Eating healthy is the key to keeping you and your teeth in good shape.
Food is a combination of proteins, fats and carbs. The carbs are the ones that can attack your teeth and cause cavities that can lead to toothache and even tooth loss. The acids in some foods/drinks can damage the enamel, too.
It is not about not eating certain foods but being smart with your diet. It is about how much and how often.
The EatWell Guide shows that to have a healthy, balanced diet we should try to:
• eat at least 5 portions of a variety of fruit and vegetables every day
• base meals on higher fibre starchy foods like potatoes, bread, rice or pasta
• have some dairy or dairy alternatives (such as soya drinks)
• eat some beans, pulses, fish, eggs, meat and other protein
• choose unsaturated oils and spreads, and eat them in small amounts
• drink plenty of fluids (at least 6 to 8 glasses a day)
If you have foods and drinks that are high in fat, salt and sugar, have these less often and in small amounts.
The Eatwell Guide does not apply to children under the age of 2 because they have different nutritional needs.
Fruits and vegetables are a good source of vitamins, minerals and fibre. Some fruits are high in natural sugars that can be used by bacteria that attack the enamel. Limit the intake of sugars and read the product label. No added sugar does not mean sugar free. Some fruits are high in acids too and can damage the enamel badly if are eaten in large quantities and too often.
Eat fruits at the end of a meal.
Fruit juices are very high in sugars and should be avoided. It is healthier to have the fruit than the juice. If you really want some juice dilute with water, use a straw and do not add sugar. Read the label before buying fruit juices.
Citrus fruits have acids that can attack the enamel very quickly. Eat them with meals and avoid fruit juices, Do not brush your teeth for 30 minutes after having acidic food. Do not sip from acidic drinks, have a small glass using a straw, in under 15 minutes and brush your teeth 30 minutes later.
Starchy foods should make up just over a third of everything you eat and it is better to choose wholegrain or wholemeal varieties. Do not forget that starch breaks up in sugar so will attack the enamel. It does not mean not to eat but to brush your teeth after eating pasta, bread, rice, etc. Starch is not as aggressive as sugar for the teeth but will still cause cavities.
Milk and dairy foods, such as cheese and yoghurt, are good sources of protein. They also contain calcium, which helps keep your bones and teeth healthy.
Choose low-fat, low-sugar alternatives. Always read the label as the products low in fat tend to be higher in sugars.
When buying alternatives to milk, choose unsweetened, calcium-fortified versions.
Beans, meats, eggs are sources of protein, vitamins and minerals like iron, zinc and B vitamins. Nuts are part of a healthy diet but can break the teeth. Chew carefully, closing mouth gradually and stop if the food is too hard. Make sure that you brush your teeth or floss to avoid food trapped between teeth.
Some fat in the diet is essential but we tend to eat too much saturated fat so swapping to unsaturated fats can help lower cholesterol.
Fats form a protective layer over the tooth and protect them for a short while.
Milk and water, coffee/tea with no sugar are the drinks of choice. Any beverage containing acids or/and sugar are extremely harmful to teeth and should only be drunk occasionally.
Eat regularly but do not snack between meals. Combine foods wisely. Avoid sugars and acids. Brush your teeth and floss and use mouthwash.