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Diplomate of the American Board of Oral Implantology

Diet and Dental Health

You know that what you eat can make a difference in the way you feel and perform. That is why you should try to choose foods that will help your body stay strong and healthy. But did you know that your choice of foods and your eating patterns also may affect your dental health?

*HOW DOES DIET AFFECT DENTAL HEALTH?
If your diet is low in certain nutrients, it may be harder for the tissues of your mouth to resist infection. This may be a contributing factor to periodontal (gum) disease, the main cause of tooth loss in adults. Although poor nutrition does not actually cause periodontal disease, many researchers believe that the disease progresses faster and is more severe in patients whose diet does not supply the necessary nutrients.

To make sure that you are getting enough nutrients for good general and oral health, you should choose foods from the four basic food groups: fruits and vegetables, breads and cereals, milk and dairy products, and meat, fish and eggs. When you do snack, avoid soft, sweet, sticky foods, such as cakes, candy and dried fruits, that cling to your teeth and promote tooth decay. Instead, choose dentally healthy foods such as nuts, raw vegetables, plain yogurt, cheese, popcorn and sugarless gum or candy. To have a diet that promotes dental health, you must develop sensible eating habits.

*HOW CAN I GET ENOUGH FLUORIDE?
If you and your family have a balanced diet, you will get all the nutrients you need for good dental health, with one possible exception - fluoride. Fluoride is vital for strong, decay-resistant teeth. If there is not enough fluoride in your community water supply, the level of fluoride can be adjusted to the right amount for good dental health (about one part fluoride per million parts water). If your drinking water is not fluoridated, ask your dentist how you can get the fluoride you need.

Fluoride toothpastes and mouth rinses that carry the seal of the American Dental Association's Council on Dental Therapeutics have been proven effective in helping prevent dental decay. However, they do not contribute to your dietary fluoride.

Together, a balanced diet, daily use of fluoride, brushing and flossing, and sensible eating habits, can reduce the risk of or even prevent dental disease.

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