October is National Dental Hygiene Month. Instead of talking to you about flossing, brushing and rinsing, we are going to look at food. Dental hygiene is an essential part of your health; not just to give you a great smile, but dental treatment and infections are linked to a range of diseases. Cancer can even be linked back to dental issues. Your diet, what you eat and when you eat it, is an important part of your dental hygiene.
Our mouth contains bacteria which turns sugar in the food we eat into acid. These acids attack enamel on teeth and can cause decay. By eating and snacking often, our teeth are exposed more frequently to this acid, and are at a greater risk of decaying.
We all know sugars and sweeteners are out, right? But what food is good for our teeth? What could help to protect our teeth and prevent decay?
For a photo-perfect smile, cheese, apparently, is our best friend. In a study earlier this year, scientists looked at the effect of cheese, sugar-free yogurt and milk on a group of 68 participants aged between 12 and 15 years old. Dairy has been heralded as a tooth strengthener due to its calcium content. This study showed that, as well as increasing calcium intake, participants who ate cheese had low pH levels in their mouth. Lower pH levels help fight plaque, protect enamel and prevent tooth decay. Cheese is also a good substitute for tooth-rotting sweet snacks, but be careful; it is still high in fat!
Nuts About Chicken
Chicken and nuts both contain calcium and phosphorous. These are minerals required by the teeth so that they can re-mineralize; a process where minerals lost by the tooth enamel due to acid are replaced naturally. It is thought that the high levels of calcium and phosphorous found in chicken and nuts help the teeth to maintain healthy enamel which, in turn protects the teeth.
An Apple A Day Will Keep The Dentist Away
Crunchy fruits and vegetables are great for your teeth too. Fruit and vegetables with a good bite to them (like apples and carrots) have higher water content than softer fruits. This helps to dilute the sugar that occurs naturally in the food and stimulate the production of saliva, which can help to protect against decay. Acidic foods, like tomatoes and citrus should be eaten as part of a larger meal, or at least with a large glass of water (or even milk) to help minimize the effects of the high acid levels.
Ok, so maybe an apple a day alone won’t keep the doctor away. But it will definitely help. By being aware of what you are eating, avoiding sugary food and drink, sipping high-sugar drinks such as juice and soda through a straw, and leaving high acid food as part of a larger meal, you can help to protect your teeth, your smile, your health.
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