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Sunday, June 5, 2011

Foods & Drinks That Can Damage Your Teeth And How to Minimize The Damage?!

There are so many foods that can attack your tooth enamel and reduce the strength of your teeth, that's why the intake of the below-mentioned foodstuffs should be minimized or avoided to maintain tooth enamel strength. These are some of the foodstuffs and dietary practices which raise a small or large red flag for teeth.
Refined and processed food such as
  • sugar/ white flour
  • cooked starches
  1. Sugar :  Of course is hidden in numerous unexpected foodstuffs such as baked beans, salad dressings, deli meats, cream substitutes, bottled juices, ketchup etc. Foods with less than 1% sugar content however, are considered non-cariogenic. It also matters when the sugary food is eaten. This was determined over a number of years in unethical human experiments performed on patients of VipeholmMental Hospital in Lund, Sweden (1940s to 1950s). These non-voluntary human guinea pigs were given four meals a day containing a total of 350g of carbohydrates (of which 90g were sugar), but no snacks. Later, a control group additionally received sticky sugary snacks to eat between meals over the course of the day. The results were clear: only those who snacked on sweets in-between meals developed significant new tooth decay (in contrast to the very slow progression observed on the no-snacks diet), proving that carbohydrates ingested as part of the main meal do not cause caries (at least not in any significant manner)
  2. Cooked starches:  Interestingly, a study done at New York University arrived at the conclusion that chocolate is better for teeth than products made of cooked starch (such as potatoes). The researchers determined how long carbohydrates will stay in the mouth after ingestion and how much acid is produced from them. They found that cooked starches are broken down into glucose over a longer period of time than for instance sweets. In other words, the subsequent fermentation into lactic acid by oral bacteria will go on longer as well. This means that foods containing cooked starches is thought to stimulate acid production in the mouth more vigorously than very sugary foods and are thus a greater threat in terms of tooth decay. Considering however that people in developing countries found to have no or little tooth decay (until sugar is introduced to them) traditionally eat many starchy (but "whole") foods, it might appear that sugar is the major culprit after all - unless it is the fact that Western "industrialized" diets generally lack the proper mineral spectrum due to industrial farming methods while those who live on less impoverished (richer and properly balanced) soils might be better protected thanks to the rich mineral and trace element content of their food.
Acidic/acidulous food
  • Vinegar and pickled foods
  • Sour fruits (oranges and other citrus fruit)
  • Unripe fruit
  • Fruit juices
Concentrated natural sugars such as
  • Dried fruit
  • Honey
  • Syrups made from fruit, grains etc.
The reason why the intake of refined and processed foodstuffs such as sugar and white flour as well as acidic foods such as vinegar and sour fruits should be minimized or avoided to maintain tooth enamel strength, in a nutshell lies in the following:

Three factors, one structural, one nutritional, one bacterial, seem to form the basis of tooth decay: structural weakness of teeth (due to insufficient mineralization = lack of minerals), lack of nutritional factors required for tooth health, and attack by acids leaching out calcium. Acids stem from acidic foodstuffs but particularly are a byproduct of bacterial decomposition of food rests notably from refined edibles (such as white flour, sugar) and highly concentrated natural sugars (as found in dried fruit etc.)

Hence the importance of cleaning and flushing out any and all food rests, and more particularly the prevention of plaque deposits (where germs colonize) (compare

Dental Care and Oral Hygiene
Important note: while it is true that sugar is a highly cariogenic (tooth-decay-causing) substance, it is equally true (and highly surprising) that there is (at least) one naturally occurring sugar that frequently has the opposite (anti-cariogenic/cariostatic) effect.

You think you know everything about proper brushing and flossing techniques? Do You Understand the basics and what you can do to promote oral health?
 Your smile depends on simple dental care habits, such as brushing and flossing. But are you using the right techniques? Follow these steps to protect your oral health.

Brushing for oral health
Oral health begins with clean teeth. Consider these brushing basics:
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day. When you brush, don't rush. Take enough time to do a thorough job.
  • Use the proper equipment. Use a fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush that fits your mouth comfortably. Consider using an electric or battery-operated toothbrush, especially if you have arthritis or other problems that make it difficult to brush effectively.
  • Practice good technique. Hold your toothbrush at a slight angle against your teeth and brush with short back-and-forth motions. Remember to brush the inside and chewing surfaces of your teeth, as well as your tongue. Avoid vigorous or harsh scrubbing, which can irritate your gums.
  • Keep your equipment clean. Always rinse your toothbrush with water after brushing. Store your toothbrush in an upright position, if possible, and allow it to air dry until using it again. Don't routinely cover toothbrushes or store them in closed containers, which can encourage the growth of bacteria.
  • Know when to replace your toothbrush. Invest in a new toothbrush or a replacement head for your electric or battery-operated toothbrush every three to four months, or sooner if the bristles become frayed.
Flossing for oral health
You can't reach the tight spaces between your teeth or under your gumline with a toothbrush. That's why daily flossing is important. When you floss:
  • Don't skimp. Break off about 18 inches (46 centimeters) of dental floss. Wind most of the floss around the middle finger on one hand, and the rest around the middle finger on the other hand, leaving about 1 inch (3 centimeters) to floss your first tooth.

  • Take it one tooth at a time. Use your thumbs and forefingers to gently pull the floss from the gumline to the top of the tooth to scrape off plaque. Rub the floss against all sides of the tooth. Unwind to fresh floss as you progress to the next tooth.
  • Keep it up. If you have trouble getting floss through your teeth, try the waxed variety. If it's hard to manipulate the floss, use a floss holder or an interdental cleaner, such as a dental pick or stick designed to clean between the teeth.
Extremely hard as well as icy foods
Depending on the breaking strength of your teeth, you may wish to be careful with hard items such as certain kernels and ice.

Raw food = healthy?
Interestingly (Assimilable calcium from greens), a scientific study conducted in Germany on the health of raw-foodists showed that this section of the population develops more cavities and dental erosion than "normal" people, an observation confirmed by raw-food leaders/authors who noted that the dental health status of those adhering to a raw food diet is indeed deplorable. The reasons are not to do with raw food being damaging but with unwise food choices of raw foodists who tend to overindulge in dried fruits, acid fruit, dehydrated food etc. while "underindulging" for instance in calcium-rich greens.

One-sided (imbalanced) “mono-diets” and extreme fasting
Teeth weakening (i.e. structural damage) can also be induced by eating for instance mostly whole-grain noodles for a while
or radical prolonged fasting (such as 14 days) without adequate amounts of water. (On the other hand, properly conducted, fasting can induce dental and gum improvements and heal cavities and toothache.) So it would seem advisable to aim for a varied diet and (digestive capacity permitting) to go heavy on raw organic foods and seaweed.

Suggestions how to minimize the damage from ingestion of the above food items
Apart from strict avoidance which demands a lot of discipline and may not be invariably wise (for instance apple cider vinegar apparently shows astounding health benefits when regularly consumed), here are several immediate ways to contain any damage to enamel:
  1.  Rinse your mouth well after eating acidic or sticky food.
  2. Add xylitol to acidic fruit and drinks.
  3. Drink acidic drinks through a straw.
  4. When ingesting apple cider vinegar and water (and possibly honey) as a health drink, add baking soda to neutralize the acid (raise its pH to tooth-friendly levels).
  5. Rinse with an alkalinizing baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) solution afterwards.
  6. Rinse your mouth with (alkalinizing) sea salt.
  7. Rinse your mouth with xylitol after (and before) meals or use pure xylitol chewing gums (expensive).
  8. Eat and thoroughly chew something salty after a meal (if you eat dairy, cheese apparently is one of the most tooth-friendly items to eat).
  9. Brush teeth after meals but not immediately after ingestion of acidulous items (otherwise you are likely to scrape off precious minerals such as calcium from your somewhat softened enamel).
  10. Get yourself some "chewing sticks"
  11. Natural toothbrush alternatives: chew on them after meals.
  12. Rinse your mouth with (herb-based) disinfectants or with special mouthwashs containing enamel-repairing hydroxyapatite.
General recommendations and advice re oral cleansing.
Follow a varied tooth-friendly, mineral-rich diet to the extent possible and go heavy on raw organic foods and seaweed while making sure your food agrees with you. To allow better/proper absorption, chew well, only eat when hungry and in a peaceful, relaxed atmosphere. You also may wish to do internal cleanses such as liver, gallbladder and colon cleanses and if you feel drawn to it, work on your body's energy system to keep your juices "flowing". Keep your immune system in shape by avoiding stress(or learning to handle it constructively) and regularly clean your teeth using natural, non-toxic cleaning agents. Try to "compensate" any damage done to your teeth by regularly ingesting "super foods"/natural supplements rich in trace elements resp. tooth-friendly alkalinizing minerals.
Have a nice weekend!

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