Healthy Eating Helps Your Teeth

Teeth

Photo Credit Conor Lawless

When it comes to your teeth, diet is vital; you can either really help or really harm your teeth by the food choices you make and many of the foods that are harmful for your teeth are also bad for your health in general so looking after your teeth and gums will pay dividends for the rest of your body.

Healthy eating

Health eating has a reputation for being boring, but this is really not the case and there are some great recipes and foods out there that are really healthy and good for you; if you struggle with a lack of imagination or you are not familiar with healthy foods, try getting recipes off the Internet or invest in some good cook books.

Healthy eating should involve a balanced diet; it is important that you cover all the major food groups to ensure that you get all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients you need. Your diet should include carbohydrates, to fuel your body, protein, for growth, development and cell repair, fats to dissolve fat-soluble vitamins, provide insulation and maintaining healthy skin and hair and fruit and vegetables to provide vitamins and minerals.

A good diet should include plenty of fruits and vegetables (try to vary what you eat to get a good mix of foods and ensure that you get all the vitamins you need) and a moderated intake of proteins, carbohydrates and fats; you do not need as much fat and protein as you do carbohydrate and you need to be careful which fatty foods you eat; an avocado is a source of ‘good’ fat, while a burger and chips is an example of ‘bad’ fat.

How does my diet affect my teeth?

Your diet has a huge impact on your oral health. Eating certain foods and drinks can increase your risk of tooth decay, cavities and gum disease.

When you eat foods that contain sugar or starch, the bacteria in your mouth feed on the debris and this causes them to produce harmful plaque acids, which attack the enamel; the enamel is very strong and durable but it can be worn down via acid erosion and once it has gone, it cannot be replaced and the tooth is vulnerable to damage and decay. Plaque is also the cause of gum disease, which can potentially be very serious.

Foods to avoid

You should try to avoid foods that are high in sugar, such as sweets, chocolate, biscuits and cakes, and sugary drinks, such as fizzy pop, cordial and energy drinks. Watch out for foods that you assume are healthy, such as fruit juices, as some contain a lot of sugar and many are also acidic. Try to drink water, sugar-free cordial and milk, which is a great source of calcium, an important mineral, which helps to build strong bones, nails and teeth.

Eating habits

If you have a sweet tooth, try to avoid eating between meals; this is because your teeth can only fight off a certain number of acid attacks per day and if you are eating a meal, they will already be under attack. Avoid brushing your teeth for at least 30 minutes after eating, as brushing during this time can damage the enamel, which will be temporarily weakened.

Preventing decay and gum disease

A simple daily oral hygiene routine, good eating habits and regular visits to the dentist can help to reduce your risk of decay and gum disease significantly; brush twice a day with fluoride toothpaste for at least 2 minutes each time, floss on a regular basis, avoid eating too many sugary foods and visit your dentist every 6-12 months for a routine check-up.

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