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You are what you eat, or so the saying goes. If this is true, then your teeth are most definitely what you eat! The problem is, what may be healthy and nutritious for your body might also be a perfect feast for the bacteria that is naturally present in your mouth. Giving this bacteria a feast can cause problems with plaque. When plaque comes into contact with sugars or starches found in foods, acids are released which can be highly damaging to your teeth, even after you have finished eating. So what foods are tooth friendly, and what should you avoid?
Cheese is a great snack food for two reasons. Firstly, it encourages the production of saliva, which plays a vital role in neutralizing the acids and enzymes responsible for damaging teeth. In addition, cheese is high in calcium and can help to restore the balance of this essential mineral. As well as calcium, many dairy products also contain valuable phosphates which help in the fight against tooth decay and gum disease.
Fibre Rich Vegetables
Chewing on raw vegetables such as carrots or celery is a great way to naturally brush your teeth, especially between meals. Foods with fibre have a detergent effect and also help to create saliva. Of course, don’t use this as a substitute for your daily brushing routine!
Green and black teas contain what are known as polyphenols, which are known to interact with plaque bacteria and prevent them from growing, helping to prevent the production of acid. If your water is fluoridated, you’ll get an added bonus. For best results of course, try not to use sugar!
Provided it is sugar free, chewing gum can be an effective way to remove food particles from your mouth after eating, as well as create generous amounts of all important saliva.
As a rule, it is best to avoid eating sweets, but we all succumb from time to time. If you do find yourself eating sweets, try to avoid sticky or chewy sweets that stick to your teeth and linger around for a long time as these create significant amounts of acid. It is generally best to avoid sweets made with refined sugar for the same reasons. There is some good news however – Dark chocolate with a high cocoa content (70% +) and low sugar may actually have a positive effect on your oral health!
There is reason that the government is currently looking at measures to discourage the sale and consumption of carbonated drinks in the UK. A particular problem amongst teenagers, frequent consumption of these drinks is believed to be fueling tooth decay as well as many other health problems due to the huge sugar content of many of the most popular drinks, as well as other ingredients such as phosphoric and citric acid, which can be highly damaging for tooth enamel.
Potatoes, Bread and Other Starchy Foods
You might think that by ditching the sweet snacks and bottled drinks in favour of a savoury chip butty you would be doing your teeth a favour (even if it is at the expense of your waistline). Unfortunately, you’d be wrong. Starchy foods such as these tend to leave significant amounts trapped between your teeth, harbouring bacteria and promoting acid build up. If you find your lunch tends to linger, it is worth brushing, rinsing or chewing gum afterwards to remove as much food matter as possible.
Being selective about what you eat and when, and supporting this with a good oral hygiene routine can have a huge impact on maintaining healthy teeth and gums. If you are not sure about any of these issues, don’t hesitate to speak to your dentist or hygienist who will be happy to provide you with more information and guidance.
At Wickersley Dental Practice in Rotherham, we take pride in offering excellent dental care with a focus on preventative treatment. To find out more about joining us or to book an appointment, give our friendly and experienced team a call on 01709 543033 or fill out our simple online form.