Establishing good eating habits from the moment your baby starts on solid food is essential to prevent oral health problems and to help support the growth of healthy teeth. Here Dakota Murphey, working alongside Black Swan Spa has put together some interesting facts about the tooth fairy, and some nutrition tips to help you make healthy food choices for healthy teeth.
You Are What You Eat
Nutrition isn’t just important for teeth, it’s the fundamental basis of overall health. We are what we eat didn’t emerge as a throwaway phrase. It has depth to its meaning. To be fit and healthy we need to eat good food.
In 1826 Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, A French Lawyer, politician and gastronome, wrote “Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.” The phrase emerged in England in the 1920s and 30s when nutritionist Victor Lindlahr developed the catabolic diet. He was a firm believer in the idea that food controls health. Many nutrition experts today work on the same holistic principles.
Healthy Food Choices
The best approach is to good health is to teach your children to make healthy food choices. What you eat is important. As young children learn by copying, it’s important as adults we lead by example. Following a healthy diet isn’t just important for teeth, healthy eating is the panacea to good health.
Healthy Food Choices for Healthy Teeth
Tooth decay and gum disease are amongst some of the most prevalent diseases in the world. Consumption of a poor diet, especially one full of sugary foods inevitably leads to poor dental health.
While we tend to focus on cutting out the baddies (and this is important too), there are many foods which we can add to our diet which are beneficial in supporting healthy teeth and gums. From preventing cavities to freshening breath and even whitening teeth, there are many foods that complement the daily ritual of good teeth cleaning. Here are our top five natural food choices for healthy teeth and gums.
- Crunchy foods – things like apples, celery and carrots aren’t just loaded with anti-oxidants, they also mechanically help to clean your teeth.
- Polyphenol-rich foods have been shown to get rid of the bad bacteria that causes gum disease. Cranberries are high in polyphenols, but be careful not to buy those with added sugar, which is common because they are so tart. Blueberries and green tea are also good sources.
- High-calcium greens – while calcium is conventionally associated with milk and cheese, calcium is also highly available from humble greens. Calcium helps to redeposit minerals into your teeth. Kale, greens, broccoli, kelp, spinach and fermented soybeans (tofu and tempeh) are all excellent sources of calcium. Organic is best, especially for soybean products.
- Probiotics – as well as being good for the gut, probiotics are also great for oral health. Live yoghurt (be mindful not to choose one with added sugar), miso soup and dark chocolate (in small quantities, for obvious reasons) are good sources.
- Water – keeping hydrated keeps saliva flowing adequately. Saliva is important because it contains enzymes your body needs to start digesting food, as well as proteins and minerals that protect tooth enamel. You’ll notice when you are dehydrated your saliva thickens and your mouth becomes dry, which means your saliva can’t do its job properly.
It’s not just what your kids eat, it’s also when they eat that’s equally important. Sugary foods taste good, but they cause bacteria in the mouth to turn sweet stuff into acid. It’s the acids that breakdown tooth enamel and cause cavities. Avoid gooey or chewy snacks that get stuck in between the teeth. Choose non-sugary snacks between meals. If you eat sweets, its best to eat them as a pudding after your main meal. Here are our top 7 healthy snacks:
- Houmous and vegetable sticks (such as peppers, cucumber and carrots)
- Oat cakes and nut butter
- Milkshake using unsweetened nut milk or oat milk and a frozen banana
- A salad of grated apple and carrot with slivered almonds
- Wholemeal pitta bread topped with cheese and peppers (bake in oven, or grill and hey presto a mini pizza!)
- Mini wholemeal rolls with tuna and sweetcorn (mixed together with a little natural greek yoghurt)
- Mashed avocado with wholegrain crackers
Tooth Fairy Tales
Compared to Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy is a relatively new mythological creature. While rituals surrounding tooth loss and a tooth collecting character date back centuries, the exact date the modern tooth fairy emerged is less clear.
The earliest recorded reference appears to have been in an article in the Chicago Daily Tribune in 1908, and tooth fairy tales are confined to the Anglosphere. In the UK, the US and Canada, kids are encouraged to place their lost tooth under the pillow at night. During the night the tooth fairy comes and replaces it with a coin.
There are many superstitions around children’s teeth all over the world. In Middle Eastern countries many children throw their lost tooth at the sun, while in India some kids throw their lost tooth onto the roof of their house. If they throw it straight it symbolises the growth of a straight replacement tooth. If they throw it crooked their second tooth will be crooked. Other worldly traditions include throwing teeth in a river, burying lost teeth and even throwing them into rat or mouse holes.
During the Middle Ages in the UK, children were instructed to burn their lost baby teeth to save them from hardship. The baby tooth was even seen to bring luck in battles; Scandinavian warriors hung children’s teeth on a string around their neck.