BY ALEX TAREMWA
The Trinity semester Health Awareness Week is due from June 12 to 17. One of the activities highlighted is dental health.
To many this means brushing their teeth twice a day: once in the morning and again before going to bed at night.
Unknown to them, watching one’s diet, checking one’s lifestyle and routine visits to the dentist are equally essential. First let us explore which diet is harmful for your teeth and why you should stay clear of it.
A balanced diet includes plenty of fruit and vegetables, as well as starchy foods such as bread, rice, potatoes (with the skin on where possible).
You should also eat proteins such as meat, fish, eggs, beans or other non-dairy sources of protein, and some milk and dairy foods (ideally lower-fat options).
Limiting the amount of sugar you eat and drink is important to prevent tooth decay.
Kenneth Akampwera, a dentist at Mbarara Dental Clinic, explained:
“A lot of the sugars we eat and drink are in food and drinks such as sweets, chocolate, cakes and biscuits, sugary drinks, including soft drinks, fizzy drinks, milky drinks with added unnatural sugar and alcohol, fruit juice, including fresh fruit juice, and table sugar added to the drinks like tea are also harmful to dental health.”
Sugars occur naturally in foods such as fruit and milk. However, when fruit is juiced or blended, as in smoothies, the sugars are released from the structure of the fruit.
Once released, these sugars can damage your teeth, especially if you drink fruit juice frequently.
“Even unsweetened fruit juice is not harmless. So try not to drink more than one glass (about 150ml) of fruit juice each day,” Akampwera said.
Smoking and alcoholism
Smoking can stain your teeth and cause bad breath. It also increases your risk of gum disease.
Alcohol too can erode the outer surface of the teeth, leading to a loss of enamel.
If this happens, you may need to go to the dentist for a filling.
Drinking too much alcohol has also been linked to an increased risk of developing mouth cancer.
The most important risk factors for mouth cancer are the combined effect of smoking and drinking alcohol.
It is estimated that heavy drinkers and smokers have a 38 times increased risk of developing mouth cancer than people who neither drink nor smoke.
A combination of wine, cigarette smoke, tea and coffee are all teeth-staining culprits. Keep them to a minimum to stop your teeth