Often, when we think about healthy eating we’re focussed on one of a few areas of our wellbeing. Keeping our weight down is probably the number one reason most of us try to eat as well as we can. Another main reason for healthy eating is to keep our heart in good shape – avoiding certain types of fats and making sure our cholesterol is at the right level.
But how often do we think about our teeth when healthy eating? Okay, so most of us know to avoid sugary snacks and fizzy drinks – but what else can we do in terms of diet and nutrition to keep our teeth in tip top condition?
Well, first let’s look at why sugary foods are bad for us. Not only do a lot of sweet snacks contain empty (non-nutritious) calories, they actually change the chemistry within the mouth. Put simply, what happens is that consuming these foods means that acid is produced. What then happens is that your teeth are at risk of being attacked by the acid.
And it’s not just sugary foods that can cause problems – things that are acidic such as diet soft drinks can be bad for your teeth as well. If you have consumed anything acidic such as a citrus fruit, then it’s best to wait an hour before you brush your teeth – this lets the acid in your mouth neutralise and brushing will be safer as a result.
Tooth healthy foods include cheese – which is high in calcium, helping to keep your teeth strong, and it also helps to neutralise acid in your mouth through your saliva production. This is why cheese is sometimes served after a meal. Other foods that contain calcium which are good for your teeth include milk, nuts and poultry such as chicken or turkey.
And – since saliva helps to neutralize acids in your mouth, chewing gum – so long as it doesn’t contain sugar – is good for your teeth as helps this to happen. It’s also believed that chewing gum can also help your dental hygiene by picking up small bits of food that can become stuck on the biting areas of your teeth.
Dental health isn’t just about brushing, flossing and getting dental check ups. By watching what we eat, and making sure that our teeth aren’t exposed to too much acid, while getting a good anmount of calcium – you can do your smile a few favours.
About the author: Jen Jones writes on health, fitmess, nutrition and general wellbeing topics for a range of blogs on behalf of AXA PPP healthcare dental insurance