Keeping your teeth and gums in good health is extremely important for Sjogren’s patients. In addition to brushing and flossing twice a day, what we eat also plays a big part in the health of our gums and teeth. For those of us with dry mouth from Sjogren’s, eating foods that are good for our teeth can give them the extra help they need to prevent decay and gum disease.
To what extent, then, does our diet affect oral health? The microorganisms in our mouths, the hardness of our tooth enamel, and the health of our gums are all directly affected by the things we eat. Teeth can become weaker and more susceptible to decay if we don’t get enough of certain nutrients.
This article will discuss food groups and oral health. We’ll also address minimizing or avoiding sugar as well as acidic foods and drinks that damage tooth enamel and can cause discomfort.
The Importance of Nutrition When It Comes to Dental Health
Nutrients for Strong Teeth and Gums
1. Calcium-Rich Foods
Dentists strong emphasize the significance of consuming meals rich in calcium for the maintenance of healthy teeth and gums. This recommendation holds true at Sunnyvale Dental Clinic, where they point out the vital role of calcium in the formation and preservation of tooth enamel. Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt are excellent sources of calcium. If you’re worried that dairy products might be inflammatory, read this article.
In addition, leafy green vegetables such as kale and spinach, as well as plant-based milk that has been fortified, can provide adequate amounts of this essential mineral. Calcium-rich foods support tooth structure and vitality, thereby lowering the risk of tooth decay and promoting overall dental health. To maintain healthy teeth and gums, it is essential to consume enough calcium through a varied and well-balanced diet.
2. Vitamin D Sources
Vitamin D is essential for dental health because it facilitates calcium absorption and promotes healthy teeth and gums. Sunlight exposure is the primary source of vitamin D, as the skin synthesizes this vitamin when exposed to sunlight. However, plenty of foods also contain vitamin D.
Omega-3-rich fish such as salmon and mackerel are rich in vitamin D. In addition, egg yolks and fortified dairy or plant-based milk can contribute to this vitamin intake. Incorporating these vitamin D sources into one’s diet promotes calcium assimilation, tooth mineralization, and overall dental health. In situations where sunlight exposure is limited, it is crucial to consume vitamin D-rich foods.
3. Phosphorus and Its Benefits
Phosphorus is an essential mineral for the maintenance of dental health. It collaborates with calcium to construct and maintain tooth enamel, the outermost, protective layer of teeth. Phosphorus is involved in the remineralization process, which aids in tooth enamel repair and prevents dental decay.
This is especially helpful, as some Sjogren’s patients have prescriptions for remineralizing agents to apply to tooth surfaces.
Phosphorus can be obtained from fish, lean meats, eggs, dairy products, almonds, and legumes. The inclusion of these phosphorus-rich substances in the diet promotes optimal tooth mineralization, tooth structure, and overall dental health. Ensuring a sufficient intake of phosphorus in addition to calcium contributes to the maintenance of healthy teeth and gums.
4. Importance of Vitamin C
Vitamin C, also known as ascorbic acid, is an essential nutrient that is crucial for optimal dental health. It is a potent antioxidant that protects oral tissues from oxidative damage induced by free radicals.
Collagen, a protein that supports the structure of the gums and connective tissues in the mouth, cannot be produced without vitamin C.
Additionally, it promotes healthy gingival tissue by repairing and regenerating cells. Vitamin C is abundant in citrus fruits such as oranges and grapefruits, berries, tomatoes, peppers, and leafy vegetables. The consumption of these foods promotes periodontal health, reduces the risk of gum disease, and contributes to overall oral health. Adequate vitamin C consumption is essential for maintaining healthy gums and a healthy oral environment.
Foods High in Vitamin C with Lower Acid
If you have dry mouth from Sjogren’s and can’t tolerate citrus fruits or tomatoes due to acid, here are other high-Vitamin C foods lower in acid:
- Brussels Sprouts
Foods That Promote Saliva Production
Certain foods can stimulate salivation, which is a very big deal for Sjogren’s patients. Chewing sugar-free gum can increase salivation because chewing stimulates the salivary glands. In addition, crisp fruits and vegetables such as apples, carrots, and celery necessitate more chewing and can increase saliva production.
Citrus fruits and pineapple contain naturally occurring acids that stimulate salivation – if you can tolerate them.
Lozenges or candies without sugar that contain xylitol (Xylimelts are my absolute favorite) can also be used to stimulate salivation.
A sufficient amount of saliva helps remove food particles, neutralize acids in the mouth, and maintain a healthy balance of oral flora, thereby lowering the risk of tooth decay and gum disease. These saliva-stimulating foods can contribute to better oral health and a more comfortable mouth when incorporated into the diet.
The Role of Antioxidants in Oral Health
Antioxidants play a crucial role in promoting oral health by preventing oxidative injury to oral tissues caused by free radicals. Free radicals are unstable molecules that can cause cell damage, inflammation, and tissue disintegration. The oral cavity is exposed to a variety of factors that can generate free radicals, including bacterial infections, smoking, and specific substances.
Antioxidants, such as vitamins C and E, assist in neutralizing these detrimental free radicals and mitigating their destructive effects on oral tissues. By consuming antioxidant-rich foods, such as berries, nuts, and leafy vegetables, individuals can support their oral health by reducing inflammation, promoting gum health, and maintaining the overall integrity of oral tissue. Antioxidants also contribute to a healthy immune response, which helps prevent oral infections and promote oral healing.
Teeth-Friendly Foods: What to Include in Your Diet
A. Crunchy Fruits and Vegetables
Apples, carrots, and celery, among other crunchy fruits and vegetables, provide numerous advantages for dental health. Their firm texture and high-water content make them natural “toothbrushes” that can help remove plaque and stimulate salivation. These fibrous foods stimulate the production of saliva, which neutralizes acids and washes away food particles, thereby reducing the risk of tooth caries. Additionally, the act of chewing crunchy fruits and vegetables promotes periodontal health by massaging the gums and increasing blood flow. Bonus!
B. Dairy Products for Healthy Teeth
Dairy products are superb options for maintaining dental health. They are abundant in calcium and phosphorus, two essential minerals that are necessary for the maintenance of healthy tooth enamel. Calcium is essential for the formation and strength of teeth, whereas phosphorus works in tandem with calcium to protect tooth enamel and prevent dental decay.
C. Lean Protein Sources and Their Benefits
Lean protein sources provide numerous advantages for dental health. Protein is necessary for the growth and repair of oral tissues. Incorporating lean protein sources such as poultry, fish, lean meats, eggs, and legumes into the diet provides the essential building blocks for sustaining healthy gums and oral tissues.
D. Nuts and Seeds for Dental Health
Due to their nutrient composition and texture, nuts, and seeds can be good for dental health. The natural abrasiveness of these crunchy treats can aid in the removal of plaque and food debris from the tooth surfaces. Moreover, nuts and seeds are abundant in essential minerals such as calcium and phosphorus, which contribute to healthy tooth enamel.
Hydration and Its Impact on Oral Health
Hydration is essential for optimal oral health maintenance. Water is essential for the production of saliva, which is essential for oral hygiene. Saliva assists in the removal of food particles and microorganisms neutralizes oral acids and promotes the remineralization of tooth enamel.
As Sjogren’s patients know all too well, when saliva production decreases it results in a parched mouth. A dry mouth fosters bacterial development, which can increase the risk of tooth decay, bad breath, and periodontal disease.
Consuming saccharine and acidic beverages can contribute to tooth erosion and cavities and should be limited throughout the day. By prioritizing hydration, it helps us protect our oral health and avoid or reduce the effects of dry mouth.
Yes, Avoid Sugar
We’ve all learned that sugar contributes to tooth decay since we were kids. That’s clearly a good reason to minimize sugar. But for Sjogren’s patients, it’s also a big trigger for inflammation and symptom flares. Cutting out the obviously sugary foods helps, as does reducing foods with added, hidden sugars.
The Big Picture About Foods that are Good for Your Teeth
In addition to brushing and flossing, the nourishment that we give our bodies plays a significant role in the health of our teeth and mouths.
Altering your diet to include these foods may call for some alterations to your current routine, but the rewards far outweigh the work involved. Not only does a beautiful grin improve our appearance, but it also helps us feel better about ourselves and improves our general health. We can give our teeth the best chance possible if we make our dental health a priority and give appropriate nutrition the credit it deserves.