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Fruit and nuts showing good food for dental health

Diet & Dental Health

Our bodies reflect what we eat, including our teeth and gums. This does not mean we have to be slaves to an exact diet, or that we can't mix foods and enjoy them.

The only requirements are to understand the effect diet can have and be rational on choice. Easier to do if we take a brief look at how our teeth react to different foods.

How Tooth Damage Arises

Almost any food can cause damage if we don't keep our teeth and gums clean. A few foods, or drinks, are naturally acidic and can erode the enamel in your teeth, such as pickles, or wine.

One food more than any other is still responsible for most damage to our teeth, which is sugar. The origin of the majority of tooth decay and the reason for much dental treatment.

Your mouth contains bacteria, either invisible, or helping form a coating on your teeth, often called plaque. Sugar reacts with the bacteria, to produce harmful acids which attack your teeth.

This does not mean you should never eat a sweet, or sip a fizzy drink but doing so often will bring damage. As an example, more of the dental implants we carry out are due to tooth decay, than any other cause.

Not All Sugars Are The Same

Even though natural products can be sweet, such as most fruits, they do not bring the same problem in their normal form, or cause the same tooth damage.

Only when fruit is pressed for juice, or blended for a smoothie are harmful sugars released from the fruit's structure. Even unsweetened fruit juice is sugary, rather than just sweet.

As with other foods containing sugar, limiting fruit juice is good for oral health. In both cases, not too often also matters. The number of times a day your teeth risk attack is more important than the volume.

Better one good glass of fruit juice a day than several smaller glasses through the day. Not that we would want you to avoid a healthy diet, which can help your teeth and gums.

Natural Protection For Teeth

Although our teeth tend to be the first to show symptoms, they sit in our gums. Gum disease can be a significant cause of tooth loss and the vitamins, or minerals from eating many fruits, or vegetables help stop gum disease.

Fibre rich foods, not least fruits and vegetables also clean our mouth and stimulate saliva, along with dairy products such as cheese. Your saliva helps to neutralise and remove the harmful acids, nature's built in protection.

Dairy products such as milk, along with chicken, other meats, or nuts provide calcium and phosphorus. They can rebuild minerals lost from your teeth, counteracting damage associated with tooth decay.

This doesn't mean eating nuts will put right the damage from too many fizzy drinks, simply that they help and are a positive for dental health, rather than a negative.

A Diet For Dental Health

Boring we know, when the word is used so often but a solid answer is moderation. Sugary foods, drinks, sweets, or chocolate bars are best avoided in high volume and not consumed too many times during the same day.

You will have equally seen the multiple benefit of fresh fruit, vegetables, dairy products. Again a rational amount makes sense, just a good thing to switch to a higher proportion in your diet.

Anything you regularly eat, suck, or drink which dries your mouth out can also cause issues. Alcohol is an example, which tends to reduce saliva production and can by itself erode the surface of your teeth.

An occasional drink will not hurt, a balanced approach which applies to so much. Tea drinkers can be helped by the polyphenols in tea, which kill bacteria but too much tea could stain their teeth.

A moderate approach really is the message we want to get across for diet and dental health. Enjoy a bar of chocolate, a can of drink, your favourite food, just limit the amount and regularity, then you won't need to visit us so often.