Shockingly, most people undervalue healthy teeth and gums and all but ignore the impact a processed diet has on dental hygiene. That is, until tooth decay and unhealthy gums rear its ugly head.
Moreover, according to the American Academy of Periodontology, physicians and dentists are placing more focus on processed foods and the connection to overall dental health and risks of heart disease.
Plenty of research confirms that bacteria entering the bloodstream, by way of periodontal disease, increases inflammation in the body. And for patients with diabetes, poor oral health can make it difficult to control sugar levels in the blood. In contrast, levels of high blood sugar can interfere with the ability to fight germs and cause gingivitis and advanced periodontal disease. It’s a vicious circle, and controlling it requires better eating habits, increased dental cleanings and better dental hygiene.
However, all this is possible to prevent, and even reverse the decline in oral hygiene by simply modifying your diet and brushing more.
Besides keeping up with excellent oral hygiene that includes dental visits that are consistent (try sticking with a local dentist, whether you’re based in Auckland or Christchurch), many foods can encourage and greatly improve dental health. Undoubtedly, this can significantly improve your overall appearance.
Impact Of Foods On Dental Health
There are certain foods that promote better dental health and can diminish dental disease;
- Water. Helps eliminate toxins from our body and free up debris. Water also is an excellent source of hydration for the gums and neutralizes bacteria.
- Cheese. It is rich in calcium and phosphorus, two minerals essential for healthier strong teeth. Phosphorus in cheese also works to balance your pH levels – really important to decrease bacteria within the mouth. This will also help fortify your tooth enamel. These calcium and phosphorus also increase saliva, thereby diminishing bacteria. Include cheese sandwiches, salads, or enjoy alone.
- Apple. This fruit helps reduce tooth decay because it contains a particular antioxidant called Polyphenols, which provides natural anti-bacterial elements. Include apple with the peel in your children’s lunch. Placing a bit of lemon juice on the apples will deter them from turning brown.
- Celery. Celery sticks are chewy and require a fair amount of biting and chomping, which stimulates more saliva and it helps loosen food and clean teeth. Split and give them celery sticks with yogurt dip or chickpea dip (humus).
- Green tea. Tea catechins help kill bacteria in the mouth and studies show it helps decrease cavities. Although there are some varieties of green tea sold with sugar, several brands are void of sugar and safer to include in children drinks.
- Kiwi. One kiwi contains six times more vitamin C than an orange, giving more than 100% of the daily requirement the vitamin. Kiwi can also help maintain collagen thus slowing down periodontal disease.
- Onion. The effects of onions are best when raw. They contain a natural anti-bacterial that has been used for centuries. Chop up a few onions to add in chef salads.
- Parsley. Parsley neutralizes bad bacteria with a substance called Monoterpene. There are many ways to include Parsley in your diet; sprinkle on top of pasta, and salads and use to marinate meats for extra flavor, or place fresh sprigs on top of chicken and meat dishes.
- Sesame seeds. These help loosen plaque and strengthen the enamel. Sesame seeds are rich in calcium, and help to fortify the surrounding bone. Use in salads, or top on toasted bread.
- Fresh Garlic. Garlic is popular around the world for its medicinal purpose. It’s a natural antibiotic that can neutralize bacteria. Place a clove in a cup of salt water and rinse daily to relieve inflammation of the gums and a build-up of bacteria.
- Spinach, Watercress, Seaweed, Romaine Lettuce. Greens are rich in Chlorophyll, which was once a staple product for dentist. In fact, in the 19th and 20th century, Chlorophyll tonics were extensively used by dentists, and doctors to promote stronger teeth and gums, and kill bacteria.
Bad Habits Encourage Stained Teeth
Another major negative influence on oral health is smoking. Smoking causes stained teeth, bad breath and inflammation of the gums. The bad habit also leads to an increased risk of periodontal disease and cancers of the mouth and throat. After dental procedures, smokers typically delay the healing process by lighting up, and there goes that vicious cycle again. Smokers quickly end up back at the dentist office, not long after a procedure.
Bacteria in the mouth feed on carbohydrates and sugar, therefore when these items come in contact with saliva, they easily ferment and stick to the teeth, forming plague.
Tips for Improving Overall Dental Health
Brush your teeth after each meal, or at a minimum of twice a day. Brush for at least two minutes to remove sugars and food particles stuck on the teeth.
Trade in a processed diet for healthy fruits and vegetables.
Give up smoking.
Drink more water to help produce more saliva and neutralize the acid.
A beautiful smile is the result of healthy gums and strong-rooted teeth, yet far too often we ignore the lasting benefits of early oral hygiene. It’s not hard to come by with just a few modifications to your diet.