As we head into January and another new year, many people are looking to shed those few pounds that they put on over the holiday season. So, while you may be closely following the latest dietary trend, have you ever thought about adopting a tooth-friendly diet? Moreover, is there such a thing? Let’s take a closer look… They say that “you are what you eat” and it’s true! In dental terms, the foods that we consume can have both a negative and positive impact on our dental health. The good news is that there isn’t too much conflict of interest when following a tooth-friendly diet, because many of the foods we consume when we’re adopting a healthy eating plan, are also great for our teeth. So, while a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, unsaturated fats and lean proteins will benefit our overall health, there are a few standout nutrients found in particular foods that can also boost our dental health.
While you’re probably aware that calcium helps to build strong and healthy bones, did you also know that it can help your teeth? While a good calcium intake is vital in childhood to build healthy bones, in later life, a diet containing calcium may also help to prevent tooth decay. While we all know that calcium is found in milk, it’s also present in other dairy products such as cheese and yoghurt. In addition, if dairy isn’t your thing, it’s also present in fish such as mackerel, sardines and salmon, and some green vegetables including broccoli and kale.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant which can also strengthen blood vessels and help reduce inflammation. Both of which are key to good gum health. In addition, Vitamin C has an important part to play in the production of collagen. This helps to strengthen gums and improve elasticity – making them less susceptible to gum disease. While an obvious food source is citrus fruits such as oranges, be aware that they do contain acids and natural sugars which aren’t particularly kind to teeth enamel. However, vitamin C can also be found in abundance in other unlikely sources such as: • Red bell peppers • Strawberries • Kale and • Broccoli Now, you can munch away, safe in the knowledge that you’re eating healthily without putting your smile in jeopardy.
Vitamin D has a vital part to play in the production of calcium as it helps the body to absorb it. Without adequate levels of Vitamin D, the body (and teeth) wouldn’t be able to benefit from any calcium we consume, so they kind of go hand in hand. In terms of healthy foods, some healthy cereals are enriched with Vitamin D including Special K and Multigrain Cheerios. You can also find Vitamin D naturally in canned tuna and surprisingly, Portobello mushrooms.
Like Vitamin D potassium helps to improve bone density, vital for dental health. It also works in conjunction with magnesium to prevent blood from becoming acidic. When this happens, calcium can be leached from bones and teeth. While bananas are a well-known source of potassium, it can also be found in sufficient quantities in swiss chard, avocados, prunes and even sweet potatoes – All of which should be used as part of a balanced, healthy eating plan.
Think of Vitamin K as a shield that blocks substances which break down bone. In the jaw especially, good bone density is vital for healthy teeth. As such, Vitamin K can be found in healthy foods such as collard greens, Brussel sprouts and parsley – which, incidentally, is also thought to be good for sweetening the breath. While greens and sprouts aren’t to everyone’s liking, roasting them or sautéing them offers a different (and some say better) taste to the standard boiled options. Go on, give it a try!
Dry mouth is problematic in that it can lead to severe gum disease and tooth decay if left untreated. Fortunately, an intake of vitamin A can help to prevent dry mouth by keeping the mucous membranes healthy. For a healthy saliva-producing mouth you might want to load up on liver and fish. If that isn’t your thing, then Vitamin A can also be found in orange-colored fruits or vegetables including cantaloupe, carrots and pumpkin, as the high levels of beta-carotene will also convert to Vitamin A. So there you have it, there is such as thing as a healthy tooth-friendly diet. All you have to do is to choose the foods you like and incorporate them (if you aren’t already), into your existing healthy eating plan. If you need further advice on how best to care for your teeth, or if you feel it’s about time you had a dental check-up, then talk to the team at Chesterfield Dentistry. Dr Akinwande and the team are highly skilled in the art of gentle dentistry, so you can rest assured that you’re in capable and safe hands. To book an appointment, contact us on (314) 786 3360. On behalf of the team, we look forward to welcoming you!