A healthy diet for healthy teeth
But what does a healthy diet actually involve, and what is an unhealthy diet?
Nowadays, there are countless scientific studies available that deal with the subject of a healthy diet. A major focus has also been on the effects on dental health when patients follow healthier and less healthy diets.
Very similar rules apply for the teeth as apply for the rest of the body. Teeth in particular receive a high exposure to what we eat and drink. The mouth, and in it, all of our teeth, make up the gateway through which all our nutrients enter the body.
The digestion process begins with the teeth breaking food up into smaller pieces in the mouth. The composition of saliva is specially adapted for decomposition of food, even when it is still in the mouth. Saliva also contains other elements, such as minerals, bacteria, constituents of the body’s immune system, as well as slimy substances which aid in transporting the food.
“Sugar is damaging to the teeth”: something everyone knows. But many patients, of course, struggle to keep their teeth and gums healthy. This is because the sugar that comes pre-packaged in the supermarket is not the only cause. Many food products conceal sugar molecules, whilst other substances can be converted into simple sugars in the mouth by bacteria and the body’s own activity.
These bacteria feed on sugars and excrete acidic products as a result. It is these acids that effect the tooth enamel. The tooth enamel is the outer layer of the tooth. It plays an important role in preventing tooth decay (formation of dental caries). Tooth decay is the work of bacteria and occurs when bacteria have access to large amounts of sugar. This can be through eating sweet foods or drinking sugary drinks. These acidic products build up quickly and can go about attacking the teeth unimpeded. If there is no dental care at this point, the healthy teeth can be permanently destroyed by this tooth decay in little to no time.
A simple rule for good oral health and to protect against tooth decay is to reduce intake of sweet, sticky and good-tasting foods, and in place of these, eat a more balanced diet including more hard, fresh, less sweet and non-sticky foods.
An important tip for preventing tooth decay and formation of caries is to follow a balanced diet. We give all our patients advice on how to look after their teeth both as part of our dental treatments with the dentists, and in the professional cleaning appointments with our dental hygienists.
A diet for healthy teeth: what does it involve?
So, what are we meant to be doing day-to-day to ensure our teeth are cared for?
Frequently asked questions
Does “sugar-free" really mean without sugar?
No. Unfortunately, this is a common trap people fall into, particularly creating difficult situations for people with diabetes. Sugar-free only means that there is no household sugar (sucrose) in the product. The products may, however, contain lactose, glucose and fructose.
Does diet have an effect on tooth decay (caries formation)?
Yes, absolutely. Too much sugar, too much fruit, snacking too often: these are all factors which promote tooth decay. The key words here are: a healthy, balanced diet.
Should my child be eating sweets?
Where it can’t really be avoided, yes. But even then, they should be kept to meal times, and not for snacking between meals. Continual drinking throughout the day is particularly responsible for tooth decay. Even unsweetened water can wash away the protective saliva layer on the teeth. This then exposes teeth to acids.