‘Smile and the whole world smiles with you’. A smile goes a long way in life and it’s even better if you have beautiful, healthy teeth. Whatever age you are, it’s never too late to look after your teeth and gums. And, as with so many aspects of health, it’s all underpinned by good nutrition.
Clinical Nutritionist, Suzie Sawyer, provides her five top tips for keeping your teeth and gums in tip-top condition.
GET ENOUGH CALCIUM
The mineral calcium, which is the most abundant in the body, is the most important one in terms of teeth health, right from birth and throughout life. If you’ve had a good start, and you and your children received sufficient calcium in the womb, then that’s always going to be beneficial. However it’s never too late, and having sufficient calcium in the diet throughout life is going to help maintain strong teeth.
Milk and dairy products are great in terms of calcium content, but if you can’t tolerate dairy or choose not to eat dairy products there are alternatives. Think green leafy vegetables, other calcium-enriched milks such as almond or coconut, sesame seeds and bony fish such as sardines.
It’s worth bearing in mind that too much stress can create acidity throughout the whole body which in turn can cause you to lose calcium. So find ways of reducing your stress levels; yoga, meditation, a lunch time walk away from your desk – whatever helps you to unwind.
ADD SOME SUNSHINE
Vitamin D is known as the sunshine vitamin because it’s produced on the skin in the presence of sunshine. So, with the summer upon us, make sure you try to get 10-15 minutes each day in the sun without any sunscreen.
Vitamin D is essential for metabolising calcium; they’re inseparable nutrients and your teeth certainly needs sufficient of both nutrients throughout life. As with calcium, bony fish is a great source of vitamin D, as is, to some extent, milk.
Even though the body can store vitamin D, it would seem that a very large percentage of the UK population are deficient and our requirements for this vitamin are much higher than originally thought. Therefore, the Department of Health recommends supplementation for everyone throughout the winter months but it would also be prudent to continue supplementing all year round.
VITAMIN C IS KEY!
Vitamin C is probably the most well-known of all vitamins; it’s also one of the most hardworking! There is often some confusion around vitamin C and how it impacts teeth and gum health, primarily because it’s acidic and too much acid can attack tooth enamel. However, vitamin C is also essential for healthy and strong gums.
If gums are weak, teeth can become wobbly and may eventually fall out. Therefore, the advice is to eat plenty of vegetables, particularly peppers, kale, broccoli and Brussels sprouts which are high in vitamin C, but also some fruits such as the berry fruits which are high in vitamin C but lower in acid. Try to avoid fruit juices such as orange juice for breakfast as this coats the teeth with acid. Additionally, don’t brush your teeth for at least an hour after eating fruit.
EAT MORE MAGNESIUM
Whilst calcium tends to get all the acclaim when it comes to teeth health, the mineral magnesium is also important. This is primarily because magnesium is key in the formation of teeth as well as bones. Indeed, magnesium and calcium need to be in balance to work at their optimum levels; over-calcification within the body can lead to other problems such as hardening of the artery walls.
The good news is that green leafy vegetables that are high in vitamin C are also high in magnesium; yoghurt and almonds are also high in calcium are magnesium! It makes dietary choices a whole lot easier.
CoQ10 HELPS SUPPORT GUMS
Healthy gums are as much an essential part of a healthy mouth as healthy teeth. Compromised gingival (gum) irritations and infections can eventually lead to loss of teeth so gums need to be properly cared for.
Having a balanced diet is key for having a well-nourished and good-working body, including the gums. One often over-looked nutrient is CoQ10. It is naturally found in the body and functions as a key antioxidant. However, its production diminishes with age: people taking statin medications are also often deficient.
It is found in many foods such as spinach, broccoli, sardines and mackerel. However, because it’s so key in gum health, it might be worth considering a CoQ10 supplement of at least 30 milligrams daily.
So there are some easy ways to ensure you’re grinning with confidence (and strong, healthy teeth and gums) by getting the right nutrition. Keep on smiling!
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