Eating Your Way To A Healthy Smile

It is funny to think that caring for the health of our teeth does not start with a healthy diet but rather with only brushing our teeth, fluoride and flossing. We can control the health of our teeth not only through proper brushing and regular flossing, but also through proper nutrition.

Early human fossils dating back well before the agricultural era have shown that human teeth were much healthier and had fewer cavities than what is common in our world today since the time humans began growing their own foods through agriculture.

But why is this so? Why is it that today we, in the modern age with fluoride toothpaste, floss, public health measures have teeth that are still less healthy than the teeth of those early humans and how can we improve our oral health and maintain strong teeth?

Let’s first take a look at what causes tooth decay:

Our teeth are covered by tooth enamel which is a clear protective outer layer that covers the soft part of the tooth inside.

tooth teeth.png

The enamel of our teeth is the hardest substance in our bodies. It withstands decades of biting, chewing, and crunching but it can chip, break or erode due to a diet rich in simple carbohydrates, coffee, wine, and cigarettes, leading to tooth decay.

But why do these foods and substances cause erosion of the tooth enamel?

The bacteria in our mouth feasts on the sugars from simple carbohydrates while producing acids that erode the tooth’s enamel. Unfortunately, unlike bone tissue, tooth enamel can’t grow back on its own. The damage is permanent. This leads to exposure of the tooth’s inner layer and tooth decay begins.

To prevent or reduce the erosion of our tooth enamel, change of diet can come easily into play through the following three aspects:

  1. Sufficient nutrient content in our diet, especially calcium and phosphate
  2. Foods that stimulate saliva production
  3. Foods that slow the growth of bacteria correlated with cavities and gum disease.

1. Sufficient Nutrient Content In Our Diet, Especially Calcium And Phosphorus

Calcium, combined with phosphate, forms the mineral portion of our teeth. Calcium is alkaline by nature and in the presence of phosphate, they remineralize our teeth (a natural process by which minerals are redeposited into our  tooth enamel after being removed by acids from foods and bacteria). Remineralisation occurs only under the right pH conditions (an alkaline pH of 7.5 to 8.5).

Acidic foods and beverages cause small lesions on tooth enamel. Calcium and phosphate help redeposit minerals back into those lesions keeping teeth strong and healthy.

Tooth enamel demineralization takes place at pH below 5.5 (acidic conditions) when calcium and phosphate are unavailable. Instead, these minerals are dissolved out of the tooth and eventually cause decay with the help of specific bacteria.

The first step in the prevention of tooth decay is to prevent tooth enamel erosion. This will occur when we have a balance between the minerals going into the tooth (remineralization) and the minerals going out of our teeth (demineralization). If we have a proper balance, we will not have cavities. If we have too many minerals leaching out of our teeth and not enough going back in, we will have demineralization leading to tooth decay. To prevent this from happening we must eat calcium and phosphate rich foods.

The healthiest foods calcium and phosphate rich foods include:

Foods rich in phosphate include fruits, nuts, and whole grains.

Foods rich in calcium are found in the table below:

Table 1: Foods Rich In Calcium

Food
Amount
Calcium (mg)
Sprouted sesame paste
2 Tbsp.
390 (40% DV)
Collard greens, cooked
1 cup
357 (36% DV)
Turnip greens, cooked
1 cup
249 (25% DV)
Tofu, processed with nigari*
4 ounces
130-400 (13-41% DV)
Tempeh
1 cup
184 (19% DV)
Kale, cooked
1 cup
179 (18.5% DV)
Soybeans, cooked
1 cup
175 (18% DV)
Bok choy, cooked
1 cup
158 (16% DV)
Mustard greens, cooked
1 cup
152 (15.5% DV)
Okra, cooked
1 cup
135 (14% DV)
Tahini
2 Tbsp.
128 (13% DV)
Navy beans, cooked
1 cup
126 (13% DV)
Almond butter
2 Tbsp.
111 (11.5% DV)
Almonds, whole
1/4 cup
94 (9.5% DV)
Broccoli, cooked
1 cup
62 (6.5% DV)

2. Foods That Stimulate Saliva Production

Healthy saliva has a pH of 6.8 to 7.4. Saliva is about 99% water and 1% ions, including calcium, phosphate, sodium, potassium, chlorine, bicarbonate, magnesium, and fluoride. Healthy saliva is produced by eating healthy foods, especially foods rich in fiber. The fiber requires chewing in order to break down the food before swallowing. Chewing hard foods such as beets, carrots, apples and cucumbers stimulates the production of saliva that cleans bacteria away, and due to high mineral content of saliva following the consumption of such vegetables, its production helps to remineralize our teeth.

3. Foods That Slow The Growth Of Bacteria Correlated With Cavities And Gum Disease.

We now know that there are certain organic substances found in specific foods such as polyphenols that help to retard the growth of bacteria in the mouth which is associated with tooth erosion, cavities and gum disease and also keep bacteria from clumping together with other bacteria. Polyphenols also keep plaque from sticking to our teeth.

Foods rich in Polyphenols are found in the table below:

Table 2: Foods Rich In Polyphenols 

Food
Amount Polyphenols(1)
Cloves
15188
Peppermint, dried
11?960
Star anise
5460
Black chokeberry
1756
Dark chocolate
1664
Flaxseeds
1528
Black elderberry
1359
Chestnut
1215
Blueberry
836
Blackcurrant
758
Black olive
569
Hazelnut
495
Pecans
493
Soy flour
Seeds
Plum
377
Green olive
346
Soya beans
246

Living with dental caries should not be a natural state for most of us who have no specific disorders and who are not taking medications that influence our salivary mechanism. For most of us, dental caries should not be part of our daily living. We can control the health of our teeth not only through proper brushing and regular flossing, but also through proper nutrition.

Check out my article on How To Fight Ageing With Nutrition HERE

Thank you for taking the time to read this. If you are serious about improving your health no matter what your age or circumstance are, and are ready to achieve better results with your weight loss attempts, guaranteed, then join my mailing list where you will receive my weekly newsletter with groundbreaking health, motivational content, recipes, supplement recommendations, easy workouts, as well as many FREE bonuses and special offers. Click HERE to subscribe. Or visit the Guerrilla Diet Website for my health advice, offers, programs and free information HERE.

Notes:

  1. Sum of the content of individual polyphenols as determined by chromatography and of proanthocyanidin oligomers as determined by direct-phase high-performance liquid chromatography.
  2. The Guerrilla Diet & Lifestyle Program –  Foods rich in calcium.
  3. Identification of the 100 richest dietary sources of polyphenols: an application of the Phenol-Explorer database by J Pérez-Jiménez, V Neveu, F Vos and A Scalbert

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