Smile your way to Health

  • Jaspal Bajwa
  • India
  • Dec 05, 2014



A happy smile can go a long way in helping build our self-esteem, which helps us live confidently and to the fullest. And a set of pearly white teeth shining through that bright smile can be a real big asset. However, lack of awareness, or gross abuse, during our early years often leads to poor oral health, painful cavities, diseased gums and the premature loss of teeth. Tooth decay starts when Streptococcus mutans bacteria produce a sticky substance called glucan, which helps the bacteria to anchor themselves, leading to the formation of plaque. Bacteria in plaque convert sugars and refined carbs into acids, which eat away the teeth’s surfaces and lead to cavities. High-sugar and high-acid foods, such as fruits and their juices, candies or refined carbs, have an almost instant impact on the teeth. If the resultant decay is not attended to early, dental surgery would be needed. Instead of painful trips to the dentist and the need to instal false teeth later in life, the smarter route would be to take preventive measures. Like, consuming oral-hygiene friendly foods. And, the careful and regular cleaning of the teeth, by brushing after every meal, flossing daily and using a water-pik to get to the inner reaches. Loss of healthy teeth is not just a question of looking bad. Robust teeth help in effective digestion, allowing us to crunch and munch and enjoy the mastication (chewing) of food. Foods that provide the right environment in the mouth form the bedrock of solid oral hygiene. The right kind of foods promote physical, chemical, bacterial and enzymatic activity, which keeps the ratios of good to bad bacteria in the mouth under control, eliminate plaque and protect the enamel. Adequate saliva production is key, as it buffers the overly-acidic foods and kick-starts the enzymatic breakdown - the first steps to a robust digestion. 



Tip of the Week 

Too much of in-between meals snacking should be avoided …taking special care to avoid acid-producing foods containing sugars and starches. The earlier we kick the craving for sugary, sticky foods, carbonated soft drinks, as well as sweetened coffee or tea, the better it will be for our long term oral health. Chewing sugarless gum can be beneficial, as chewing helps dislodge food that becomes stuck between the teeth and also increases saliva flow; this then helps buffer (neutralise) mouth acids, which are the primary cause for tooth decay.

Natureís Wonder Food(s) of the Week : Oral-Health Friendly Foods

Let’s start from the basics - the quality and quantity of drinking water is most important. Most tap water is slightly acidic. It is best to go for Mineral Water, which is either neutral or has a slightly alkaline pH, and enables a healthy biofilm and the remineralisation of the teeth. As for foods, those that have a high water content help dilute the effects of the sugars and stimulate the flow of saliva (which helps protect against decay). The crisp texture of crunchy fruits and vegetables – like apples, pears, celery and carrots -  can help remove plaque-causing bacteria. 

The protective enamel of the teeth can be maintained and strengthened by providing them sufficient calcium and phosphorus. Calcium-rich foods are cheeses, chicken or other meats, nuts, sesame seeds and milk. Shell-fish, such as clams, mussels and oysters, not only provide calcium and other minerals, but also fat-soluble vitamins. Yoghurt is a good source of protein as well as calcium – it is a great diet food and also good for the teeth. Latest research supports the view that healthy bacteria in yoghurt help protect gums and teeth, as well as decrease the oral levels of hydrogen sulfide (which is a cause of bad breath). Milk is also abundant in Vitamin D and phosphate, which help in repairing the tooth enamel. Cheese is a great saliva-generator and acid buffer; it is also rich in phosphate and calcium. Calcium-rich bone broth provides vital minerals and collagen, which are great for fortifying nails, bones, teeth as well as hair. Liver from healthy animals (or Cod liver oil supplements) can additionally provide Vitamins A & D, which help us to better absorb the calcium. A good natural source of Vitamin D is Shiitake mushrooms, which also contain lentinan, a naturally occurring sugar that prevents mouth bacteria from forming plaque. Vitamin A is essential for tooth enamel formation and promotes healing of gum tissue. Good sources are carrots, pumpkin, broccoli and sweet potatoes. While all nuts are good, almonds are known to have high levels of calcium, and walnuts have rich amounts of fibre, iron, magnesium, folic acid, Vitamins B6 and E, zinc and potassium. High Vitamin C foods like Kiwi and oranges are also good for the teeth. The same cannot be said for chewable tablets of Ascorbic Acid sold over-the-counter as Vitamin C. Unsweetened Green Tea, high in catechins and polyphenols, helps fight cavities and kills plaque-forming bacteria. Dark Chocolate (above 70%) contains antioxidants, phenolic compounds and tannins, which can help reduce plaque, tooth erosion and decay, as well as help combat inflammation of the gums - while simultaneously improving the blood circulation in the gums. Licorice – an ancient Chinese herb –  is anti-bacterial in nature and is known to help prevent cavities and plaque. Licorice consumption is one of the best ways to freshen your breath naturally. However, it is important to source natural licorice, which comes without sugar (avoid the candied variety, which often passes off as licorice). Amongst spices, cinnamon, cardamom, clove, cumin and coriander are helpful in preventing damage to the teeth – and are also full of taste and flavour. Finally, of course, we must address our ‘sweet tooth’ syndrome. For the after meal ‘sweet’, try a small piece of cheese; it is a most prudent and flavourful option to any sugar-laced dessert. 

For Education purposes only; always consult a Healthcare Practitioner for medical conditions


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