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How A Healthy Diet Benefits Your Oral Health

Affinity Health, a leading provider of high-quality health coverage, explores the connection between diet and oral health.

“While brushing, flossing and regular dental check-ups are crucial for oral health, it’s important to recognise the significant impact food has on our teeth and gums,” says Murray Hewlett, CEO of Affinity Health.

“Dietary choices influence the conditions in our mouths, affecting the development of cavities, gum disease, and other oral issues.”

The Link Between Diet and Oral Health

Our diet directly impacts our oral health in several ways:

Cavities (Dental Caries): Cavities occur when bacteria in the mouth feed on sugars and produce acids that erode tooth enamel over time. If left untreated, cavities can progress, leading to pain, infection, and even tooth loss.

Gum Disease (Periodontal Disease): Gum disease covers a spectrum of conditions, from gingivitis, marked by inflamed gums, to periodontitis, which involves severe gum damage and bone loss. Symptoms include swollen, red, bleeding gums, persistent bad breath, and loose teeth. A diet deficient in crucial nutrients such as vitamin C and calcium can weaken gum health, exacerbating the risk of gum disease.

Tooth Sensitivity: Tooth sensitivity is characterised by discomfort or pain when consuming hot, cold, sweet, or acidic foods and beverages. Acidic foods and beverages such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, pickles, and carbonated drinks can erode tooth enamel over time, exposing the sensitive dentin layer underneath.

Bad Breath (Halitosis): Some foods, such as onions, garlic, and certain spices, can cause bad breath due to their strong odours. Coffee can also contribute to bad breath by increasing acidity in the mouth.

Oral Thrush: Oral candidiasis, also known as oral thrush, is an infection caused by a fungus that shows up as white spots on the tongue, inner cheeks, or roof of the mouth. While foods don’t directly cause oral thrush, sugary foods and refined carbohydrates can feed the fungus that causes thrush, making it grow more.

Oral Cancer: Oral cancer can affect the lips, tongue, cheeks, floor of the mouth, and throat. While not a food in itself, chewing tobacco increases the chances of oral cancer.

Foods That Promote Oral Health

Here are some foods that can be harmful for oral health:

Sugary Snacks and Sweets

Foods high in sugar, such as candies, cookies, cakes, and sodas, are among the worst offenders for dental health. Sugary treats feed mouth bacteria, producing acids that damage tooth enamel and cause decay.

Sticky and Chewy Candies

Sticky and chewy candies cling to the teeth, making it difficult for saliva to wash them away. As a result, these candies can linger in the mouth for extended periods, providing an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive and causing damage to tooth enamel over time.

Citrus Fruits and Juices

Although citrus fruits like oranges, lemons, and grapefruits are nutritious and rich in vitamin C, their high acidity can harm tooth enamel. Consistent consumption of citrus fruits and acidic juices may result in tooth sensitivity, discolouration, and a higher likelihood of cavities.

Starchy Foods

Starchy foods like chips, crackers, and bread can harm oral health, mainly when they get stuck between teeth or in the crevices of dental restorations. These foods break down into sugars that feed bacteria in the mouth, contributing to plaque formation and tooth decay.

Carbonated Beverages

Carbonated beverages like soda, energy drinks, and carbonated water are acidic and often loaded with sugar. Regular consumption can weaken tooth enamel, leading to erosion and an increased susceptibility to cavities.

Alcoholic Beverages

Alcoholic beverages can lead to dry mouth by reducing saliva production, increasing the risk of dental decay and gum disease.

Dried Fruits

While dried fruits like raisins, apricots, and figs may seem like a healthy snack choice, they are concentrated sources of sugar and can stick to the teeth, promoting decay. Many dried fruits are also acidic, contributing to enamel erosion over time.

About Affinity Health

Affinity Health is South Africa’s leading health coverage provider, offering you a range of options at affordable rates, including access to the widest national provider network. We understand the importance of having medical insurance that meets your needs, budget, and lifestyle. Our healthcare products are designed to protect you and your family when it matters the most. We strive to give our clients peace of mind and the highest standard of service. For more information, follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.

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