You might wonder why I post a picture of dandelions with a post on tooth health. I was contemplating what would be a suitable image, and when browsing through my album I saw the humble dandelion shining at me. But of course! In my native tongue, Norwegian, the name is “løvetann”- lions tooth. What better image is there to portray the state we want for our tooth health than the strong teeth of the mighty lion? Also, the dandelion even forces it´s way through tough concrete and bitumen to ensure it´s own life, in addition to being close to impossible to destruct. Who wouldn’t wan that! Although a lot comes down to our genes, like many things concerning our bodies, there are still things we can do to promote our tooth- and oral health, in addition to appropriate cleaning procedures morning and night.
Wether the use of fluoride in dental hygiene products and added in drinking water is safe, is a matter widely debated in the science circles, and is a matter I won’t discuss any further. The PubMed reads that fluoride is a substance that, in small concentrations is found naturally in our bodies, in our surrounding nature and in the food that we eat. The conclusion of the 2016 study Fluoride: a review of use and effects on health, states that even though fluoride can be toxic in extremely high concentrations, it is safe in topical use. Because of their cariostatic effect, The European Academy of Paediatric Dentistry (EAPD) recommends preventive topical use of fluoride supplements.
According to Kirkland Family Dentistry the relationship between diet and oral health is described as followed:
The foods which are good for you physical body, are also good for your oral health. Cavities/caries/tooth decay are of the most common teeth problems caused by diet, due to a combination of factors including bacteria in your mouth, frequent snacking, sipping sugary drinks and not cleaning your teeth properly. Carbohydrates and sugars from foods combine with bacteria and converts into acid in your mouth. Not only does these cavities cause problems such as bad breath, but also grave oral health problems including tooth decay. This acid causes cavities in your teeth by eating away at the hard covering on your teeth, known as the enamel. A diet high in calcium and phosphorus; like milk, cheese, nuts, meat, broccoli and spinach helps to re-mineralize or fill in holes that may occur in your tooth enamel.
Apple, pears and carrots are other firm, crunchy fruits and vegetables beneficial to your oral health. These foods creates more saliva, which helps wash away food particles out of the crevices in your teeth, gums, and tongue. Fruit and vegetables contain a lot of water, which help dilute harmful sugars that in turn can turn into damaging acids.
Highly acidic foods that can cause cavities and other oral health problems such as canker sores are:
Many common foods contain sugar and carbohydrates, which when eaten, break down into sugars, and just like regular sugars, can become acidic when carbohydrates combine with the bacteria in your mouth. These are foods like:
- potato chips
- french fries
Other foods you should be mindful of in regards to tooth health are raisins and other dried fruits. Albeit somewhat healthy, they tend to be sticky and might adhere to your teeth.
The same rules apply for drinks as they do for foods. Drinks low in sugar, carbohydrates, and are non-acidic are the best types. The optimum drink for oral health is water with fluoride. It flushes food particles out of crevices and from in between your teeth. It hydrates your mouth creating saliva which neutralizes bacteria and acids. Fluoride helps rebuilding soft spots in your tooth enamel. Other good choices of drink is milk, which with it´s high calcium content strengthens teeth, and unsweetened teas.
Acidic, sugary drinks to be careful of are:
- coffee and tea with added sugar
- hot chocolate
- flavored drink mixes
A dental hygienist told me that juice of citrus and wine (sweet wines in particular) contain a lot of citric acid. Citric acid softens the enamel for up to one hour after consumption, which makes it susceptible to mechanical damage. The longer your teeth are exposed to this acid, the greater the consequences. This means that these drinks should not be sipped, you should rinse your mouth after ingesting, and not brush your teeth within the hour. I’m in no way, shape or form suggesting you down your wine with lightning speed, but from a tooth fairy perspective, it´s better to reduce or eliminate it all together. Pastilles, candy and other sweets, with or without sugar, often contain a lot of citric acid, and is probably also best left on the shop shelf. Check the ingredient list next time you opt for pastilles. The higher up on the list the ingredient is, the larger quantities of the substance the product contains. This goes for all items with an ingredient list; food or otherwise.