The Connection Between Breakfast And a Healthy Smile
The start of your day is key — brushing, flossing, other cleaning of dental appliances. Breakfast too! Start your day off right with proper hygiene and a balanced breakfast that’s good for your body AND your oral health.
Much of a typical American style breakfast is absolutely loaded with sugar. Pancakes, cereal, milk, and even fruits are tasty on the palette but will do more harm than good over time. That’s because sugar is very bad for your teeth!
While all foods are safe in moderation, regularly bombarding your precious tooth enamel with sugar is sure to wear down and discolor your teeth. If you absolutely have to have that donut, make sure to drink plenty of water to limit the number of sugar molecules still hanging around your gums, teeth, and tongue.
Any pediatric orthodontics knows the woes of cajoling children into taking good care of their braces. Whether they’re adolescent braces or kids braces, braces of people from all ages should be wary of extra sugary foods, which have a tendency to stick around in spaces that are difficult to clean. Avoid all that by replacing the toaster waffle with a healthier, less sticky, less sugary alternative.
Oral health aside, the sugar rush provided by these typical breakfast foods is a short-lived kickstart to the rest of your day. After a sugary breakfast, you’re sure to meet a sugar crash later on–not what you want when you’ve got work, school, or other plans for the day!
Breakfast is more than food. A whopping 44% of Americans report having two to three cups of coffee per day.
Coffee is just one of the many breakfast drinks with a high amount of acid, along with orange juice, lemonade, most fruit juices, and tomato juice.
Acid along with sugar is a major contributor to the erosion of tooth enamel. Knocking back several cups of joe might be a vital part of your morning workflow routine, but make sure you’re following those cups of coffee with a glass of water.
So… what should you eat?
Prioritize high fiber foods like vegetables and nuts. The rough exteriors and interior flesh will serve as a natural toothbrush-like teeth cleaner. They will also strengthen the jaw muscles that are so vital to a healthily functioning mouth.
Especially fibrous vegetables like carrots and celery can naturally act like floss, removing food particles left over from previous meals. Plus, they generate saliva which also contributes to the washing away of sugars, acids, and food particles.
Firm fruits like apples and pears are also beneficial to oral health. When cut up into bite-sized pieces, the firm slices of fruit help to clean teeth, generate saliva, and strengthen jaw muscles. Plus, the skin of apples and pears is packed with fiber, which contributes to digestive health as well as oral health.
Again, try to stay from apple juice, pear juice, and other fruit juices due to the tremendous amount of sugar and acid in each (the sugar and acid in the whole fruit, however, is present in much less concentration but should still be washed down with a glass of water).
Don’t Neglect Dairy
Milk, cheese, and yogurt already feature prominently in most breakfasts. Milk is a common accompaniment to cereal, chocolate milk is a popular beverage, yogurt makes for great smoothies, and cheese often adorns heartier foods like breakfast burritos and eggs.
Fortunately, dairy is not only pervasive–it’s nutritious!
For those with no lactose intolerance, incorporating dairy products in your breakfast is a simple way to pack your morning with calcium and probiotics. Calcium is vital for healthy, strong bones (like your teeth!), and probiotics ensure that your gut health is top-notch.
Another benefit of consuming dairy products is that dairy easily lowers the pH balance of your mouth. By balancing the mouth’s pH, you don’t have to worry as much about those pesky acids that are so eager to strip away your tooth enamel.
Whole Body Health
All of those foods–vegetables, fruits, and dairy–hold key sources of essential vitamins and minerals. These nutrients will fortify your entire body–mouth included!–to be healthier, more prepared to fight off infection, and be less prone to injury.
In the case of your mouth, this means that there’s less chance of you developing cavities (often due to overconsumption of sugar), suffering infection, or breaking a tooth. This is especially important for adolescents and children with braces, who must protect and preserve their precious oral health.
Mental and Emotional Benefits
So you know that a breakfast like the one described here is good for your oral and whole body health. A healthy breakfast is hugely beneficial for your mental health as well!
Beginning your day with a balanced breakfast puts you in a great headspace to meet the rest of the day. No matter what is in store once you begin your day, you know that you have already started off right. The choice to have a healthy breakfast shows that you value your health very highly. Prioritizing your health is a great way to ensure that the rest of the day will start strong.
Cutting down on sugars in your breakfast will also help to clear your head. A sugar rush doesn’t last long, and will always end with a crash that leaves you sluggish and unmotivated. A balanced, nutritious breakfast, on the other hand, puts you on a good footing and a solid mental foundation from which you can tackle whatever it is the day brings.
Where to Get Started
The University of Illinois put together a comprehensive list full of the types of foods mentioned in this post. Use this list as a guide, and over time you’ll learn what works for you! However, this list is not the be-all-end-all of breakfast foods! Every food can be good in moderation, so if you want to sneak in the odd breakfast pastry, pancake, or class of OJ, be our guest.
- Milk, cheese, yogurt
- Leafy greens
- Apples and Pears
- Strawberries and other Vitamin C-rich berries
- Sweet Potato
- Garlic and Onion
- Whole Grains
Thank you for trusting us with your oral health! We appreciate you!
As always, if you’re looking for pediatric orthodontics anywhere in the New Jersey area, we are here to help! Schedule an appointment with our office to discuss how we can help you, or if we can give you any more tips on preserving your oral health.