The Role Of Nutrition In Oral Hygiene


Everyone knows that balanced nutrition is an essential part of good overall health and wellness. It’s also an essential part of good oral health. Your choice of diet has a direct effect on the integrity of your tooth structure and oral hygiene, while your nutritional status has a systemic effect on your oral health. An unhealthy diet is one of the leading causes of poor oral health in kids and adults in modern times.

Role of Nutrition in Kids, Teens and Adults

During infancy and childhood, it’s essential to incorporate healthy eating habits in children to ensure good nutrition and minimize the possibility of tooth decay. The earlier someone learns the easier it is to integrate into everyday life for the long term. In addition to regular daily brushing and flossing, preventive care should include the following:

Young children shouldn’t be put to bed with a bottle of milk as this is the single most important cause of early childhood caries.

1-Avoid snacks and drinks between meals. Every time we eat or drink something, bacteria act on the carbohydrates left on our teeth and produce acids. The number of snacks between meals should be limited to 3 per day to prevent cavities. Dentists recommend healthy snacks such as raw veggies, cheese, nuts, fruit and milk instead of food with high sugar content to maintain good oral health.

2-Limit sugary and sticky foods such as candy, raisins, lollipops, dried fruit etc. These foods will stick to your teeth, letting bacteria act on the sugars and produce acid which will cause cavities.

Some foods, like raw vegetables, cheese and nuts are actually cavity fighting or cariostatic foods. They help to prevent cavities by neutralizing the acid produced by plaque bacteria.

3-Avoid aerated or carbonated drinks, sports drinks or fruit juices as they have a high sugar content. Sipping them over a period of time (which most of us tend to do) is particularly harmful as the teeth are exposed to the sugars for a longer period of time. They should be drank only at mealtimes.

4-Drink liquids with your meals as they help to wash away food particles and clean your mouth.

5-Chewing raw veggies or sugarless gum helps to maintain oral hygiene by stimulating the flow of saliva in your mouth which washes away the remnants of food particles.

6-Vitamin C is vital to oral health. If you do not consume enough vitamin C, you may be susceptible to severe dental problems, including loose teeth and bleeding gums.

7-Acidic foods like tomatoes and lemons can cause erosion of the tooth enamel if eaten by themselves. They should be only eaten as part of a meal so that the other foods can neutralize their acid and prevent enamel erosion.

There is a synergistic relationship between oral health and nutrition. Poor nutrition has a negative effect on oral health; and poor oral health (eg. sensitivity, missing teeth, loose and bleeding gums), in turn, affects the quality of the diet a person can eat. Dental health is often overlooked until it’s too late and we’re in the dentist chair for an emergency and only able to eat soups and soft foods.

By incorporating these tips into your life you’ll slowly start to see the results – both in your body’s overall health and nutrition as well as your teeth.

This post was written by Aviva Hill, Yale-trained physician specializing in integrative medicine for women and children with a contribution of Dr. Jerry Mulder, sleep expert and Dentist at the Grand Rapids clinic Life of Smiles.