We all know the age old saying that an apple a day keeps the doctor away, but what about the dentist? Are there certain foods and drinks that we should be including in our diet in order to ensure that our teeth stay healthy?
The answer to this is undoubtedly yes. You are what you eat and when you include fruit, such as apples, and leafy green vegetables into your diet there are countless benefits to your oral health. Although fruit often gets a bad press due to the natural sugars they contain, when you eat an apple you are giving your mouth a really good clean. High in fibre and water, the biting action enables your mouth to produce saliva, rinsing away bacteria and food particles that are found on your teeth and tongue.
Best foods for healthy teeth and gums
No matter how much you floss, brush and take care of your teeth, if your diet is poor then your oral health will suffer the consequences. At Oakley Road Dental Practice, there are foods that we would recommend you include in your diet that will not only help to prevent cavities and periodontal disease, but that will even freshen your breath and whiten your teeth. And, there is no need to scour the shelves of your local supermarket searching for weird and wonderful sounding items, for these you are sure to recognise. And they taste pretty good too!
Foods rich in calcium
Whether you add it to a sandwich or toast it on bread, cheese is good for your teeth. High in calcium and protein it protects and strengthens tooth enamel. The same nutrients can also be found in yoghurt, along with probiotics which benefits the gums and fights bad bacteria – just watch out for ones that are laden with sugar.
Foods that pack a crunch
Just like apples, carrots are crunchy and are packed full of fibre. When you munch or a raw carrot, you increase your saliva production which reduces the risk of cavities – it’s no wonder rabbits have such strong teeth! Likewise, celery is the perfect snack and is considered to be a natural floss. And if you want your breath to smell good whilst boosting saliva, then a piece of chewing gum is the perfect after dinner refreshment.
Foods full of vitamins
Whilst Vitamin D can help your body to absorb calcium better, Vitamin C can strengthen your blood vessels and reduce inflammation, especially around the gum area. Therefore, by simply adding some fatty fish such as tuna and salmon and an array of leafy vegetables such as kale and spinach into your diet, ensures that plentiful vitamins are absorbed into the body and mouth.
Drink more water
If you are feeling parched, then chances are you are not drinking enough water. Although our water is no longer fluoridated, a refreshing glass can cleanse the mouth, washing away unwanted acid and food particles in its wake.
A hidden agenda
We all know that sugary food and drinks are bad for our oral health creating plaque, causing cavities and weakening our teeth’s enamel. But which types are the main culprits and what kind of damage are they doing to our mouths?
Summer is officially upon us so it’s time to set up the barbeque and get the prosecco corks popping. As the world’s second biggest consumers of prosecco, we simply can’t get enough of quaffing this refreshing, effervescent drink. But what kind of damage is it doing to our teeth?
Just like fizzy soft drinks, prosecco contains high-levels of carbonic acid and sugar putting your pearly whites under constant attack. Too much over indulgence can even result in what dentists describe as a ‘prosecco smile’ – a condition where the tooth enamel wears away and the teeth come away from the gumline. For those who wear Invisalign the damage can be even greater, as the clear aligners can trap sugar for even longer.
So, love your teeth this summer, and if you don’t want to ditch your favourite tipple look at ways you can neutralize the effects. Drink a glass of water between each flute, sip through a straw or snack or foods that are high in calcium.
A hidden agenda
We have already mentioned prosecco, but sugary drinks of any kind such as fizzy pop, energy or sports drinks are the most erosive you can drink. Some may even sound or are marketed as a healthy alternative, and although they may well ‘give you wings’ they are also highly likely to create cavities.
Hard sweets, chewy sweets, candyfloss and popcorn may taste delicious but the outcome for your teeth is anything but sweet. Eat these and you could end up with chipped and weakened enamel as well as cavities and periodontal disease.
Cough sweets may soothe your throat but are they are often loaded with sugar. As they dissolve slowly, there is the potential to cause serious dental damage. We therefore recommend you look for the sugar-free varieties.
We all like a nice cup of coffee to get us going in the morning, but the effects of this everyday ritual could be affecting your teeth. Coffee dries out the mouth, making your teeth sticky and more susceptible to stains. Whilst we don’t expect anyone to forego their early morning treat, drinking coffee without sugar and consuming plenty of water throughout the day, all helps to keep a brighter smile.
A generation of sweeties
Whilst we have control over what we put in our mouths, it is important that we educate our children on the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Recent reports show that although we are becoming aware of our oral health, a quarter of all 5 year olds still suffer with tooth decay. Last year alone almost 8,000 children had to undergo teeth extractions in hospital.
Our dental health issues are explicitly linked to the childhood obesity problem which we are currently tackling, and which is the costing the NHS millions each year. Soft drinks and sugary sweets are main offenders alongside inadequate oral health routines. It is therefore imperative that we teach our children a “do as we do” culture, providing them with nutritious snacks and meals and teaching them how to look after their teeth.
If you or your family have concerns over their dental health or wellbeing, or would like a routine check-up, then please contact Oakley Road Dental Practice as we would be more than happy to help and give you advice.