Poor oral health affects the vast majority of Australian adults and children. The most recent data shows that Australians aged over 15 years old had on average 12.8 decayed, filled or missing teeth.
There are many factors that can negatively impact on your oral health including:
- poor oral hygiene and care,
- avoiding or inability to access regular dental checkups, and
- not seeking treatment for oral issues.
Serious oral conditions such as tooth decay/cavities, gingivitis, periodontitis and tooth loss, not only affect your appearance, quality of life and oral health, they are also linked to chronic health conditions including heart disease, arthritis, Alzheimer’s and diabetes.
However, is a proper oral hygiene and care routine at home coupled with regular dental checkups enough to keep your oral health on the right track?
It probably isn’t, if you are consuming food and beverages harmful to your teeth.
“Healthy” foods and beverages that damage teeth and gums
Acidic foods and drinks that are high in added sugar and refined carbohydrates cause the most damage to our teeth and gums. Think candy, soft drinks, cakes, cookies, donuts and sweet snacks, and you get the picture.
What most people don’t realise is that there are a number of so-called healthy foods and drinks that can cause tooth decay and erosion if consumed as snacks (other than mealtimes), including:
- Hot drinks with lemon
- Fruit teas high in added sugar
- Crisps and savoury biscuits
- Sticky dried fruit & fruit flavoured snacks
- Sparkling mineral water
Foods that are high in minerals and Vitamin C, D & K1 can strengthen your teeth and gums
The most beneficial vitamins for teeth and gum health are vitamins C, D and K2. As far as minerals go, calcium and phosphorus are the most important.
Vitamin C helps produce collagen which is crucial for healthy gum tissue and healing. Foods with the highest natural sources of Vitamin C include broccoli, cauliflower, capsicum, leafy greens and citrus fruits.
Vitamin D enables the body to absorb and retain calcium during digestion. Vitamin D-rich foods include oily fish, liver, egg yolks though you’ll get the better amounts from sunbathing or taking a Vitamin D supplement.
Vitamin K2 is the new kid on the block. While vitamin D helps to absorb calcium, vitamin K2 helps to direct it into your teeth and bones. Without it, displaced calcium could end up calcifying your arteries, heart tissue and joints.
Calcium builds bones and keeps them strong and healthy. You’ll get adequate amounts from dairy, leafy greens and tofu. Phosphorus maximises the bone strengthening benefits of calcium. Phosphorus-rich foods include nuts, meat, poultry, fish, eggs, citrus fruits and cereals.