A dental diet is a diet that takes into account considerations of oral hygiene, ensuring that foods that are beneficial for the teeth and gums are consumed while avoiding or limiting consumption of foods that tend to be harmful to the teeth and gums. Most people follow oral hygiene practices such as brushing, flossing, tongue cleaning, and using mouthwash. Unfortunately, diet is usually not given much thought, apart from the standard advice given to children to avoid eating too many sweets.
Foods that protect the teeth and gums
Vitamin B, vitamin C, magnesium, and zinc are very important for development and maintenance of the teeth and gums. These vitamins and minerals can be obtained from fruits and vegetables, and from meat and fish.
As far as meat is concerned, it is advisable to limit consumption of red meat, and whenever it is consumed try to ensure that it is lean meat. Milk and dairy products such as cheese are also good for the teeth as they contain calcium and phosphates. Fluoride is another substance that is essential for the teeth, but it should not be used excessively as it is then harmful. The ideal practice is to use a toothpaste that contains a small amount of fluoride. If your drinking water is also fluoridated, there is no need for you to obtain any additional fluoride unless your dentist prescribes such treatment. This is all that you need in a good dental diet. One point you should note is that the action of chewing is itself beneficial, as it stimulates production of saliva, which helps keep the teeth clean. To this extent, it does not matter what you eat, and dentists sometimes recommend chewing gum a few times a day, as long as it does not contain sugar.
Foods that harm the teeth and gums
Sugar is the main culprit in teeth damage and gum disease. This includes sucrose, which is table sugar, as well as other sugars such as fructose and glucose. It is best to avoid colas and other aerated drink, and most packaged soft drinks as well, as they all contain rather high levels of sugar and damage the teeth greatly, without providing any health benefit. The sugar in fruits and fruit juices can also be harmful, but rarely do people munch fruits or sip on fruit juices through the day and between meals. Carbohydrates from processed foods can also be bad, as the starch is converted into sugar by the saliva in your mouth. A good practice is to eat or drink something sweet, or munch snacks such as potato chips only at meal times, and drink water and brush your teeth immediately after. Dental flossing regularly is also recommended.