Someone once truly said, ‘You are what you eat’.
This holds true even for your teeth.
There are some food items that will work for your teeth and then there are some that will work against your teeth. When you eat food that works against your teeth, you are not only feeding yourself but you are also feeding the bacteria and germs that cause tooth decay.
So, if you are at all picky about your food, then pick the good guys –
- Cheese, milk and yogurt: All dairy products are proud carriers of loads of calcium. Calcium helps maintain teeth strength. So, it is very easy for anyone to understand how dairy products can do wonders for your teeth. Cheese, especially, is one of the best food items for your teeth. It is high on calcium and low on sugar. It contains casein, which is a protein that is particularly useful for fortifying tooth enamel. Cheese is also high in phosphate content, which helps balance pH levels in the mouth, which helps to preserve tooth enamel. Another great reason cheese is a friend to our teeth is that chewing it increases saliva production, which helps to wash away bacteria in the mouth. Milk, like cheese, also lowers the acid levels in the mouth, which helps fight tooth decay. Yogurt is packed with calcium and probiotics that protect you against cavities, gum disease and even bad breath.
- Leafy greens: Leafy vegetables like spinach and lettuce are also high in calcium and contain folic acid, not to mention that they are loaded with loads of vitamins and minerals which are good for your body as well as your teeth.
- Apples and pears: Eating apples or other hard fibrous fruits can help clean your teeth and increase salivation, which can neutralize the citric and malic acids left behind in your mouth. And while sugary apple juice may contribute to tooth decay, fresh apples are less likely to cause problems. This is because chewing the fibrous texture of apples stimulates your gums, further reducing cavity-causing bacteria and increasing saliva flow. Raw pears are good at neutralizing acids in your mouth that cause decay.
- Meat and fatty fish: Meat and fatty fish contain most of what your teeth love. What’s more, since meat is dense, it is chewy and thus produces more saliva. Saliva is like your mouth’s first line of defense against bacteria and tooth cavities.
- Nuts: Turns out, those almonds that your mom made you eat everyday not only help sharpen your brain, but also give a lot to your teeth. Nuts contain a lot of important elements including calcium and phosphorus. Peanuts are a great source of calcium and vitamin D and almonds offer a good amount of calcium. Cashews are known to stimulate saliva and walnuts contain everything from fiber, folic acid, iron, thiamine, magnesium, iron, niacin, vitamin E, vitamin B6, potassium and zinc.
- Cranberries and raisins: Cranberries and raisins (of course, either sugar-free or fresh) are rich in polyphenols. Polyphenols are a category of chemicals that naturally occur in many of the foods and drinks we consume. They offer a variety of health benefits, including their role as antioxidants, which can combat cell damage, as well as their effects on reducing inflammation and helping to fight cancer.
- Broccoli: Broccoli is your teeth’s bro! Quiet literally. It contains lots of Vitamin C and K, both important for your teeth’s good health.
- Sweet Potatoes: These contain loads of Vitamin A. Vitamin A contributes to sustenance of mucus membranes and soft tissue of the gums. It also plays an important role in providing protein keratin, which is pertinent for the development of tooth enamel.
- Garlic and Onions: Yes, garlic and onion wouldn’t be anybody’s first choice for a fresh breath, but they do contain antimicrobial properties that help fight tooth decay and infections, especially periodontal disease.
- Whole grains: Whole wheat bread and pasta, brown rice, oatmeal and other whole grains are healthier choices as against simple carbohydrates that may stick to your teeth and make it harder to keep the teeth clean, because they have complex carbohydrates which give bacteria less digestible food for them to grow.
This list is obviously not exhaustive. There are so many other things you can eat that will do a lot of good for your teeth and general oral health. However, while what you eat definitely matters, when you eat also matters a lot. Timely food intake is just as important as proper food intake.
So just sit back, eat good food and let your mouth do all the work for you!
So, we all know the good habits for maintaining oral hygiene; “Brush twice every day.”
“ Floss daily.” “Eat less sweets.”
But what about the bad habits, the habits that one must avoid at all costs?
Here are a few habits that can prove to be poisonous for your oral health:
- Nail biting: Most people often think that the only thing they are harming while biting their nails are well, their nails. But that’s not true. Nail biting can lead to chipping or even fracturing of your front teeth. Chronic nail biting may also lead to loss of teeth and damage to teeth. This is one of the most common as well as one of the most difficult habits to get rid of. For a lot of people, nail biting is a consequence of stress or anxiety. As trivial as it might sound, the effect of nail biting on your teeth can be very long-term. However, the good news here is that it is a habit that can be easily left too. There are nail polishes that are laced with bitter substances so that whenever you bite your nails, they taste horrible. Moreover, there are many ways to keep your hands busy. A little google search and efforts from your end can do the trick!
- Brushing too hard: ‘Hard-work’ (pun intended!) on your teeth can have a reverse impact on your teeth than it would in any other aspect of your life. Just like sometimes, going too hard on someone may make things worse, brushing too hard can strip your teeth off of its protective layer of enamel. This makes your teeth susceptible to scores of infections and easier tooth decay. Just brushing twice a day isn’t enough, one should understand how exactly the brushing should be done. Moderate pressure must be placed on the brush and the brush should be held at a forty-five degree angle to the teeth and should be moved up and down (unlike the TV ads that show a back and forth stroke). Cleaning the inner as well as outer surfaces of the teeth is also pertinent. To clean the inside surfaces of the front teeth, one must tilt the brush vertically and make several up-and-down strokes.
- Chewing on ice cubes: Eating ice cubes isn’t harmful at all, it’s basically water, right? WRONG. While it may just be water, biting down on hard ice cubes is a big no-no for the sake of your teeth. Chewing on ice cubes can lead to chipping of teeth or in some cases, even cracking of teeth. Constantly chomping down on ice cubes can irritate the soft tissue inside your teeth which can lead to regular toothaches. An easy way to switch out of snacking on ice cubes can be to have sugar free gum instead.
- Smoking: Well this shouldn’t come as a shocker to anyone. Cigarettes are widely notorious for being harmful to our bodies, teeth being a keynote in that. Smoking weakens your body’s infection fighters (your immune system) and also impacts your blood vessels. This makes it harder to fight off a gum infection. Once you have gum damage, smoking also makes it harder for your gums to heal. So, when quitting seems too difficult, think of your smile.
- Drinking coffee: Coffee leads to staining of teeth. Overtime consumption of coffee will lead to yellowing of teeth as coffee can cause acidity. Severe acidity can also erode your teeth’s enamel. So, think before you drink.
Bad habits don’t take time to be cultivated but good habits do. Not brushing or flossing are not the only bad habits for teeth. There are many habits in our daily lives that are so small, we don’t even realize that they might be bad for our teeth till the time they become huge and we are in pain. Minimal lifestyle changes can assure that you dodge these habits. All it takes is a little time and effort.
What? Stress and oral health, really?
Stress is popularly known to be a deterrent to mental health but what a lot of people don’t know is that there are oral consequences to stress as well.
Everyone has some sort of stress in their lives and one way of coping up with stress is to let it out, even if you don’t want to. Your body finds ways of letting stress out in the form of habits and sometimes even diseases.
Study after study have shown that there is a positive relationship between stress and increased oral health complications.
Research indicates that chronic stress is likely to contribute to the progressive, long-term development of oral disease through at least two distinguishable ways. First, stress can motivate individuals to cope in unhealthy ways that foster oral disease (e.g., substance use, including illicit drugs, alcohol and tobacco, poor diet, and sedentary behavior). Second, chronic stress contributes to high allostatic load (Allostatic load is “the wear and tear on the body” which accumulates as an individual is exposed to repeated or chronic stress) that can lead to the dysfunction of physiological systems critical to homeostasis (Homeostasis is any self-regulating process by which an organism tends to maintain stability while adjusting to conditions that are best for its survival), and thus, affect the underlying mechanisms of disease progression, more generally.
Here are some of the most common oral consequences to stress:
- Teeth grinding: Clenching or grinding (Bruxism) can cause damage to your teeth and enamel as well as headaches and soreness in the jaw. More often than not those that clench, grind or gnash their teeth are not even aware they are doing it. In certain cases, grinding teeth can even result in a loosening, fracturing or loss of teeth.
- Gum diseases: Stress can severely affect your immune system and like any other body organ, this can make your gums susceptible to a variety of infections including gum disease. Gum disease (also known as periodontal disease) is caused by an accumulation of bacterial plaque at the point where your teeth and your gums meet. It is a condition that affects the soft tissues and bone that support and anchor the teeth. In its mildest form it can lead to inflamed or bleeding gums, while more advanced forms can result in bone loss, gum recession and eventually, tooth loss.
- Dry Mouth: Dry mouth occurs when there is not enough saliva, or spit to keep your mouth moist and comfortable. Dry mouth is both a side effect of stress as well as the medicines used to treat stress and depression. The mouth’s first line of defense against bacteria is saliva, and without it there is an increased risk of tooth decay, gum disease and infection.
- Cancer Sores: A cancer sore is a small, shallow open wound (or an ulcer) which can make eating and talking uncomfortable and painful. They are also known as aphthous ulcers. While cancer sores are unharmful at large, they can be a huge inconvenience to a patient and cause pain to them.
- Tooth decay: Stress can alter lifestyles and can throw you into an organized lifestyle and unhealthy life choices which may lead to an un-routine oral care.
- TMJ Disorder: TMJ stands for temporomandibular joints. These are the joints that you use to move your lower jaw. They are located just below your ear. Swelling or stiffness in these joints can cause a TMJ disorder. Symptoms can include pain, clicking and popping. Stress is a major cause of TMJ problems.
- Burning mouth: Burning mouth syndrome is a dry, hot and burning feeling in your mouth. Many things can cause this. Stress, anxiety and depression may be part of the problem.
- Nail biting: Nail-biting is a stress related habit that can be harmful for your oral health and overall health as well. It can move your teeth out of position. It can also damage your teeth. Adding the germs from your fingernails to your mouth can lead to mouth infections too.
The list goes on.
Stress can be very complicated to deal with and the worst part of it is that it is something that one can’t really just do away with. Stress can only be handled and not eliminated from one’s life. One of the ways to do that is to include in your lifestyle activities and things that can help you release stress.
So, just remember, when you take a break from life, enjoy it, you are doing it not only for yourself, but your teeth as well!