How the foods you consume can impact the health of your teeth
Fact: Cavities are a total party pooper. One minute you’re busy savouring that last square of Dairy Milk, the next you’re clutching your mouth in agony, getting ready to hot-foot it to the dentist. It goes without saying that twice-daily brushing, flossing and rinsing (along with twice-yearly dentist-visiting) are essential for your teeth no matter what’s on your plate. But it’s worth knowing that everything you eat and drink, for better or worse, plays a role in the development or prevention of tooth decay. Here are three things you ought to know.
The deal with dairy
Good news: milk, cheese, yoghurt and co are proud supporters of strong teeth. With their mix of vitamins (including A, B12 and Riboflavin), minerals (including calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, potassium and zinc), protein and carbs, dairy products play an important role in our nutrition from childhood onwards. Research has found that a protein in dairy foods called casein creates a protective coating over the enamel when combined with calcium and phosphorous, reducing the risk of decay. Of course, natural (and sometimes added) sugars lurk too, so check sugar contents and don’t replace your toothpaste with cheese just yet.
Fruit in moderation
Think of fruit as nature’s lollies. It’s full of goodness and bursting with vitamins and nutrients, but some are highly acidic and most are rich in natural sugar. This sugar hangs around on the teeth, helping acid producing, enamel-eroding bacteria to thrive. The acid in fruits can also soften enamel, leading to erosion (signs of which include wear, sensitivity and discolouration ). Keep in mind that fruit including pineapple, mango and oranges are high in sugar and acid – so eat them less often than you would low-sugar fruit such as berries, peaches, apples, watermelon and kiwi fruit. Good news for dried grapes though: new research from the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Dentistry has found that eating raisins (which are full of plant-based antioxidants called phytochemicals) may actually protect your teeth by fighting bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease.
Sugar lurks everywhere
It’s no surprise that sweet treats such as lollies and soft drinks are the scourge of dental health (not to mention health in general) Why? Tooth decay begins when the bacteria in your mouth breaks down the sugar and produces acid which attacks the teeth, weakening the enamel and leaving them vulnerable to cavities and decay. Add to that the sugar hiding in foods (like breakfast cereals, sauces, jams and marinades) and your teeth may be in trouble. So how can you enjoy a treat and keep your teeth intact? For starters, eat sugar in moderation and keep it to meal times, rinse your mouth with water post-indulgence to minimise lingering sugar, and check in with your dentist twice a year. You see, plaque is a stubborn little beast. It starts building up after every meal and if not brushed away regularly, harbours bacteria that erode tooth enamel, causing cavities. While good dental hygiene is the best first defence, regular dental checkups will ensure your teeth are strong, healthy, perfect chompers for many food-savouring years to come.
What should you do next? Find your nearest centre and make an appointment today. With numerous locations offering a comprehensive range of services, you’re guaranteed to find the exceptional care and expertise you deserve.