Sunday, 12 June 2011

Dental Hygiene and a Well-Balanced Diet: How a Healthy Diet Equals Healthy Teeth

Healthy Teeth Need a Well-Balanced Diet

Many people think they can maintain healthy teeth just by regularly brushing, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash. Although these practices are a crucial part of good dental hygiene, they are not the only habits that should be cultivated. A key factor to healthy teeth is maintaining a healthy diet. Unnecessary sugars should be eliminated, and the diet should be well balanced in order to help the body get all the minerals and vitamins it needs to promote teeth and gum health.

Sugar and Starch Create Tooth Decay and Gum Disease

Bacteria in the mouth continually coat teeth with a residue known as plaque, and when sugar or starch is consumed, the bacteria break it down into an acid which then eats away at tooth enamel. If left unchecked, this acid can eat through enamel and the moment it works its way past the hard enamel to the soft dentin, it wreaks havoc on the tooth. It's not that hard to figure out that sugar is contained in cookies, candy, and other sweets, and starch, found in bread and cereals, is just as important to moderate. A food that isn't the usual suspect but can cause harm is dried fruit. When fruit is dehydrated, the moisture leaves, but the acid and sugars remain, and often the fruit gains a chewy, sticky texture which clings to teeth. A few suggestions to help control sugar and starch consumption and protect teeth:

Don't snack on unnecessary sugars and starches. Sugars and starches found in a turkey sandwich are more desirable than those found in a soft drink.

If a sweet craving just won't go away, don't linger on the sugary snack or eat sugar continually through the day. The longer sugar remains in the mouth, the more time the bacteria has to break it down to acid and start attacking enamel, so it is far better to eat a dessert in one sitting than a bag of candy throughout the day.

Eat fresh fruit instead of dried fruit. Although fresh fruit still contains sugar and acid, the increased chewing it takes to consume fresh fruit causes more saliva to be produced which dilutes harmful acid in the mouth and washes away food efficiently.

Chew sugar-free gum instead of gum containing sugar. Again, this keeps sugar from lingering in the mouth and produces saliva to wash out the mouth.

Eat Foods High in Nutrients that Promote Healthy Teeth

Along with keeping unwanted foods to a minimum, it is also crucial to include foods within a diet that assist in maintaining dental health. It is important to remember that though enamel once destroyed cannot repair itself, eating a diet high in healthy nutrients helps to prevent any further damage of enamel, keeping enamel loss to a minimum. A lot of the nutrients can be found naturally in foods, as well as in vitamins and liquids:

Calcium - Calcium is very important when maintaining good dental hygiene, as it helps to form strong teeth and bones. This is especially important for pregnant women, as it promotes the formation of healthy bones. Calcium can be found in dark green leafy veggies, sardines, almonds, and low-fat milk products.

Vitamin D - Vitamin D is essential for the body to help it absorb calcium efficiently. It can be found in milk, fortified soy products, salmon, and sun exposure.

Vitamin A - Vitamin A helps to boost the immune system and fight disease. It can be found in foods high in beta carotene, like carrots and cantaloupe.

Vitamin C - Vitamin C is great at keeping gums healthy. As a common vitamin, most people know it can be found in citrus fruits, but some other sources are tomatoes, broccoli, and peppers.

Maintain a Balanced Approach to Dental Care

Eating a well-balanced diet and cutting back on sugar and starch is a great way of rounding out efficient healthy dental routine, along with teeth brushing, flossing, and rinsing. An informed perspective on daily dental care will help to maintain the health of teeth and gums and cause the twice annual visit to the dentist's chair to be far less ominous, maybe even cheerful!
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