According to the National Obesity Council, the UK is the world’s 6th most obese nation. And according to the World Health Organisation, nearly 100% of adults in industrialised countries (of which we are one) have dental cavities. That paints us in a pretty unhealthy light! When it comes to our health and overall well-being, more often than not we focus on what we perceive to be the more pressing health issues prevalent in our society today: Diseases such as diabetes, heart disease, strokes and arthritis – conditions which are often directly or indirectly associated with the alarming rise in obesity and our culture of unhealthy living. One issue that we don’t tend to prioritise, until we actually have a problem, is our teeth, or rather the health of our teeth and gums.
Yet did you know, gum disease, or periodontal disease as it is otherwise known, has now been clinically been linked with all the above as well as other serious health conditions, including bowel cancer. As far as our health goes, ensuring our teeth are healthy and well protected is vital. You may think that brushing your teeth daily is enough to protect them, but this isn’t always the case, especially if you’re eating and drinking too much of the wrong stuff, and not enough of the right stuff. Here’s a look at four of the best foods and drinks for healthy teeth and gums.
Milk – Milk is packed full of calcium making it not only beneficial for our bones and joints, but also for our teeth as well. Calcium has been proven to help protect the teeth against cavities and it also helps protect against periodontal disease, because it strengthens the surrounding gums and also the jaw bone. Almost all of your body’s calcium reserves are stored in your bones and teeth. It gives your bones and teeth their structure and strength. Failing to get enough calcium in your diet will cause the calcium to leach out of your teeth and bones, resulting in weak and brittle bones (which can lead to osteoporosis) and teeth which are far more susceptible to plaque build up and the chance of decay and gum disease further down the line.
Fresh salmon – Fresh salmon and other oily fish such as mackerel are great examples of ‘healthy foods for healthy teeth’. Not only are these oily fishes great sources of calcium and protein, they also contain good levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D is so beneficial because it helps the body to absorb calcium, which we talked about above.
Strawberries – Strawberries are a fruit that are packed full of vitamin C, and are far less acidic than citrus fruits, which means they don’t harm the enamel on the teeth once they have been consumed. The vitamin C is essential for the production of collagen, which helps maintain gum integrity and strength. Vitamin C also helps to strengthen connective tissue and blood vessels, including the tissues and vessels essential for holding your teeth firmly in your jaw.
Water – Last on our list we have water. Each day you should aim to drink as much water as possible for numerous health reasons, not just those relating to your teeth and gums. As far as teeth and gum health goes, water is so great because it can rinse away food debris which could help form plaque over time, and above all else, it helps to keep saliva levels sky high. Saliva contains minerals, proteins, and healthy bacteria that help to reduce the effects of acids that can harm tooth enamel. When you drink water, you’ll be far less likely to drink sugary drinks which can rot your teeth too.
So there you are, four of the best foods and drinks for healthy teeth. Do you have any others to add to the list? Please add them in the comments below. I’d love to hear from you 🙂
Dr Peter Galgut is one of the UK’s leading specialists on gum disease and periodontal disease. He specialises in the assessment, treatment and aftercare of periodontal disease using non-surgical and non-invasive methods. For more information on Dr Galgut, or to book an appointment, contact him here