When someone smiles, what is the first thing you look at? For many dental hygienists, and the public, it is the person’s teeth, particularly if they are brilliantly white or if there is something stuck in them. In addition to maintaining appearances, oral hygiene is essential to preventing gum disease, cavities, et cetera, which have a significant effect on oral health.
As you are aware, diet plays an important role in oral hygiene and health. While dental hygienists know the specifics behind which foods are good and bad for their teeth, many patients forget and require reminding. This is why we have compiled some of the information regarding two of the worst types of food for teeth as well as two of the best, including examples. Be sure to review this information with patients regularly. Their oral health will skyrocket if you do!
Sugary and Chewy Food
The sugar in food, especially refined sugar, is prime fodder for bad bacteria. The sugars often become acid, which is how cavities in your teeth get started. Some sugary drinks, such as pop, are your teeth’s worst enemy, particularly when it comes to eroding the enamel.
Chewy food, on the other hand, is not good for your patient’s teeth because of how pieces are more likely to stick to them for longer. This makes eating gummy candy even worse for you, since the longer food sticks around in your mouth, the higher the potential for cavities becomes.
Be sure to remind patients of the effects of refined sugar and chewy food like gummy candy on their enamel and overall oral health. Of course, not everyone will be able to avoid them entirely. Thus, review best practices for oral hygiene, such as how to brush/floss and how often clients should floss) with each patient.
As a dental hygienist, you are aware how highly acidic foods, such as lemons and pickles and drinks like alcohol and coffee, are among the worst for your teeth if you are not careful when consuming them. Remind patients about the effects beyond discolouration, which many are aware of. Put particular emphasis on sensitivity, cavities, and tooth decay. After all, stopping the issues as soon as possible helps prevent serious issues down the line.
As a dental hygienist, you have likely told your patients drinking milk helps their teeth grow. Most people know the calcium helps make their bones strong, but many may not be aware the benefits go beyond that, particularly for their teeth. Inform patients about the mineral hydroxyapatite, of which calcium is a major part, since it helps to build up the strength of their enamel. This also goes for casein, a common protein found in dairy products such as cheese. Are your patients consuming food not so healthy for their teeth? Reminding them of the benefits of dairy, in addition to best oral hygiene practices, is a great way to counteract the effects.
High Fiber Food
Many individuals know high fiber food helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels and increases good digestion. But they may not be aware of what dental hygienists already know: the benefits they provide teeth. Review how the amount of chewing required to consume fiber-rich food increases the saliva in their mouth, which helps provide some natural cleaning. But make sure your patients do not forget to brush their teeth regularly too!
If your patient is stuck on what food they can consume with a high fiber content, popular suggestions include spinach and other leafy greens, beans, and whole wheat pasta.
Share your extensive oral health knowledge with your patients, and remind them of the effect both good and bad food has on their teeth!