We look at some healthy eating habits to help keep your teeth in the best condition.
Benefits of a healthy diet
Eating well means feeling better. And eating a healthy balanced diet as well as getting regular physical activity means less chance of illness. By keeping away from too much sugar and saturated fats it means that there’s less chance of becoming overweight – and obesity brings with it a host of increased health risks from obesity to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
On top of the other benefits of a healthy diet, eating well can also mean lessening the chances of tooth erosion and helping keep teeth string and healthy. So how do we go about eating well for tooth health?
Watch your eating times
These days many of us lead busy lives and it can be a struggle to fit in everything we want to do in the day, and that can include sitting down to a meal at lunch or even in the evening. The temptation may be to grab snacks as we go, but the problem is that when we eat or drink it means that the levels of acid in the mouth increase. And because of the raised acid levels, the advice is never to brush teeth in the hour after eating or drinking as this can cause damage to the teeth.
So what’s the solution? The British Dental Health Foundation (BDHF) advises that, rather than having a series of ‘snack attacks’ during the day, we should aim for the traditional ‘three square meals’. This lowers the amount of time that we have acid forming in the mouth post-eating.
While it might not be possible to stick rigidly to this rule, it definitely pays to be mindful of the fact that eating or drinking fizzy drinks are having this effect on teeth, and seeking to lower consumption whenever we can. Of course, if you’re thirsty you need to drink, but tap water is far less acidic than cola, and of course doesn’t contain any sugar either: much better for tooth health.
And watch what you eat
We all know about how sugar can lead to tooth decay, although perhaps not so well known is the reason why it happens. Bacteria feed on the residual sugar that sticks to the teeth, and this produces acid. Which in turn erodes the teeth.
It’s easy enough to spot most sugary foods and drinks and to know which foods should be kept in moderation due to their high sugar level. But some foods can also be high in acid and these aren’t so easy to spot. Fizzy drinks such as cola are high in sugar (for the non-diet versions) but are highly acidic regardless and therefore should be kept to a minimum. And then there are foods that we might not even recognise as being acidic, such as olives, which actually have quite a high level of acidity – around the same level, in fact, as freshly squeezed orange juice.
Of course eating for healthy teeth isn’t just about controlling consumption of sugary or acidic foods – we can also help our dental health by making sure we always get enough calcium in our diet as well as plenty of fruit and veg.
Jason N is a health blogger posting on behalf of AXA PPP healthcare dental insurance and his blog interests include health, fitness and nutrition.