Food To Keep Your Teeth And Mouth Healthy
Enjoying healthy teeth and gums is about more than just brushing regularly. (Although we are big fans of Regenerate Enamel Science Advanced Toothpaste, which actually helps to remineralise teeth, so protecting against cavities. Good for brightness, too.) It’s well-known, of course, that some foods, notably sugar, do dreadful things to your teeth, likewise the acid in citrus fruit, vinegar and fruit teas. So it makes sense that there might be some that are good for your teeth and mouth too. Here are some of the top tooth-food fairies…
Cheese is excellent for neutralising acids quickly. When you eat or drink anything sugary, the bacteria in your mouth turn the sugar into acids, which sit on your teeth and cause decay. Saliva can neutralise these acids but it takes two hours; cheese speeds up the process. Try eating a small cube of cheese at the end of every meal. If you do want to eat something sweet, eat it all in one go rather than spreading it out over hours; that way the acid sits on the teeth for two hours rather than many more.
TOOTH TIP: Try coconut oil ‘pulling’ – swishing the mouth with a teaspoonful of unrefined coconut oil – for 20 minutes, which is currently very ‘on-trend’. It stems from an ancient Ayurvedic practice. It’s said to lessen sensitivity, help to whiten teeth and reduce bad bacteria in the mouth. However, spit the used oil in the bin not down the sink or loo – otherwise you might end up with a plumber’s bill. We love the CocoBaci 15 Day Oil Pulling Programme.
Very dark chocolate. Cacao mass extract (CM), the main ingredient in chocolate, contains some anti-caries substances. These are negated by the sugar in most choccie bars but if you choose very dark (75-85 per cent) chocolate, you should get much of the benefit with little of the risk. Remember: to enjoy chocolate best, let a square melt on your tongue. (For a guilt-free treat, dip strawberries in dark chocolate – and naturally, Jo recommends Green & Black’s 85%!)
TOOTH TIP: Change your toothbrush at least every two or three months (sooner if it starts to look splayed or worn), as once it starts to lost its shape it won’t clean the teeth properly.
Quality water. Tap water contains a cocktail of chemicals you may not really want to drink. If you do not have a purified water system in your home, try at least to filter your drinking and cooking water. Jo’s husband Craig Sams, a bit of a green guru and former Chairman of The Soil Association, recommends the Pozzani Reverse Osmosis systems. He also suggests investing in Pozzani’s TDS (Total Dissolved Solids) meter, which tells you when you need to change the filter.
TOOTH TIP: Do drink plenty of water; it’s a really easy way to rinse your mouth, removing leftover particles of food and stimulating saliva production. But forget drinking lemon juice in the morning: the acidic nature can encourage cavities.
Strawberries, plums and pears contain xylitol, a compound that helps prevent bacteria sticking to teeth. You can also use xylitol as a natural sweetener in place of sugar (for this, it’s mainly derived from corn cobs). Brands we like are Perfect Sweet and ZyloSweet. Xylitol doesn’t raise insulin levels so is suitable for diabetics, is proven to help fight tooth decay and is good for bones. It also helps to alkalise the digestive system and, because it leaves a sweet aftertaste on your tongue, doesn’t set up sugar-type cravings.
TOOTH TIP: This is slightly ‘ewwwww’, but to check if you have bad breath, lick your wrist, let it dry and give it a sniff. If it smells, your breath probably does, too.
Wine. A regular (small) glass of red or white helps prevent tooth decay, gum disease and sore throats, according to Italian scientists, who say that wine has germ-killing ingredients. (They used supermarket valpolicella and pinot nero, so it doesn’t have to be vintage).
TOOTH TIP: If you have toothache, chewing on a clove or adding a dab of clove oil kills the pain naturally.
Yoghurt. Research shows that eating a small pot of natural live yogurt with ‘good’ bacteria, such as lactobacilli, for two weeks can get rid of bad breath by neutralising the ‘bad’ bugs that produced the noxious fumes.
TOOTH TIP: Treat your teeth with the respect they deserve. Trying to open pistachios or packaging with your teeth just isn’t worth it…