Monday, March 26, 2012

A Mouthful of Good Advice: 4 Nutrition Tips for Oral Health

Taking care of your teeth and gums goes well beyond just brushing and flossing every day.

Woman eating salad.
Antioxidant-rich foods can help protect your gums.

Healthy mouths are a great indicator of healthy bodies. Besides maintaining good oral hygiene, you can give back to your dental duo by consuming foods that improve gum and tooth integrity. Here are some tips for eating your way to a healthier and happier mouth:

  1. Minerals repair: If you’re concerned that your teeth are already damaged, worry not. Rebuilding is only a few bites away. Diets high in calcium and phosphorus may replenish tooth enamel. Get your teeth in shape by including fish, plain yogurt, low-fat ricotta cheese, roasted seeds, nuts and whole grain bread into your meals.
  2. Pretty in pink: Gum tissue is very sensitive to everyday free radical damage. Keep your gums pretty in pink by consuming an antioxidant-rich diet and flossing daily. Foods like red peppers, kale, spinach, broccoli and sweet potatoes may help lessen your chances of gum disease.
  3. Dirty mouth? Clean it with fiber: Forgot to give your chompers their morning brush and floss? Although a mint or gum will freshen your breath, depending on the variety it may also have negative impacts on oral health. Trade in the bubble gum for an apple or pear and reap the plaque-cleaning benefits of fiber.
  4. Better together: Eaten alone, foods like tomatoes, citrus fruits, sugary candies and beverages, and vinegar break down enamel. This process results in increased soft tooth tissue decay and cavities. Consuming acidic foods as part of a balanced meal will help dilute them and protect tooth enamel.

— Allissa Eiser, dietetic intern, and Debra A. Boutin, MS, RD, chair and dietetic internship director, Department of Nutrition & Exercise Science at Bastyr University.

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