A Healthy Smile is a Beautiful Smile. The health of the teeth can get eclipsed by plaque, tartar, cavities, and gum infections. Dental plaque
is a bio-film created when acid-producing bacteria Streptococcus mutans
and anaerobes feed on fermentable carbohydrates (starch and sugar) and dissolve the carbonated hydroxyapatite mineral of the enamel
. The top methods of maintaining healthy teeth and alkaline mouth pH values are
Brushing twice a day
Using mouth cleansers
Chewing food 32 times to increase the saliva production
Eating healthy and alkaline foods that maintain mouth pH environment
The pH value of water ranges from 6.5-8.0. The pH range of saliva lies between 6-7. Demineralization that erodes carbonated hydroxyapatite, the main component of tooth enamel happens when the pH value of the mouth falls below 5.5. Drinking water washes away the debris that sticks in and around the teeth and gums. Water supports saliva function. The calcium and phosphate ions in saliva buffer the acidic environment; they balance the mouth's pH value and facilitate re-mineralization. water does not erode teeth, while citrus fruits like lemons and grapefruits and acetic acid have high teeth erosion effects. Orange juice had the least effect on enamel.
Calcium Rich Dairy
Milk and cheese are rich sources of calcium even though they have 30% bioavailability of calcium. A study published in Academy of General Dentistry
in 2013, showed that cheese intake increased pH value of the mouth. The groups who consumed sugar-free yogurt and milk experienced no changes in the mouth pH levels. Chewing cheese and its pH value (5-6 pH) bestows cheese its anti-cavity properties. A study published in Journal of the American Dental Association
in 2013 showed that drinking milk after sugary breakfast increased the mouth's pH value. Milk has pH value 6.4 - 6.8. Calcium consumption not only maintains the bone density but also buffers the acidic pH in the mouth.
Vitamin D is important for calcium absorption and balances the metabolism of calcium and phosphorus. Teeth are made up of similar tissues as bones. Basking in the sun daily for 10-15 minutes is the natural source of Vitamin D. Dietary Vitamin D is mostly consumed in the form of Vitamin D3 or cholecalciferol. Vegetarian source of Vitamin D is limited to mushrooms and vitamin D fortified foods, like soy milk, orange juice, and cereals. Vitamin D2, or ergocalciferol, is found in yeast. Poultry, fish, fish oils and animal organs are good sources of Vitamin D3.
Phosphorus Rich Foods
About 0.7 kg of phosphorus is present in an average adult human and 85-90% of that is found in bones and teeth in the form of apatite. Hydroxyapatite is the main component of tooth enamel. The main food sources for phosphorus are same as those that contain protein. Phosphorus-rich foods help in re-mineralization of teeth. Leavening agents like baking powder; gelatin desserts; seeds (pumpkin, sunflower); whey; wheat bran; rice bran, fish, wheat germ, nuts and lemonade are good sources of phosphorus.
The bio-availability of calcium from broccoli is 61%, the highest among all calcium rich foods. Other dark leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, bok choy, brussels sprouts, mustard greens, cauliflower have around 50% bio-availability of calcium and a pH value 6 - 7. Oxalate, phytate and other inhibitory elements bind to the available calcium in the food, allowing only a certain portion to be absorbed in the body. Broccoli needs more chewing action and its pH value is 6.0 - 6.8. Dark leafy vegetables support bone density and healthy teeth.
The pH value of eggs is 7.6-8.0. Being an animal food, eggs also provide small amount of Vitamin D. Eggs require good chewing action and the egg yolk is a source of calcium. Dairy and nuts have only 30% and 20% bio-availability of calcium respectively. Eggshells are calcium carbonate, the same element that constitute the teeth and bones. About half a spoon of eggshell powder can be consumed to get a good bio-availability of calcium in our diet. It also helps to re-mineralize the teeth. Consult your doctor for advice on dosage of calcium hydroxide (slaked lime), calcium oxide or eggshells that will provide a good bio-availability of calcium.
Studies have shown that black tea can suppress acid production in dental plaque. Tea deters the formation of the clumpy aggregates by some plaque bacteria which in turn reduces total mass of the dental plaque. Black tea can interfere with the bacterial enzyme glucosyltranferase
which is responsible for converting sugars into a sticky substance with which plaque sticks to the teeth. Both black and green teas contain polyphenols
that slow the growth of harmful bacteria which lead to various gum and teeth ailments. Black tea serves as a mouth cleanser. Rinsing the mouth with black tea for a minute can reduce the buildup of plaque in the teeth.
Pomegranates contain polyphenols, ellagic acid, tannins, and anthocyanins
. These compounds are powerful antioxidants
and they give pomegranate fruit its antibacterial qualities
which may help to thwart dental plaque. Colony forming units of Streptococci
were decreased by 32% in in-vitro studies. Regular intake of pomegranate juice is effective in fighting against dental plaque microorganisms. Pomegranate juice can also serve as mouth cleanser. One can rinse the mouth with pomegranate juice for a few minutes to prevent plaque build-up.
Dates contain magnesium and calcium
that can maintain bone density. Dates provide natural sweetness and can substitute added sugar in diet. Excess consumption of added sugar leads to tooth erosion as Streptococcus mutans and anaerobes convert sugar to acid. Dates require extra chewing action which helps to increase saliva production. The pH value of dates is 6.5 - 8.5. Though dates are naturally sweet, proper dental hygiene like brushing and flossing can remove the debris from the mouth and prevent build up of plaque. Saliva and increased pH of the mouth facilitate de-mineralization of the teeth.
Certain Fruits, Vegetables & Nuts
Intake of celery, apples, pears, drumsticks and nuts requires a significant chewing activity which increases the saliva production. Saliva can clear the mouth of food debris. The pH value of apples and pears are low, while that of celery is 5.7- 6 and drumsticks is 6-7. However the vitamins they pack can fight vitamin deficiency that can cause gingivitis. Healthy gums scaffold healthy teeth. Opinions about almonds being good for teeth are varied. Nuts and seeds are acidic in nature, and they have not more than 20% bio-availability of calcium. However they are important for overall health and their intake can be balanced with other alkaline foods. Compared to sugar-containing snacks, nuts and seeds make a better option.
Chewing fennel, cardamom and licorice can be good for the health of the teeth as they can increase the plaque and salivary pH. Traditional herbs like laksha, hadjod, arjun, moringa oliefera, ashwagandha
, pearl powder that calcium carbonate and coral calcium help to maintain bone density. Cavities and tooth decay happen when the pH in the mouth falls below 5.5. Cardamom extracts exhibit antimicrobial activity against oral pathogens Candida albicans
and Streptococci mutans
. Cardamom possesses health promoting nutrients like calcium, iron, flavonoids, and ether extracts. Fennel also contains nutrients like folate, vitamin (B-6, C) and phytonutrients. Studies show that trans-chalcone compound in licorice root can prevent buildup of biofilm.
Foods Unhealthy for Teeth
Certain foods can decrease the pH value of the mouth and accelerate the demineralization process.
Sticky sweets and candies, carbonated drinks and soda, grapefruits, chewing ice,sports and energy drinks, pickles, pasta and soy sauce, corn breath mints and cough drops, alcoholic beverages- red and white wine.
Rinse Mouth After Eating These Foods:
Bread, potato chips, dried fruits, peanut butter, heavily pigmented foods.
Limit intake of coffee, tomatoes and citrus. Popcorn, toasted bread, large chunk of crunchy food like apples, carrots can crack brittle teeth.