Diet and Dental Health | ‘You are what you eat’
‘You are what you eat’… is a phrase thought to be as old as the early 1800s that has come to be well known over the years Today, with TV ads, the Internet, and advice from our doctors, we know that the foods we eat and the drinks we drink help determine our overall health. Of course, the challenge is to figure out the specific ‘good foods of the day’ as we know that oftentimes these may change. One year it’s spinach; the next year it’s broccoli and for a few years we have new loves – avocado toast, kale and everything green smoothies. The plus is that with more information we can become more actively involved in maintaining a healthy body. And what doesn’t change from year to year are the vast numbers of research studies creating an increasing knowledge base showing the direct correlation between foods and our body’s ability to fight off illness, sleep better, be more alert and just plain feel better.
Just as we make choices to reduce the risk of diabetes by watching processed sugars and our weight and keeping our heart health in mind by avoiding foods high in saturated fats or sodium and an increase in aerobic activities – our teeth do not exist in a vacuum. They are positivity or negatively impacted by our personal nutrition. With oral health, it’s a two-way street. Many patients, with certain types of general health issues, are more cavity-prone and tend to have periodontal (gum tissue) disease. And on the other hand, many oral manifestations are signals that there are undiagnosed underlying health issues. As the saying goes … ‘Bright and white teeth are a window into our overall well-being.’ To highlight the importance of raising the public’s awareness of making the best choices, The Academy of Dietetics and Nutrition designates the month of March as National Nutrition Month with their campaign this year entitled ‘Eating Right Bite by Bite’. So, it’s a good time to review some tips to help YOU stay your healthy best.
Around the third month of pregnancy, baby teeth begin to form. The maxim of ‘you are what you eat’ holds true even for unborn little ones. If you are a mom-to-be, the food you eat will, in part, help determine the strength of your baby’s teeth. And once your baby is born, and even before their first tooth erupts, the teeth’s strength is impacted by the correct amount of fluoride that he or she gets through both the water you drink and the foods you eat. After birth, once solid foods are introduced and into your child’s teen years, diligence towards diet will direct the development and health of your child’s adult teeth. But it doesn’t end there; we know that no matter our age – be it soon after the teenage years, in our 40’s to 60s and into our 90s, the importance of attention to nutrition is equally as important. As we age, for our teeth to last our lifetime, we need to maintain the same levels of care that helped us keep our teeth through the years. Factors, such as smoking, alcohol intake, medications and just ‘getting older’ take their toll on our oral health as they do to the rest of our body.
So, what can we do to be our own best advocate as we sit down to our next meal, and the next one and the one after that? Look at our choices and make them wisely. Choose lean meats, leafy green vegetables, fresh fruits, instead of fruit juices, whole grain products, less processed foods, foods low in sodium and those with no added sugars, choose your carbohydrates wisely (starchy carbs, like chips, are just as bad as candy!) dairy products (an excellent source of calcium important for both bones and teeth) that are low in fats, and as important as all that we chew – drink fluoridated water! Right from the tap. Decrease alcohol and coffee intake – they are dehydrating, which can decrease the flow of saliva, hence increasing the risk of recurrent tooth decay. Saliva is our own build in ‘oral rinse’.
Our teeth are an integral part of our body; if ‘you are what you eat’ be sure that you can eat in comfort and smile with confidence. If you have questions regarding understanding the correlation between what we choose to eat and drink and the link with your oral health, ask Drs. Hochberg and Diora; they’d be happy to discuss the topic in detail with you.
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