Eat Healthy for a Healthy Mouth
March marks the beginning of spring and is National Nutrition Month. With the renewal that spring brings, it is the perfect time to evaluate your diet and make sure you are getting vital nutrients that are essential to your overall health as well as your oral health. To help you have a healthy body and mouth, we've compiled a list of tooth-friendly nutrients and tips to help ensure a lifetime of smiles.
Calcium Builds Strong Teeth – Calcium provides structural support for bones and teeth as well as helps muscles, nerves and blood vessels function properly. Ninety-nine percent of the calcium in the body is stored in the teeth and bones. When your body needs calcium for other functions, calcium is pulled from teeth and bones, so it is crucial to replenish the calcium in your body by eating calcium-rich foods. Milk, cheese, yogurt, dark leafy greens, broccoli, salmon, sardines and soybeans are all excellent sources of calcium. You can also eat calcium-fortified cereals to increase your calcium intake.
Vitamins, Minerals and Oral Health – Several vitamins and minerals benefit your oral health. Vitamin K helps produce a substance called osteocalcin, which is a protein your body uses to build teeth and bones. Foods rich in Vitamin K include spinach, kale and other dark leafy greens. Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium. Many foods, such as cereal and milk, are fortified with Vitamin D. You can also receive Vitamin D from direct sunlight.
Phosphorus, magnesium and potassium are also important to oral health. Phosphorus and magnesium work with calcium to mineralize bones and teeth, and potassium helps improve bone density by preventing calcium from leaving the body. Phosphorus is found in nuts, beans, shellfish and lean meats. Magnesium and potassium are found in dark leafy greens, fish, avocado and bananas.
Avoid Sugar for a Healthy Smile – It's important to consume nutritious foods as well as avoid foods and beverages high in sugar. Sugar causes cavities by creating acids that attack tooth enamel. Avoid sugary snacks and drinks, and choose fresh fruit and water instead. Your smile – and body – will thank you.
For more information on good nutrition, visit www.choosemyplate.gov. You can also check out Delta Dental of Illinois' drink pyramid to help you choose tooth-friendly beverages. If you have any good nutrition tips, share them in the comments below.