By Jenny Kabir
Have you heard about Public Health England’s sugar tax? They claim that such a tax is set to make a big difference to our health in terms of obesity, type 2 diabetes and our dental health.
Sugar is one of the primary causes of tooth decay. The problem with many products we buy on a daily basis is that often we don’t know the amount of added sugar to them. It is these products which are having the biggest effect on our teeth.
Snacking in between meals on sugary food and drink increases the likelihood of tooth decay. Sugar left on your teeth creates the perfect environment for bacteria to breed and multiply, the bacteria then produces acids which erode the enamel on your teeth. In order to help prevent this, consuming sugar only at at meal times is the best option to help maintain a healthy mouth as this reduces the amount of opportunities that bacteria has to build up.
Knowing which food and drinks are good and bad for our teeth is a great way to begin taking care of them. So which are the best, and which are the worst foods for your teeth?
The Bad Foods
There are some foods which we all know are bad for our teeth: sweets, toffees and fizzy drinks to name a few. Photographer Henry Hargreaves demonstrated how much sugar is in fizzy drinks by creatively turning the sugar from drinks into lollipops.
In order to protect your teeth, you need to watch out for the food in your diet which has refined sugars that you may not be aware of. Some foods contain naturally occurring sugar, such as in fruits, and these are the least harmful of sugars. Dried fruits, salad dressing, tomato sauces and some yogurts have added sugars so can be deceptively harmful.
Tea, coffee, and red wine are also capable of damaging teeth by staining them. It’s difficult to get these stains out of carpets and tablecloths, so try and imagine the effect they are having on your teeth!
It’s not all bad news though. Check out our list of alternative foods which are good for teeth:
The Good Foods
Sometimes it can feel like all of our favourite foods can affect our teeth. However, there are lots which don’t damage our teeth and can in fact help them. One of the best food groups for this is dairy. Calcium found in milk and cheese can help protect your teeth against tooth decay. Snacking on a small piece of cheese or something savoury in the daytime when you’re hungry can be a great alternative to something sugary.
As well as dairy products, meat, fish and tofu can strengthen tooth enamel and have no hidden sugar. Crunchy, leafy vegetables such as broccoli and carrots are also good for you, and so are unprocessed nuts and seeds.
When it comes to drinks, water is best for both your body and teeth. As well as not containing any sugar, rinsing your mouth with tap water after meals is actually very beneficial as tap water contains fluoride, which helps to prevent tooth decay. Therefore, drinking plain water and rinsing your mouth with it after meals is a great way to take care of your teeth.
Naturally, we all want some sugary treats sometimes. Sticking to having these at mealtimes is the best plan, and simply being aware of which foods you’re eating that contain sugar is also a big help. Visit your dentist regularly for checkups and take care of your teeth to have a fabulous looking smile that you can be proud of.
Dr Jenny Kabir is the clinical director of Fresh Dental Smile Clinic in York. Jenny and the team offer general and cosmetic dentistry to patients and provide outstanding service, treatment and aftercare.