Proper nutrition means eating a balanced diet so your body can get the nutrients needed for good health. Every day, your body renews itself, building new muscle, bone, skin and blood. The foods you eat provide the building blocks for these new tissues. If your diet is low in the nutrients your body needs, your mouth may have a more difficult time resisting infection.
If children do not eat a balanced diet, their teeth may not develop properly. In order for them to develop strong, decay-resistant teeth, children need a balanced diet with emphasis on calcium, phosphorous and proper levels of fluoride.
A balanced diet consists of the following nutrients:
- Some carbohydrates
- The essential fatty acids (found in fats)
- The essential amino acids (found in proteins)
- 15 vitamins
- Approximately twenty-five minerals
Since our bodies are not able to manufacture all the nutrients we need, especially certain vitamins, we must get them from food or supplements. The U.S. Department of Agriculture advises eating the following each day for the general population:
- 6 to 11 servings of bread and cereals
- 3 to 5 servings of vegetables
- 2 to 4 servings of fruit
- 2 to 3 servings of dairy products
- 2 to 3 servings of meat, poultry, fish, eggs, beans or nuts
A poor diet can lead to gum disease and tooth decay. Foods high in carbohydrates, sugars and starches greatly contribute to the production of plaque acids that attack tooth enamel. Eventually, these acids can cause tooth enamel to break down, forming a cavity.
If you must eat foods high in sugar or starch, try to eat them during meals rather than between meals, and avoid any foods that stick to your teeth as these can produce more plaque. Most meals already contain acid-producing ingredients, so the less you expose your teeth to these ingredients, the less plaque acids attack your tooth enamel. Also, saliva production rises during meals, helping rinse food from the mouth.