Did you know that your mouth holds clues to your overall health and that there are good foods for dental health? Yup! Dental health, or the lack thereof, is linked to a bunch of health problems. And what we eat plays a role in both our mouth and overall health. Today we’ll look at how your dental health affects your overall health and the best foods for dental health.
You’ll walk away from this post understanding how foods cause tooth decay and cavities but more importantly, you’ll have 14 new recipes that will keep your mouth and overall health in tip-top God-glorifying shape.
You can use the Table of Contents to jump between sections.
Table of Contents
How Dental Health Affects Overall Health
Did you know that 50% of American adults suffer from gum disease?
God designed your mouth to be full of bacteria.
This bacterial population is impacted by how you were born, whether or not you were breastfed, and the types of food you currently eat. Certain species of bacteria help break down complex carbohydrates, while others help ensure your body is able to absorb nutrients contained in the foods you eat.
But others…the ones that love to eat processed Standard American Diet (SAD) foods and sugar – those guys cause
- gum inflammation,
- tooth decay,
- gingivitis, and
- tooth loss.
Gum disease, gingivitis and periodontitis all affect the tissues that support your teeth. These diseases occur when plaque build-up causes certain bacterial populations to multiply. The bacteria then cause the gum inflammation that’s characteristic of gingivitis and periodontitis.
Left untreated this bacterial-led inflammation can enter your bloodstream and slowly damage blood vessels in your heart and brain.
Diseases such as
- heart diseases,
- rheumatoid arthritis,
- dementia, and
- some cancers
have all been associated with poor dental health.
Dental health is something we should take seriously.
As you just learned, it affects your overall health. Because of this, let’s look at the very important role food plays in the health of your mouth and body.
First, food and tooth decay.
Food & Tooth Decay
Tooth decay is linked to gum disease and the foods you eat. A diet made of starchy, refined, processed foods and sugar is the enemy of mouth health.
Want to know what loves those foods?
All of that gum disease causing bacteria I mentioned above.
This in turn produces an acid that dissolves the surface of your teeth and results in tooth decay.
So, to prevent tooth decay and cavities you want to avoid foods that cause demineralization (removal of needed minerals) of your teeth. This includes coffee, alcohol, sodas and all processed and sugar containing foods.
Now let’s look at how food affects cavities.
Food & Cavities
The factors that lead to cavity formation are your saliva, oral microbiome (bacteria that live in your mouth), and diet. As you’re about to learn with the best foods for dental health, the food you eat has a lot to do with your saliva and what it contains.
The same processed and sugary foods that lead to tooth decay also contribute to cavity formation.
As you’ve seen, food plays an important role in dental health. But before we look at the 14 best foods for dental health, you need to do these oral health basics.
Oral Health Basics
You’ve got to have a good oral hygiene routine in place for the below foods to keep your mouth healthy.
At a minimum you should:
- brush twice a day for 2 minutes and
- floss once a day.
Our favorite products are:
Best Foods for Dental Health
Water is the best drink for a healthy smile because it keeps your body hydrated which allows nutrients to get where they’re needed. It also washes away plaque causing bacteria and food particles, keeping cavities and tooth decay at bay.
Any veggie that contains a lot of water and requires a lot of chewing is a healthy mouth food.
Go figure, God also packed crunchy vegetables with the nutrients your mouth needs. I’ll always tell you, God’s given us everything we need for life and health.
Leafy greens are rich sources of folate, calcium, magnesium and many other nutrients a healthy mouth needs. The crunchier leafy greens also help clean your teeth.
Crunchy fruits such as apples and pears aren’t guaranteed to keep the doctor away but they’ll certainly help keep the dentist away.
Stick to fresh whole fruit and you’ll stimulate your gums and further reduce cavity causing bacteria growth.
These snacks are one of the best foods for dental health. This is because they’re both crunchy and full of nutrients. Nuts contain calcium, phosphorus, folate, magnesium, vitamin E and so many other nutrients for a healthy mouth.
Peanuts and walnuts are also good nuts for dental health.
This is one food you need to add to your plate.
Salmon, especially if you eat the little bones (canned) is another good dental health option.
These favorite caffeinated and decaffeinated drinks are full of something called polyphenols (antioxidant rich micronutrients in plants). The rich sources of polyphenols found in green & black teas help counter cell damage, reduce inflammation, and protect against cancer.
Have a cup of tea for mouth health?
Raisins & Cranberries
Both raisins and cranberries contain phytonutrients (nutrients that help protect plants) that studies have shown to help protect us from cavities and gum diseases.
Dried are okay but only if they’re unsweetened (last I checked these are hard to find).
Strawberries (and more)
Foods that are rich in vitamin C are great foods for mouth health. This is because the strength of the collagen in the dentin of your teeth depends on vitamin C.
Don’t limit yourself to strawberries though, include all of the vitamin C containing veggies and fruits listed here.
This tree-shaped vegetable is full of vitamin C and K which helps support bone health and blood clotting, but it’s also nature’s toothbrush. So crunch those pearly whites clean and watch your mouth and overall health improve.
These pretty orange tubers are full of vitamin A which helps to protect the mucous membrane and gums in your mouth.
Just remember to enjoy this healthy teeth food without the marshmallows.
I know it won’t give you beautiful breath but it is a food that will help prevent tooth decay. This benefit comes from an antimicrobial compound in garlic called allicin.
While processed grain foods promote cavities and dental diseases, whole grains do the opposite. Complex whole grains are full of fiber and nutrients that keep your teeth and gums healthy, while also giving bacteria less food to grow off of.
It’s a good thing garlic and mushrooms go together because pairing these two is a tasty way to prevent tooth decay.
Dental Health Suggestions
Dentists suggest eating raw crunchy vegetables at the end of your meal and drinking lots of water during and after your meal.
For optimal mouth health it’s also best to skip the snacks and instead eat your food in 1-3 meals per day. This diminishes the contact your teeth have with damaging foods.
I pray this post provided you some valuable information and that the recipes help you make your mouth health a priority. It’s easy to take our teeth for granted and not recognize the impact the food we do, or don’t eat, has.
Everything you do, my dear friend, impacts something.
Pray about caring for yourself as the precious jewel and temple of God you are. Then ask the Holy Spirit to help you make your mouth and overall health, a matter of importance.
Until next time remember...
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. 1 Corinthians 10:31