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Nutrition and Oral Health

What is oral health?

Oral health is achieved when the teeth and the oral environment are healthy, comfortable and functional. This state of oral health is achievable for the majority of the population and should persist for life.

The oral health of the general public has improved over the past 40 years. The main reasons for this improvement include water fluoridation and the widespread availability of fluoride toothpaste combined with better knowledge of the importance of dental hygiene practice and good nutrition.

However, there is no place for complacency as several surveys have pointed to lifestyle habits that mean the risk of dental decay is still high. For example, a recent Health Board Dental Health survey reports that one in four five-year-olds and one in three 12-year-olds eat sweet snacks between meals three or more times a day. In addition, the National Health & Lifestyle Survey also report that over 40 percent of teenagers are consuming high fat and high sugar foods three or more times daily.

In addition to poor dietary habits, tobacco, alcohol, stress, accidents and injuries also affect oral health.

The importance of healthy eating

What we eat and drink plays an important role in good oral health.
While children and adolescents need a high-energy intake, this should not be associated with frequent consumption of soft drinks and high sugar snacks throughout the day as frequent consumption of sugary foods and drinks is the highest cause of tooth decay.

Sugar is a good source of energy (calories). It is absorbed quickly into the body, giving you a boost of energy, but you will not feel full or satisfied for long. Complex carbohydrates such as cereal, bread and potato will give you longer lasting energy.

The key to healthy eating and a healthy smile is to only make a few small changes at a time and then gradually a few more. Try to:

  • Eat a variety of foods using the food pyramid as a guide. Try to eat more foods from the bottom shelf like breads, cereals, potatoes, pasta, rice and more fruit and vegetables. These are kinder to teeth!
  • Maintain a healthy weight and exercise regularly.
  • Eat four or more portions of fruit and vegetables every day.
  • Eat more foods rich in starch - bread, cereals, potatoes, pasta and rice
  • Eat more foods rich in fiber - bread and cereals (especially wholegrain), potatoes, fruit and vegetables.

Healthy Tips

Six Tips on How to Stick with your New Year's Resolutions

1. Focus on positive self-talk. Congratulate yourself every time you take a step towards your resolution goal. Be your own best cheerleader.

2. Avoid berating yourself if you should fall back or break a resolution. Just brush yourself off and start over again.

3. Stick to your resolution by considering it a promise to yourself, not a test of your willpower.
4. Avoid situations that put you in temptation's path, meaning if you're on a diet, don't go to the ice cream parlor.

5. Keep a sticky note in a prominent place so that you see it every day, reminding yourself of your resolutions. (i.e., on your bathroom mirror, next to your bed, on the visor of your car, on the refrigerator)

6. Be realistic. Make sure your plan is a realistic one that can fit into your lifestyle. Will you really have the energy to go out for that evening exercise class? Make changes as easy and convenient as possible.