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 change the chemistry within the mouth. Put, 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 citrus fruit, then it’s best to wait an hour before you brush your teeth – this lets the acid in your mouth neutralize, and cleaning will be safer as a result.
Tooth healthy foods include cheese – which is high in calcium, helping to keep your teeth healthy, and it also helps to neutralize the acid in your mouth through your saliva production. This is why cheese is sometimes served after a meal. Other foods that contain calcium which is suitable 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 right 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 in 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 the right amount of calcium – you can do your smile a few favors.