We all know that we should eat right to protect our bodies from scary health problems like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. But what you may not know is that following a healthy diet can directly affect your oral health, too. As we celebrate National Nutrition Month, our dental office in Chapel Hill wants to help bring awareness to what proper nutrition involves and how what you choose to put in your body can protect your smile.
You may remember the classic Food Guide Pyramid that you learned about in grade school. This original standard for nutritional guidelines was released by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1992, and has since been amended two times. Now, the USDA follows the MyPlate standards for dietary recommendations. What’s different in this model compared to the pyramid concept is how the guidelines shift from person to person based on age, gender, height, weight, and daily activity level. You can find your personalized recommendations by visiting the MyPlate Checklist, but a lot of the essentials have stayed relatively the same. You should still eat a balance of:
Providing your body with the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals it needs to function properly keeps you healthy and helps protect you from developing disease. The same is true for your oral health. Maintaining a healthy mouth is about much more than simply brushing and flossing, although both of those things are still important. Your diet is also a key factor in determining just how good your oral health is.
There’s a good reason your Chapel Hill dentist has a bad taste in their mouth when it comes to sugar. Whenever we eat foods with a high sugar content, our tooth enamel is at risk. These sugars essentially activate plaque acids in the mouth which, in turn, attack enamel. As the enamel erodes away, its protective properties are diminished and teeth are exposed to bacteria. Without enamel, teeth are more susceptible to cavities and tooth sensitivity.
It’s good practice to read nutrition labels to monitor how much sugar you consume, but there are places where sugar hides that you may not even think of… for example, in foods that contain a lot of carbohydrates. When we eat carbs, they end up breaking down into simple sugars which have the same effect on your body and oral health as regular sugar.
This month, and every month, we encourage you to plan meals and be aware of what you put in your body for increased overall and oral health. At our Chapel Hill dental office, we’re here to help. Schedule your appointment today.