If we are what we eat, that’s even more true for the health of our teeth and gums. Healthy eating patterns and food choices can help prevent tooth decay.
“We advise our patients that their dental health impacts their overall well-being, and that diet can affect dental health,” says Dr Fareed Amod of Crown Dental Studio.
Plaque is the thin, invisible film of sticky bacteria and other materials covering the surfaces of your teeth. When the sugars or starches in your mouth come in contact with plaque, acids form. These acids can break down the hard enamel on the surface of teeth which results in tooth decay. The bacteria in plaque can cause an inflammatory response, resulting in the breakdown of the gums, bone, and other supporting structures of your teeth.
Choose healthy food
In order to counter the build up of plaque, eating firm, coarse, watery, and fibrous fruits and vegetables such as apples, carrots and celery are especially beneficial. Chewing helps to clean teeth by removing leftover food particles, washing away sugars, and rubbing off plaque.
Eating food items which stimulate the production of saliva also helps you keep your teeth clean and neutralise the acids in the mouth. Chewy food, such as nuts, and leafy greens (e.g., kale, lettuce and spinach) which are high in calcium, folic acid and vitamin Bs aid in saliva production and help strengthen your teeth.
The calcium and phosphates in dairy products help replace minerals your teeth might have lost and help rebuild tooth enamel. In addition, calcium in all food types is good for bones, including your jaw, which is an essential part of your dental health. Protein is also important for strong teeth and is found in lean meat, fish, eggs, and dairy, as well as in vegetables such as beans and lentils.
When you drink and eat starchy or sugary foods you are also feeding the bacteria that can cause tooth decay and gum disease in your mouth. Even sugar-free biscuits and potato chips contain refined carbohydrates, which break down into sugars that can get stuck between your teeth, creating a source for bacteria.
Hard sweets not only leave sugar in your mouth if you suck them and which is easily trapped between the fine grooves in teeth, but also pose a risk of chipping a tooth if you take a bite. If you eat sweets, rather choose those that can be eaten quickly. Some studies have shown chocolate is better than other sugary treats.
As your mouth makes more saliva during meals, eating sugary foods with meals is preferable. This helps to reduce the effect of acid production and to rinse pieces of food from the mouth. Limiting in-between meal snacks is an important part of dental health. Chewing sugarless gum after snacks or meals will also increase saliva flow and wash out food and acid.
Water remains one of the healthiest drinks for your teeth, particularly if it contains fluoride. Fluoride strengthens tooth enamel which can help prevent tooth decay. If you choose bottled water, check the label for the fluoride content.
Green and black teas contain polyphenols that either kill or limit the production of bacteria. However, coffee and tea can stain teeth enamel, and if you drink them with added sugar, you are increasing the damage to your teeth.
Fizzy drinks such as coke and sprite, contain a lot of sugar as well as phosphoric and citric acids that wear away tooth enamel. Many fruit juices and energy drinks are also high in sugar and acid.
Alcohol such as wine and beer are high in sugar, are often acidic, and can lead to a dry mouth, which means a less clean mouth and potential tooth decay over time. Drink plenty of water if you are drinking alcohol and limit your consumption.
Many medicines can also cause a dry mouth. Consult with your dentist about using a fluoride rinse, or a fluoride gel for brushing your teeth if required. “A regular dental appointment for an oral evaluation is essential. This allows any potential problems to be identified as early as possible. Dentists ensure that your mouth, teeth and gums are healthy, and will check for abnormalities, which also could be a sign of larger health issues,” concluded Dr Amod.
Crown Dental Studio is one of the few truly 24-hour dental practises in Durban as this is not limited to emergency dentistry treatment.
T: +27(0) 81 207 8621