Healthy foods are of great importance for dental health because teeth are one of the major parts of the body that play a vital role in general human health. Diet is among the factors that has a significant impact on human health, which could be either negative or positive depending on the type of diet. Dental caries and periodontal diseases are among the most prevalent complications that can happen to most people. Therefore, people should learn to take good care of their teeth at a young age and use toothbrush, dental floss, tongue scraper and mouthwash.
Most people are unaware of the impact of foods on their dental health and believe that they can only take care of their teeth by brushing and flossing. This paper aims to examine the effect of diet on dental health and introduce useful foods for dental health.
Effect of diet on dental health
It may come as a surprise to many that diet can largely determine the dental health status. You may have experienced that even though you have taken the best care of your teeth, you still have dental and periodontal diseases and you have asked yourself how come? I always brush and floss my teeth!
Thus, the importance of diet on dental health is highlighted. If you do not have a healthy diet, even if you take care of your teeth properly, you still cannot keep your teeth completely healthy. That is why you should always be careful about what you eat.
Diet can have a positive or negative effect on the oral and dental health, e.g., excessive use of carbonated drinks can lead to dental caries, even if you brush your teeth regularly. However, including dairy products such as milk in your diet can strengthen your teeth and keep them healthy.
Useful foods for dental health
There are plenty of foods that can have a positive effect on dental health. Foods can significantly contribute to tooth strength and oral health. In the following, some of these foods are presented:
Cocoa and dental health
Chocolate, if it is without added sugar, can prevent the formation of dental plaque and caries because this substance controls harmful bacteria in the mouth. Due to the same composition as coffee and chocolate, tea can eliminate Streptococcus mutans that cause dental caries, thus keeping the teeth healthier. However, it should be noted that excessive consumption of coffee, tea and chocolate can change the tooth color.
Dairy products, useful foods for healthy teeth
Dairy products are among the foods that should be consumed continuously to keep the teeth healthy. Foods such as milk, cheese and butter are rich in vitamin K2 which is a vital substance for having healthy teeth. Moreover, dairy products contain a large amount of protein and vitamin D, which have a great impact on tooth strength.
Meat, chicken, eggs, liver and their effect on teeth health
Meat, chicken, eggs and liver are among the foods that are rich in phosphorus, thus strengthening dental health. Phosphorus is a nutrient that teeth need to stay healthy.
The effect of fatty fish on the health of teeth
Fatty fish is among the most important components of a healthy diet affecting dental health due to its high amount of vitamin D which is essential for the general body health. This substance plays a major role in reducing dental caries. Vitamin D, along with vitamins A and K2, helps teeth absorb calcium and strengthens tooth enamel. Furthermore, fish is rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which improve gum health. Omega-3 deficiency in the body is among the reasons for gingivitis and gum bleeding, especially during brushing. Fatty fish can provide the required omega-3 of the body for improving dental health.
Vegetables and healthy teeth
Leafy vegetables such as spinach and lettuce can feed the beneficial bacteria in the mouth and promote oral and dental health due to their probiotic compounds.
Citrus fruits such as grapefruit and orange contain useful acids that can have a great impact on oral and dental health. Due to containing high amounts of vitamin C, citrus fruits can strengthen the teeth as well as connective tissues inside the mouth and reduce gingivitis.
Harmful foods for dental health
Although many foods are beneficial for dental health, there are some foods that can disturb the balance of the mouth and teeth and cause gum and tooth diseases. In the following, some harmful foods for dental health are presented:
- High carbohydrate foods such as sweets, cakes and salty sticks immediately turn into sugar after being chewed. Thus, they can feed pathogenic bacteria and cause the formation of dental plaque and caries.
- Many people consider fried fruits as a healthy snack. However, unlike fresh fruits, dried ones have no water and only contain sugars that feed harmful bacteria and disturb pH in the mouth. Dried fruits can cause dental cavity.
- All kinds of soft drinks and even diet drinks, so-called zero-calorie beverages, are very harmful for teeth because they can significantly disturb the pH balance of the mouth and teeth and make the oral environment extremely acidic. High acidity in the mouth causes dental decay and gingivitis and increases the number of pathogens in the mouth. It is recommended to immediately rinse your mouth with water and salt or use mouthwash and brush your teeth correctly after drinking soda.
- Although legumes such as beans and lentils are useful for the general health, they can cause dental caries due to containing phytic acid. Legumes should be soaked for at least 24 h before cooking to reduce their phytic acid.
Effective habits in dental health
اAlthough improving the diet and following oral hygiene tips can significantly ensure dental health, it should be noted that some daily habits can play an important role in dental health, e.g., it is recommended to drink a lot of water daily because it can ensure the general health and prevent dental caries due to containing fluoride. Moreover, smoking can change the tooth color and increase the risk of dental caries and plaque formation. Chewing hard foods or breaking down the hard shell of seeds such as pistachios, hazelnuts, almonds, etc. should be avoided. Therefore, it is very important to have healthy habits and diet and follow hygienic principles in order to have healthy teeth.
FAQ about foods that are useful for dental health
1- Can eating healthy foods eliminate dental caries?
Healthy foods can only prevent dental caries and other complications. However, they do not have any therapeutic effect on eliminating dental caries. In case of oral and dental complications, you should visit the dentist as soon as possible and seek treatment.
2- Can taking vitamin supplements be effective in dental health?
Vitamin supplements can be a good source of vitamins and minerals needed for gum and general body health, especially for those who do not have a good diet. However, it is recommended that the food required for dental health should be supplied by proper nutrition and vitamin supplements should be taken under the supervision of the dentist.
3- Are nuts useful for dental health?
Yes, all types of nuts can have a great impact on oral and dental health due to their antioxidant content. However, the particles left between the teeth after eating nuts and seeds can provide a suitable environment for the growth of harmful bacteria, if not removed, and cause dental caries or plaque formation.
4- Does consumption of healthy foods only affect tooth enamel or influence tooth root canal as well?
Consuming healthy and nutritious foods affects tooth appearance and enamel and keeps it strong and healthy. Moreover, it supplies the nutrients required by blood vessels, gingival tissue and tooth root and keeps it healthy.
5- Can healthy foods reduce gingivitis?
There may be many reasons for gingivitis. Deficiency of vitamin C and fiber are among the most important causes of periodontal diseases. Therefore, consuming foods containing fiber such as nuts, grains, vegetables and fruits as well as foods containing vitamin C such as oranges and other citrus fruits can improve gingivitis and gum bleeding.