From early childhood, everyone from our parents and teachers to doctors and commercials have let us know how important it is to eat a healthy, balanced diet. But while most of us know that what we eat and drink plays a role in how our bodies function, you may not be aware that what you choose to consume can also affect your oral health.

We’re passionate about giving patients a future to smile about here at Frey Orthodontics, but that’s only one part of our mission. We’re also dedicated to helping our patients improve (and maintain) the health of their teeth and gums. The most obvious way we can accomplish this is through orthodontic treatment, of course, but a nutritious diet is also an important part of that process. That’s where you come in!

As an orthodontic patient, it’s even more imperative than normal that you take good care of your teeth and gums. To help you understand more clearly how nutrition and oral health are linked, we’ve put together some expert information on how your diet can protect your teeth (or negatively affect them.) We’ve also included a few tips on how to maintain a happy, healthy mouth. Keep reading below to find out more!

Dr. Frey talking to teen patient

Boosting oral health through better nutrition

Nutrition actually affects our oral health before we’re ever even born. When an expectant mother consumes nutrients like calcium, vitamin D, phosphorus, and protein, it helps the baby’s teeth begin to form and mineralize properly. This process continues throughout our lives: our teeth will develop and mineralize throughout our teen years, and the oral tissues never stop recycling. However, a variety of vitamins and minerals are needed in order to successfully carry out these tasks.

Good nutrition is more than just a building block of oral health. It’s also a preventive measure! Human mouths are naturally hospitable to many different kinds of bacteria, many of which can be harmful. Nutritional deficiencies reduce your resistance to dental disease, and inhibit your body’s ability to fight certain kinds of infection. This may increase your risk for tooth decay and enamel erosion.  

There are also a number of microorganisms in your mouth that thrive on any added sugar in your diet. When these “bad bacteria” begin processing ingested sugar, acids are produced that can eat into the enamel of your teeth. This can set the stage for cavities, loose teeth, and even lost teeth over time. Avoiding too much added sugar in your diet is an easy way to protect your smile!

From time to time, you may hear someone suggest you should steer clear of natural sugars in addition to added sugar. Fortunately, there’s no evidence that these types of naturally occurring sugars are harmful to the teeth, even when they come in starch-rich staples like bread, rice, and potatoes. Whole grains, vegetables, and fruits are excellent sources of healthy vitamins and minerals, and have many benefits, including strengthening your teeth and protecting the enamel. Almost all of them are safe for braces, too!

Some specific examples of choices you can make to give you a stronger smile and improve your oral health are:

Milk and other dairy products

Nobody really needs an excuse to eat cheese, but dairy products can be super snacks since they’re full of calcium that keeps bones and teeth healthy and strong.

Whole grain bread and pastas

Certain whole grains contain complex carbohydrates that give bad bacteria less digestible food to grow on and nutrients that help your whole mouth stay healthy.

Chicken, red meat, and fatty fish

While protein tends to be the star of the show here, these foods also contain phosphorus, a vital component when it comes to strengthening your teeth and protecting the tooth enamel.

Fresh fruits and vegetables

Eating a wide variety of fresh fruits and veggies is one of the best things you can do for your body, and your teeth! Leafy greens in particular boost your oral health since they contain high amounts of magnesium, vitamin A, vitamin C, beta carotene, calcium and magnesium. All of these minerals play an important role in improving and maintaining oral health.

Water

America loves its soda, juice, and sports drinks, but they’re notorious for leaving behind sugars that provide a veritable banquet for bad bacteria, which can result in acid that eats away at the enamel of your teeth. Sodas and juices also tend to contain phosphoric, citric, or malic acids, all of which can exacerbate any preexisting enamel erosion.

Water is beneficial to you in a multitude of other ways as well. It washes away leftover food and debris, and helps to dilute the acids produced by harmful bacteria. Drinking more water can also help get a dry mouth and bad breath under control, and goes a long way towards keeping your mouth clean and healthy, while reducing the risk of cavities.

Frey patients at front desk

Frey Orthodontics can help you find your healthiest smile

It’s undeniable that what you choose to eat and drink can have a big impact on your oral health. Here at Frey Orthodontics, we have a talented team in place to provide the treatment options and expert support you need to achieve a straighter smile. However, you can help this process work more efficiently by adopting a healthier diet! Giving some thought to your nutritional intake and making healthy choices will give your smile some extra sparkle and strength.

Dr. Frey is an award-winning orthodontist with a wide range of experience in treating patients of all ages. Our practice uses progressive techniques to offer a wide range of creative orthodontic solutions for every smile. If you’re in Naperville or any of the surrounding communities and would like to learn more about how good nutrition can improve your oral health, get in touch with us today! We would love to meet you and work with you towards improved oral health. We offer FREE consultations, so there’s never been a more perfect time to start the journey towards a healthier, stronger smile that will last a lifetime!