We all know that sugar and acid are number one enemies when it comes to dental decay and erosion, but what about foods that promote good oral health? Recently there has been a lot of research into foods that contain compounds with anti-bacterial action.
Herbs and spices add more than extra flavour
Herbs and spices have been used as natural food preservatives for centuries—long before refrigeration and other methods of food storage were invented.
It’s all thanks to phenolic and aldehyde compounds that are naturally present in cinnamon, cloves, sage, thyme and rosemary. Such antibacterial properties that have kept food from spoiling can also exhibit antibacterial effects on oral microbes’. 1
Foods that pack a punch of flavour such as garlic, onion, mustard and horseradish have powerful phytochemicals that help the plant to protect themselves from pests and diseases. We can also benefit from their properties by incorporating them into the foods we eat. The active components in garlic (called allicin) is particularly potent and has been shown to kill gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria. Just keep in mind that those anti-bacterial phytochemicals also contain sulphur compounds that can be responsible for bad breath. 2
Tea or coffee?
Sorry coffee lovers but tea wins by a long shot in its anti-caries properties (providing that you don’t add sugar).
It is lower in caffeine that can cause dry mouth, has fluoride present naturally plus the well-documented anti-bacterial properties of tannins that give black tea that beautiful deep red hue.
Green tea goes a step further and in addition to anti-decay properties will also give you a fresher breath thanks to the high concentration of polyphenols.
Turmeric has been used in eastern cuisine for centuries to add flavour and give food a beautiful golden hue.
It also has been used in traditional medicine as an anti-bacterial and its use has been backed up by scientific research.
As well as killing bacteria it’s also been proven to have anti-inflammatory properties and has been recommended as a supplement to sufferers of osteoarthritis and type 2 diabetes.
Researchers at the University of Queensland found that curcumin (an active compound in turmeric) acts as a specific blocker of the inflammatory signals that arise in diabetes.
Watch this space as researchers are currently developing an anti-diabetic treatment derived from turmeric that can be combined with current treatments. 3 / 4
One point to mention is that tannins (in tea) and turmeric can cause surface staining on your teeth.
Here at Bite Dental, we’re happy to discuss how you can manage this while still enjoying a healthy and varied diet.