The oral health is viewed as the window to the general health sometimes. This is because most times the presence of illness in the body often gives sign in the teeth and gums. Keeping the teeth and gums healthy is therefore very important for a healthy life. The food we eat is of particular interest in the dental health, this is not just because the mouth and teeth are literally the first contact our food makes with the body, but also because some foods promote tooth and gum disease more than others.
Foods and beverages can have a direct influence on the incidence and progression of tooth decay, depending on the form of the food (whether it is liquid, solid, sticky or slow to dissolve makes a difference); the nutritional makeup of the food, and the combination of the foods as well as the order in which they are eaten. The difference between a healthy smile and frequent visits to the dentist has a lot to do with the diet. Even with a good oral hygiene routine (brushing twice a day, flossing once a day), it can still be hard to keep the teeth healthy over the long term with poor diet.
Healthy foods to eat for the teeth
Eating a variety of healthy, nutrient-rich foods from all the food groups promotes healthy teeth and gums. Below are some of the food that promote healthy teeth and gums.
- Water remains the healthiest drink available. Staying hydrated helps hydrate the system, gets rid of waste, and promotes healthy teeth. This is particularly true it the water is fluoridated. Water helps to wash away food particles and keeps the saliva levels high, while fluorine is important to prevent cavities.
- Cheese, Milk, and Yogurt. According to the University of Illinois, Cheese is one of the best foods for healthy teeth. First, it is low in sugar and high in calcium. It contains casein, which is a protein that is particularly useful for fortifying tooth enamel. Cheese is high in calcium, which is important for maintaining bone density. Cheese is also high in phosphate content, which helps balance pH levels in the mouth, which helps to preserve tooth enamel. Finally, chewing it increases saliva production, which helps to wash away bacteria in the mouth. Milk, like cheese, also contains calcium and lowers the acid levels in the mouth; it is the second best drink for the teeth apart from fluorinated water.
- Celery, Carrots, and Other Crunchy Vegetables. Crunchy, firm foods that contain lots of water are great natural teeth cleaners because they stimulate the flow of saliva, which helps to scrub away food particles and bacteria. These fresh crunchy vegetables are also packed with some of the most important minerals and vitamins for the healthy teeth like calcium, vitamin C, and Keratins.
- Leafy Green Vegetables like Spinach, Lettuce, Kale are rich in calcium, folic acid and lots of important vitamins and minerals that promote healthy teeth and gums.
- Nuts. These include almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews, and peanuts. They are a great source of calcium, phosphorus and Vitamin D. They also help fight bacteria that cause tooth decay.
- Meats and Fatty Fish also contain vitamins and minerals, as well as stimulate more saliva during chewing. Fatty fish (like salmon), and tofu are loaded with phosphorus, an important mineral for protecting tooth enamel.
- Strawberries and other Vitamin C rich berries like apples, pears, strawberries, pineapples, tomatoes, broccoli, bell peppers, Kiwi, and cucumbers. Research reports that vitamin C contributes to collagen synthesis, which is an important protein for providing tooth structure, support, and maintenance. It also induces calcium deposition, mineralization, and reduces the risk of developing secondary cavities in children.
Foods to avoid for a Healthy dental health
To maintain our healthy tooth and prevent tooth diseases, it is important to avoid or limit some foods such as:
- Sugary food or drinks. The plague which is a sticky and thin film that repeatedly forms over the teeth often contains bacteria. Sugar when consumed, interacts with bacteria within the plaque to produce acid. This acid is responsible for tooth decay because it slowly dissolves the enamel creating holes or cavities in the teeth. Sugar acts as a food source for the bacteria and has consistently been reported to be associated with tooth decay and poor oral health.
- Acidic foods, juices, and beverages. Frequent exposures to acidic foods can erode enamel, making teeth more susceptible to decay over time. these include citrus juices and fruits. It is advisable to drink water after taking these foods.
- Carbonated Drinks like sodas are the worst foods for the teeth and for overall health. The drinks are high in sugar and are very acidic, which in combination, can lead to tooth decay and cavities. Even diet sodas are very harmful to teeth because the acids they contain eat away at the tooth enamel. This also applies to sports drinks.
- Candies. Candy is incredibly harmful to teeth with the sugary, sticky, or crunchy varieties available. Sticky candies are hard to brush off from the teeth, leaving sugar sitting around for bacteria to feast on. One of the leading causes of broken or damaged teeth is biting down on hard candies.
- Dried Fruits. While dried fruits may seem healthy, in reality, they are not too kind to the teeth. Dried fruits are sticky, clinging to teeth and their crevices, and supplying bacteria with a lot of sugar.
- Hard or Crunchy Treats are dangerous to the teeth. Biting down too hard can easily occur, causing cracks and damaged tooth.
- Caffeinated coffee, and Tea. These can dry out the mouth and may also stain the teeth.
- Tobacco in any form like cigarettes, pipes, and smokeless (spit) tobacco. According to CDC, this weakens the body’s immune system and makes it harder to fight off a gum infection. It also delays healing of the gums.
Why do my teeth hurt when I eat sweets?
To answer this question, it is important to know what happens to the teeth when individual eats sweets. It has been explained that eating sugary substances encourage the bacteria in the teeth to produce more acids which gradually erodes the enamel (hard, white part) of the teeth. When this happens, the enamel becomes worn out and the teeth generally becomes more sensitive, especially to acidic foods, foods at extreme temperatures like very cold or hot, and also to sweets at times.
So if you like sweets, it would be a good idea to cut down on this for the sake of your oral health. Also be consistent with practicing good oral hygiene and regular dental visits. These will help a healthier teeth and ultimately protect the smile!