Food choices impact dental health, from infancy to adulthood

Are your food and beverage choices the best for your teeth?

It’s often overlooked how our food choices can impact our dental health, from infancy to adulthood. February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. The best way to celebrate is not to buy a box of Valentine chocolates, but maybe treat yourself to a new toothbrush.

In addition to regular dental visits, it’s important to eat smart. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Oral Health for Adults fact sheet recommends that adults avoid snacks full of sugars and starches and suggests eating fiber-rich fruits and vegetables to stimulate saliva, which can aid remineralization of tooth surfaces. Cheese, yogurt and nuts are other healthy between-meal choices.

Food can benefit oral health if good choices are made during meal time. The American Dental Association’s Mouth Healthy Nutrition  supports tooth healthy foods, with high amounts of calcium and other nutrients, like dairy products, leafy greens, almonds and protein-rich foods such as meat, fish and eggs.

Water is the most tooth friendly beverage choice. Sipping beverages like soda, juice and other sweetened drinks promotes tooth decay due to the constant sugar on the teeth. This is important for adults and young children who may use a sippy cup or bottle. Limit drinks other than water for mealtime.

The foods you eat and beverages you drink can influence dental health. The frequency that sugary foods and beverages are consumed can impact tooth decay. Enjoying empty calorie foods, as the United State Department of Agriculture’s Choose My Plate, suggests should be occasional, not dailyfood choices.

Remember, water between meals and snacks promotes good dental health and is part of a healthy smile. During National Children’s Dental Health Month, make nutritious choices to keep your mouth happy and form healthy habits with your children.

More information on dental health from Michigan State University Extension can be found at the following links.

Keep that smile healthy and shining

Dental health for diabetics

Maintain good dental health in your infant

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