Summer has started and Ramadan is just around the corner. This summer take some time to think on what to eat and what not to eat. Our diet makes a big difference on our general health as well as on teeth. Maintaining healthy teeth is a matter of daily dental care and a tooth-friendly diet. Daily care involves flossing and brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
Tooth Friendly Diet
• Milk and Eggs: Drinking milk builds strong bones and teeth. The jawbone is particularly susceptible to the effects of low calcium. It can weaken because of low calcium intake, which in turn causes teeth to loosen, leaving you at greater risk for gum disease. You can also get your daily vitamin D from about 15 to 30 minutes of sun exposure. The body requires a dose of vitamin D to absorb calcium, which in turn strengthens bones and teeth.
• Cheese and Yoghurt: Foods rich in calcium and phosphorus protect tooth enamel and even help replace minerals in teeth (a process called remineralisation). Cheese contains casein, a protein found in milk products that can shore up enamel.
• Meat, Fish, and Tofu: They are loaded with phosphorus, another important mineral that may protect tooth enamel. Homemade broth made from meat bones is a particular good source of this essential mineral.
• Broccoli, Celery, and Other Crunchy Leafy Veggies: They are excellent vegetarian options to get plenty of vitamins and minerals. They contain lots of water and are also good for oral health because they stimulate the flow of saliva and can actually scrub tooth surfaces, brightening your pearly whites. Celery is full of water and fibrous strands, this raw veggie is basically nature’s floss.
• Nuts, Sunflower seeds, and Sesame: They contain natural fats that shield teeth protecting them against different bacteria. The oil present inside the seeds strengthens tooth enamel which further makes teeth resistant to cavities. Some of the seeds also contain calcium which is healthy for teeth as well.
• Tea: While tea may stain teeth, studies have shown that compounds in black tea or green tea can destroy or suppress the growth of cavity-causing bacteria in dental plaque, which can help prevent both cavities and gum disease.
• Water: Drinking plenty of water is best for teeth and body. It benefits teeth as it helps rinse away both bacteria and the remnants of food that bacteria turn into plaque. Aside from washing out plaque and food particles from your mouth, water makes sure that your mouth stays hydrated so that bacterial growth is retarded. People who drink less water, have thick saliva and are more prone to caries and staining of teeth.
• Vitamin C-Rich Foods: You can get vitamin C from citrus fruits such as oranges and lemons, as well as berries. Potatoes are also high in vitamin C. Vitamin C helps repair tissue damage, fights infections, slows down bacterial growth in your mouth and also prevents gum disease.
Foods to Avoid
• Sugary Snacks, Gummy and Hard Candies: They stick in your teeth and should be avoided. Foods with high sugar content allow bacteria to produce acid that cause cavities. No matter what you eat, it’s important to brush and floss afterwards or at least to rinse your mouth with water.
• Pickles, Coffee, and Soda: Strong acidic foods are the number-one cause of enamel erosion and tooth decay. Minimise your acid exposure by drinking the juice in one sitting and then avoiding other acidic foods and drinks for several hours. Regular soda gives a double hit to teeth, combining sugar with acids.
• If you eat acidic or sugary foods or drinks then have them as part of a meal rather than on their own.
• Though brushing after a meal is generally a good idea, avoid brushing your teeth immediately after consuming acidic foods. Acid softens your enamel, and brushing can speed up tooth wear.
• Use fluoride toothpaste, which can help repair enamel, and reduce the risk of tooth decay and dental erosion.
• Don’t swish acidic drinks or hold them in your mouth — this exposes the teeth to acids for longer than necessary.
Dr Richa Raj is a practising Dental Surgeon at Pearly White Dental Centre, Al Khuwair.