Imagine you have worked really hard and built yourself a really nice and expensive house, but because of the time involved, you have not spent much time on the outside of the house. The yard needs to be clean, the gate is broken and the house is in general disrepair. It really doesn’t matter how beautiful the inside is because the outside gives the first impression. Let’s apply this same scenario to our bodies. We may exercise and stay fit and avoid foods we think are not good for us but if we don’t pay attention to our teeth and oral health, the rest of it will soon become pointless because we soon won’t be able to eat anything! Our mouth is the gate way to our body and good nutrition starts with caring for our teeth from an early age.
According to a factsheet printed by Colorado State University, The food we eat affects our teeth. At the same time, the health or lack of health of our teeth and gums affects what we can eat. This is so true because without our teeth we can’t chew foods high in fluoride and Calcium which can lead to poor overall health and malnutrition. Many people, myself included, really do not like visiting the dentist but it is something that needs to be done to ensure we have, not only beautiful, but healthy teeth that can last throughout our lifetime. This process of ensuring we have teeth that lasts a lifetime starts even before we see the first signs of teeth formation.
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Fluoride is the mineral mainly responsible for the formation of strong healthy teeth. Fluoridated water is usually the main source of fluoride in the diet but Fluoride can also be found in fish and teas. On the other hand, bacteria are the main culprit of tooth decay. Bacteria need carbohydrates for food so that it can grow and multiply. By cutting back on simple carbohydrates, such as sodas, candies, cakes and cookies, the rate of dental caries can be reduced. Bacteria seem to prefer Sucrose, also called table sugar, but other simple carbohydrates, such as fructose (fruit sugar) and lactose (milk sugar) are easy to ferment and also promote bacterial growth. The Canadian Dental Association suggests the following tips to care for your teeth:
- Try to choose sugar-free snacks
- Add less sugar to coffee or tea (or use sugar substitutes).
- Avoid sugar-sweetened soft drinks.
- Look for fruit juices and drinks with no added sugar.
- Read lists of ingredients when you’re grocery shopping. Honey, molasses, liquid invert sugar, glucose, and fructose are all types of sugar.
- Avoid sticky sweets; they cling to teeth and are harder to brush away. Eat sweets with a meal, not as a snack. The increased flow of saliva during a meal helps to wash away and dilute sugar.
- Carry a travel-size toothbrush and use it after eating sweets. If you can’t brush, at least rinse your mouth with water or eat a fibrous fruit or raw vegetables.