It is Dental Health Week, and we are getting behind this year’s campaign to “Keep your smile for life”.
Maintaining good oral health and eating a healthy, balanced diet go hand in hand. We’ve broken down some of the key facts for you about eating well to maintain good teeth and gum health.
Tooth decay (also known as dental caries) is the breakdown of the tooth enamel caused by bacteria and acid production. Eating too much sugar contributes to this process, while eating dairy foods (high in calcium, phosphate and casein), and food and drinks high in fluoride (e.g. fluoridated water), fibre (e.g. fruit and vegetables) and polyphenols (e.g. tea) can help to prevent tooth decay.
Sugar feeds the bacteria on the surface of our teeth, leading to more acid production and speeding up the breakdown of tooth enamel. To limit this (and for other health benefits), the World Health Organisation recommends that <10% of our energy intake per day come from free sugars. However, almost half of Australians (47%) eat more than this.
Limiting sugar intake can be achieved by getting most of our intake from the five food groups and limiting intake of extra or discretionary foods that are high in sugar (e.g. soft drink, lollies). Also by making simple swaps such as drinking water when thirsty instead of soft drink.
Check out our recipes which are packed full of foods from the five food groups, including our:
Dairy foods, including milk, yoghurt and cheese, are rich sources of the nutrients calcium, phosphate and casein. These nutrients work to rebuild tooth enamel, and therefore help to prevent tooth decay.
The Australian Dietary Guidelines recommend eating between 2½ and 4 serves of dairy foods per day depending on age and gender.
Try out our recipes for ways to get more dairy into your day, including our:
Fluoride is a mineral that works to prevent tooth decay by repairing and strengthening tooth enamel, and working in combination with calcium and phosphate.
In Australia, a large percentage of the water supply has fluoride added and this is the best source of fluoride, as well as toothpaste, and foods made using fluoridated water.
Foods that are high in fibre require lots of chewing, which stimulates the production of more saliva. Saliva has antibacterial properties which helps to fight against tooth and gum decay.
Fibre rich foods include fruit, vegetables and grain foods, particularly when you eat the skin of fruit or vegetables and wholegrain or wholemeal varieties of grain foods.
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Polyphenols are a plant based chemical found in many different forms and in many different foods. Polyphenols have antioxidant properties, and work against tooth decay by inhibiting bacteria and the acid production process.
A high intake of polyphenols can be achieved by eating a variety of foods from the five food groups, particularly herbs, spices, fruits, vegetables, whole grains, tea and coffee.
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