Amy Z. Lee, DMD, MSD, PhD, PC
All dentists believe that people can prevent two of the most common diseases today - tooth decay and periodontal disease - simply by improving their diet.
Decay results when the hard tissues are destroyed by acid products from bacteria. Although poor nutrition does not directly 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. Poor nutrition can suppress your entire immune system, increasing your vulnerability to many disorders. People with lowered immune systems have been shown to be at higher risk for periodontal disease.
Eat a well-balanced diet; use moderation and choose a variety of foods. The important foods to choose include those from the four basic food groups: fruits and vegetables, breads and cereals, milk and dairy products, meat, chicken, fish or beans. Remember that so-called "fad diets" often restrict or eliminate entire food groups, leading to serious vitamin or mineral deficiencies. Eating foods with antioxidant properties, for example, those containing vitamin E or vitamin C (vitamin E-containing foods include vegetable oils, nuts, green leafy vegetables; vitamin C-containing foods include citrus fruits, broccoli, potatoes), can help your body repair damaged tissue. Avoid clenching and grinding your teeth. These actions may put excess force on the supporting tissues of the teeth and could increase the rate at which these tissues are destroyed.
When snacking, try to avoid soft, sweet, sticky foods, such as cakes, candy and dried fruits. Better choices include nuts, raw vegetables, plain yogurt, cheese and sugarless gum or candy.
When you eat foods such as crackers, cookies and chips, include them as part of your meal, instead of by themselves. Believe it or not, some combinations of foods can actually neutralize harmful acids in the mouth and inhibit tooth decay.