Just because you clean and floss your teeth twice a day doesn’t mean your teeth aren’t affected by what you eat. While cleaning helps, your physical health affects your dental health.
And many chronic conditions such as diabetes are also affected by poor dental health. Here’s what to watch in your diet so you are also looking after your dental health.
Healthy diet, healthy teeth
Right from babyhood, you need calcium in your diet for strong bones and teeth. As an adult this still applies, and is particularly important as you age. Calcium comes from dairy products such as milk, yoghurt and cheese, but you can also get calcium from a variety of plant-based foods as well as in tablet form if you’re particularly low in calcium.
A healthy diet includes plenty of vegetables and fruit as well as complex carbohydrates such as grain breads, and protein – it’s not just good for your weight, but also for your teeth. If you have a chronic disease, your diet is even more important – your doctor will advise.
Drinks to avoid dental trouble
Coffee may be what gets you out of bed in the morning, but it can be a whole lot of trouble for your teeth. If you love nothing more than a milky cappuccino with a couple of sugars to start the day in the office, take your toothbrush because you’ve undone any after-breakfast cleaning. The same goes for a ‘healthy’ fruit juice, which is high in sugar and can be very acidic – you’re better off with water.
Even minus milk and sugar, black coffee can be a problem – it can stain your teeth. And red wine also stains. If you’re having your teeth whitened, you really need to avoid drinking these, or be sure to rinse or clean your teeth afterwards. Drinking through a straw isn’t enough. See your National Dental Care practitioner for information on teeth-whitening, in the chair or at home with a customised kit.
Swap out your snacks
Sweet and sticky snacks can seem essential for getting through a long day, but they’re also pepping up the bacteria in your mouth. If you’re not brushing from breakfast until before bed, it can be plenty of time for bacteria to breed.
Cut up carrots, celery and bring snap peas, nuts, apples and plain yoghurt for in-between meals. If you’re really craving sweets you may need to check your diet and up the protein or complex carbohydrate levels for more sustained energy. And don’t forget your regular checkups with your National Dental Care practitioner.