If you have been watching the news lately you probably have heard that the new dietary guidelines for 2015-2020 have been released. Over the past year, politicians and scientists have debated over what exactly should be included in the new policy that will stay in place until 2020. There’s an old, clichéd saying that goes “we are what we eat,” well that goes for our teeth as well. What do these new dietary recommendations mean for our oral health?

The Skinny on the Guidelines

Overall, the wording of The Dietary Guidelines is pretty vague. It recommends a variety of vegetables in an array of colors like red, dark green, orange, legumes, and starchy veggies like potatoes. The Dietary Guidelines recommends whole fruits over fruit juices. As far as grains go, it is recommended that at least half of your grain intake come from whole grains (think wheat bread, though not all wheat breads actually contain whole grains). Fat-free or low-fat dairy, and soy beverages for the lactose intolerant are encouraged over dairy higher in fat such as whole milk. It is recommended that you vary your proteins and lists things like seafood, lean meats and poultry, eggs, nuts and seeds, legumes, and soy-based products. Last, but not least, natural plant based oils are recommended. Sugar took a big knock from the government. It is recommended that only 10 percent of your daily caloric intake come from sugar.

While most of this sounds like a good idea there has been a bit of controversy, specifically regarding the wording for the protein food group. Critics are upset about the government not specifically recommending against red and processed meat which has been recently linked to an increased risk of cancer. The general wording has come under scrutiny as well. Specific foods are typically not mentioned, and more general phrasing like “nutrient dense food” is more typically used.

What This Means for Our Teeth

It is great that the government has drastically cut down the recommended sugar intake for The Dietary Guidelines. It is no secret that sugary foods are a leading cause of tooth decay. Even so, it is important to keep an eye on other foods as well. There are a lot of foods that are full of nutrients, but can also cause damage to your teeth due to high acidity such as blueberries and peaches. Starchy foods, like potatoes can also serve as fuel for tooth-decay causing bacteria, and remember when you’re choosing any processed food, including bread, to read the label for added sugars. And remember, sugar-free doesn’t mean tooth-friendly.

The most important thing in addition to brushing, flossing, and regularly visiting your dentist is to maintain a diet that is rich in vitamins like vitamin D and vitamin C, minerals such as calcium and phosphorus, and protein. You want a wide variety of nutrients that help keep your body healthy, strong, and in shape to fight off infections such as gum disease.

If you have any questions or concerns about maintaining healthy teeth and are located in the West Nyack area, please call (845) 627-7645 for an appointment with a Rockland County dentist at B & D Dental Excellence.