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Digital Subscriptions > Healthy Food Guide > February 2016 > THE HFG GUIDE TO MOUTH HEALTH

THE HFG GUIDE TO MOUTH HEALTH

Strong teeth and gums are important for more than a dazzling smile. Follow our need-to-know dental care and nutrition guide to keep yours in tip-top condition

NEGLECTED TEETH can lead to a host of health problems, so figures from the last British Dental Health Foundation’s (BDHF) National Smile Month may surprise you. They suggest around a quarter of adults haven’t visited the dentist in the past two years, a quarter don’t brush twice a day and three in 10 have regular dental pain. One in three people have never flossed and 27% only see the dentist if there’s a problem. Not only does this neglect have implications for the health of our gums and jaw, but links are emerging between poor oral health and serious conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, stroke and pneumonia. Here’s how to care for, and what to eat, to protect yours.

THE ISSUE

TOOTH DECAY

WHAT CAUSES IT? When bacteria-containing plaque and tartar on the teeth starts to break down, acid is produced that destroys enamel (the hard coating on the outside of your teeth). The disease process is called caries and results in cavities – holes in your teeth that need fillings or crowns. Severe tooth decay can mean infections, abscesses and lost teeth.

Diet is key here. ‘There are two things to consider when you snack: what you’re eating and how often you’re eating it,’ says Catherine Rutland, senior dental adviser at Denplan. ‘Every time you eat or drink something sugary, the bacteria in your mouth produces acids that attack your teeth. Your saliva naturally neutralises that acid within an hour to protect enamel, but your teeth can only withstand a few of these acid attacks a day before the enamel starts to get damaged. So the more you snack, the more you risk tooth decay. Grazing on sugary snacks is the worst thing you can do for teeth.’

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About Healthy Food Guide

New Year’s resolution slipping by the wayside? Get back on track with February’s HFG: we’ve expert advice on beating the weight-loss plateau, fitness motivation and 12 essential skills to help your healthy cooking. Plus, get the sane view on The Sirtfood Diet, improve your mouth health and build a better lunch box with our canny tips
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