You may have heard the phrase “you are what you eat”, and this is especially true when it comes to your teeth and gums. Diet and nutrition have a bidirectional relationship with oral health, as compromised oral cavity integrity can also affect an individual’s functional ability to eat. So, be mindful of foods for oral health.
Maintaining good oral health requires eating diverse range of nutrient-dense foods from each of the five major food categories – fruits, vegetables, protein foods, calcium-rich foods, and whole grains in addition with sufficient water intake which can be fluoridated or non-fluoridated depending on the geographical area.
So, the most crucial question is: what foods should we eat and which should we avoid in order to maintain healthy teeth and gums? We have some suggestions for a healthy mouth and gums.
Your mouth’s first line of defense against tooth decay is saliva and 9 percent water constitutes saliva. It wipes away leftover food, makes swallowing easier, and strengthens your teeth with calcium, phosphate, and fluoride. Dry mouth, which occurs when your saliva production is depleted, makes swallowing and chewing difficult and can put you at risk for dental decay. You can avoid dry mouth by drinking enough water and ensuring that your saliva is generated at an optimal pace. Thus, staying hydrated helps your system distribute healthy nutrients, gets rid of waste, gives your skin a healthy glow and it really helps your teeth stay healthy – especially if it’s fluoridated.
Foods such as low-fat or fat-free milk, yoghurt, and cheese, as well as fortified soy beverages, tofu, canned salmon, almonds, and dark green leafy vegetables are suitable for healthy oral cavity as cheese is saliva-inducing food and calcium and phosphates found in milk, cheese, and other dairy products help restore minerals to your teeth that may have been lost due to other foods. They also aid in the rebuilding of tooth enamel.
Fruits such as apples and pears and vegetables like leafy greens (spinach, lettuce, kale) are high in fiber. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), fiber-rich foods help keep your teeth and gums clean by stimulation of saliva production, which, in combination with water, aids in removal of plaque-causing bacteria and food particles. This is your best natural defense against cavities and gum disease, aside from good home dental care. Your saliva begins to reduce the effects of the acids and enzymes attacking your teeth about 20 minutes after you eat something with sugars or starches. As a result, it also restores minerals to areas of the teeth that have lost them due to bacterial acids.
Green and black teas both contain polyphenols that interact with plaque bacteria and it either kill or hold back bacteria. This prevents bacteria from growing or making acid that attacks teeth. Depending on the type of water you use to brew your tea, a cup of tea can also be a source of fluoride.
Raisins contain oleanolic acid which inhibits the growth of two species of oral bacteria: Streptococcus mutans, which causes cavities, and Porphyromonas gingivalis, which causes periodontal disease.
* Sticky candies and sweets like lollipops, caramels, and cough drops because they can stick onto your teeth surfaces which are inaccessible to clean and they can act as food for bacteria to grow thus causing tooth decay.
* Starchy foods such as soft breads and potato chips that can get stuck in your mouth can get trapped between your teeth harboring bacteria causing cavities.
* Carbonated soft drinks leading source of added sugar among kids and teens. It has phosphoric and citric acids that wear away tooth enamel.
* Substances that dry out your mouth include alcohol and many medicines. If medicines are the cause, talk to your dental care provider about getting a fluoride rinse, or a fluoride gel for brushing your teeth.
* Eat sweets with meals because your mouth produces more saliva during meals. This reduces the effects of acid production and helps flushing of food from the mouth.
* Limit between-meal snacks. If you crave a snack, choose something nutritious. Try chewing sugarless gum afterward to increase saliva flow and wash out food and acid.
* Drink more water.
* Brush your teeth twice a day.
* Floss once a day.