How Does Diet Affect Your Oral Health?

assorted vegetables - diet and how it affects dental health

How Does Diet Affect Your Oral Health?

The food that we eat does more than give us the energy to get to work, play with our pets or binge watch the newest hit show. Besides affecting your overall health, diet and nutrition can also impact your oral health. Here’s more about how what you eat affects your mouth, teeth, and gums.

Why Does Diet Matter?

In general, poor diet and inadequate nutrition can cause medical problems throughout your body, your mouth included. Without a proper diet, you are more likely to experience things like cavities, bad breath, and gum disease—here’s why.

Dental Caries

This term refers to the disease process that causes cavities. The bacteria that form plaque feed off the residue of the food you eat and expel acids that erode your tooth enamel. Acid attacks from plaque are often made worse by frequent snacking and infrequent or improper brushing. By limiting snacks and cleaning your teeth more often, you may be able to avoid getting cavities. 

Periodontal Disease

A buildup of plaque can cause infections in your gums, making them recede and pull away from your teeth. Without proper treatment or management, gum infections will spread to the jaw, causing bone loss and tooth loss. Although common, gum disease is preventable with proper brushing and a healthy diet. 

Plaque can form in less than 24 hours, and when left alone, it will harden into tartar, which can only be removed with professional equipment. Forgetting to brush your teeth or neglecting to floss makes it easy for plaque to take over, so keeping up a good oral hygiene routine can help prevent gum disease.

The food you eat can also help you keep gum disease at bay. Choosing fresh fruits, vegetables, and other whole foods over processed ones will help prevent plaque and tartar. If you do eat sugary or starchy foods, brushing shortly afterward can help reduce your risk of periodontal disease. 


While cavities and gum disease take time to develop, bad breath is something that you will notice right away. Pungent foods like garlic and onion will linger as your saliva takes time to break them down. But digestion is another important factor in halitosis. Diets that slow your metabolism, or cause excess gas can also affect your breath. 

Noticing how your body reacts to certain foods can help keep your metabolism moving. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables with fiber will help keep saliva production up, so that your mouth is cleaner and your breath is fresher.

Which Nutrients Are Important for Good Dental Health?

While a varied diet will help your body function properly, there are few nutrients that are especially good for your teeth

1. Calcium

Commonly found in dairy products and dark leafy greens, calcium promotes bone growth and strength. 

2. Phosphorus

Beans, legumes, and nuts all contain large amounts of phosphorus, another nutrient that helps build strong bones. 

3. Vitamin C

Citrus fruits and blueberries have high concentrations of Vitamin C, a nutrient that helps promote good gum health. Without it you are susceptible to scurvy (yeah, that disease that pirates got) which causes gum swelling and bleeding. 

Dental Health Care in Prescott, Arizona

If you ever notice that your breath constantly smells bad, or if you are having any tooth pain, do not hesitate to get help. Waiting will only make bad problems worse! At Hicks Dental, we want to help make sure your teeth are as healthy as they can be. Small changes to your diet and twice yearly dental exams can keep your teeth healthy and strong for years to come. Contact us today to schedule a cleaning and exam.