While all of us are taking necessary precautions to keep ourselves safe from the risk of contracting the virus, it’s equally important, if not more, to pay attention to our oral health. As the lockdown forces suspension of regular dental services for the better part of the year, it is imperative that we keep our teeth and gums in check.

As part of the National Nutrition Week, dentist, oral pathologist and implantologist Dr. Surbhi Wadhwani had some interesting insights to share on how to maintain good oral health while staying at home, all in a candid conversation with Shriya from Docvita. Speaking to Dr. Wadhwani, we have gathered some top tips for keeping our teeth and gums healthy and  some useful advice on which foods to avoid. 

Dr. Wadhwani said that the “lockdown has been a blessing for us to revisit our eating habits and check on our oral hygiene” as our tendency to eat outside food too often has been disrupted this year. She added that maintaining good oral health didn’t have to be a task – simple home cooked meals comprising dal and roti along with green leafy vegetables can do wonders for our teeth and gum health. She also recommended adding fibrous and nutrient- rich fruits such as strawberries, apples, bananas, cherries and kiwis to everyday diet, as they help keep teeth free from stains and keep them shiny and white. 

“Sugary and starchy foods such as breads, pasta, chips, chocolates (excluding dark chocolate, which actually has some beneficial properties), and biscuits must be avoided as far as possible, because they can cause tooth decay and gum disease”, said Dr. Wadhwani. 

Now that we are working from home during the lockdown, we tend to indulge in snacking when working. Instead of gorging on unhealthy snacks like junk food, chips and cookies, Dr. Wadhwani suggested “opting for crunchy foods such as dry fruits which, in moderation, can get the saliva going, and along with water, can help wash away the plaque-causing bacteria and food particles. Even smoothies without sugar prepared at home can be a good alternative to indefinite snacking. 

It is our diet that marks the difference between a healthy smile and an oral condition that necessitates regular visits to the dentist. Good oral habits such as brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and a regular intake of Vitamin D can go a long way in achieving those pearly white teeth.  It’s also necessary to change our toothbrush every 90 days for effective brushing and cleaning of teeth.

Eating a balanced variety of nutrient-rich foods belonging to all food groups promotes healthy teeth and gums, said Dr. Wadhwani emphatically. She further reminded the audience that one needs to maintain a balanced diet of fibrous fruits, green-leafy vegetables, protein-rich foods, calcium-rich foods such as low-fat or fat-free milk, cheese, yogurt and whole grains for a good oral health and an overall healthy body.

Elaborating on the ill-effects of tea and coffee loaded with sugar, Dr. Wadhwani instead recommended more of black tea/coffee and green tea, which can be easily consumed daily. Except wine, she added, every other alcoholic drink can cause serious oral problems, and so can sodas and sparkling water, which can erode the outer layer of our teeth due to the high sugar and acidic content in them. 

Dr. Wadhwani concluded the session by advising everybody to visit their dentist at least once a year for a thorough routine check-up, as that would keep oral health problems at bay.