Central Coast News
Eating Well for Optimal Oral Health and Overall Health
For Women’s Health Week, local dental practices Avoca Beach Dental, Warnervale Dental, Saratoga Dental, Empire Bay Dental and Bonnells Bay Dental teamed up with the Central Coast’s leading dietitians from Eatsense.
One of the key things you can do to promote good dental health and prevent tooth decay is consume a healthy diet. A nutritious diet isn’t just important to fuel your body, give you energy and help you maintain a healthy weight, but it can also have a huge impact on your overall health, including your dental health.
Tooth decay is a common and largely preventable problem that occurs when plaque, a sticky film of bacteria and sugars forms on our teeth. The bacteria in plaque use sugars in food and drinks to produce acids which attack the teeth. This can result in holes in the protective layer of your teeth called enamel, leading to tooth decay. Your eating and drinking habits play an important role in the development and prevention of tooth decay.
Here are a few ideas to help you eat well for your oral health from local leading Accredited Practising Dietitian, Nicole Saliba and Founder of Eatsense:
1/ Include dairy foods: Dairy foods are highly nutritious and provide several key nutrients including protein and calcium. Research has shown that dairy foods such as milk and cheese can help prevent tooth decay. Milk, cheese and yoghurt also contain important minerals such as calcium and phosphorus which can help protect tooth enamel. Women should aim for three serves of dairy or calcium-containing foods per day which is equivalent to 1000mg. One serve is equivalent to around 300mg of calcium which can be found in:
1 cup of milk or calcium fortified plant milk
30g of cheese
½ cup ricotta cheese
½ can sardines
200g firm tofu
1 small can salmon with bones
Smaller amounts of calcium can be found in almonds, chia seeds, tahini, leafy greens, dried figs
Examples of ways to include dairy are:
- Sliced or cubed cheese with vita-weats or whole-grain crackers
- Cheese and salad sandwich on whole-grain bread
- Fruit smoothie with yoghurt, honey, milk and fresh fruit
- Snacking on Greek yoghurt with fruit or muesli
- Red salmon and sweet potato patties
- Snacking on cottage cheese and vegetable sticks
- Topping fresh fruit salad with some Greek yoghurt
- Spinach and ricotta pie and salad
- Making a zucchini slice with milk, cheese and grated zucchini
2/ Cut back on high sugar snacks
Lots of snacks and beverages contain high amounts of refined sugars including muesli bars, fruit juices and commercial cereals. Sticky foods high in sugar are particularly bad for teeth as they tend to stay in close contact with teeth much longer. This includes sugar-sweetened muesli bars, roll-ups, lollies and dried fruit.
Opt for healthier snack options that are low in refined sugars such as:
- Greek yoghurt
- Fresh fruit or fruit salad
- Boiled eggs
- Mini tins of baked beans
- Tins of tuna
- Whole-grain crackers or sourdough topped with hummus/avocado/natural peanut butter/cheese
- Air-popped popcorn
- Raw vegetables sticks e.g. capsicum, celery, cucumber or carrots
- Roasted chickpeas or fava beans
- Cubes of fresh cheese
- Cup of vegetable soup
Fruit is a highly nutritious food and you should aim for 2 serves per day. One serve is equivalent to two small pieces of fruit, one medium piece of fruit or one cup of diced fruit. Try your best to consume alternative snacks to fruit. Eating too many servings of fruit can be detrimental for teeth as it contains (fructose) and acid which can contribute to tooth decay. Encourage children to rinse their mouths with water after eating fruit.
3/ Make water the drink of choice
We all know that drinking water is healthy for our bodies and it should be the drink of choice. Fill your bottle with tap water over bottled water, as it usually contains higher levels of fluoride which protects against tooth decay. Avoid juices, sports drinks, flavoured vitamin waters, flavoured milk, energy drinks and cordial as they can all contribute to tooth decay!
And one last thing...
In addition to this, stick to three meals per day with a nutritious snack in between if you are hungry, as well as plenty of water between meals. Grazing continuously is not ideal for your health or teeth. Foods eaten at a meal are likely to cause less harm to your teeth than snacking continuously throughout the day as more saliva is produced during meals and saliva helps to wash foods away from the mouth and reduce the effect of acids which may cause the teeth harm and lead to cavities.
If you have any concerns with oral health, please visit your dentist.
By Nicole Saliba
Owner, Accredited Practising Dietitian, Accredited Sports Dietitian
Nicole Saliba established Eatsense in 2013 as she has a burning desire to help people, see them happy and watch them thrive. Simply put- my vision is to help as many people learn to prioritise themselves, feel their best, enjoy delicious and nourishing food and live a healthy, happy and fulfilling life.
Our local practices are here to support you and your family and help you to achieve optimal oral health and wellness.
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