March is National Nutrition Month in the United States, and it's a perfect time to look at how nutrition plays a major role in your oral health. It’s not just about eating foods full of vitamins and minerals for growing strong, healthy bones (like teeth and jawbones!) or drinking plenty of water to keep your tongue and mouth tissues hydrated. The foods we eat have a direct impact on our teeth.

This year’s theme for National Nutrition Month is "Go Further with Food." Find out how you the foods you eat can go further toward maintaining your oral health.

Go Further with Food

One focus of this year's National Nutrition Month, promoted by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, is preparing meals ahead of time. With the meal-prepping trend becoming so popular for dieters and on social media these days, this theme has impeccable timing. So, how can meal prepping help your oral health? Easy!

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests meal prepping to save time, be more mindful of health, and to reduce waste. It's also a great way to choose foods that are good for your teeth.

Lean meats and proteins: Lean meats and proteins should be the staple of any diet because they provide essential protein for muscle development. They also help with tooth health, immune function and connective tissue development.

Vegetables and fruits: Vegetables and fruits should also be a part of every diet, but you should try to choose more vegetables than fruits due to the sugar and citric acid in many fruits. Vegetables like celery, carrots and leafy greens are great for keeping your teeth healthy because they not only contain fiber, but they also increase your saliva production and help keep the mouth clean and moisturized.

For fruits, apples are an excellent "pick" (see what we did there?), but as long as you rinse your mouth out with water, chew sugarless gum or ideally brush afterward, most fruits are fine for your teeth. Keep in mind that citrus fruits especially can be very harsh on your tooth enamel, so if you do have a citrus fruit, be sure to rinse with water and wait about 30 minutes before brushing so your enamel can re-harden.

Almonds: Almonds are crunchy, low in sugar and packed with calcium, making them an excellent choice for your teeth. While you may not have a meal with a side of almonds, almonds can be used as an ingredient in many dishes. Try a rice pilaf with slivered almonds on the side, or an almond-crusted seafood or chicken dish.

Cheese: Cheese is another ingredient that could make a really delicious and nutritious meal. Cheese is not only packed full of calcium and great for your teeth, but recent studies have also shown that cheese raises the pH in your mouth, thus lowering your risk of tooth decay. Don’t be afraid to use cheese on more than just pizza! Take a few minutes to browse Pinterest and see what kinds of interesting new cheese recipes you can make for dinner.

No matter which ingredients you use, remember - allowing yourself to "go further with food" ensures you will have the time to plan out a healthy meal instead of just grabbing fast food or reaching for a frozen meal. And don’t forget to brush your teeth at least twice a day for at least two minutes and floss at least once a day. Your nutritious dinner isn’t doing you any favors stuck between your teeth!

To schedule an exam with Dr. Hill, please call 469-640-9550.