An attractive smile is a feature many would love to have, and eating the right food could take you one step closer to getting it. Nutritious food is important for your health and overall wellbeing, so you must choose food that is packed with vitamins and minerals which will enrich your body and improve your oral health by extension.
What makes up a healthy diet?
A healthy diet is a balanced combination of essential vitamins, minerals, proteins, carbohydrates, and other food groups which, when served in their proper serving sizes, can replenish the body and improve your health. These essential nutrients can be found in everyday food such as grains, vegetables, meat, dairy, fruits and many others, and contain ingredients that your body needs to function properly.
Why should you eat a healthy meal?
It is easy to get hooked on fast food and junk food between busy schedules, because they are more accessible than balanced meals. These foods have been shown to contain high amounts of cholesterol and fats, which do not provide enough nourishment for your body. They also expose you to health problems such as heart disease, hypertension and obesity, which lead to long-term complications for your body.
Eating unhealthy food also affects the condition of your teeth and gums. Sugary sweets and drinks can increase the risk of gum disease and tooth decay. These can cause tooth pain, gum problems and hypersensitivity, which could lead to needing emergency dental care or even losing your tooth.
How does a healthy diet affect your oral health?
The nutrients in a healthy diet can directly affect the condition of your mouth. For instance, vitamins present in them help repair wounds in your mouth; minerals including calcium and phosphate strengthen your teeth and jaw; proteins and carbohydrates help build your jaw muscles and tissue around it.
On the other hand, acidic foods can slowly erode the outer layer of your tooth (enamel) and make your teeth sensitive. Also, sugary foods and pastries can lodge between your teeth and become a fuel source for your mouth bacteria to produce acids. These acids in turn dissolve your teeth gradually until they form a hole in them.
Now that you know why you need to eat a healthy diet, let’s look at some tips which could help you keep your teeth and gums healthy with the food you eat.
1. Ensure that your Diet is Balanced
As stated earlier, the importance of eating a balanced diet cannot be overemphasized. The nutrients are needed for repairing wounds and to create new tissue in your mouth. Without these, you will be at high risk from gum disease and other oral health problems.
So, you should remember to include a variety of food from each class to ensure that you have a healthy diet.
2. Drink Water after Every Meal
The cleansing action of water helps to remove the remnant of food particles in your mouth, which could otherwise cause bad breath and tooth decay. It also helps to digest your food and increase the quantity of your saliva.
3. Keep your Snacks Healthy
Taking snacks is not an excuse to indulge in a sugar fest, you can still have healthier options. Fruits and nuts can serve as a healthy option for your snacks. You should also ensure that these snacks are taken during mealtime, so that your saliva can also help in cleansing your mouth after eating.
4. Reduce your Sugar Intake
Completely removing sugar from your meal may seem like an impossible task, but you could start by noting how much sugar is in your food, gradually reducing or substituting it. The effect of refined sugar on the teeth results in tooth decay, which may eventually lead to tooth loss. So if you plan on keeping your teeth for a long time, you might want to consider another alternative to sugar, such as using honey.
5. Eat Fruits and Vegetables Often
Aside from their roles in healing and repair, some fruits and vegetables have also been documented to have cleansing action due to their fiber content. Examples of these are apples and carrots, which help in naturally cleansing teeth and removing plaque.
6. Avoid Foods that Stick to your Teeth
These include dried fruits, jelly beans, cookies and granola bars. They stick to the surface of your teeth and in between them, making it difficult for saliva to wash them away. It is advisable to brush your teeth after eating any of these.
7. Include Cheese Along with Meals
Cheese has been proven to increase saliva flow and promote healthy gut flora. These are good for the digestion of your food. Increased saliva also helps to buffer acid produced by your mouth bacteria and keep your mouth clean.
8. Eat Foods that are High in Calcium
More than 90% of your teeth is made of calcium, and this is what strengthens them. Dairy products, nuts and broccoli are a good source of calcium, and should be included in your diet to make your teeth stronger and healthier.
9. Eat Foods Rich in Vitamin C
You’ve probably never worried about bleeding out from a small cut in your mouth. Well, that’s thanks to Vitamin C which helps your wounds to heal on time. Fruits such as apples, oranges, strawberries and currants are good sources of vitamin C, and are also very affordable.
10. Drink Tea
As simple as this may sound, drinking tea is one of the ways of improving your oral health, since it is rich in polyphenols that prevent the growth of mouth bacteria. If the bacteria can’t grow, there’s a lesser risk of your teeth decaying and causing you pain. Just ensure that your tea is sugar-free.
Taking good care of your teeth starts from what you put into your mouth, so you must feed your body with all the essential nutrients. This, along with proper oral hygiene and frequent visits to the dentist, will ensure that you are on your way to having that megawatt smile.
Author bio: Peace Nwoha is a qualified dental surgeon from Obafemi Awolowo University and also a fellow of The Global Health Network with 5 years clinical experience and 4 years of research.