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Don’t Let Your Teeth Show What You Eat!
By Dr. Tareq Khalifeh, DDS

Most of my patients are quite conscientious about their dental health. They make regular visits to get their teeth cleaned. They check out problems with me right away, before they can get out of hand. And they try their best to brush and floss regularly during the day, despite their busy schedules.

They also ask me a lot of questions about diet and nutrition. Which is why I decided to devote this article to the topic. While most people who pay attention to their health already know the basics, it’s worth stressing that what you eat really does affect your mouth and your gums.

 

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The most obvious issue associated with diet is the one caused by direct contact between our teeth and our food. Food particles and coatings left behind after we swallow make an attractive meal for the bacteria that live in our mouths. These bacteria produce acids when they interact with the sugars and starches coating teeth and gums. Even if you’re eating healthy foods, like nuts and fruit, instead of sugary sweets, your teeth are still subject to attack after every snack or meal.

The key in minimizing tooth decay is to brush at least twice a day, preferably with a fluoride toothpaste, and to drink plenty of water. If you find yourself reaching for a sugary sweet, ask yourself first if you are someplace where you can brush after eating it. If not, pass it by. To help you, just imagine the cost of a dental visit caused by too many mid-afternoon or late-night candy bars!

Refined flours and sugars are definitely dietary dangers for your mouth. They break down easily into acids and create sticky coatings that stay on the teeth longer than other foods.

And carbonated beverages, especially if consumed in any frequency, eat at the protective enamel coating of the teeth, contributing to erosion.

A broader dietary consideration is that the health of your teeth and gums reflects your overall health. If you’re not eating a balanced diet, your whole metabolism must make complex adjustments to keep your endocrine system functioning properly. Inadequate consumption of key proteins, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals taxes your immune system, leading to skin flare-ups, poor digestion, and systemic acidity. This can lead to many more serious health issues, including problems in the intestinal tract, such as acid reflux disease.

To safeguard your teeth, follow these Dental Dietary basics:

  • Eat small, balanced meals each day, including foods from the basic food groups (see http://www.healthierus.gov/dietaryguidelines/).
  • Brush a minimum of two times a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Never go to bed without brushing and flossing.
  • Floss once a day to remove food particles lodged between your teeth.
  • Schedule regular visits with your dental hygienist and dentist to do a deep cleaning of the placque (bacteria) on your teeth and gums.
  • Minimize the use of carbonated beverages.

Dr. Khalifeh owns the Philmont Family Dentistry located on Rte 217 in Philmont, NY. For more information, call 672-4077 or visit www.philmontfamilydentistry.com.

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