How Diet Affects Oral Health

While children are at risk for developing cavities, adults are too, especially as they age. When considering the results of a recent study published in the Journal of Aging Research and Clinical Practice, the importance of proper nutrition is evident. According to this study, severe tooth loss in the elderly serves as a key indicator of a compromised diet.

Dietary Factors Directly Affect Oral Health

Research has established that an individual’s dietary choices directly relate to the development of cavities and erosion of the tooth enamel, which is the protective coating over each tooth. Once the enamel is compromised, bacteria and plaque can build up, resulting in cavities.

Foods Offering the Highest Level of Nutrition

Obviously, Fresh Fruits and Veggies

Besides offering vitamins and minerals, these foods also contain water and fiber. The water and fiber help balance the natural sugars that these foods contain.

Eating raw fruits and veggies that are crunchy increases saliva production. This increase in saliva benefits the teeth because it helps wash away any food particles or acids that remain in the mouth. Left in the mouth too long, these acids and particles can harm the teeth.

Berries and Citrus Fruits

These fruits are full of vitamin C and calcium, however, they also contain natural sugar and citrus fruit is acidic, so limited consumption is recommended. Furthermore, after eating any type of acidic food, rinsing your mouth is essential. This acid can wreak havoc on the enamel of your teeth.

Dark leafy greens (e.g., kale, spinach, etc.) are rich in calcium and vitamin C, both of which help fight periodontal disease. In addition, these vegetables have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.

Shiitake mushrooms are considered a superfood because they contain an antibacterial compound (lentinan) that has the ability to prevent bacterial growth. In addition, these mushrooms help prevent plaque buildup on the teeth.


Choose wholesome snacks that are sugar-free. Sticky treats (e.g., fruit snacks and caramels, etc.) attach to the grooves of your teeth, providing the bacteria with plenty of food. It is recommended that all sweets be consumed at the same time as a meal because the excess saliva that is created while eating will help to dilute and then wash the sugars away.

Sugar remains as one of the main reasons for dental issues, here is why:

Bacteria in your mouth eat the sugar and then release an acid that damages the teeth. Once decay begins, if the cavity remains untreated, it will continue to develop and eventually result in a painful toothache.

Dairy and Protein

Dairy products contain casein, which helps neutralize the acids that the bacteria in the mouth produce. These products include yogurt and cheese.

Eating lean proteins rich in phosphorous strengthens the teeth. These proteins include eggs, meat, poultry, milk and fish. Other forms of fiber, minerals and protein include beans, seeds and nuts.

Cleaning Your Teeth When Brushing is Delayed

If the ability to brush is delayed, chewing sugar-free gum or fibrous vegetables can help clean your teeth.

Strong, healthy teeth can prevent tooth loss and reduce the likelihood of developing painful conditions like temporomandibular jaw (TMJ) syndrome. At Heritage Oral Surgery & Implant Centers, we replace missing teeth and treat TMJ. To learn more, contact one of our centers.

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