If you are what you eat, is even truer for your tooth and gums. When you drink and eat sugary food, you are not only feeding yourself, you’re also feeding the germs capable enough to cause tooth decay and gum disease.
Every food that you eat comes in contact with our teeth. Thus, these choices continually impact the health of teeth and gums. Our typical Indian diet has enough to eat away the tooth enamel, resulting in a bad oral health. Hence, it is necessary to have foods that are actually good for your teeth.
What numbers show?
According to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (Government of India), about 60% of the population is affected with dental carries, and about 85% of the population is affected by periodontal disease. Several government estimates also show that more than 70% of the school children are suffering from dental carries.
The problem is not only in India, but prevalent all over the world, WHO reports validate them:
The Global Burden of Disease Study 2016 estimated that atleast 3.58 billion people are affected by oral diseases with caries of permanent teeth being the most prevalent of all conditions.It has been estimated that, globally 2.4 billion people and 486 million children suffer from caries of permanent teeth.
How it is worsening oral health?
Your mouth is a thriving ecosystem. Bacterial and other microorganisms enter while you eat, drink, and breathe. Most of the time a delicate balance is maintained in your oral ecosystem, but problem comes up when certain strains of these become overabundant.
These strains append with a sticky coating, which is plaque. It covers all the surfaces of your teeth. Acids are formed when sugar or starch comes in contact with plaque. These acids attack your teeth for long duration, even after you finish eating. Incessant attacks break down the enamel of your teeth, leading to tooth decay. The bacteria in plaque triggering an inflammatory response causing the breakdown of gums, bones and other supporting structures of your teeth.
Some foods incite tooth decay and some are good for your teeth.
The good ones:
- Fruits and vegetables rich in fibre: According to the American Dental Association (ADA), foods with fibre aid in keeping your gums and teeth clean and also keep on the continual flow of saliva. Saliva contains calcium and phosphate. Hence, when you have a sugary diet, saliva reduces the effects of acids formed and restores minerals to the area of the teeth which have lost them from these acids.
- Foods rich in Vitamin C: It strengthens blood vessels and reduces inflammation, which helps your gums to stay healthier. It is also necessary for the production of collagen which helps to fight periodontal disease. Strawberries, carrots, oranges are some which have high concentrations of vitamin C.
- Foods rich in Vitamin D: It is not only important for your overall health, but for a healthy teeth too. It helps your body to absorb calcium better. Sunlight, egg yolk, fish are some of the best sources.
- Leafy green vegetables: Spinach, kale promote blood flow to your teeth, serving to strengthen your enamel and prevent cavities.
- Fluoride rich foods: While your toothpaste may provide enough of it, tea provides an extra help as they naturally contain fluoride. They are also a great alternative to coffee, which stains your teeth. Green tea also contains polyphenol which protects the teeth by preventing plaque from adhering to its surface.
- Milk, cheese, yogurt,and other dairy products: Calcium is great for increasing the strength of your teeth. Calcium and phosphate in these products help replenish the minerals your teeth might have lost due to other foods. Milk also lowers the acid levels in your mouth, which helps fighting tooth decay.
- Magnesium rich foods: Whole grains such as wheat, barley, corn ,rice and oats all contain high amounts of magnesium, which helps in both strengthening the tooth enamel and the jaw.
- Water: Drinking water is effective in removing bacteria from your mouth. So drink water as much as you can.
The Bad Ones:
- Candies and sweets: Lollipops, caramels and cough drops have refined sugar, which help in acid formation.
- Foods that can get stuck in your mouth: Soft breads, potato chips, French fries can get trapped between your teeth. They also fuel flames of plaque and gingivitis.
- Carbonated soft drinks: These are the leading sources of added sugar, which are prominent among kids. Most soft drinks contain phosphoric and citric acids that wear away the tooth enamel.
- Ice: Chewing on ice damages the enamel on your teeth.
Achieving a pink oral health needs a lifetime of care. Cutback on the food or diets is not enough to maintain a good oral hygiene. Apart from having foods which are good for your teeth, it also needs a daily regime which needs to be followed strictly, to drive-off possible damaging conditions.
- Brushing your teeth twice a day is a general recommendation. Still, many get lazy to brush at night. Brushing before going to bed gets rid of the germs that get accumulated throughout the day.
- The process of brushing the teeth is equally important. Taking time, moving the brush in gentle circular motions to remove plaque. Unremoved plaque can harden to build up early gum disease.
- Tongue is not to be neglected while brushing. Plaque accumulates even there. Gentle brush your tongue everytime you brush your teeth.
- Using a fluoride toothpaste, provides a protective barrier for your teeth, by fighting germs that lead to decay.
- Flossing helps in stimulating the gums, reduces plaque, and helps in lowering inflammation. Flossing once a day is important to get these benefits.
A daily regime for oral care and foods which are good for your oral health would keep your smile bright for long.