Dental Health Nutrition
It’s no secret that the foods we eat play a major role in our bodily health. But, did you know that our diets affect our dental and oral health, too?
At the Holistic Dental Center of New Jersey, we understand the link between nutrition and oral health. That’s why we frequently discuss our patients’ diets in relation to their dental health.
Of course, we all know that sugar is the primary culprit of cavities. But, what other foods are harmful to our oral health? And, how can we use nutrition to get a healthier smile?
Our holistic practitioners are here to help you navigate the little-known topic of dental nutrition. We’ll explain the oral-systemic connection, explore nutrition-based oral care, and give you tips and tricks on how to eat your way to a healthier mouth and body.
Nutrition and Oral/Dental Health
The oral-systemic connection is the central principle upon which our holistic dentists practice. But, this isn’t a new principle. In fact, the inherent link between oral and bodily health has been a widely known, documented, and accepted concept since the late 19th century.
Extensive research indicates that the cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth have far-reaching consequences in other areas of the body. Indeed, poor oral health is associated with higher rates of systemic diseases and complications, such as:
- Cardiovascular disease
- Pulmonary diseases
- Pregnancy complications
- Low birth weight
- Chronic kidney disease
Simply put–the body cannot be healthy if the mouth isn’t healthy, and vice versa. Thus, it’s impossible (and dangerous!) to view the mouth as a separate entity from the rest of the body. That’s why our holistic dentists actively investigate the relationship between nutrition, dental health, and bodily health.
How Does Nutrition Affect Oral Health?
Our bodies contain nearly 30 trillion human cells. But, recent studies have found that approximately 39 trillion bacterial, viral, and fungal cells live in and on our bodies. These microbes account for nearly 3% of our total body mass and contain 500 times more genetic information than our own cells.
If the thought of trillions of tiny organisms in and on your body causes you alarm, then you’re not alone! But, these microscopic organisms create a unique microbiome within our bodies, making them an integral part of our bodily processes and overall health. Without them, our bodies cannot thrive.
Fostering a healthy relationship with the microbiome in and on our bodies requires proper nutrition. The foods that we eat don’t just nourish our bodies, they nourish our microbiomes, too. But, what happens if we aren’t nourishing our bodies properly?
Inadequate nutrition can lead to harmful microbial growth, which can manifest in chronic inflammation, disease, and dysfunction. Subsequently, choosing nutrient-dense, whole foods is key to obtaining and maintaining excellent oral and systemic health.
Dental Diet for Healthy Teeth and Gums
The easiest way to eat for enhanced oral and bodily health is to understand which foods to avoid and why. In general, patients should avoid or limit their consumption of:
- Sugary foods and drinks
- Simple and refined carbohydrates and starches
- Highly acidic foods, like citrus fruits
- Acidic beverages, like flavored water, coffee, and kombucha
Harmful microbes thrive in sugary, acidic environments. And, while saliva helps neutralize acidic foods and beverages, the bad microorganisms in our mouths often capitalize on this influx of sugar and acid before our saliva has time to act. The result is increased cavity rates and gum inflammation that contributes to declining systemic health.
So, how can we use nutrition to discourage harmful microbial growth? Simple! We can reach for healthier, whole foods, like:
- Raw vegetables
- Fresh fruits (in moderation!)
- Nuts and seeds
- Lean proteins (from all sources)
- Complex carbohydrates
- Naturally probiotic foods, like yogurt, kefir, and kimchi
We can also complement our diets with supplements and vitamins, such as:
- Oral probiotics
- Vitamins D3, K2, C and A
Additionally, we can ensure optimal oral health by employing healthy oral hygiene habits, including:
- Twice-daily brushing with a fluoride-free nano-hydroxyapatite toothpaste
- Once-daily flossing with a non-PFAS floss or an interdental brush
- Rinsing with an antimicrobial mouthwash (that’s free of alcohol, sweeteners and additives)
- Oil pulling with coconut oil and essential oils
These activities encourage a healthy oral microbiome that positively influences the microbiomes throughout the rest of the body. But, a healthy diet and dental hygiene regimen can only go so far–regular visits to the Holistic Dental Center are key to maintaining optimal oral and systemic health.
Dental Nutrition Evaluation and Education
Routine dental visits prevent oral conditions from wreaking havoc on the body by removing harmful plaque and bacterial buildup on the teeth. However, these routine visits aren’t just about preventive maintenance–they’re about patient education and nutritional evaluation.
Discussing your eating and drinking habits with our practitioners helps them better understand how your nutrition is affecting your oral and overall health. With this information, they can educate you about proper nutrition, give you tips and tricks that you can follow at home, and make recommendations for quality oral hygiene products and practices.
Ultimately, knowledge is power. When you understand the importance of dental nutrition on your oral microbiome, you’ll have greater long-term oral health that extends to the rest of your body.