Follow These Recommendations for a Happy, Healthy Smile
Our teeth enable us to eat, digest and enjoy a variety of delicious (and nutritious) foods every day.
Good nutrition is vital for the healthy development and maintenance of our teeth at every age. The bacteria in our mouth feast on the same carbohydrates and sugars we eat, digesting the sugars and producing acids that attack tooth enamel. This unfortunately causes enamel erosion, tooth decay and gingivitis.
Some Foods Aren’t Very Kind to the Teeth
Enamel erosion occurs when acidic foods and drinks constantly attack and soften (demineralize) the enamel, eventually dissolving it. Certain healthy and nutritious foods such as tomatoes, and citric foods like lemons and oranges, can also cause enamel erosion if consumed in large quantities. Chewable vitamin C supplements are also known to eat at enamel. Dried fruits like raisins and cranberries are also high in sugars and acids. Because they are also sticky, they tend to adhere to teeth surfaces, continuing to harm teeth long after consumption. Bananas and fruity yogurts are often high in sugars, and are sticky as well. Therefore, it’s best to limit your consumption of these foods, or eat them with other foods when you do.
The amount of sugar we eat is an important factor in dental health. However, more important and more harmful is the frequency of the sugar consumption. How often are you eating sugary and acidic foods and drinks during the day?
A bottle of soda or sports drink does more damage to teeth enamel when it is sipped over hours due to the continuous acid attack on teeth enamel.
Recommendations for a Healthy Smile:
- When Brushing Your Teeth
- Use a fluoridated toothpaste, and when possible, use baking soda. Baking soda raises the pH of your mouth, making it more alkaline – therefore reducing the risk of cavities and enamel erosion.
- Use a pro-enamel toothpaste that is specifically especially beneficial for patients with diets high in acidic foods. This will help to reduce acid erosion of teeth enamel.
- Wait at least 1 hour to brush after exposure to an acidic food or drink. This allows time for saliva to begin repairing (remineralizing) softened enamel. Brushing immediately after can remove the softened enamel, increasing erosion.
- Drink Green Tea
- Green tea reduces inflammation, increases the pH of the mouth and retards the growth of cavity-causing bacteria.
- Eat Nutrient-Rich Foods
- Green leafy vegetables, nuts and seeds, eggs, meat, fish and plain yogurt contain plenty of calcium, phosphorous, magnesium, and vitamin K which are all necessary for tooth structure development and maintenance. Eating whole grains rich in B vitamins are also necessary for the healthy development of all oral tissues. Vitamin B deficiencies can manifest as cracks and sores at the corner of the mouth, and can lead to a sore burning mouth.
- Eat Raw Crunchy Fruits and Vegetables
- Apples, carrots, celery and other raw vegetables have a cleansing effect on our teeth. For example, having an apple after a meal often helps to remove plaque and food debris present on teeth. In fact, small amounts of xylitol can be found in fruits and vegetables, thus preventing bacteria from adhering to teeth.
- Chew Xylitol Gum After Meals and for Dry Mouth
- Xylitol is a natural sweetener. It prevents the bacteria in your mouth from adhering to teeth and producing acids that cause cavities and enamel erosion. Xylitol also stimulates saliva. Saliva is the mouth’s natural defense against acids. When we are dehydrated or have dry mouth, less saliva is present to protect the teeth – making them more vulnerable to acid attacks and acid erosion.
- Chewing gum with xylitol, such as PUR Gum, or chewing PUR Mints after meals is a great way to reduce your risk of developing cavities or enamel erosion. It also tastes great!
- Limit Your Intake of Sugar
- Soda, fruit juices, chocolate milk, lemonade, sweetened coffee and tea (iced or hot), energy drinks, candies, fruity yogurt, and certain alcoholic drinks are all high in sugars. Most sugary drinks are also very acidic. Choose beverages without sugar, like milk and water. When drinking an acidic or sugary beverage, reduce your intake and use a straw to help reduce teeth exposure and potential damage.
- When packing lunches and snacks for children, water should replace fruit juices. Children and adolescent teeth have the highest risk for cavities compared to any other age group.
- Avoid Smoking
- Smoking is the number one cause of gum disease.
So, there you have it! Practice these healthy habits and you’ll be doing wonderful things for your teeth, gums, and heart. Always remember, excellent nutrition equals an excellent smile (as long as you’re being cautious of your acid and sugar intake)!