While you never have to wait to start eating right, March is officially National Nutrition Month; the month that the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics asks everyone to pay special attention to what they eat. The Academy has designated the month of March to help focus the public’s awareness on what food they put into their bodies.
Good Foods to Enjoy
Smile Reef encourages you to favor foods that not only taste good but are good for your teeth too. A great example is dairy products such as milk and cheeses that are not only delicious but also provide your body with nutrition that support tooth enamel. Another example are comforting foods that are high in protein like chicken and other meats as they also feature phosphorus; a nutrient critical to oral health. Dairy and meats provide calcium and phosphorus needed to remineralize teeth; a natural process by which minerals are redeposited in tooth enamel after being removed by harmful acids.
As a general rule, you cannot go wrong by adding natural color to your diet either. By natural color, we mean vibrant fruits and vegetables that make for a colorful plate. Firm and crunchy fruit and vegetables have the added bonus of a high water content which dilute the effects of the sugars they contain and stimulate the flow of saliva. We don’t mean artificial color like red fruit leather and candies! Be careful though with acidic fruits like oranges, lemons and even tomatoes as the acid can erode tooth enamel. It is better to include acidic foods as part of a meal rather than a snack eaten by itself.
Foods to Stay Away From
The foods that you eat not only have a direct effect on your overall health but also specifically on the health of your teeth; especially when it comes to tooth decay. Bacteria needs carbohydrates and sugars to thrive. That is why Dr. Jensen tells all of our patients at Smile Reef (and their parents) to cut back on candy, sweets and sugary drinks as these consist of simple sugars that feed the bacteria in your mouth, encouraging tooth decay. Hard candy such as lollipops (and even cough drops) can also stick to teeth, fueling bacteria even more.
It may not always be obvious what the sugars are in the processed foods that you eat as they are not always labelled as ‘sugar’. We encourage you to read labels on food, paying particular attention for mentions of added sugar, including any ingredients that end with the suffix “ose.” Unfortunately, where nutrition is concerned, these processed foods offer little value beyond satisfying a craving for something sweet.
Do not forget that good nutrition is something to focus on all year long, not just when celebrating National Nutrition Month in March. Eating right is a great proactive step in managing your dental health and Smile Reef is standing by your side, supporting you in this decision. Please contact us with any questions or to make an appointment to visit with Dr. Jensen and the supportive staff at Smile Reef.