How does food affect dental health?
The food we eat is a key determining factor for our general health. A balanced diet is essential for keeping our body in good condition, and that includes the instruments we use to eat with: mouth, teeth and gums. In fact, a nutrient-deficient eating routine will cause the mouth to be defenceless against some infections and lead to periodontal diseases. Hence the importance of knowing which foods helps protect dental health.
Which foods can protect our dental health?
These are some foods that help protect dental health:
- Cereals: It is recommended that they be wholemeal due to their low sugar and high fibre content.
- Fruits and vegetables: Combined, they should ideally make up half of every meal. The fibre in green leafy vegetables are great as they cause our mouths to produce saliva which protects our teeth.
- Dairy: Dairy helps protect our teeth. Skimmed is perhaps better. Milk products are rich in calcium which strengthens teeth and bones in general, and it also contains a phosphoprotein called casein which is responsible for repairing tooth enamel.
- Proteins: The best come from lean meats, skinless poultry, fish and shellfish. It is also advisable to include eggs and legumes.
- Green tea: Its high antioxidant power, its polyphenols and its fluoride content make this infusion very protective against tooth plaque. However, tea can stain tooth enamel.
- Vitamin D: This helps alleviate bone loss deficiencies and diminishes inflammation, one of the most frequent symptoms of gum pathologies.
Other foods that are responsible for the onset of tooth decay, include:
- Sugar: This is the largest cause of tooth decay and the number one enemy of our teeth. A key ingredient to avoid.
- Starchy snacks: These are rich in sucrose, which cause cavities. Some, in addition, produce dental fractures due to their hardness.
- Industrial juices and energy drinks: Between their high sugar content and various aggressive acids (citric, phosphoric and carbonic), they gradually deteriorate the enamel. Their reduced consumption is recommended, as is to replace them with water or milk.
- Citrus: They are associated with dental hypersensitivity because of their acidity that can demineralise hard tissues. If we wish to enjoy a citric juice it is better to use a straw in order to avoid dental contact.
- Vinegar: Acetic acid is no friend of tooth enamel either. Consuming vinegars which are low in bitterness (sweetened) is just as bad because their flavour is masked by sugars. Ketchup is a good example of a product rich in vinegar and sugars that should be avoided.
- Alcohol: It dehydrates the mouth and therefore decreases saliva. In addition, red wine stains the teeth a lot, and white wine is very acidic.
Other dental health foes
In addition to making careful choices in the ingredients we consume, meal routines also have an impact on dental health. For example, snacking between meals is not beneficial at all because if we do not brush our teeth saliva is acidified, and lowering the mouth´s pH leads to tooth decay.
Tobacco is another dental health foe. It stains the enamel and is capable of producing gum disease, bad breath, and oral cancer.
Good practices for keeping teeth healthy
It is no secret that the best way to take care of our mouths is to brush our teeth three times a day, once after every meal. Brushing should be thorough, but without using too much force. With this we will prevent health issues such as gingivitis or periodontitis.
Dental floss helps to eliminate plaque and other residues, in areas inaccessible to the toothbrush. Daily flossing is recommended on a daily basis, and it also prevents bad breath.
If sugar is the main adversary of teeth, sweeteners are a good substitute for preventing cavities. Specifically, chewing gum with xylitol helps our mouth remain clean when we do not have a toothbrush at hand. In addition, it promotes the secretion of saliva with its high antibacterial properties.