Let’s be honest. People are generally not fond of visiting the dentist. Unless it’s for a cosmetic treatment to enhance your pearly whites, I don’t know anyone who looks forward to a general oral care treatment like getting an extraction or a cavity filled. If you would like to spend less time in a dentist’s chair undergoing a drill or fill, I’m sure you would agree that the best advice you can follow is to maintain a healthy diet.
Of course, keeping healthy eating habit tends to work both ways. As much as it matters what you consume, it is just as important to know what kinds of food or beverage you should avoid. In this article, we will get into the types of food that have proven nutritional value for teeth and gums, and those that can take its toll on your dental health in the long run.
To begin, let’s look at the top foods that will help to keep your oral health in the pink:
This one should be a no-brainer. If you thought that eating your greens is the kind of advice you would get from a medical doctor, apparently, your dentist would likely be offering the same oral health tip.
Eating crunchy and fresh vegetables not only aids your digestive system but is also great for cleaning your gums! Go for the green labels that say “rich in vitamin A”, as that’s the vitamin responsible for the healthy formation of your tooth enamel. Some of the vegetables in this category include broccoli, pumpkins, carrots and sweet potatoes.
If you don’t find the taste off-putting, try eating raw onions for their potent antibacterial properties. The sulphur compounds in onions – especially when eaten raw – can kill various strains of bacteria, including those that promote tooth enamel erosion and tooth decay.
Fresh fruits are an integral part of any balanced diet. High in water and fibre, they help to clean your teeth while balancing your diet with the natural sugars that they contain. Fruits high in vitamin C are not just beneficial to your body’s healthy cells, they are crucial for the health of gum tissue. That is why patients who are prone to gum diseases tend to be vitamin C deficient.
Nuts are rich in protein that helps to strengthen and protect your teeth. As with vegetables and fruits, the chewing of nuts aids in stimulating saliva production. Saliva is great for your dental health as it not only cleans your teeth but also neutralizes the bacteria that cause decay.
While it’s important to point out that too much red meat is bad for your health, meat – along with milk, fish, eggs and poultry – is rich is phosphorus, which is vital to the development of healthy bones and teeth. In fact, most animal products that contain phosphorus and calcium help to protect and rebuild your tooth enamel.
We all know the benefits of H20 and how vitally important it is to our health. Water is what keeps our bodies as well as our teeth hydrated. Not only that, it helps to irrigate food debris that hide in the nooks and crannies of our teeth, thereby playing an active cleaning role as well. Many people are not aware that drinking water actually helps to promote saliva production, which in turn, deposits essential minerals onto the teeth. Drinking fluoridated water is known to help protect your teeth from acid attacks that can cause cavities.
Cheese is rich in calcium and phosphate. While the calcium ingredient protects our bones (including the bones that support our teeth), the phosphate helps to balance the pH (acidity) levels inside the mouth thus preserving and rebuilding tooth enamel.
Besides being a soothing beverage for calming nerves, green tea is very effective at protecting your teeth. It contains fluoride and polyphenols, antioxidant plant compounds that help to prevent gum disease and cavities.
While excellent sources of calcium, they are also low in sugar and acidity. That means that they are great for building up strong teeth, and pose minimum risk for tooth decay.
The types of food you would want to keep an eye out for are those that stain or damage your teeth. They can be broadly categorised as below:
For people who find it almost impossible to completely avoid snacking on sugary foods or drinking sodas, the best way forward is to consume them occasionally and in moderate quantities. Regular consumption of food and drinks high in sugar are as detrimental to your teeth, as they are to your overall health. The sugar content in sweetened foods and carbonated drinks is notorious for producing acids that attack your teeth’s protective surface (enamel). Caffeinated beverages like soft drinks and coffee also dry out your mouth, which in turn promotes decay and bad breath.
Sticky foods tend to stay on your teeth longer than other types of food that are more easily cleaned out by saliva or drinking water. If you have to eat sticky foods like toffees and dried preserved fruits, remember to keep a toothbrush handy. It is important to brush, floss or rinse immediately after foods with a tendency to stick to your teeth and gums.
Acidic foods, including citrus fruits like lime or lemon, can erode your teeth’s outer enamel layer, thus reducing your teeth’s resistance to decay over time. While citrus fruits and juices feature dominantly on many healthy diet menus, it’s not always the best choice for your dental health.
A well-hydrated mouth is essential in keeping your teeth and gums healthy. Conversely, a dry mouth makes your teeth more susceptible to decay. Alcohol and chewing gum are examples of foods that result in saliva flow depletion, which over time can lead to oral infections and tooth decay. To counter the effects of a dry mouth, drink plenty of water throughout the day or rinse your mouth with fluoridated liquids.