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You (And Your Teeth) Are What You Eat

Your diet has a profound impact on your oral -- and overall -- health.

We have all heard about how important it is to eat a well-balanced diet and watch our sugar intake to keep ourselves healthy and fit. But did you know that your diet has a pronounced effect on your oral health or that your teeth and gums often show the first signs of poor nutrition?

The types of foods you eat and even when you eat them can have a dramatic effect on your teeth and gums. Certain types of food have been linked to higher levels of cavity-causing bacteria. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies caused by a poor diet affect your overall health, as well as increase your risk for needing gum disease treatment.

Fast Food Nation

The average American diet of fast food and sugary snacks means major dental problems for your teeth and gums. Foods that cling to teeth -- most soft, sweet and sticky foods -- put you at a much higher risk for cavities because they allow acids that cause tooth decay to build up on the tooth surface. Diets that eliminate entire food groups or are extremely restrictive can also be harmful because they put you at a high risk for nutrient deficiencies.

Fermentable carbohydrates, which are found in crackers, cookies and chips, are extremely common and create the perfect opportunity for dental cavity-causing acids to flood your mouth. You can minimize their effect by eating them as a part of a meal with other types of food. Even if you are having a snack, having cheese along with your crackers will help neutralize acids -- choosing nuts, vegetables or fruit are even better options.

According to the Academy of General Dentistry, some of the worst offenders in the game of oral health and nutrition are soda and bottled iced tea. These thirst quenchers are filled with empty calories and sugar and can wear down your teeth's enamel over time. Clear sodas and iced teas are especially harmful because they are full of flavor additives.

It goes without saying that your consumption of fast food should be as limited as possible for the sake of your overall health as well as your teeth and gums. If you do find yourself giving in to the occasional craving, try chewing sugarless gum or rinsing your mouth with water for 30 seconds afterwards to prevent food from sticking to your teeth.

Optimally you should try to maintain a balanced and varied diet in accordance with the standards set by the American Dietic Association and National Institute of Health. By choosing a diet rich in nutrients and fiber you will be doing a good thing for your teeth and your body will thank you too!

Remember that your oral health mirrors your overall health so it is important to speak with your dentist to address any indications of nutrient deficiencies and to make sure that you maintain the healthy and beautiful smile that you deserve. If you don't have a dentist, we can help you find one!