It’s no secret that eating a balanced diet is important for maintaining good health, and that what we eat and drink plays a big role in how our bodies function. But did you know that what you choose to consume can also affect your oral health? Here at Thacker Orthodontics, we’re passionate about making you smile, but that’s only one part of what we do. We’re committed to helping you improve the overall health of your teeth and gums, too!

The most obvious way we can achieve that goal is through orthodontic treatment, of course, but a nutritious diet is also an essential part of the process. As an orthodontic patient, maintaining your oral health is even more imperative than usual. When you understand more about how nutrition and oral health are linked, it can be easier to make better choices. That’s why we’ve put together this expert information on how your diet can protect your teeth – or negatively affect them. We’ve also included a few tips on how you can keep your mouth healthy and happy, so keep reading to find out more!

Dr. MaryEvan looking at a patient's teeth

Boosting your oral health before you’re born

Nutrition affects our oral health before we’re ever even born. The nutrients that an expectant mother consumes, such as calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus, and protein, help a baby’s teeth begin to form and mineralize properly. This process actually continues throughout our lives, as our teeth develop and mineralize until adulthood, and our oral tissues recycle continuously. However, it takes a variety of vitamins and minerals to accomplish this efficiently.

Good nutrition is a building block of oral health, but it’s also an excellent preventive measure! That’s because nutritional deficiencies can reduce your resistance to dental disease, as well as inhibit your body’s ability to fight certain kinds of infection. A healthy diet can help prevent tooth decay and enamel erosion, but the reverse is true, as well. Human mouths are naturally hospitable to many different kinds of bacteria, and some of them can be harmful. In fact, these microorganisms may thrive on any added sugar in your diet, producing acids that can eat into the enamel of your teeth. This can increase your risk for cavities and loose or even lost teeth. This is one reason we encourage patients to avoid too much added sugar in their diets.  

A healthier diet can give you a healthier mouth

While you may hear stories about avoiding natural sugars as well as added sugars, there’s no evidence that these types of naturally occurring sugars are harmful to the teeth. Whole grains, vegetables, and fruits are good sources of healthy vitamins and minerals, and even starch-rich staples like bread, rice, and potatoes have benefits, including strengthening your teeth and protecting the enamel. Bonus: most of them are safe for braces, too!

If you’re not sure what you should be eating to improve your oral health, take a look at some specific examples of foods and drinks that can give you a stronger smile.

Milk and other dairy products

It’s hardly a chore for most of us to consume more cheese, but dairy products are great to snack on since they’re full of calcium to keep bones and teeth healthy and strong.

Whole grain bread and pasta

Certain kinds of whole grains contain complex carbohydrates that can give harmful bacteria less digestible food to grow on. There are also many different nutrients contained within them that will help your whole mouth stay healthy.

Chicken, red meat, and fatty fish

These foods are most often associated with protein, but they also contain phosphorus, a vital component when it comes to strengthening your teeth and protecting the tooth enamel.

Fresh fruits and vegetables

Do your body a favor, and eat a wide variety of fresh fruits and veggies! Leafy greens in particular are hugely beneficial to your oral health since they contain high amounts of magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, beta carotene, calcium and magnesium. All of these are instrumental in improving and maintaining oral health.

Water

Americans may love their soda, juice, and sports drinks, but that doesn’t make them good for any of us. These drinks can leave behind sugars that provide a buffet for bad bacteria, and can result in acid eating away at the enamel of your teeth. Sodas and juices also tend to contain phosphoric, citric, or malic acids that can exacerbate enamel erosion that’s already present. Water is the perfect alternative! It washes away leftover food and debris, dilutes the acids produced by bad bacteria, helps control dry mouth and bad breath, and can reduce the risk of cavities by keeping your mouth clean and healthy.

Dr. MaryEvan talking to a teen patient

Thacker Orthodontics will help you find your healthiest smile

Whether you make healthy choices or not, what you eat and drink can have a big impact on your oral health. Here at Thacker Orthodontics, Dr. Jim and Dr. MaryEvan are here to provide the treatment options and expert support you need to achieve a straighter smile and improved oral health. But YOU can help this process be more efficient and successful by adopting a healthier diet! Giving a little extra thought to your nutrition and making better choices will not only put some extra sparkle in your smile, but boost your total body health, too!

If you’re in Cincinnati or any of the surrounding communities, we’d love to meet you and give you more information on how good nutrition can improve your oral health! Dr. Jim, Dr. MaryEvan, and the rest of our talented team are here to help you work towards improved oral health and a straighter, stronger smile that will last a lifetime. Call today for a FREE exam!