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It goes without saying that there’s a direct link between nutrition and oral health. Even if you’re the most diligent brusher and flosser, what you eat will still have a significant impact on the health of your teeth and gums — for better or worse. That’s because our teeth require certain vitamins and minerals to stay strong while other things, like sugar, can wear them down.

As dentists in Berea, SC, our goal is not only to take care of our patients’ teeth, but to give them the knowledge and support they need to maintain their own oral health. In this post, Oaks Dental Group will share:

  • How nutrition affects oral health
  • The connection between sugar and teeth
  • The best vitamins for teeth and gums

How Does Nutrition Affect Oral Health?

The primary function of our teeth is to help us chew and break down foods so we can access essential nutrients to keep our teeth, gums and bodies strong and healthy. The things we eat impact the functioning of all our bodily systems. When we eat healthy foods — like fruit and vegetables — our bodies thrive. When we eat highly processed or sugary foods, we often feel lethargic and may develop ongoing health concerns. And nutrition is, of course, not just about how we feel: eating unhealthy foods causes excessive wear on our tooth enamel and gums, which can lead to cavities, tooth decay and gum disease.

Is Sugar Really that Bad for My Teeth?

The short answer: yes. The long answer: the American Dental Association reports that tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease, which occurs when plaque and sugar collide in the mouth and cause acid to attack the teeth. Fortunately, tooth decay is completely preventable if you choose the right foods.

Keep in mind that any foods or beverages that contain sugar can cause tooth decay. So to limit your sugar intake and protect your teeth, choose whole foods like veggies, fruits, lean proteins and whole grains. Avoid processed foods and things with added sugar. Be thoughtful about your snacking choices, too, because lots of grab-and-go items are filled with hidden sugars that can wreak havoc on your oral health.

Vitamins for Teeth

Remember how we said your teeth need certain vitamins and minerals to stay strong? Just like your bones require calcium and your eyes need vitamin A, your teeth will be at their best when you consume specific nutrients. (Spoiler alert: your teeth need calcium and vitamin A, too!) The good news is that you can get most of those nutrients from the foods you already eat and if you’re worried about your intake, supplements are available. Here are the best vitamins for teeth and their best food sources:

  • Calcium: Calcium is known for supporting the strength of your bones, but did you know it also plays a critical role in the strength of your teeth? In fact, it is one of the most vital minerals in the human body for those very reasons. You can easily get calcium by including dairy products, like milk and yogurt, in your diet. Canned salmon is another great source of calcium. However, if you eat a plant-based diet, leafy greens like collards, kale, bok choy and broccoli, as well as nuts and seeds, can provide the calcium you need.
  • Phosphorus: Vitamins often work in tandem to increase absorption in the body. Like vitamin C helps your body absorb and use iron, phosphorus improves the availability of calcium. Together, phosphorus and calcium help strengthen, protect and rebuild tooth enamel. Make sure to eat plenty of whole grains and protein-rich foods to keep your phosphorus intake up.
  • Vitamin C: Vitamin C is truly a super nutrient. It supports your immune system, and is essential to the development and repair of all the body’s tissues. This goes for your mouth, too: vitamin C supports the connective tissues in your gums, keeping your teeth held securely in place. Vitamin C is easy to get from a variety of sources, including citrus fruits, sweet potatoes, berries, peppers and more.
  • Vitamin A: We already mentioned that vitamin A is known for being good for your eyes, but it’s less known that vitamin A supports a healthy smile. This essential nutrient contributes to saliva production, which helps break down food and clear away bacteria from your mouth. Vitamin A comes from orange fruits and vegetables such as carrots, sweet potatoes and bell peppers. Fish and egg yolks are also great sources of vitamin A.
  • Vitamin D: A recent study showed that vitamin D deficiency can contribute to gum inflammation, cavities and gum disease because of its role in tooth mineralization. While vitamin D can be tricky to get from diet alone, supplements can provide what your body needs to thrive.

Still have questions about the link between nutrition and teeth? The experts at Carolina Oaks Berea are always here to support your oral health journey. Contact us to book your next appointment with your Berea dentist today.

The Oaks Dental Group

Author The Oaks Dental Group

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