Nutrition

Foods that help muscles and bones also help teeth and gumsSome foods may protect against cavities. Fluoride is a primary protector against dental cavities. Fluoride makes the surface of teeth more resistant to acids during the process of remineralisation. Drinking fluoridated water is recommended by some dental professionals while others say that using toothpaste alone is enough.

Beneficial foods

According to the World Dental Federation these are the top ten beneficial foods for teeth.

Green tea contains plant compounds that reduce plaque, cavities, and gum disease. Green tea may also reduce bad breath and strengthen the tooth enamel because of its high fluoride content.

Dairy foods are beneficial because of their low acidity, which reduces wear and tear on teeth. Additionally, dairy foods are high in calcium, the main component of teeth.

Cheese contains calcium and phosphate, which help balance pH in the mouth, preserves (and rebuilds) tooth enamel, produces saliva, and kills bacteria that cause cavities and disease.

Fruits such as apples, strawberries and kiwis contain Vitamin C. This vitamin is considered the element that holds cells together. If this vitamin is neglected, gum cells can break down, making gums tender and susceptible to disease.

Vegetables: Vitamin A, found in pumpkins, carrots, sweet potatoes and broccoli, is necessary for the formation of tooth enamel. Crunchy vegetables may also help clean gums.
Onions contain antibacterial sulfur compounds. Tests show that onions kill various types of bacteria, especially when eaten raw.
Celery protects teeth by producing saliva which neutralizes acid that causes demineralisation and cavities. It also massages the teeth and gums.
Sesame seeds reduce plaque and help build tooth enamel. They are also very high in calcium.

Animal food: beef, chicken, turkey, and eggs contain phosphorus which, with calcium, is one of the two most vital minerals of teeth and bone.

Water cleans the mouth and produces saliva that deposits essential minerals into the teeth. It keeps gums hydrated and washes away particles from the teeth.

Harmful foods

Sugars are commonly associated with dental cavities. Other carbohydrates, especially cooked starches, e.g. crisps/potato chips, may also damage teeth, although to a lesser degree. Sugars that are higher in the stickiness index, such as toffee, are likely to cause more damage to teeth than those that are lower in the stickiness index, such as certain forms of chocolate or most fruits.

Sucrose (table sugar) is most commonly associated with cavities. The amount of sugar consumed at any one time is less important than how often food and drinks that contain sugar are consumed. The more frequently sugars are consumed, the greater the time during which the tooth is exposed to low pH levels, at which point demineralisation occurs (below 5.5 for most people).

It is important therefore to try to encourage infrequent consumption of food and drinks containing sugar so that teeth have a chance to be repaired by remineralisation and fluoride. Limiting sugar-containing foods and drinks to meal times is one way to reduce the incidence of cavities. Sugars from fruit and fruit juices, e.g., glucose, fructose, and maltose seem equally likely to cause cavities.

Acids contained in fruit juice, vinegar and soft drinks lower the pH level of the oral cavity which causes the enamel to demineralize. Drinking drinks such as orange juice or cola throughout the day raises the risk of dental cavities tremendously.

Another factor which affects the risk of developing cavities is the stickiness of foods. Some foods or sweets may stick to the teeth and so reduce the pH in the mouth for an extended time, particularly if they are sugary.

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