Nutrition & Oral Health


Quality Dental Treatment in Shakopee, MN

Nutrition and oral health.At the office of Dr. James Arhart, DDS, our mission is to help each of our patients achieve and maintain a smile they feel genuinely proud of. We offer a wide range of general, restorative, and cosmetic dental treatments at our office, and we work with patients to personalize treatment to suit their lifestyles. But maintaining a great smile takes more than in-office dental treatments – and nutrition plays a vital role in your dental health.

How Do Foods Affect Teeth?

You already know that daily brushing and flossing are essential to oral health – but in addition to cleaning your teeth, paying attention to your diet can have a dramatic impact on your oral health, as well! As with every other part of the body, your teeth and gums use the nutrients in food to repair themselves on a daily basis. Maintaining a healthy, nutrient-rich diet gives your body what it needs to take care of itself and keep the teeth healthy and strong.

In fact, this process starts even before birth! A baby's teeth begin to form during the 6th week of pregnancy and mineralize in the third or fourth month. During this time, it's important for pregnant mothers to eat foods high in calcium (which makes up most of the teeth), vitamin D, phosphorus, and protein. And while it's most dramatic during pregnancy, the same principle applies to the rest of life.

Providing your teeth with the proper nutrients helps them continually renew themselves, and prevents the problems that come with nutritional deficiencies. A diet high in fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of oral cancer, dental decay, and a host of other problems – so a healthy diet is important for both your body and your smile.

How to Eat to Support Dental Health

So how should you structure your diet to improve the health of your teeth? Ultimately, it depends on our age, sex, height, weight, and other personal factors, but there are a number of general principles you can follow:

  • Mix It Up: One of the most important parts of eating healthy is to keep up a varied diet. Eating lots of different healthy foods ensures your body gets the diverse range of nutrients it needs.
  • Maintain Balance: A healthy diet is all about balance. Eat a mix of different foods each day, choosing the recommended amount of foods from each nutritional category – that means balancing your diet between grains, fruits, vegetables, dairy products, and lean meats and proteins.
  • All in Moderation: When it comes to food, less is often more. While it's important to eat enough calories to give yourself energy for the day, it's equally important to consume foods in their recommended serving sizes and avoid overeating one of any specific thing. Furthermore, it's especially important to moderate the levels of calories, fat, cholesterol, sodium, and sugar that you're eating.

Why Soda Is Bad for Your Teeth

Soda and tooth erosion.In addition to making sure you eat healthy foods, it's important to avoid certain things that can damage your teeth – and few foods are as damaging to teeth as sugary sodas. Soda, as well as any drink with added sugar, can enable bacteria and cause severe problems for your teeth.

The reason for this is two-fold. First, soda is remarkably acidic. In fact, some sodas are nearly as acidic as your own stomach acid! These acids weaken tooth enamel, causing it to break down, become more porous, and become much more susceptible to dental decay. Try putting a chicken bone in a glass of coke for a week – you'll find that by the end, the bone becomes flimsy and easy to bend. This is because the acid in the soda broke down the minerals in the bone, and the same process can happen to your teeth.

Furthermore, sodas are chocked full of sugar. When the naturally-occurring bacteria in your mouth interact with this sugar, they break it down into even more acids that linger on teeth and cause cavities. In this way, sugary sodas are a one-two punch for teeth: the acidity of the soda weakens tooth enamel immediately, and the additional acid that bacteria produce from sugar furthers the dental decay!

To minimize your risk of decay and protect your teeth, we recommend sticking to water as much as possible. Water helps to clear away bacteria and sugar residue, and it also promotes saliva production, which helps neutralize acids. Drinking milk or eating low-fat cheese can also help offset acids and give your teeth the calcium they need.

And finally, managing when you eat is as important for your teeth as controlling what you eat. For dental health, it's best to eat full meals and avoid snacking in between. This is because the longer your teeth are exposed to sugars and acids, the more damage they do. Avoid snacking on sugary or carbohydrate-heavy foods and sipping on sodas all day, as prolonged exposure to these substances can severely damage your teeth.

Contact Your Cincinnati Family Dentist

Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet, avoiding sugary sodas, and keeping snacking to a minimum all help to keep your teeth healthy. But even more importantly, they help promote whole body health – and that's truly something to smile about! Feel free to contact us if you have more questions about diet and dental health, or request an appointment online if you'd like to schedule a checkup. We can't wait to hear from you, and we wish you luck in using your diet to keep your teeth and your body healthy!

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