At our family dentistry in McKinney, Dr. Lawrence often talks to patients about the importance of eating a balanced diet. As most of us have heard since childhood, eating a lot of sugar increases our risk for tooth decay and cavities. While the idea that eating sugar causes cavities is only partially true (plaque actually causes cavities, not sugar), diets high in sugar do increase an individual’s risk for dental disease and decay.
So, if certain types of foods can have a negative impact on our oral health, it only makes sense that other types of foods can help to improve our oral health. One substance that research has now started seeing benefits for patient oral health is antioxidants. The chemical compound found in berries, dark chocolate, and other commonly eaten foods may be able to help boost our oral health, according researchers.
The Healthy Benefits of Antioxidants
In many ways, antioxidants act like a natural defense mechanism in our bodies, according to researchers who recently presented at the 2019 ADA World Dental Congress.
Antioxidants help to promote better health by combatting the damage caused by free radicals. Under certain types of conditions, oxygen molecules can split into single atoms that don’t feature paired electrons. These atoms, known as free radicals, can then bind with other electrons, causing damage to occur within the body.
While a variety of free radicals exists, high amounts of free radicals in the body – referred to as oxidative stress – can cause permanent damage to our DNA and promote the development of disease. Antioxidants can help to offset the damage caused by free radicals, and promote better health overall.
Studies have linked oxidative stress to a variety of health problems that range from cancer to gum disease. Many of the diseases linked to oxidative stress are either started or exacerbated by chronic inflammation. Chronic inflammation in gum tissue leads to the eventual development of gum disease.
Antioxidants have the ability to basically act like scavengers that move throughout the body neutralizing free radicals, both in the mouth and the rest of the body. To provide our bodies with this type of protection, it becomes important that we add more antioxidants to our diets. In cases where disease and inflammation have already developed, an increased consumption of antioxidants can lead to preventing any future damage, while also repairing the damage that has already occurred.
Tips for Adding Antioxidants to a Diet
The most common place to find a rich source of antioxidants is in berries and fruits with deep, rich colors. This includes such favorites as spinach, cherries, blackberries, kale, and sweet potatoes. A variety of spices also feature high levels of antioxidants, including ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, and green tea. Some tasty treats, such as dark chocolate and red wine, can also be great sources for antioxidants as well.
Topical lotions and gels that contain antioxidants can also be used to help fight the effects of free radicals. Topical antioxidants can work especially well for patients who deal with oral inflammation, especially those who smoke or consume diets low in nutritional value.
Since the majority of the foods that contain a high level of antioxidants are fresh fruits and vegetables, it becomes incredibly easy to add these types of foods to a healthy, nutritional diet.
At Our Family Dentistry in McKinney, We’re Here to Help
If you have any questions about how your diet can impact your oral health, or what types of foods you should either add or avoid, make sure to ask Dr. Lawrence during your next appointment at our family dentistry in McKinney. Dr. Lawrence will happily provide you with advice when assessing your diet and considering where changes could be made.
A healthy smile requires a healthy diet. Don’t let the health of your smile suffer as a result of a diet that doesn’t provide the protection needed to enjoy quality oral health for a lifetime.