Taking care of your teeth and gums goes beyond brushing and flossing. It also means watching what you are putting into your body. You already know that you need to eat a balanced diet to stay physically healthy and in good shape, but how can diet affect your dental and oral health? Well, diets that are high in sugars will increase the amount of bacteria that is in your mouth, giving you a much higher risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Also, a stronger immune system can keep gum disease at bay, as your mouth will heal rather than allow gum disease to take over and affect your oral health.
We had asked a family dentist in Richmond, BC what we needed to be aware of when it comes to what we should be consuming. The dentist provided us with 5 essential vitamins that all of us need to make sure that we are getting.
- Calcium: You are probably not surprised by this first one. Calcium is well-known to be beneficial to our bones, including our teeth. Calcium helps with structural support by strengthening your jawbone and hardening your tooth enamel. You can get calcium from dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. You can also get calcium from leafy green vegetables and salmon if you do not like to consume milk or by-products.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D’s role here is to help your body better absorb the calcium that you provide it with. Vitamin D helps boost your bone mineral density. It really needs to be taken along with calcium to get the most benefit. Our body produces Vitamin D when we are exposed to sunlight, but since too much sun exposure can also be unhealthy, you can find it in foods, such as fatty fish and Portobello mushrooms. Dairy products are often fortified with it as well.
- Vitamin K: Vitamin K can help prevent damaging substances from getting to your teeth, like a shield. If you lack in Vitamin K, your body is not able to heal as effectively and your gums are more likely to bleed. The vitamin also works to help your body produce a protein called osteocalcin, which supports bone strength. You can get Vitamin K from leafy greens like spinach and kale, but also from parsley and broccoli.
- Phosphorus: Phosphorus is another mineral that also helps calcium strengthen your bones. Phosphorus is available in a lot of foods, which make it much easier to find and to consume than some other minerals. You might actually already eat a lot of it without knowing all of the great benefits that it can provide to your teeth. You can find it in most seafood, including cod, tuna, salmon, and shrimp. It is also in lentils, soy, beef, and even in some cheeses.
- Potassium: The last mineral we will look at is potassium. Potassium behaves much like Vitamin D in that it helps improve your bone density, including your teeth. It prevents your blood from becoming acidic, which can deteriorate your teeth and bones. You can find potassium in bananas, tomatoes, potatoes, avocadoes, and even lima beans.
These are not the only vitamins and minerals that can help keep your teeth and gums as healthy as possible, but they are certainly the most important. You should aim to get a good combination of all of the essential vitamins and minerals.
Generally speaking, eating a diet that is full of fruits and vegetables will help your oral health as well. All food that enters your body passes through your mouth first. If you expose your mouth to sugars and a lot of processed foods, you are setting yourself up for not just poor oral health, but poor physical health as well. Eat a nutrient-rich diet to help maintain both your oral and physical health.