06 Mar We Can’t Eats Hobbit Food!
Shut up, Gollum. That’s why your smile is so scary.
In my quest to help patients achieve better oral health, some basic advice I dole out is to avoid eating sugar. No candy. No juices. No soda. No chocolate. All this sugar can cause major cavities in your teeth.
But good oral health is not really as simple as removing sugar from your diet. Gollum probably did not eat sugar either but his mouth is a mess. His skin is pale, his lips are dry, and he has six teeth.
These are all signs of nutrient deficiency – nutrients that are vital in maintaining the health of our gums and teeth. In contrast, look at our friends the hobbits. They enjoy a variety of fruits and vegetables including: apples, tomatoes, carrots, mushrooms, and cabbage. From the movies, we also see they eat plenty of meats and cheeses.
This delicious diet helps them maintain a vibrant complexion and a healthy set of teeth. Here are some examples how:
Vegetables – carrots, cauliflower, broccoli and celery help clean the teeth because they are removing plaque build up as you chew them. Think of broccoli as nature’s toothbrush. Please note that this is only the case if you eat the vegetables in their natural raw state. If you soften the vegetables by boiling them or putting them in blender, then that reduces how effective the vegetable can be in cleaning your teeth.
If you don’t do raw vegetables, don’t despair! There are more benefits to vegetables than just cleaning your teeth.
Nutrients in vegetables such as vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin B’s, potassium, calcium and magnesium help the body regenerate healthy bones and gums and prevent inflammation (gingivitis and periodontitis). Inflammation in the gums presents as redness and bleeding. If left untreated, gingivitis and periodontitis can lead to gum recession and bone loss around the tooth.
Fruits – if you have a condition, then chances are there’s an ad out there touting the one magic fruit you need to eat. To be skinny, to lose tummy fat, to look young, to have fresh breath, to cure erectile dysfunction, and so on.
When it comes to your maintaining your gorgeous smile, keep it simple. Chomp on some apples, oranges and blueberries. These fruits contain a good amount of vitamin C, antioxidants and fiber which will aid your body in producing collagen to promote tissue healing. They will keep your lips and gums looking healthy and succulent.
You can also look into the specific benefits of certain fruits such as cranberries and pineapples because they are important as well but there’s nothing wrong with keeping this simple.
Protein – animal meats and fish are good sources of the vitamin B’s (1, 2, 3, 6 & 12) that are important in keeping a host of oral problems in check. I’m talking problems like mouth and lip sores, cracking lips, inflamed tongue and gums, yeast and fungal infections and dry mouth.
While a deficiency in these nutrients are not a direct cause of these problems, the vitamin B complex helps maintain a functional immune system to stop these problems before they start.
Cheese – calcium and phosphate in hard cheeses (not Cheez-Wiz!) helps balance pH in the mouth, preserves tooth enamel, and encourages saliva production. pH balance in the mouth is especially important after a meal when there is lactic acid floating around in there that can cause tooth decay. So skip the cake for dessert, eat some cheese.
What About Foods That Whiten the Teeth?
When we talk about teeth whitening, we mean bleaching teeth until they regain their original shade of white. I see many sites talking about eating certain types of food that will whiten the teeth, but unless those foods contain peroxide, they are not whitening your teeth.
Over time, our teeth get stained from what we eat and drink. You can avoid foods that are especially good at staining teeth (Ex. red wine, coffee, tea, blueberries) and you can take steps to remove the stains from your teeth immediately after consuming those foods (Ex. brushing your teeth, rinsing with water).
Some foods that naturally remove stains before they harden on your teeth include seeds and nuts, raw vegetables and hard cheeses.
But once those stains dry and harden on the teeth, your options are to get a cleaning at your dental office and/or using bleach to remove those stains.
So as it turns out, foods that are good for your body are also good for your teeth and gums. I hope some of the ideas in this article will be helpful to you as your strive toward a healthy smile and lifestyle.
Phuong Luu, DDS
Tl;dr – healthy smiles require fresh vegetables, fruits and protein.