For good dental health, consume plenty of
calcium-rich foods such as low-fat milk, yogurt, and cheese. Consume fresh fruits and vegetables for vitamins A and
C and for chewing in order to promote healthy gums. Consume tea, which is a good source of
Limit dried fruits and other sticky foods
that lodge between the teeth.
Avoid sweet drinks and snacks. Avoid
steady sipping of acidic drinks for prolonged periods.
In addition to proper brushing and
flossing, a healthful diet with natural or added fluoride protects teeth from decay and keeps gums healthy. Tooth
decay (cavities in dental caries) and gum disease are caused by colonies of bacteria that constantly coat the teeth
with a sticky film called plaque. If plaque is not brushed away, these bacteria break down the sugars and starches
in foods to produce acids that wear away the tooth enamel. The plaque also hardens into tartar, which can lead to
gum inflammation, or gingivitis.
A well-balanced diet provides the
minerals, vitamins, and other nutrients essential for healthy teeth and gums. Fluoride, occurring naturally in
foods and water, or added to the water supply, can be a powerful tool in fighting tooth decay. In can reduce the
rate of cavities by as much as 60 per cent.
Start right from
Make sure that your children’s teeth get
off to a good start by eating sensibly during pregnancy. Particularly important is calcium, which helps to form
strong teeth and bones, and vitamin D, which the body needs to absorb calcium.
Calcium rich foods:
Low-fat dairy products, fortified soy and
rice beverages, canned salmon or sardines (with bones), almonds, and dark green leafy vegetables are excellent
sources of calcium.
Vitamin D is obtained from fluid milk,
fortified soy and rice beverages, margarine, fatty fish such as salmon, and moderate exposure to the
Cavities can be prevented to a certain
extent by giving children fluoride in the first few years of life. Fluoride is supplied through fluoridated water,
tea, and some fish, as well as many brands of toothpaste and some mouthwash. Fluoride supplements are available for
children who don’t have access to fluoridated drinking water. It is wise to check if the water supply in your area
is fluoridated as excess consumption of fluoride can cause mottling of the teeth.
In addition to calcium and fluoride,
minerals needed for the formation of tooth enamel include phosphorus (meat, fish and eggs), magnesium (whole
grains, spinach and bananas). Vitamin A also helps build strong bones and teeth. Good sources of beta carotene,
which the body turns into vitamin A, include orange-coloured fruits and vegetables and the dark green leafy
Children are particularly vulnerable to
tooth decay. Parents should:
Ø Provide a good diet throughout the
Ø Brush the child’s teeth until they are mature enough to do
a thorough job by themselves, usually 6 to 7 years old.
Ø Supervise twice-daily brushing and flossing
Ø Never put babies or toddlers to bed accompanied by a
bottle of milk (which contains the natural sugar lactose), juice, or other sweet drink.
Ø Never dip pacifiers in honey or syrup.
Effect of sugar:
Sucrose, most familiar to us as granulated
sugar, is the leading cause of tooth decay, but it is far from th only culprit. Although sugary foods including
cookies, candies, and sodas, are major offenders, starchy foods such as breads and cereals also play an important
part in tooth decay. When starches mix with amylase, an enzyme in saliva, the result is an acid bath that erodes
the enamel and makes teeth more susceptible to decay. If starchy foods linger in the mouth, the acid bath is
prolonged, and the potential for damage is all the greater.
Dried fruits can have an adverse effect on
teeth, because they are high in sugar and cling to the teeth. Even unsweetened fruit juices can contribute to tooth
decay because they are acidic and contain relatively high levels of simple sugars.
Eating fresh fruits, especially apples
better choice. Fresh fruit, although both sweet and acidic, is much less likely to cause a problem, because chewing
stimulates the saliva flow. Saliva decreases mouth acidity and washes away food particles. Apples, for example,
have been called nature’s toothbrush because they stimulate the gums, increase saliva flow and reduce the build up
of cavity causing bacteria. A chronically dry mouth also contributes to decay. Saliva flow slows during sleep.
Going to bed without brushing the teeth is especially harmful. Certain drugs, including those used for high blood
pressure, also cut down saliva flow.
Aged cheeses help prevent cavities if
consumed at the end of a meal. Chewing sugarless gum stimulates the flow of saliva, which decreases acid and
flushes out food particles. Rinsing your mouth and brushing your teeth after eating are important strategies to
Chew gum sweetened with
Chew it for at least 5
minutes within 5 minutes after finishing a meal. Gum sweetened with xylitol helps to counter
harmful bacteria in your mouth, which promote cavities.
More teeth are lost through gum disease
than through tooth decay. Gum disease is likely to strike anyone who neglects oral hygiene or eats a poor diet.
Particularly at risk are people with alcoholism, malnutrition, or AIDS/HIV infection or who are being treated with
steroid drugs or certain cancer chemotherapies. Regular brushing and flossing help to prevent puffy, sore, and
Gingivitis, a very common condition that
causes the gums to redden, swell, and bleed, is typically caused by the gradual build up of plaque. Treatment
requires good dental hygiene and removal of plaque by a dentist or dental hygienist. Left untreated, gingivitis can
lead to periodontitis which is an advanced infection of the gums that causes teeth to loosen and fall out. There
may even be more serious consequences of gum disease, that of heart disease.
Bleeding gums may also be a sign that your
intake of vitamin C is deficient. Be sure that your diet includes plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables every day.
Munching on hard, fibrous foods such as a celery stick or carrot, stimulates the gums.