Whether you’re snacking on one of your five a day or having a meal with the family, if you pick your food carefully, you could be naturally cleaning your teeth.
For World Oral Health Day today (Wednesday 20), the experts at Bupa Dental Care are encouraging adults and children alike to use their daily diet to improve the health of their gums and teeth.
Sakina Syed, hygienist for Bupa Dental Care in London’s Bank practice, commented: “Lots of people think that brushing twice a day is enough to keep our teeth in top condition. However we also need to think about what we’re eating. And it’s not all bad news - just as there are some foods which will be bad for your teeth, others can act as a natural toothbrush to keep your smile sparkling!”
Here, Sakina’s given her top suggestions of food which can help clean and protect our gums and teeth. From carrots to cheeses, these tooth-friendly snacks are easily accessible and cost effective, so everyone can have something to smile about this World Oral Health Day.
Not just for keeping the doctor at bay, apples will make your dentist smile too. Sakina says: “Apples’ fibrous skins can help clean teeth and work as natural massager for the gums. The juicy flesh can also work well for removing other food debris from between teeth. Of course sometimes even apple may get stuck, so it’s worth flossing if needed!
“It’s also worth noting that apples are high in natural sugar, so it’s good to rinse your mouth with water afterwards. This will stop sugar and acid remaining in, or around, the gums.”
Moving onto the leafier things in life, there are certain vegetables which, like fruit, can give your mouth a work out to improve its health.
Sakina continued: “Leafy greens like kale, spinach and celery are high in fibre and low in calories, which makes them great vegetables for teeth. Like apples, the fibre content in leafy greens helps by scrubbing away food debris and plaque while you eat them. But they also contain calcium which helps strengthen teeth.
“We know getting vegetables into meals for children can be testing, but shredding some kale or spinach into a sandwich instead of lettuce is a great way to pack in some leafy goodness.”
Though frequently rumoured to have vision-improving properties, carrots might actually be better for our teeth than our eyes. Sakina explains: “Crunchy foods require more chewing, which stimulates saliva production and naturally cleans teeth. In addition, carrots contain multiple B vitamins which fight gingivitis.”
Not only are nuts full of healthy fats, they are great for cleaning and strengthening your teeth. “Like carrots, these crunchy snacks can help us produce saliva to clean teeth and regular the pH of the mouth. Likewise, nuts like almonds are packed full of calcium, which is a mineral that your body needs to maintain strong teeth and bones.”
If you’re a cheese lover, you will be glad to know that – when eaten in moderation – cheese can benefit your teeth. Sakina added: “Cheese contains high levels of phosphate and calcium, which naturally strengthen teeth and bones, but it also helps balance the pH level in your mouth, which means less harmful acid, more cleansing saliva, and fewer cavities.”
While these snacks are all tooth-friendly, it’s still important to pair them with a good oral hygiene routine. Sakina explains: “While these are teeth-friendly options, it’s always worth rinsing your mouth with water after snacking to help flush out any debris, to help prevent decay. Likewise by brushing for two minutes, twice a day, you can help keep your pearly whites in top condition. And that’s something to smile about!”
Originally launched in 2007 by FDI World Dental Federation, World Oral Health Day is marked across the globe every year and is recognised as the largest global awareness campaign on oral health.