How diet affects your teeth
For better or for worse, what you eat and drink play an important role in maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Certain foods have been proven to increase the risk of tooth decay, tooth staining, gum disease, cavities, and other dental issues. So where should you start? Here’s what you need to know.
First, take a closer look at your daily food intake. A balanced diet rich in vitamins, minerals, whole grains, fresh fruit, and vegetables is a great starting point.
1. Essential Nutrients
Calcium, Vitamin D, Phosphorus, Vitamin A, Potassium, and Iron – are essential for your overall health including oral health. Nutrient deficiencies may lead to gingival inflammation and gum disease (among other oral problems). Here’s a quick list of foods that are rich in nutrients:
Calcium: dairy products e.g., milk, cheeses, yoghurts, leafy green vegetables, and almonds
Vitamin D: fatty fish e.g., salmon and tuna, egg yolk, and fortified foods like milk and orange juice
Phosphorus: dairy products, meat, fish, and poultry
Potassium: bananas, sweet potatoes, avocado, spinach & beans
Vitamin A: sweet potatoes, carrots & leafy greens
Iron: red meat, poultry, fish, beans & leafy greens
2. Cut down on added sugars
Snacking on sugary foods and drinks all day can lead to tooth decay. How? When sugar reacts to the bacteria in your mouth it produces an acid that erodes the hard-outer surface of your tooth (enamel). Foods containing an excessive amount of added sugar and acids like sugar-sweetened beverages, desserts, and sweet snacks weaken the enamel of your teeth. There are other, perhaps less-obvious but just as significant foods with high sugar content like breakfast cereals, yoghurts, cocktails and syrups in your sweetened coffees that you should steer clear from.
TIP - Always look at the ingredient labels on food products to check the sugar content in grams per item.
3. Avoid Smoking & Alcohol
Quitting smoking will enhance your oral health and minimize the risk of getting gum disease and oral cancer. Avoiding excessive alcohol intake and other harmful substances will also help keep your teeth (and gums) strong.
QUICK CHECKLIST -
Best foods and drinks for healthy teeth:
- Fibre-rich fruits and vegetables
- Calcium-rich foods
- Lean protein
6 Foods & drinks to avoid:
- Carbonated soft drinks (soda)
- Highly acidic drinks (fruit juices, sports drinks)
- Hard candy
- Sticky & chewy foods like toffees and caramel
- Alcoholic beverages
Making smart food choices will help keep your oral health in check. But it’s also important to maintain good oral hygiene by brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing between your teeth! You can also use interdental brushes instead of flossing. Also, make sure to have regular dental check-ups!
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