You brush your teeth 2-3 times a day, floss on the reg and watch your sugary food intake. Your dental health should be in pretty good nick, right? Well, not necessarily. As holistic dentist, Dr Lewis Ehrlich explains, what many people don’t understand is that your dental health sets the tone for a myriad of other health conditions, so it’s time to give your teeth and gums a little extra TLC.
“Healthy gums and being free of gum disease can reduce your risk of systemic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular, cancer, stroke, difficulties falling pregnant and premature births,” shares Dr Lewis Ehrlich. “The common denominator in all of these conditions is chronic inflammation. Unhealthy, poorly maintained gums are one of the most common sites of chronic inflammation in the body.”
“Unfortunately, so many of us use the absence of pain as a marker of oral health, however, the vast majority of oral conditions do not cause pain until they are very advanced,” stresses Dr Lewis Ehrlich.
Just like all aspects of health, nutrition plays a vital part, so this is one area we can turn our attention to in the aim of improving our overall dental health.
“As a general rule, foods that are good for your teeth and gums will generally be good for the rest of your health,” says Dr Lewis Ehrlich. “Eat nutrient-dense, natural foods. This means a diet rich in fat soluble vitamins A, D, E and K. These vitamins allow you to uptake nutrients that are vital for strong teeth and jaw bones.”
Furthermore, “put your teeth and jaw bones to work the way nature intended by eating crunchy foods [like carrots and apples]. This will help to stimulate healthy saliva, which neutralises acid and keeps your teeth strong.”
Dr Lewis Ehrlich also suggests reducing your intake of carbohydrates to a level lower than 130 per day and select from natural sources such as fruits and veggies for your additional dose of fibre. Upping your daily intake of Omega-3 fatty acids is also recommended, which you can get from salmon and other oily fish, flaxseed oil or alternatively, fish oil capsules if you need a supplement. As always, try and avoid trans-fatty acids such as fried foods and chips.
You’ll also be wanting to increase your daily intake of Vitamin C and D, says Dr Lewis Ehrlich. Do this by having “two kiwi fruits or an orange and 300g of avocado plus 15 minutes of sun exposure or a vitamin D supplement respectively. To boost your antioxidants levels, opt for a handful of blueberries or a cup of organic green tea.”
Need help putting it altogether? This is what your perfect day on a plate should look like, according to Dr Lewis Ehrlich:
“Scrambled organic free-range eggs on organic sourdough, with smoked salmon and avocado with a side of organic natural yogurt mixed through some blueberries and chopped orange.”
“Salmon salad with spinach, wakame, avocado, tomato, flaxseeds, chia seeds and goji berries.”
“Grilled mackerel or grass fed organic beef with roasted sweet potato, carrots, cauliflower and steamed broccoli.”
“Snack on nuts, carrots and celery—they are great for stimulating saliva which is important for your oral health.”
“Water and green tea. Green tea is rich in health promoting flavonoids, including catechins with have an antioxidant and anti-cancer effect in the body—and from an oral health perspective, green tea catechins have been shown to inhibit the growth of bacteria that are involved in gum disease. To top it off, green tea polyphenols also have a deodorising effects in the mouth and reduce the amount of volatile sulfur compounds with contribute to bad breath.”