That a sugar-laden diet is extremely bad for one’s dental health has long been established and something that’s been taught in schools for many years; however, many people seem unaware of the connection how diet affects oral health. For instance, most are aware that calcium and Vitamin D are important for good bone health, yet many people fail to understand that there’s a connection between their bones and their teeth. Where are your teeth imbedded? That’s right, in your jawbone, so if you don’t have strong bone density your teeth are at risk. Additionally, many also fail to realize how important calcium and Vitamin D actually are for strengthening and fortifying their teeth. Have they forgotten that milk and cheese, foods which are high in calcium, are top dietary choices for strong, healthy teeth?
Foods for Good Dental Health
Milk and cheese are great foods for strengthening and fortifying your teeth, though you can’t survive off milk and cheese alone!
Celery – Pretty much all fresh, raw vegetables are good for your teeth. Celery, however, is a particularly good one because when it’s chewed it breaks down into fibrous strands that actually clean your teeth while you eat.
Pears – Because of its fibrous nature, pears – fresh pears not dried pears – effectively stimulate the production of saliva which is incredibly beneficial for your teeth. Additionally, a 2004 study found that pears have a much more effective acid neutralisation effect on the surface of teeth than other fruits.
Tea – A great drink for good dental health, tea is high in fluoride and a single cup of tea can provide as much as 70 percent of your daily fluoride requirements, plus it’s also an excellent source of antioxidants which can stop the bacteria that causes plaque build-up dead in their tracks.
Yogurt – Yoghurt, provided that it hasn’t been sweetened, is an excellent food for your health in general, and as it’s high in casein and contains phosphates and calcium in high amounts – both have been found to have a remineralising effect on teeth – it’s a great food for promoting good dental health.
Foods to Avoid for Good Dental Health
The list of foods that you should avoid if you’re to take good care of your teeth is rather predictable; however, it would appear that many people need a reminder, because for many of us, the following foods play far too major a role in our diets.
Acidic foods – Foods with a high acidic content, which is everything from lemons and limes to tomatoes and wine, raises the acid content of your mouth which eats away at the enamel on your teeth, leaving them more susceptible to tooth decay. Many foods that are high in acid are actually very good for you so you shouldn’t eliminate them from your diet; however, to mitigate damage to your teeth, you should rinse your mouth out with water afterwards.
Low-nutrient foods – Foods that are low in nutrients most likely contain high levels of sugars and other things that aren’t good for your teeth; however, the reason you should avoid low-nutrient foods as much as possible is because your immune system needs minerals and vitamins to stay strong and fight infection. If your immune system is unable to fight infection it puts you at greater risk of tooth decay and oral infections, so whilst low-nutrient foods don’t contribute to poor dental health directly, due to their contribution to your immune system’s inability to fight infection, your dental health is consequently put at risk.
Sugar-laden foods – Practically every food contains a sugar of some sort – dextrose, fructose, lactose, etc. – though the sugar-laden foods that you need to avoid are those that are high in sucrose, the sugar from sugar cane. The average North American reportedly consumes around 40kg of sugar annually, which is far, far too much, so whilst you may have a fairly average diet, that diet isn’t going to do your teeth, or your health in general, any favours.
So how do sugar-laden foods damage your teeth? When you eat sugar the bacteria in your mouth start producing acids – this can last for 20 minutes or more after you’ve finished eating – which destroy your teeth and result in tooth decay. Additionally, they also result in a build-up of plaque, which produces toxins that attack your gums and the bones that support your teeth, and could have the effect of reducing their stability.
Sticky foods – Some sticky foods, like dates and dried fruits, appear to be healthy and in many regards they are. Nevertheless, they’re more likely to cling to your teeth, even after chewing gum or brushing your teeth, than other foods and that’s why they’re dental destroyers.
That isn’t to say that you should completely eliminate these foods from your diet, just cease eating them as snacks and instead eat them as part of a meal when the extra saliva your mouth produces will wash them away.
Top Tips for Choosing Meals and Snacks
Completely eliminating sugar and foods that contribute to poor dental health from your diet is practically impossible, though that isn’t to say you shouldn’t make smart meal and snack choices. If you’re going to eat sugar-laden foods, do so as part of a meal, not as a snack. Foods that are eaten as part of a meal are less harmful to your teeth because of the extra saliva produced.
Eat foods from the five major food groups – fruits, vegetables, meat products, dairy and whole grains – because a balanced diet plays a major role in promoting good dental health.
Drink plenty of water. Not only does your body require roughly ten glasses of water a day to stay hydrated, but the fluoride in tap water is extremely beneficial for keeping your teeth healthy and strong.
Diet affects oral health. Your ability to enjoy the foods you eat, to smile and do many things you probably take for granted comes down to having good dental health – eat well, take care of your teeth and live life to the fullest!
About the author
Nicole Abrahams writes on a freelance basis for The New Tooth Company, an implant centre in Kent and East Sussex. They are dedicated to supplying quality dental implants.