Health Habits: Maintain Oral Health
We all dread going to the dentist, but did you know that poor dental health is associated with heart disease? Studies have shown that poor dental health can increase the risk for developing heart disease. When gum tissue becomes inflamed or infected, the risk of bacterial infection in the blood stream increases. Once bacteria gets in the blood stream, it can affect other important organs in the body such as the heart. The loss of teeth have similar effects. Brushing and flossing your teeth on a daily basis will help reduce the risks as will regular teeth cleanings.
You’re probably wondering how nutrition fits into this equation. Eating foods that are dental health friendly are important. What types of food should we be eating for good dental health?
1. Fluoridated water or toothpaste with fluoride is a good place to start. Fluoride helps with the remineralization process of your teeth. It also provides protection against bacterial acids that can cause dental cavities.
2. Next, you can make sure you get your dairy or calcium. Dairy products such as low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt or cheese are not only great sources of protein and calcium, but they can help strengthen your teeth. While these food items are low in sugar, watch out for the high amounts of added sugars in yogurt. It’s generally a good rule to keep your added sugars to a minimum; no more than 25 grams a day -- that’s the equivalent of 6 teaspoons.
3. Eat foods with phosphorous, such as lean meats, eggs, fish, nuts and beans. They’re all great sources of phosphorous. Phosphorous plays an important role in the development of bones and teeth. Neat fact -- it also has a role in muscle contractions and maintaining normal heartbeats. Let’s not forget your heart is the most important muscle in the body.
4. Vitamin C is great for the immune system, but did you know that it plays a role in promoting gum health? Foods such as citrus fruits, broccoli, peppers, tomatoes and spinach all contain vitamin C. The body needs vitamin C in order to grow and repair tissues, including your gums. This wonderful vitamin is used to form connective tissues, which is what surrounds our teeth and helps hold them into place.
Everything that we eat and do has an effect on our body whether we realize it or not. Heart disease doesn’t happen overnight, which is why it’s known as the silent killer. Developing good dental hygiene habits as well as eating the right foods will decrease the risk for dental caries and heart disease.
Health habit for the week: Make sure you’re up to date with teeth cleaning, brush & floss and choose foods that will make your gums and teeth happy!