We all worry about the ageing process when wrinkles and grey hairs appear but we often forget about one of the most hardworking parts of our body – our teeth! They go through a constant daily grind –( literally!) – of chewing, crunching, mashing and biting which can take its toll on the enamel. We also all know that there are certain things that we eat and drink can damage and decay the teeth. This is mainly due to acid erosion.
Acid is produced in the mouth by sugary and starchy foods. These carbohydrates ferment, causing the bacteria in the mouth to produce acids. Those acids can quickly eat away at the enamel of teeth. As a result, this creates tiny pits where tooth decay can form. By far the biggest enemy to teeth is fizzy drinks! The carbonation in the drinks creates more acid in the mouth. So what can we do to keep these acid levels down and protect our teeth as we get older?
1. Chewing sugar free gum can lower the acidity in your mouth as chewing creates more saliva.
2. Drinks such as cranberry juice and red wine contain polyphenols, which can reduce the production of hazardous bacteria. Also swapping tea or coffee for Green tea will give you additional fluoride for protection.
3. Say Cheese! Cheese is a wonderful friend to teeth. Not only is it jam packed with calcium but eating cheese after a meal cleanses the teeth! Researchers found that the fermented dairy product made the mouth more alkaline, neutralizing acid, which in turn reduced the need for dental treatment. They also discovered that cheese created a protective film around teeth.
4. Fill up on Fluoride! Fluoride can be found in our tap water and is always added to toothpaste. Fluoride helps reduce plaque acid by encouraging better quality enamel to form thus building up the resistance to acid. It also reduces plaque bacteria’s ability to produce the acid. With more people drinking bottled water they are limiting the amount of fluoride that enters the mouth.
A good diet is key to long term health of our teeth as vitamins and minerals found in meat, eggs and fish are key for absorption of calcium. Even people who are very conscientious about dental hygiene may be unwittingly jeopardizing the enamel. Brushing too vigorously, especially using a brush with medium or stiff bristles, can wear away tooth enamel. Go gently, and only buy tooth brushes with soft bristles.
Teeth grinding or bruxism is something that can occur during sleep and causes chips or fractures to teeth, wearing down the enamel night by night. Teeth grinding can occur due to stress, teeth alignment or jaw problems. If you find you are grinding your teeth at night, visit your dentist who can help with suggestions to alleviate symptoms once the cause has been found.
Stay healthy, be kind and let’s keep our teeth strong!