What does healthy eating matter?
The most common dental problems are caused by foods and drinks:
Good oral hygiene will prevent most dental problems, but you can also reduce the risks for your mouth by having sticky or acidic food and drink less often.
How can I tell what's healthy?
You won't always be able to tell whether a product will harm your teeth.
- Labels sometimes hide what is in the product. A label might say 'carbohydrate' instead of 'sugar', for example;
- Some products say 'no added sugars' even though they contain a lot of natural fruit sugar;
- Products containing small amounts of sugar could be harmless if they also contain ingredients such as calcium;
- There is not a simple test of how erosive foods and drinks are, so labels cannot answer this question for you.
Milk and water are safe drinks. So are tea and cofee if you do not add sugar to them. Fruit, vegetables, dairy products (such as cheese) and starchy products (such as bread, rice and pasta) are all safe foods.
Because it is not easy to be sure exactly what is harmful, the best advice is to cut down on how often you have sugary or acidic food and drink. Just use food and drink sensibly ad don't bathe your teeth in a stream of acid or sugar or other stickiness.
Remember the rules:
- Clean your teeth twice a day;
- Don't eat sugary, sticky or erosive foods more than five times a day;
- Eat at least five servings of fresh fruit and vegetables a day;
During the day, when you cannot clean your teeth, think about chewing sugar-free gum. Chewing gum increases the flow of saliva around the mouth, helping to remove bits of food. Also, minerals in saliva (and fluoride in toothpaste) will help the tooth mend after it has been attacked by plaque acids.
What are the benefits?
- A healthy diet and good oral hygiene should prevent most dental problems;
- Nutritionists give the same advice as dentists about healthy eating. If you change how you eat so as to look after your teeth, the rest of your body will be healthier too.