Here's why nutrition and oral health are more connected than you think

Here's why nutrition and oral health are more connected than you think

By now, you’ve probably had enough cavities to know that too much sugar can cause tooth decay (cut to the days of eating your entire Halloween haul in one go and regretting it a few months later…). And while flossing, brushing and, of course, Stimmie-ing are all important steps to keeping your teeth and gums healthy, one of the best ways to protect against a host of dental issues is by starting with your diet. “A brilliant smile means a healthy smile,” says naturopathic doctor, Jamie Lyn Rezoski, who suggests starting with foods that alkalize or lower the acidity levels in your mouth. According to Rezowski, following an alkaline diet full of fruit and vegetables can alter the pH balance in your body, offsetting the effects of much-beloved acid causers like wine, coffee, fast foods and the like.

Here, Doctor Lyn breaks down the connection between nutrition and oral health, the Alkaline Diet and what to avoid if you want to keep those pearly whites, well, pearly.

What exactly is the Alkaline Diet and why do you recommend it for dental health?

The Alkaline Diet is high in whole foods, plant fibres and protein. These foods keep your body in an alkaline state which is anti-inflammatory, instead of acidic, which is pro-inflammatory, and can make you susceptible to infections and disease.

What are the best alkalizing foods to eat for healthy teeth?

Alkalizing foods, such as fruits and vegetables like berries, apples, spinach, and broccoli, are high in fibre and bone-building minerals that maintain a wonderful environment for your teeth to thrive. Try to eat at least at least five servings of these every day.

And which should be avoided and why?

Acidic and processed foods such as fast food, candy, and soda, are high in refined sugars and starches. When these foods are eaten in excess, they create an unhealthy environment for your teeth and can rapidly lead to tooth decay. High consumption of alcohol and caffeine can also acidify and dehydrate your mouth, so limit both in the context of a healthy smile.

No one’s perfect. What are some ways to mitigate against the damage done by indulging in the drinks we love?

Coffee and red wine are known to stain the tooth enamel the most, so when enjoying these beverages, try using glass straw. There are also foods that can naturally whiten your teeth as an antidote, like ones that have Vitamin A – it’s best sourced from foods like tomato, carrot, bell pepper, pumpkin, sweet potato, mango, and fatty fish like salmon. 

You mentioned dehydration, which can cause white spots on the teeth, cavities, and gum disease. What’s the easiest way to avoid this?

Studies show that our gums are constantly absorbing fluids and electrolytes to protect against gum disease and bad breath. I tell my patients to drink half their weight in ounces of water per day (so for example, if you weighed 150 pounds, you should drink 75 ounces of water per day) as an easy way to feel and look better. Adding electrolytes to your water helps if you aren't a great water drinker.

Want more expert-backed oral hygiene advice? Follow us at @itsstimmie for a daily dose.

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