It's not all about avoiding sugar when it comes to what's good for your teeth – after-dinner cheese can help keep them healthy. Who knew?
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Most of the time when we discuss the impact of diet on our teeth, we look at the negative effects food can sometimes have. For instance, a diet high in sugar increases the risk of tooth decay because bacteria that cause decay consume sugar and, in the process, produce an acid that damages enamel.
'There's no question that brushing and flossing are the best ways to remove plaque bacteria', says Dr Anousheh Alavi, scientific affairs manager for Colgate. Saliva also plays its part, as it neutralises the acid that damages tooth enamel, acting as a natural buffer. But the right kind of food can help, too. Take a tip from the French and finish your meal with cheese – in particular hard cheeses, such as Cheddar, which have alkaline qualities that help neutralise the acid in the mouth.
There are myths surrounding the effect of food and drink on teeth – and one is that milk makes your teeth strong. 'Calcium benefits children's teeth while their teeth are forming,' says Dr Alavi. 'It doesn't help strengthen those of adults – although, of course, it's vital for the development and maintenance of healthy bones.'
And of course it's not just about how we feel, but how we look. Teeth-whitening is big business, and much tooth staining is caused by foods we eat. It's often said that if it'll stain a white shirt, it'll stain your teeth, and if you're a regular consumer of red wine, coffee and tea, it's likely your teeth have picked up some staining. The good news, Dr Alavi tells us, 'is that this type of extrinsic staining can be easily tackled by a hygienist, then kept under control by using toothpastes with effective stain-removal ingredients.'
Why use Colgate Total?
Colgate Total Advanced offers complete protection for a healthy mouth and guards against the main oral-care problems. Clinically proven to provide non-stop, 12-hour protection against bacteria, it's the number-one toothpaste brand used by dentists.*
The dos and don'ts for a perfect smile...
Life's too short to never eat another treat, so here's Dr Alavi's advice on how to have your cake and great teeth...
- Don't brush immediately after eating. Sugary or acidic foods temporarily soften tooth enamel, so brushing at this point can increase the speed at which enamel wears away. Wait about 30 minutes before you brush.
- Don't sip fruit juice. Sugary drinks sipped over a long time can also be a problem, as they increase the time teeth are exposed to sugar. Whole fruit, however, isn't a huge risk. While it contains sugar, it's encapsulated in fibre, which makes it more difficult for bacteria to access, and also contains plenty of other nutrients.
- Brush your teeth right. Don't rinse toothpaste off the teeth after brushing, just spit it out. The longer fluoride stays in contact with your teeth, the better. Remember that teeth have five surfaces. Don't neglect the back, the chewing surfaces or each side. To reach the sides of your teeth you'll need something like floss, tape or a tiny interdental brush. Experiment until you find what works best for you. You don't need to 'floss' immediately after you clean your teeth, either. If it's easier to fit in later in the day, do it then. Between meals, use a fluoride rinse to give your teeth an added dose of protection.
Focus on your health and win a spa break at heart.co.uk.
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