Dental health - and what nutrition has to do with it
Healthy teeth are not only important so that we can bite into an apple, but also so that our entire organism stays healthy. Once the teeth have been affected, the immune system is also weakened and bacteria and other infections have an easy time in our bodies. To prevent this, good dental hygiene is important. In addition to classic tooth brushing, our diet also plays a big role and can contribute to healthy teeth.
Trick or treat
Most people know that sugar is our biggest enemy when it comes to our dental health. It does not attack the teeth directly, but provides the ideal breeding ground for certain bacteria to multiply on our teeth. These bacteria then metabolize the sugar into acids, which ultimately attack our teeth. This promotes or encourages, among other things, diseases such as periodontitis.
But for many people, giving up sugar isn't that easy: it's found in a lot of processed foods, and not just in sweets. Also in savory foods such as various frozen meals, chips or in sauces.
Therefore, you should not only limit the sweets to protect your teeth, but also pay close attention to regular food containing sugar. A good alternative to sugar are so-called sugar substitutes, such as sorbitol or xylitol. These cannot be metabolized by the bacteria and therefore protect our teeth in the long term. A light cola is therefore significantly preferable to a conventional cola.
But natural acids can also damage tooth enamel directly, attack and damage our teeth. The bacteria are then no longer needed for this. The acid dissolves calcium and phosphate from the tooth enamel, making it unstable and thinner, and therefore more and more sensitive.
Highly acidic foods include, for example, lemonades, fruit juices, citrus fruits or vinegar in salad dressings. Of course, you shouldn't go without something like a healthy tangerine or orange: drinking a glass of water after consumption neutralizes the acid as much as possible.
A relatively unknown attacker on our teeth, however, is starch (carbohydrates), such as those found in chips or pretzel sticks. Just like sugar, the bacteria can convert it into acid, which in turn further attacks the tooth. Therefore, you should brush your teeth carefully after eating to remove the bacteria's food source.
Chewing produces saliva - a logical conclusion that we all know. Our saliva not only plays a role in the digestion of food, but also in our dental hygiene. Our saliva helps clean teeth, neutralize acids and remineralize tooth enamel. A useful addition to your normal tooth brushing routine is chewing gum. Chewing (sugar-free) gum between meals stimulates saliva production and roughly cleans the chewing surfaces.
When it comes to the meals themselves, it also makes sense to chew a lot and actively. You have to make a lot of effort, especially with raw food and whole grain products.
That doesn't mean, however, that it's best to nibble on something all day long: too much of a good thing is actually more harmful here, as it upsets the natural pH value and disrupts the balance. without losing important minerals.
Building blocks for healthy teeth
But what makes our teeth really strong and healthy? One of the most important building blocks for our teeth is calcium. It can be found in milk or cheese. But there are also high calcium contents in kale and broccoli. If you integrate such foods into your everyday life, your teeth will be strengthened.
In order to keep bacterial infestation as low as possible and to protect the teeth from acids, foods containing fluoride are suitable. Fluoride hardens tooth enamel and creates a barrier against acids. Foods high in fluoride include fluoridated table salt, fish or green tea. In addition to fluorine in food, special toothpastes to which this substance is added can also help maintain healthy teeth.
Vitamin A is not a direct, but an indirect building block for healthy teeth. It is found in yellow and orange fruits and vegetables, such as citrus fruits, peppers or broccoli. This vitamin mainly strengthens our immune system and can indirectly help fight bacteria. But this vitamin is also important for the support of our teeth: it is the starting substance for the dentin (tooth bone).
If you want to be particularly gentle on your teeth, for example because the enamel is already damaged or your teeth are prone to erosion, you can combine acidic foods with calcium-containing foods. Instead of eating fruit alone, you can eat it with yogurt. In the evening you can switch to cheese (high calcium content)and to wine (high acid content).
Overview of foods that contribute to healthy teeth
- Foods containing calcium
- Dairy products (milk, cheese)
- Legumes (chickpeas, tofu)
- Vegetables (kale)
- Nuts and seeds
- Foods containing fluoride
- Sea fish (sardines)
- Green/Black Tea
- Foods containing vitamin A
- Sea fish (eel, tuna)
- Vegetables (kale, carrots)
- Dairy products
Tooth-healthy nutrition in everyday life
There are a few simple tips to ensure you eat as healthily as possible in your everyday, stress-free life. Small fruit or vegetable snacks between meals prevent you from craving sweets and also provide important vitamins and nutrients. Sandwiches with cheese, tofu or vegetables, for example, are also a good alternative to the often unhealthy canteen food: you not only keep track of the ingredients and can avoid unwanted sugar, but you also consume tooth-healthy substances such as calcium and vitamin A. Not to forget, of course, the sugar-free chewing gum. A small pack fits in every pocket, is always ready to hand and also helps to improve the oxygen supply to the brain at work.
Water should also always be readily available. It is perfect for rinsing your mouth every now and then and should generally be drunk in sufficient quantities.
If you want to be very particular about your dental hygiene, brush your teeth in the the morning and evening as well as at lunchtime in the office.
Sugar, acid and starch attack our teeth, while calcium, fluoride and vitamin A strengthen our teeth and give them the desired bite. Sugar-free chewing gum between meals supports dental health, as does drinking plenty of water.
Processed foods often have a high sugar content, while fresh, unprocessed foods (especially raw vegetables and whole grain products) strengthen our teeth.
A healthy and balanced diet is clearly the focus here and not only contributes to healthy teeth, but also to a generally healthy body. So if you don't have time to brush your teeth, reaching for chewing gum, water or a carrot can help. However, it cannot replace brushing - that is and remains the most important part of dental health.