegetables, plain yogurt, or a piece of fruit.
4. Foods that are eaten as part of a meal cause less harm. More saliva is released during a meal, which helps wash foods from the mouth and helps lessen the effects of acids.
5. Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste that has the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance.
6. Clean between your teeth daily with floss or interdental cleaners.
7. Visit your dentist regularly. Your dentist can help prevent problems from occurring and catch those that do occur while they are easy to treat.

Ready To Learn More?

If you would like to learn more, schedule an appointment with us at Grove Smiles Dentistry of Coconut Grove, FL. Our team led by Dr. Stephen J. Parr has over forty years of experience in helping the Coconut Grove community restore and revitalize their smiles and oral health.

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For Your Health,

Dr. Stephen J. Parr D.D.S. and Dr. Rita Dargham D.M.D.

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Grove Smiles® Dentistry

Dr. Stephen J. Parr D.D.S., P.A.
2685 Bird Avenue
Coconut Grove, FL 33133
Phone: 305-858-0505
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