Dr Samantha Byrne from The Tooth Fairy is writing for us again today and she’s back with some top tips! She’s been lecturing in oral microbiology and preventive dentistry at The University of Melbourne. As a former dentist with a PhD in oral microbiology she has great deal of knowledge about the bacterial that live in the mouth and how to prevent them from causing disease. Today she’s discussing 5 top tips for a tooth friendly diet.
Five top tips for a tooth friendly diet
In my last post I talked about the top five things you can do to help prevent tooth decay in children (you can find my post here). You might remember that three of those tips were related to foods and drinks, so in this post I wanted to talk about five top tips for a tooth friendly diet.
Yes this will sound familiar because it is sooooo important. Many children and teenagers are consuming huge amount of sugar in soft drinks, sports drinks and fruit juices. Soft drinks are particularly bad for teeth as not only do they contain large amounts of sugar which bacteria in the mouth turn into tooth-damaging acid, but they are very acidic as well which is extra-damaging to teeth. If you do want some fruit juice, have it with a meal when there is more saliva around to help protect the teeth.
Go for whole fresh fruit and vegetables.
Aside from being delicious, fruit and veggies are a great choice for healthy teeth. Chewing things like carrots, celery, apples and beans stimulates the flow of saliva into the mouth which is important for repairing and protecting the teeth. And the best thing is that the sugars in whole fruits and veggies (as opposed to those in fruit juices) are not considered to be bad for teeth.
Learn to read the labels to find added ‘free’ sugars.
The World Health Organization recommends that ‘free sugar’ makes up no more than 5% of your total energy intake. Free sugars are any sugars that are added to foods including sugars in honey, syrups, fruit juice and fruit concentrates. This does NOT include the sugars naturally present in fresh fruit and vegetables. These added sugars love to hide in packaged foods like breakfast cereals and lunchbox snacks, even those that claim to be ‘healthy’. Look for rice cakes, popcorn and dried beans and chickpeas which are very low in sugar and can be great tooth-friendly, lunchbox friendly options to keep in the pantry
Unsweetened dairy products can be a tooth’s best friend.
Milk, cheese and yoghurt contain lots of calcium and phosphate which help repair teeth, and they can buffer the damaging acid that bacteria in the mouth make when we eat sugar. Eaten as part of a meal or snack, the natural sugar in milk is not a problem for teeth, however it can cause serious tooth decay when young children take a bottle to bed, as milk stays in the mouth when the baby falls asleep.
Tooth decay is not caused by a lolly bag from a party, or a gingerbread man at a café on library day. Making plenty of tooth-friendly choices every day helps balance out those special parts of childhood.
– Dr Samantha Byrne
About Dr Samantha Byrne
For the past 13 years, Samantha has been lecturing in oral microbiology and preventive dentistry at The University of Melbourne. As a former dentist with a PhD in oral microbiology, Samantha has great deal of knowledge about the bacterial that live in the mouth and how to prevent them from causing disease. She particularly passionate about helping parents understand the relationship between diet and oral health, particularly in light of increasing rates of childhood tooth decay.
As a mum to 3 little boys aged 9, 6 and 4 Samantha started The Tooth Fairy as a vehicle for simple, practical information about how to maintain healthy teeth and gums.