Nutritional Requirements for Good Dental Health

Instructor: Artem Cheprasov

Artem has a doctor of veterinary medicine degree.

We all know what's bad for our teeth: too much sugar. But what else is bad for our teeth? What is actually good for them? This lesson goes over some of the answers to these questions.

Nutrition and Dental Health

There are few pleasures in life better than good food. And within that, there are few foods that are better tasting than the sweet ones like chocolate cake, fudge brownies, or oatmeal cookies. Yet, we all know that sugar is bad for our teeth. It causes tooth decay. Thus, you already know for sure that nutrition is tied to good or bad dental health.

However, there's more to it than just sugar. That's why we'll take a bite out of our diet's involvement with our teeth!

What Not to Eat

Let's start with that sugar. We love it, but we know it's bad for us. But why? When you put sugar into your mouth, the bacteria within your mouth start using it for food and produce acid as a result. Think of the bacteria as little factories. In comes sugar, out comes acid. That acid attacks our teeth for at least 20 minutes. Like acid can eat through metal in cartoons, acid can eat through our teeth's protective coverings as well, resulting in tooth decay.

But you might be thinking that only candy or dessert causes this problem. Actually, no. Any foods that contain carbohydrates (one of which is sugar) can cause this problem, including potato chips and even healthy fruits.

Carbohydrates are unavoidable though. You actually need carbohydrates to survive. What you don't need is excess sugar. So, when buying food, make sure the food or drink you are putting in your mouth has no or few added sugars.

Other things to avoid eating include:

  • Ice, which, when chewed, can physically damage your teeth
  • Citrus fruits or drinks, like oranges or orange juice. They contain acid that can erode your teeth.
  • Sticky or crunchy foods like dry fruit and potato chips, respectively. Sticky and many crunchy foods literally stick around in your mouth for longer, giving bacteria plenty of time to produce lots of damaging acid.
  • Alcohol, which over time can lead to dehydration and dry mouth; both of these can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

What to Eat

Okay, so now you know that you need to avoid excess sugar. What can we eat or drink to actually help improve dental health then?

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