people eating a sandwich

You might not think of your teeth when you consider what to choose for breakfast, but it’s important.

The right foods will help prevent tooth decay and gum disease. The wrong ones can make your teeth more vulnerable to both problems. Those who have bad nutrition are more prone to dental problems. They may end up losing one or several of their teeth because of decay. Once lost, teeth is forever gone. Those who are missing a tooth will need to undergo cosmetic dental procedures, particularly dental implants, to improve the appearance of their smile.

That’s why a balanced diet is so important — and how the choices we make every day can affect our dental health in ways we never imagined.

Here are four tips for healthy eating:

Eat plenty of fiber

Fiber is overall essential for your health. For your teeth, however, it may contribute to the reduction of the amount of plaque that forms on your teeth.

High-fiber foods include whole grains, nuts and many fruits and vegetables. The consumption of foods rich in fiber triggers the production of saliva which is one of your best defenses against cavities and gum disease, according to experts.

And it helps maintain a healthy weight, which improves your overall oral health.

Choose whole grains over processed carbs

Whole grains are rich in fiber and other important nutrients. They contain more vitamins, minerals and antioxidants than processed carbs like white flour.

Processed carbs are converted into sugar and absorbed into your bloodstream more quickly than whole grains. For that reason, they can increase blood sugar levels more rapidly and cause a bigger spike in insulin levels.

Insulin is a hormone related to diabetes — and higher insulin levels may contribute to the formation of more harmful bacteria on teeth which could lead to cavities and gum disease.

Whole grains are also more filling, which will help you feel full longer. When you feel full, you’re less likely to eat more food — something that can cause weight gain and is associated with tooth decay.

Limit sugar intake

An excess of sugar in your diet can contribute to tooth decay and gum disease. This is because when there is too much sugar, the bacteria in your mouth feed on it.

The result? These harmful bacteria produce acid that erodes tooth enamel and causes damage to the gums.

Avoid sugary snacks like candy, cookies, cake, pies, ice cream and other desserts. Instead, choose foods sweetened with natural sugars like raw honey or 100 percent fruit juice. These are healthier options that won’t cause tooth decay or gum disease.

woman picking an orange

Eat plenty of vitamin C-rich foods

Vitamin C is an antioxidant which has powerful oral health benefits.

According to experts, vitamin C is needed for your gums to stay healthy. Vitamin C helps produce collagen, which is the connective tissue that keeps tissues strong and healthy.

And it also speeds up the rate of healing within skin cells. Gums heal more quickly when they are healthier- so that’s good news for those who have damaged gums due to gum disease or other causes. When you eat vitamin C-rich foods, they start to heal your gums faster and prevent bacteria from entering.

There are many fruits and vegetables that can help keep your teeth healthy, including oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit, tomatoes and strawberries.

Consume more calcium

Calcium is necessary for bone health and dental health.

It can prevent tooth decay and help your teeth maintain a strong, healthy structure.

Foods rich in calcium include milk, yogurt, cheese and other dairy products. You’ll also find it in green leafy vegetables like kale and broccoli. Alternatively, you could try popping a vitamin supplement that contains 100 percent of the daily value for calcium.

Drink lots of water

Water is necessary for many functions in the body, including maintaining good dental health.

Water can wash away plaque and sugar that bacteria feed upon — two things that lead to tooth decay and gum disease.

When you drink enough water, you keep your mouth hydrated which helps prevent dry mouth. When there is not enough saliva (which happens when you don’t drink enough fluids), decay-causing bacteria will start to grow on tooth enamel since saliva washes them away.

Aside from eating a healthy, balanced diet, don’t forget to brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and floss once a day! Moreover, give your dentist a visit at least once a year, not just when you’re experiencing dental problems. It’s important to keep up these good habits regularly- not just for your oral health but for your overall health as well.

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