By GMB Nutritionist Melissa Fine
Gut health is what everyone’s talking about, but what about oral health?
Equally worthy of attention, did you know that the health of your mouth can indicate a lot about your overall health?
It’s not just bad breath, dental decay and gum disease that poor oral health can lead to, with gum disease in particular linked to a range of chronic diseases: from cardiovascular (heart) and respiratory (lung) disease to diabetes and osteoporosis. More on this here.
Look after your health from your mouth-down with these five diet and lifestyle tips:
Even if you religiously brush your teeth twice daily, this isn’t going to effectively do the job if your brushing technique isn’t down pat – or you’re guilty of doing a ‘rush brush’! Poor teeth brushing results in the inadequate removal of plaque, a bacteria-containing sticky film that can cause tooth decay and gum disease if it accumulates.
Not sure how to brush right? Find teeth brushing and flossing pro-tips online from a credible dentist, and ask your dentist to check your brushing technique at your next appointment.
You also want to replace your toothbrush every three to four months (or before that if it’s looking worse for wear), by which point the bristles will be worn down.
Try a mouth ‘drink’
Say what?! We’re talking about Swirlit: developed by a dentist, this is more than a mouth wash because you’re meant to swallow it.
Unlike commercial mouthwashes, this cinnamony tonic (yay for no menthol flavour!) has a neutral pH which discourages cavities, and it’s full of nice natural ingredients: like tooth decay-fighting grapeseed extract, and plant-derived xylitol, which helps prevent bacteria from sticking to the teeth. If you can’t kick that garlic or onion breath, this will do the job, from the inside-out!
Don’t forget to floss
Another no-brainer, but hands up if you’re “I’ll floss every day” promise to the dentist ends up being more something like every other day, or once a week (if that) – and often in a hurry.
Skip the sugar
From the brain to the pancreas and the liver, through to our waist lines, and let’s not forget our TEETH, the sweet stuff affects so many parts of the body.
When you have a processed food or drink that’s largely or predominantly made with refined sugar (be it soft drink, milk chocolate, fruit juice, or confectionary), the sugar, together with the bacteria in plaque create an acidic environment. This destroys tooth enamel – the outer layers of the tooth – and encourages tooth decay/cavities. Yet another reason to skip the sugar in your tea.
What about fruit? Fresh is better than dried because it’s less sticky and the sugar isn’t as concentrated – although dried fruit is still full of nutrients (like iron and fibre), just don’t eat it daily!
Eat some cheese
…Really! It can help prevent cavities. This has something to do with the fact that it’s an alkaline food, and so may counteract a cavity-promoting acidic environment in the mouth.