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What You Eat Matters to Your Teeth

Updated March 11, 2022

Your dentist in Memphis is a key part of your healthcare team, and while we’re dedicated to protecting teeth, we know that there’s a strong connection between oral health and overall health. In fact, when we talk about good oral health, we need to look beyond the bathroom sink and look towards the kitchen. After all, what we eat affects our teeth. 

National Nutrition Month

Every March is recognized as National Nutrition Month. Sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, its purpose is to raise awareness of how healthy eating and proper nutrition can impact overall health. While eating a well-balanced diet may seem simple, the truth is many Americans don’t eat enough of what they should. Why could that be? 

As it turns out, nutrition is complicated. It’s not as easy as eating your vegetables and avoiding high-fat foods, though that’s part of it. Nutrition can be so confusing that even the Food Guide Pyramid created by the USDA changed twice since it was first developed in 1992. What scientists and healthcare professionals have found out is that different people have different dietary needs. This is one reason why MyPlate was developed and why National Nutrition Month exists. 

But what does all of this have to do with your dentist in Memphis?  

What We Eat Affects Our Teeth

Even though the MyPlate recommendations are focused on fueling our bodies with the nutrients we need to stay healthy and protect us from whole-body health problems, similar recommendations can also help protect your teeth. You may even be able to find foods that pack a double punch in protecting your teeth and your body at the same time. Some foods that your dentist recommends include:  

  • Delectable Dairy – Diary foods and drinks such as milk, cheese, and yogurt provide us with bone-protecting (and teeth-strengthening) calcium and vitamin D. 
  • Crunchy Carrots – Raw, crunchy vegetables such as carrots and celery are loaded with vitamins our bodies need and they can gently clean teeth. 
  • Mouth-Watering Meats Lean meats and fatty fish are phosphorus-rich foods that help strengthen tooth enamel.
  • Wonderful Water – Water helps wash away bacteria and neutralize acids in the mouth, further protecting against decay. 

The Danger of Sugar & Carbs

Two of the types of foods that increase the chance for decay are sugary sweets and carbohydrate-rich foods. Sugars feed mouth bacteria which increases the presence of acid. This acid wears away tooth enamel, bacteria settle in, and cavities develop. Carbs are similar even though they aren’t sweet. When carbs are digested, they break down into simple sugars. These sugars also feed bacteria, increase acids as a result, and can damage enamel. 

Fueling your body with the foods it needs to function properly can protect you against developing some health concerns such as heart disease. Eating a well-balanced diet can also protect your teeth against decay. So when you’re shopping for snacks for planning family meals, stick to nutritious, body-friendly, and smile-friendly options.