A smile can melt many hearts, and to keep that smile 'on', it is essential to take care of your teeth! Brushing the teeth twice a day, flossing daily, and meeting the dentist regularly are important to ensure good oral health. However, it is also imperative to peep into your dietary habits as it contributes to the well or ill-being of your teeth. There are certain foods to avoid and healthy ones to include in the diet for maintaining good oral health and hygiene.
Foods That Can Hamper Oral Health | Foods To Avoid To Prevent Tooth Decay
For ages, we have been hearing from our elders- "Don't eat chocolates and sweets. It will cause tooth decay." But it is not only sweets that can cause dental decay. It is also the simple carbohydrates along with the plaque-forming bacteria that cause cavities. Simple carbohydrates refer to all naturally occurring sugars (fructose, lactose, galactose) and the added sugars (sucrose from table sugar) in the diet. These, when broken down by the bacteria by the process of fermentation, produce acidic by-products (organic acids) which results in demineralization of the teeth. Calcium hydroxyapatite present in the hard tissues of the teeth gets dissolved in the acidic media leading to cavities.
Apart from simple sugars, consumption of acidic foods too results in tooth enamel erosion, making them susceptible to more decay and sensitivity. It happens without the involvement of bacteria. Foods that are sticky in nature pose a greater risk; the cleansing and acid neutralizing effect of saliva is inadequate as the particles remain sticking to the surface.
Expert Tips And Practices For Good Oral Health | Dietary Practices For Good Oral Health
So, what can one do to maintain good oral health? Firstly, try not to snack all day! Rinse your mouth every time you eat or drink something, and probably gulp it down if unable to spit it. Avoid excessive consumption of sweets, fizzy aerated drinks, and other acidic foods. Including more fruits and vegetables in your diet is important too. Research has shown that increasing fruits and vegetable intake reduces the incidence of dental caries.
(Also Read: Oral Care: 8 Foods Kids Must Avoid To Prevent Cavity)
It has been found that people who have GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) issues - where acid contents of the stomach get refluxed to the oesophagus and oral cavity - have increased tooth enamel erosion issues. To take care of this, one must solve the underlying issue of GERD. Meet your physician and take corrective action. Diet-wise, one must avoid taking heavy meals and opt for small frequent meals. The 'in-between' snacks must be majorly vegetable salads, soups, or fruits. Hydrate yourself well, sleep adequately and exercise. Avoid fried fatty foods and hard textured foods.
We all know that maternal nutrition plays a vital role in determining the health of the foetus. Maternal malnutrition has been shown to lead to dental malformation in the foetus due to insufficient mineral deposition. It has been found that malnourished people are more susceptible to periodontal diseases.
Thus, a well-balanced diet is the way to go as it helps prevent gum diseases along with tooth decay. The fibre present in fruits and vegetables helps restore oral health. It is the reason why increased consumption of fibre-rich foods should be encouraged. A meta-analysis showed a lower risk of oral cancer associated with increased fruit and vegetable consumption.
About Author: Ms Shalini Arvind is Chief Dietitian at Fortis Hospital, Bengaluru. She is a postgraduate in Food Science and Nutrition from Mysore University. She is a registered dietitian with 17 years of experience and is also a certified Diabetes Educator.
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