Eat your way to a healthier smile
What you eat and drink on a daily basis has a huge impact on your oral health. So, how can you look at nutrition and make changes to support a healthier, happier smile?
Cut down on sugar
It should come as no surprise that sugar is bad for your oral health. When the bacteria in your mouth break down the sugar in foods, this produces acid that attacks our teeth. As such, sugary foods are one of the main culprits behind tooth decay.
To help improve your oral health, why not try to keep track of how much of and how frequently you consume sugar during a day? The NHS recommends that adults consume no more than 30g of free sugars per day – the equivalent of roughly 7 sugar cubes.[i]
Sugar is in more foods and drinks than you would think. We all know sugar is in sweets and chocolates, but did you know that jars of pasta sauce and fruit smoothies are often also packed with sugar? Look at the labels on what you eat and take note of the sugar content. This way you can adjust your diet and explore alternatives if necessary.
Be careful with acidic food
Acidic food and drink such as citrus fruits, tomatoes and fizzy drinks/alcohol are detrimental to oral health. The acid in these items can weaken the enamel on your teeth (the hard, protective coating). This, in turn, makes your teeth weaker, discoloured and more vulnerable to decay.
Much like with sugar, acidic foods aren’t always what you’d expect. For instance, many fruits are very acidic. This means that although they are nutritionally beneficial, they can damage your teeth in the long term. One way to help prevent damage from acidic foods and drink is to consume them only at meal times. When you snack on these foods between meals, they can be more damaging as your teeth are under constant acid attack. You can also explore alternatives and cut out the worst offenders. Try swapping fizzy drinks for water, for example.
Don’t sleep on dairy
Dairy produce such as milk, cheese and yoghurt are all beneficial to oral health. These items contain calcium and phosphorous – two essential minerals for tooth health and maintenance.[ii] Cheese has also been known to reduce acidity after a more acidic snack.
These items are also thought to help protect teeth against acid attacks. This is because once consumed they coat the teeth with a protein called casein. Casein forms a barrier against acid attacks, protecting your enamel.[iii]
Incorporate meat/meat alternatives and seafood into your diet
Meat, plant-based alternatives to meat such as tofu and seafood contain Vitamin D. Tofu also contains high levels of calcium and magnesium – both of which are essential for your oral health. Additionally, seafood contains fluoride, which is a mineral often found in toothpaste as it helps protect against tooth decay.[iv]
Don’t skip your veggies!
Vegetables are naturally packed full of nutrients and minerals, many of which support your oral health. Green leafy vegetables such as kale, spinach and cabbage are particularly beneficial, as they contain calcium, phosphorous and a range of vitamins.
You should try to eat colourful vegetables like carrots, peppers and sweet potatoes. These foods are also rich in vitamins that can help support good oral health.
Ultimately, what you eat is important. By consuming a balanced diet and cutting down on sugary and acidic foods, you can ensure that what you eat is supporting a healthy smile.
[i] NHS. Sugar: the facts. Link: https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/eat-well/food-types/how-does-sugar-in-our-diet-affect-our-health/
[ii] Oral Health Foundation. Top Foods To Keep Your Dentist Happy. Link: https://www.dentalhealth.org/top-10-foods-to-keep-your-dentist-happy
[iii] Dairy Australia. The role of milk, cheese and yoghurt in dental health. Link: https://www.dairy.com.au/healthcare-professionals/dental-health
[iv] Oral Health Foundation. Top Foods To Keep Your Dentist Happy. Link: https://www.dentalhealth.org/top-10-foods-to-keep-your-dentist-happy