Do you want to know the secret to healthy teeth and gums?
Regular and proper brushing and flossing along with a healthy diet is what keeps the gums healthy and protects the teeth from decay. Tooth decay, also identified as dental caries and cavities and gum disease are triggered by colonies of bacteria that thrive in the mouth. These omnipresent bacteria cover the teeth with plaque, a sticky substance.
Plaque needs to be removed from the teeth's surface because the bacteria in the plaque breaks down the starch and the sugar present in the foods we eat, to create acids that damage the enamel on the teeth. Over a period of time, the plaque hardens and forms into tartar. This is where brushing and flossing become crucial. Tartar cannot be removed through normal brushing and requires special treatments. Tartar can also cause gum inflammation and gingivitis.
A recommended diet is one that supplies healthy amounts of nutrients, including vitamins, minerals and other nutrients vital for strong teeth and healthy gums. Fluoride is one such nutrient that is recommended. It is available to us naturally through water and foods. It is said to decrease the instance of cavities by over 50%. There have been many successful studies done on fluoride, yet there are controversies about its use and there are still some sceptics who do not support its use.
Guidelines for dental health
The impact of diet on the overall health of our teeth and gums cannot be ignored. Here is a look at what you should be in your diet to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
First step – eat right during pregnancy
Give your children an edge by eating right throughout your pregnancy. Calcium rich foods should be on your list of must-haves. Also, catch sunlight in the morning hours and during the late evening hours. It'll help build Vitamin D reserves, which is needed to absorb calcium. Both calcium and vitamin D help with the formation of healthy teeth and strong bones. Kids born to you will have a head start.
Consume lots of calcium
We need a constant supply of calcium; it keeps our gums and teeth in good shape. Include low-fat dairy products and canned fish such as salmon, sardines, tuna and mackerel in your diet. Have dark leafy greens and almonds as they are good sources of the mineral. There are many healthy non-dairy calcium rich foods that you can eat in plenty to meet your daily calcium requirement.
Vitamin D is important
Vitamin D is essential as it helps with the absorption of calcium. You can get vitamin D from being in the sun, as the body converts sunlight into the vitamin. You may also try food sources of the vitamin, most common among these being fatty fish like salmon, margarine and milk. Commercially available fortified products like soy milk and other beverages should be your next choice. As far as possible avoid supplements, as they can have side-effects.
Fluoride is known to deter the formation of cavities, to quite an extent. Regular use of toothpaste that contains fluoride is one way of combating cavities. Children are especially prone to cavities and extra care must be taken when they are young. However, some caution must be practised while using fluoride, as excess amounts can cause teeth to mottle.
Other nutrients are needed too
Don't be under the impression that teeth need just calcium, fluoride and vitamin D. There are other nutrients that work at making your teeth strong. These are –
Meats, eggs and fish are rich sources of phosphorous and essential for tooth enamel. It can also be found in nuts, legumes, poultry and dairy products.
Good sources of magnesium are bananas, spinach, nuts, legumes and whole grains. Magnesium deficiency is uncommon. This mineral is also necessary for the enamel.
Vitamin A & Beta carotene
The body turns beta-carotene into vitamin A. This vitamin is needed for healthy teeth and bones. There is a significant amount of beta-carotene in dark leafy vegetables and fruits and vegetables that have an orange colour.
Sugar and teeth decay
Sugar is the chief reason for tooth decay, but it is not the only cause. It is a known fact that excessive amounts of sugary foods can cause the tooth to decay, but it must be known that foods rich in starch are offenders too. Starches present in foods combine with amylase, which is an enzyme that exists in saliva. This mix creates an acidic environment that corrodes tooth enamel and puts teeth at a risk of decay.
Dried fruits increase the risk of tooth decay
Dried fruits despite all their goodness can have an unfavourable effect on teeth. They have a high concentration of sugar and have a sticky consistency, causing them to stick to the teeth surface. Research indicates that fruit juices too can be a reason for tooth decay. They are excessively acidic and contain fairly high quantities of simple sugars.
Fresh fruits are a better bet
Fresh fruits such as an apple or a pear are better options than juices and dry-fruits. Even though fruits contain sugars and acids they do not pose much of a risk as the saliva secreted during chewing neutralises their effects.
Hard fruits like the apple are good because of their various effects –
Note that an excessively dry mouth harbours bacteria and contributes to cavities. The production of saliva decreases when we sleep, and this could lead to bacterial build-up. It is, therefore, important that the teeth be brushed before going to bed, so the plaque causing bacteria is removed.
Fighting gum disease
A little-known fact is that people are more likely to lose teeth due to gum problems than to teeth decay. Oral hygiene and a balanced diet are imperative to prevent gum disorders. Do not ignore swollen, inflamed, bleeding or sore gums. They could be signs of major tooth problems.
Individuals who are on steroids or those being treated for cancer can be at risk of gum disease. Malnutrition and alcoholism can also lead to gum disorders.
Gingivitis is one of the most common gum diseases. The gums become inflamed, sore and bleed. The main cause of gingivitis is the accumulation of plaque. The condition can be cured by pursuing good dental hygiene and visiting the dentist for the removal of plaque.
If gingivitis is not treated it can lead to periodontitis, which causes the teeth to become loose, and eventually fall out. There are other complications linked with poor oral hygiene. There are some studies that link heart to oral health.
There is also evidence to show bleeding gums to be caused by vitamin C deficiency. Eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables can be particularly helpful in restoring gum health. Chomping on carrots or other hard, fibrous veggies and fruits can be beneficial for the gums, as they stimulate them.
Strategies for healthy teeth & gums
Follow these simple approaches and you should be able to keep your pearly whites your gums in good shape –
Do you want to know the secret to healthy teeth and gums?
Juana is a freelance writer, with years of experience, creating content for varied online portals. She holds a degree in English Literature and has worked as a teacher and as a soft skill trainer. An avid reader, she writes on a variety of topics ranging from health, travel, education and personality development.
Follow Juana or read 481 articles authored by Juana
Teeth are an important part of our body as without them we can't even imagine to enjoy our best food. We should be aware enough to take sincere care of our teeth. We must visit dentist so that we can keep our teeth and gums healthy always and with due care as per the advice of the dentist.
I agree with you. Dental hygiene is as important as our general health. In fact, if we take good care of our teeth the need to go to a dentist decreases.
Teeth and gums can be maintained through proper oral hygiene routine and through healthy foods. Water after meals and in between meals is significantly important as it flushes away the plaque-causing bacteria from the oral cavity.
Teeth are very important in many ways. We look very happy when we have healthy and beautiful teeth. They help us in speaking with clarity and chew well our food. Hence their maintenance is utmost important. We look very healthy and best when our teeth are in good condition. Some children are very fussy when it comes to brushing the teeth. Parents should guide children to brush the teeth every day and make it a routine to develop good dental hygiene. Children should be taught about the importance of brushing and show them how to brush in a proper way. There are different kinds of toothbrushes available in the market to make children get into the habit of brushing. Making aware of the importance of brushing the teeth will help the children to maintain good oral and dental care to avoid diseases and visiting dentists. Teaching children at a young age will help them to take care of their lives in a healthy way.
Absolutely, lessons on dental hygiene must be started young. Instead of making it a chore, parents must make it a fun activity that children look forward to. They can allow the child to open the tap, rinse the brush and squeeze out the paste onto the toothbrush. They can sing a song along as they brush their child's teeth or guide them. I recall singing 'brush, brush, brush your teeth' and 'this is the way we brush our teeth' when my child was young.
It is also nice if the parent explains to the child what is happening. For instance, they can say things like we are removing all the bad bacteria, just like you saw on television. A running commentary on how to brush teeth also helps. Parents must keep stressing on - let's clean the back of your mouth or let's clean the top teeth. Doing so teaches the child the right way to brush.
Parents must also let their children know when they are brushing their teeth. Children love emulating adults and will copy the parent.