The Love of Food and Fellowship Couples Well with Preventative Dental Health Care

By: Shelly Tretsven, Eggert Family Dentistry Hygienist 

I am a foodie, I confess. As a dental hygienist I have had the opportunity to talk about nutrition, recipes and good eats with patients for over 30 years. Food is truly a universal language.

The holiday season is upon us which is a great opportunity for good food and good company.

Food and Oral Health:

Food provides the nutrients for healthy bodies and healthy mouths. It’s important to eat a well balanced diet of protein, fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and plenty of water. Your food choices matter in the preventative care of your oral health. For starters, digestion begins in the mouth, simple carbohydrates like sugar and starches are broken down in the mouth by the  bacteria in your plaque and their bi-product is acid. That acid is responsible for the breakdown of your tooth surfaces resulting in a cavity. It can also irritate your gum tissue, resulting in gingivitis or periodontal disease. Another thing that can happen with too much acid in the mouth is erosion. Erosion is the wearing away of tooth structure from an acid source, primarily in the form of foods and beverages. Citrus fruits, tomatoes, pickles, coffee, alcohol, soda, and even carbonated water are some of the top rated foods for causing erosion of the teeth.

Reduce or modify the consumption of acidic foods by eating them with meals and coupling them with a more neutral or neutralizing food like nuts, eggs, cheese, meats, vegetables, and whole grains when eaten between meals. A good snack choice might be fresh fruits and vegetables or a pairing of pickles and cheese, fruit with yogurt, a medley of nuts or coffee and tea with cream.

The holidays are here and it’s really difficult to manage all the above rules and information when so many delightful foods are before us. But, we can try and maybe not miss out as much as we think. Here are a few suggestions for you:

The trend toward charcuterie boards is wonderful for when guests arrive. A beautiful display of whole foods is a great option and can minimize acids if you choose right! If you keep in mind the yin yang of high and low pH foods, you can provide great healthy choices.

Another idea is to serve lean roasted meat or fish or roasted veggies, but probably skip the potatoes. To make things more interesting, don’t forget the seasoning because that counts! Also, whole grain breads and sourdough can replace white dinner rolls. Sourdough bread is low in gluten, is a prebiotic that feeds healthy bacteria in your stomach, and is more digestible.

Finally, holiday desserts can be fresh fruit pies or tarts, drizzled with heavy cream instead of sweet whipped cream.

Consider baking with ⅓ less sugar for most of your cookies this season and try butter substitutes like beans, apple sauce, avocado and more.

Or, try this recipe. Yum!

Have a happy and joyous holiday season with your loved ones!

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