Good oral health isn’t just about avoiding certain food and drink. It’s also important to consume products that will provide your body with the tools to build stronger teeth and healthier gums. Consuming drinks that are positive for stronger teeth – and giving them to your children to try – can help to avoid a future full of dental problems.
Why we are told to avoid sugar?
Sugary drinks are popular but most of us don’t realise just how much damage they do to our teeth, particularly when consumed from a young age. Our mouths are full of bacteria and sugar in food and drink feeds the unhealthy bacteria, which in turn thrives and starts to attack our teeth. This can lead to decay and gum disease and, eventually, fillings and tooth loss. According to the Faculty of Dental Surgery – part of the Royal College of Surgeons – 9 out of 10 cases of tooth decay in children could have been prevented, for example by cutting down on sugar. This comes on the back of NHS statistics that show a huge rise in the numbers of children losing milk teeth too soon because of a high sugar diet – in 2015/6 there were 9,206 tooth extractions performed on children aged four or younger. That’s was a 24% increase on 2006/7.
What’s the alternative?
Beverages that support stronger teeth are those that don’t contain sugar. In particular, milk, water and unsweetened tea can be highly beneficial.
Milk – milk is renowned for its calcium content, an essential mineral for healthy teeth from the age dot. However, it can also help to reduce decay – a glass of milk drunk after consuming sugary foods can reduce the levels of harmful acid in the mouth. Milk also contains proteins called caseins, which combine with calcium and phosphorus to create a protective coating on tooth enamel.
Water – there are many health benefits to drinking water. It’s calorie-free, hydrating and helps to keep the mouth clean, washing away food and drink, as well as the harmful bacteria that can cause decay. Much of the UK’s tap water contains fluoride – “nature’s cavity fighter.” In 2016 researchers from the Canadian city of Calgary revealed the results of a study that showed that children drinking fluoridated water had less tooth decay than those in a non- fluoridated area.
Unsweetened tea – tea without sugar also has many dental benefits and is a good source of immune boosting antioxidants. Tea, unlike many other drinks, doesn’t erode tooth enamel and Japanese researchers have found that the way tea changes the pH in the mouth can help to reduce cavities.
As well as increasing consumption of milk, tea and water – and reducing intake of sugary drinks – regular check ups and a trip to the hygienist can ensure stronger teeth for life.