Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Start the Year Off Right - Proper Nutrition for Your Healthy Smile

With New Year’s right around the corner, you are probably considering your upcoming 2015 resolutions. While some resolutions are a big undertaking, it’s not hard to resolve to eat healthier to achieve a healthier smile. We care about your smile and your long-term oral health. And, with a growing body of evidence connecting oral health and overall health, you can feel confident that eating healthier will benefit your smile and your overall well-being.

What does proper nutrition mean? The answer is: several things. Resolving to improve your nutrition means taking stock of your overall eating habits. This will ensure your daily intake includes a healthy number of calories. For men, the number of calories per day should range between 2,000 and 3,000 depending on age, height, activity level, etc. For women, the range is 1,600 to 2,000 per day. And, for children, the range is 1,000 to 2,000 calories per day. But proper nutrition means a lot more than caloric intake. It also involves looking at what those calories are comprised of. Are you eating foods from all of the basic food groups? Are you getting enough protein? Is your fruit and vegetable intake high enough? Are you consuming too many empty calories…foods that taste good, but offer little nutritional value?

Most people are aware that eating healthy, balanced foods will go a long way in trying to stay healthy. What most people do not know, however, is that eating healthy can help prevent tooth decay and gum disease, important news when you are trying to make sure you have a beautiful and healthy smile. Generally, speaking, good nutrition is good for your total health, and that includes your oral health. Fresh fruits and vegetables, lean meats, whole grain foods and nuts will help your body sustain a more alkaline state. This will help protect you against inflammation and attacking bacteria, which can help protect your gums and teeth. These foods strengthen immunity with their many nutrients and natural antioxidants.

Foods that may make you more prone toward an acidic state, which increases bacteria and inflammation, are those with refined sugar, high fructose corn syrup, food coloring, artificial preservatives or sweeteners, and partially hydrogenated oils.  We know everyone enjoys an occasional indulgence, foods such as these are one to limit in your diet.

As you work toward a healthier diet, look for these foods or clues to foods to know you are making a good, healthy choice…

►Fresh, crisp fruits and raw vegetables help remove plaque from teeth and freshen breath while providing an array of vitamins and nutrients. They protect gums and other cells within the body from damage and bacterial infections.

►Boost your bones with calcium-fortified juices, milk and other dairy products. They are high in calcium and vitamin D. They help reduce the risk for tooth loss.

►Fresh cranberries are now known to stop bacteria from sticking to teeth before it can form plaque, preventing damage before it starts.

►Folic acid is vital for pregnant women and their growing babies. It aids in cell growth throughout the entire body and supports a healthy mouth. Eating dark, leafy vegetables will give you a tasty supply. Avocados, asparagus and spinach are three top sources of folic acid.

Did you know that when you eat is also important to promoting good oral health? “How is this possible?” you might ask. Foods requiring a long time to chew or that you keep in your mouth (such as gum or sucking candies) hold sugar against teeth longer which may result in damage. These are ones to limit in your diet.

For those who want to have some foods known to be high in carbohydrates, acidic or sugary, try not to snack on these foods. Instead, eat them during meal times. During meal time, your body produces more saliva, which will wash away more harmful acids, thus, protecting your teeth from. Remember to avoid sweet, sticky foods that can stick to your teeth. These offer no benefit to your mouth or your body. Try dental smart snacks such as cheese, nuts, raw vegetables, fruits and yogurt.

Last, but certainly not least, remember to drink lots of water throughout the day. In addition to hydrating the cells in the body, water helps keeps your mouth moist, stimulating saliva. This protects both oral tissues and keeps your mouth fresher.

Small steps are all it takes to walk your body toward better oral health. With a healthier mouth and body, and a brighter smile, you will be happy you did!

Happy New Year!

Dr. Ari Druz
and the team at PM Dental Care