Is your diet rotting your teeth? If so, it’s time to make some changes. A rotten diet that causes rotten teeth can lead to rotten health. A healthy diet, however, does more than simply prevent the formation of cavities. It contributes to the health of your mouth and development of your teeth.

Your diet can affect the quality of your saliva, as well as its pH, quantity, and composition. It also affects the integrity of your teeth and the survival rate of plaque.

A Sweet Tooth is a Rotten Tooth

Sugary foods have a bad rep and for good reason. Such fermentable carbohydrates activate oral bacteria. Oral bacteria cause the pH of saliva and plaque to drop, which starts the process of tooth decay. This acidic environment favors the growth of more bacteria.

According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, the best way to protect your teeth aside from proper oral hygiene is to eat a balanced diet. The protein, calcium, and phosphorus in your diet contribute to the structure of your teeth. Protein also contributes to tissue development. Protein, zinc, antioxidants, iron, folate, and vitamin A are needed for strong immunity, which is especially important for the mouth since it is a cavity frequently exposed to foreign substances.

Healthy Teeth and Gums for a Healthy Body

Strong, healthy teeth also help prevent periodontal disease. Periodontal disease is an inflammatory response to oral bacteria. Because of the inflammation, this disease can affect more than just your teeth, gums, and bone structure of the mouth. It is linked to a host of other diseases, including diabetes, heart disease, osteoporosis, respiratory disease, and cancer (especially of the kidney, pancreas, and blood cancers).

How can we reduce our risk of periodontal disease? An escalating number of health professionals are emphasizing the role of diet. For example, according to the Journal of Periodontology, green tea promotes healthy teeth and gums. In one study, participants who regularly drank green tea had better periodontal health. Because of its polyphenol and catechin content, it helps reduce inflammation in the body.

Another study found that probiotics are a natural, safe, side-effects-free, and economical way to fight or delay periodontal disease. Probiotics may inhibit the growth of bacteria in the mouth.

Anthocyanin-rich fruits and vegetables, like all types of berries, red cabbage, eggplant, plums, asparagus, red-fleshed peaches, pomegranates, and grapes may help prevent bacteria from attaching to teeth in the first place. The Indian Journal of Pharmacology found the antioxidant coenzyme Q10 effective in reducing inflammation caused by oral bacteria.

A growing body of evidence also points to the ability of garlic, ginger, ginseng, and echinacea to halt the growth of periodontal bacteria.

Give your gums, teeth, and mouth a good workout (i.e. eating) with whole foods, especially unprocessed carboydrates, plenty of fruits and vegetables, healthy fats, and lean protein. Don’t forget to take a high-quality omega-3 supplement as this can help regulate inflammation, immunity, and contributes to strong tissue structure in the mouth.