By Debra S. Lowe, D.M.D.
For strong healthy teeth and gums, your mouth needs vitamins and minerals and a good environment.
Eating a well balanced diet is good for your body AND your teeth, meaning you should include foods from all five major food groups. Deficiencies can affect your overall and oral health.
Drink plenty of water to wash away food particles, neutralize the acid in your mouth, and hydrate your tissues. Eat crunchy foods like apples, celery, and carrots to remove debris from your teeth. Dairy products, such as cheese, have proteins and calcium, and reduce acidity. Green and black teas inhibit bacterial growth. Green tea, an antioxidant, protects the soft tissues. After a meal, if you can’t brush, chew some sugarless gum to promote a flow of cleansing saliva.
Products are available that can change the acidic pH of the mouth to a more basic environment, thereby reducing acid attacks on the teeth. Dissolvable oral probiotics increase the numbers of good bacteria and reduce the numbers of bad, cavity-causing bacteria. These products improve oral health, reduce bad breath, relieve dry mouth, and might even whiten your teeth!
Remember, nutrition and home care are only part of the equation that promotes good oral health and a beautiful smile. Be sure to get your regular dental exams and cleanings.
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What vitamins and minerals are needed for a healthy mouth, why, and what should you eat to get a good supply?
§ Vitamin A – protects the tooth enamel and fights cavities; it promotes salivary flow which helps to clean away food particles and bacteria from your teeth and coat your tongue and cheeks with healthy hydration. This vitamin can be found in carrots, orange fruits and vegetables such as peppers and sweet potatoes, and in dark leafy greens like kale and spinach, and in fish.
§ Vitamin B – is necessary for healthy oral mucosa. Deficiencies can cause a burning tongue, cracks in the corners of the mouth, ulcers and sores. Find the B vitamins in fish, dairy, spinach, legumes and almonds.
§ Vitamin C – is important for strong connective tissue in your gums; it supports soft tissue healing, promoting healthy gums. You can get vitamin C in peppers, oranges, broccoli, berries, and kale.
§ Vitamin D – is necessary for calcium absorption. Find this vitamin in dairy, fish, fortified foods, or by getting some sun.
§ Calcium – is needed for a strong jaw bone and strong enamel in developing teeth. Calcium in the saliva helps to remineralize the teeth when assaulted by acid and sugar. Foods rich in calcium are broccoli, sardines, dairy, legumes, and almonds.
§ Vitamin E – helps prevent gum disease by reducing inflammation; it has antioxidant properties to reduce detrimental damage to the cells. Sources of vitamin E are fish, green leafy vegetables, some nuts, and avocado.
§ Phosphorous – is another mineral required to absorb calcium. Dairy foods contain this mineral, along with nuts, beans, lentils, and whole grains.
§ Iron – is needed for normal red blood cell counts; Iron helps to fight gum disease and other oral infections. Eggs, seafood, green leafy vegetables, seafood, red meats and fortified foods are sources of iron.
§ Potassium – protects against the breakdown of the jaw bone; it also aids blood clotting so if your gums are irritated or wounded, they will heal faster. Some sources are whole grains, lean meats, beans, nuts, bananas, oranges, kiwi, leafy greens, potatoes and carrots.
§ Fluoride – remineralizes the tooth enamel when weakened. Tap water, seafood, and black teas are sources.
§ Iodine – helps with calcium absorption. You can find iodine in seaweed, enriched salt, garlic, and shellfish.
§ Zinc – fights bacteria and plaque. To get your zinc, eat cashews, pumpkin seeds, squash, mushrooms, and dark chocolate.
TREAT YOURSELF TO A BRIGHT SMILE!
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