Oral health is often taken for granted but the practice of keeping our mouth, teeth and gums clean and healthy to prevent disease is an essential part of our everyday lives since neglecting dental hygiene for a long period of time eventually starts affecting our overall health and may also lead to heart disease, cancer, diabetes, dementia, arthritis or pregnancy complications apart from the dental cavities and gum disease. While poor oral hygiene leads to cavities, tooth erosion and gum inflammation, a study published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology pointed out that poor oral hygiene also leads to bacteria in the blood, causing inflammation in the body.
Since dental health is a matter of concern, we got some dentists on board to spill the beans on certain food items that should be incorporated into one’s diet for healthy teeth and gums. In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Dr Kanika Dewan, Dentist at Nanda Dental Clinic and Dr Rajiv Singh, Dentist at Singh Dental Clinic, suggested the following food items to eat and keep your teeth clean and healthy:
1. Yogurt is high in calcium and protein, which makes it a suitable pick for the strength and health of your teeth and gums. The probiotics found in yogurt also benefit your gums because the good bacteria cross out bacteria that cause cavities. If you choose to add more yogurt to your diet, pick a plain variety that has no sugar.
2. Leafy green vegetables are the most common food items for healthy living and healthy teeth as they are rich in vitamins and minerals and low in calories. Leafy greens such as kale and spinach boost our oral health. They are high in calcium, which helps in building the enamel on teeth. They also contain folic acid which is a type of B vitamin that has an enormous range of health benefits. One can add a handful of baby spinach to their salads and also add kale. Leafy green vegetables can also be added to a smoothie.
3. Fruits like apples might be sweet but they are also high in fiber and water content. Eating an apple produces saliva in your mouth, which rinses away the bacteria and food particles that are unwanted. The fibrous consistency of apples also stimulates the gums.
4. Most meats offer some of the most crucial nutrients, and chewing meat builds saliva. And more saliva is good because it reduces acidity in your mouth and washes away particles of food that lead to tooth decay. Red meat and organ meats are especially helpful for this purpose. Fatty fish (like salmon), and tofu are loaded with phosphorus which is also an important mineral for protecting tooth enamel.
5. Dark chocolate, yes, you read that right. Chocolate! As long as it’s at least 70% cacao and eaten in moderation, of course. Dark chocolate is a superfood for the teeth due to a compound called CBH which has shown to help harden tooth enamel, making your teeth less susceptible to tooth decay. However, not every kind of chocolate is good for you.
6. Green and black tea as these teas each contain polyphenols that interact with plaque bacterium. These substances either kill or hold bacteria. This prevents bacteria from growing or creating acid that attacks teeth. Tea is also the source of fluoride.
7. Sugarless chewing gums can be another nice saliva maker that removes food particles from your mouth.
8. Fluoride rich foods like fluoridated beverages, or any product you create with fluoridated water, helps your teeth. This includes juices and dehydrated soups. Commercially ready foods, like poultry items, seafood, and powdered cereals are good sources of fluoride.