You’ve probably heard time and time again that you should avoid sugary foods to keep your teeth healthy. So many times, that it may, in fact, prompt a little bit of an eye roll. But did you know more things contribute towards healthy teeth outside of limiting sugar?
Firstly, what is a cavity? Our teeth are coated in a hard protective layer known as enamel. Over time the enamel is weakened by acids produced by bacteria. This results in a pit or cavity forming in or on the tooth surface.
The bacteria on your teeth use fermentable carbohydrates such as sugary drinks, cakes cookies and soft-drink – hence the long-standing advice to limit these foods. But there is more that you can do to take care of your pearly whites!
Saliva is Key
Our saliva plays an essential role in supporting healthy teeth as it neutralises the acid produced by those menacing bacteria. Practices that promote the production of saliva, such as chewing sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after a meal, can help to neutralise acid attacks. Eating foods such as meat and those high in fibre such as fruits and vegetables can also promote the production of saliva. Conversely, snacking regularly between meals means that your saliva does not get an opportunity to neutralise the acids.
Eat to Protect Your Teeth
Some foods can actually help to protect your teeth. Foods such as cheese, nuts, popcorn and high-fibre vegetables (e.g. celery, broccoli, spinach) are known as “cariostatic” foods. Cariostatic foods help to fight cavity formation as they neutralise the acids formed by bacteria and form a protective coating for tooth enamel.
Drink Lots of Water
Drinking water both with meals and taking steps in-between meals can make a big difference to the health of your teeth. Drinking water during meals helps prevent foods from sticking to your teeth. The less time food stays in your mouth, the lower your chance for developing cavities is!
Tap water in most areas of Australia contains fluoride. Fluoride is an important mineral for tooth development and the maintenance of healthy teeth. Fluoride is incorporated into the tooth structure, making the tooth strong and decay-resistant. Drinking fluoridated water can significantly reduce the risk of dental caries.
Dietitian’s Tips for Healthier Teeth
- Chew sugar-free gum for 20minutes after each meal.
- Limit snacks between meals.
- If you are going to snack between meals, snack on cheese, milk, nuts and seeds, vegetables and fruit.
- Sip on water regularly throughout the day and with meals.
- The obvious one – limit intake of sugary foods!
So, there you have it, a few extra things that you can easily do to take care of your teeth. If you are pregnant, have children or are over 65 years of age, you might need some more specific strategies to take care of your teeth. Contact one of our dietitians if you would like some help.