Why does healthy eating matter?
Your general health and your resistance to many diseases depend a lot on eating a
healthy, balanced diet.
Your eating and drinking habits also affect the health of your teeth.
Dental plaque is a soft, sticky substance that builds up on your teeth.
It is mostly made up of bacteria, which feed on sugar from food and
drink, producing acids as a waste product. The acids attack the teeth
by dissolving the minerals in the tooth surface. If this happens too
often, tooth decay results.
Acids in food and drink can dissolve away tooth surface. All fizzy
drinks (including 'diet' brands and fizzy mineral water), all squashes
and all fruit juices are acidic to varying degrees. Pickles and citrus
fruits are examples of acidic types of food.
After an acid attack, teeth can repair themselves, given the
opportunity. It helps if fluoride (a mineral that is an ingredient in
most toothpaste, and is in the water supply in some areas) is present
in the mouth.
Most dental problems can be avoided if you :
- remove plaque by brushing twice a day with a fluoride
- don't have sugary and / or acidic food and drink too often during
the day. Try to have these mostly at mealtimes, not in between.
Chewing sugar-free gum can also help, as this increases the flow of
saliva, which helps teeth to repair themselves.
Between meals you should only have 'safe' drinks, which are not
sugary or acidic. Milk and water are 'safe' drinks. So are tea and
coffee if you do not add sugar to them (you can use non-sugar
You should try and avoid snacking between meals. If you do snack,
only have 'safe' snacks, which are not sugary or acidic. Fruits,
vegetables, sandwiches, toast, crumpets and pitta bread are all
For the sake of your general health, you should be eating at least five
portions of vegetables and fruit every day. Dairy products, such as
cheese, are 'safe' snacks for teeth; but, for the sake of your general
health, choose lower fat varieties and don't have too much.
Remember the rules:
- Always brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste.
- Only have 'safe' drinks and 'safe' snacks between meals.
- Eat at least five portions of vegetables and fruit every day.