image via pixabay

You have a beautiful smile. It lights up the room and makes others feel at ease. While our smile is important on a personal note, our teeth and our mouths are vitally important to our physical health. If not treated or nurtured, our teeth can fall prey to nasty germs, disease, and decay, which in turn makes our whole body sick too. Luckily, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, one way we can start to protect our oral health is with the foods we eat.

Oral Health

We often take our mouths for granted. Our smiles are a conversation starter, but our teeth are what allow us to have that conversation, along with our gums and tongues. Unfortunately, our mouths are also exposed to the elements on a daily basis, as we need to breath, speak, and eat. So how can we protect our oral health?

The normal care routine is key, like brushing and flossing, to minimize and protect against bacteria. Additionally, we can protect our oral health by reducing the sugar in our diets. Our teeth are protected by a hardened layer of mineral tissue known as enamel. When we consume foods and drinks high in sugar, that sugar erodes the enamel surrounding our teeth, leaving nerves and gums exposed for bacteria to infect. This is due to the fermented carbohydrates found in sugary foods and drinks, which mix with any bacteria found in our mouths to create a similar effect to acid. Not to mention, if you have ever had a cavity filled, you know that it can be painful.

Foods that Can Help

It’s important to avoid sugar, but it’s equally important to minimize your intake of extremely acidic foods and drinks. Acidic foods like tomatoes or coffee can weaken your enamel over time. Our teeth require calcium and phosphorus to strengthen our enamel, so foods naturally rich in calcium, like cheese and legumes, or phosphorus, like eggs and fish, will work to protect our oral health.

Sugarless alternatives, like sugar-free gum, can help us too, allowing us to satisfy a craving and keep our teeth clean and strong. Our oral health is important at every stage of life, but as we age, it becomes something that we need to prioritize more. And it doesn’t have to be difficult — simple maintenance like brushing regularly and incorporating more natural foods into our diets will keep us smiling wider for longer.

For more retirement tips and tricks, follow along with the Council for Retirement Security.