Idle Musings of a Dentist

It’s Sunday morning and I hopped over to the local yet popular supermarket, hoping to pick all I needed and getsome well-deserved breakfast after that. My shopping and the calm of the supermarket was broken by the wails and tantrums of a young kid following a harrowed mother. The mom promptly picked a pack of cookies, fruit juice and some chocolates to pacify the tantrum.

Being a dentist for the longest time, I wasn’t too thrilled with this entire episode – general dentistry laws apply – cookies, fruit juice, and chocolate do not equal good teeth.

But it did get me thinking as to how early on in life, we introduce our loved ones and ourselves to oral damage and neglect. But obviously, we’ve ended up with an entire generation of people withoral conditions going from bad to worse.

So what changed over the generations and what’s making it worse for us…….

As we have evolved and our lifestyles get increasingly hectic, our dietary habits have gotten simpler and quicker. The markets are flooded with a whole lot of easy-to-make processed food but they are way unhealthier for our oral cavity, teeth and general well-being.

We have gotten so good at processing foods that for the first time in human evolution, many humans are eating more calories than they can burn in a day. Rough breads have given way to processed breads and apples to apple juice are all loaded with artificial sweeteners and starches.

Add carbonated drinks to the lot and you have enamel damage and weakening!

Dental distress

Not taking care of your teeth and gums can lead to therisk of tooth decay, gum disease, and even bone loss.

Inclusion of sticky sugars and processed foods have led to higher instances of cavities. These result from the build-up of plaque – a sticky slimy substance composed mostly of bacteria. In the breaking down of sugar and carbohydrates, bacteria creates acids and these acids can eat away the teeth.

Gum Diseases– Most Indian adults over the age of 30 years have some form of periodontal or gum disease. Gingivitis or inflammation of the gum tissue is an early stage problem. But neglect will lead to “pockets” or little spaces between the teeth and gums.

Bacteria love to colonise these pockets which can lead to periodontitis, the permanent destruction of the tissues that connect teeth to bone in the mouth leading to weakening of teeth and irreversible loss of teeth. There are ways to combat this, such as considering cosmetic dentistry as one of the possible options to get your teeth looking like new. But it’s important that you look after your teeth to begin with, or you’re putting yourself at higher risk of teeth and mouth diseases.

Oral Health Signals General Well Being

The state of our teeth and gums can often signal systemic problems including cardiovascular diseases, celiac diseases, diabetes, sinus infection, rheumatoid arthritis, irritable bowel disease, gastroesophageal reflux, alcoholism, and more.

Gum Or periodontal disease is a risk factor for heart disease as proven by recent research.

Nutrient shortfalls or excesses will show up in mouth tissue before they show up anywhere else.

These are indicative of vitamin deficiencies which can be easily caught during a routine dental check-up.

If our eyes are a window to the soul, our teeth and gums are a window to our bodies,making it essential to have a routine dental examination .

Going Shopping?

Unfortunately hectic lifestyles don’t leave much room for change. However, a few small changes to your weekly shopping cart can take your oral health a long way.

Make a list of these things that need to be in your shopping cart. According to a recent study, including the following items to your shopping cart will help improve your diet and oral health


A study published in the May/June 2013 issue of General Dentistry, the journal of the American Academy of General Dentistry, reported that eating cheese raised the pH in the subjects’ mouths and lowered their risk of tooth decay. It’s thought that the chewing required to eat cheese increases saliva in the mouth. Cheese also contains calcium and protein, nutrients that strengthen tooth enamel.


Like cheese, yogurt is high in calcium and protein, which makes it a good pick for the strength and health of your teeth. The probiotics or beneficial bacteria found in yogurt also benefit your gums because the good bacteria crowd out bacteria that cause cavities. If you decide to add more yogurt to your diet, choose a plain variety with no added sugar.

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens typically find their way onto any healthy foods list. They’re full of vitamins and minerals while being low in calories. Leafy greens such as kale and spinach also promote oral health. They’re high in calcium, which builds your teeth’s enamel. They also contain folic acid, a type of vitaminB, that has numerous health benefits including possibly treating gum disease in pregnant women, according to MedlinePlus.


While the ADA recommends steering clear of most sweet foods, there are some exceptions. Fruits, such as apples might be sweet but they’re also high in fibre and water. The action of eating an apple produces saliva in your mouth, which rinses away bacteria and food particles. The fibrous texture of the fruit also stimulates the gums. Pack either a whole apple or apple slices in your lunch to give your mouth a good scrubbing at the end of the meal.


Like apples, carrots are crunchy and full of fiber. Eating a handful of raw carrots at the end of the meal increases saliva production in your mouth, which reduces your risk of cavities. Along with being high in fibre, carrots are a great source of vitamin A.


Celery might be bland, watery and full of those pesky strings, but like carrots and apples, it acts a bit like a toothbrush, scraping food particles and bacteria away from your teeth. It’s also a good source of vitamins A and C, two antioxidants that give the health of your gums a boost.


Almonds are great for your teeth because they are a good source of calcium and protein while being low in sugar.

Along with adding more leafy greens, dairy products and fibrous vegetables to your diet, pay attention to what you’re drinking. Since it has no calories or sugar, water is always the best pick, especially compared to juice or soda. Your diet makes a big difference when it comes to a healthy smile.

Recommendations for Your Pearly Whites!

Get your oral hygiene on. Seriously. Are you flossing yet? Are you brushing at least twice per day? If not, start.

  • Brush your teeth, not only with fluoride-based toothpaste, but also baking soda-based toothpaste. The baking soda will raise the pH in your mouth, making it more alkaline and therefore decreasing risk of cavities.
  • Avoid smoking. Smoking can wreak havoc on gum and tooth health.
  • Drink green tea. Drinking green tea improves the health of your teeth and gums, as it decreases inflammation, makes your mouth more alkaline and inhibits the growth of cavity-causing bacteria.
  • Chew xylitol gum after meals. Xylitol increases saliva production and prevents the bacteria in your mouth from producing the acids that cause cavities. But don’t go overboard, because even if sugar alcohols won’t harm your teeth, they can cause gas and bloating.
  • Eat mostly whole, nutrient-dense foods that provide plenty of calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin K (especially K2) and vitamin D. Foods like leafy green vegetables, nuts, seeds, hard aged cheeses, plain yogurt, meats, beans, mushrooms, fish, eggs, and organ meats all work here.
  • Limit added sugars from both foods and beverages. This includes soda, fruit juice, energy drinks, candies, etc. Energy drinks are particularly damaging as they combine a high sugar load with an incredibly acidic pH. If your diet is built around energy bars and energy drinks, you probably won’t have any teeth remaining on your 45th birthday.
  • Maintain a lean/healthy body composition. Excess body fat can promote poor systemic health, including poor oral health.
  • Increase the amount of arginine in your diet. Eat more spinach, lentils, nuts, eggs, whole grains, meat, seafood, and soy.
  • Get regular exercise. Exercise seems to protect against periodontal disease.

Time to say good bye with some quick tips.

Here’s to a great smile!

Quick Tips

How long after eating should you brush your teeth?

Avoid brushing your teeth for at least 30 minutes after acidic foods and beverages. These acids weaken tooth enamel, and brushing too soon can cause damage to the enamel. If you know you’re going to eat or drink something very acidic ahead of time, you may want to brush your teeth first.

Do apples help clean your teeth?

Eating apples can actually aid in cleansing and brightening the teeth, due to their mildly acidic nature, they act as a mild astringent to your teeth. But don’t peel the apple. The fibre in the skin is essential in this process. The acid needs the help of the fibre-rich flesh of the apple If you wanted some more useful advice on teeth. My friend told me that Tandartspraktijk Antwerpen Euro Dent is a fantastic Dutch dentist and can provide some further insight into how to take care of your teeth.


Dr Shail Jaggi is a passionate dentist with specialisation in cosmetic dentistry and endodontics. She manages an Advanced Microscope Enhanced Practice – Dentalwiz dealing with all aspects of dentistry. Dr Jaggi is recipient of ‘Outstanding Dentist Of The Year -2015’

Dr Shail Jaggi

Dr Shail Jaggi

Dr Shail Jaggi is a passionate dentist with specialisation in cosmetic dentistry and endodontics. She manages an Advanced Microscope Enhanced Practice – Dentalwiz dealing with all aspects of dentistry. Dr Jaggi is recipient of ‘Outstanding Dentist Of The Year -2015’. Dr Jaggi writes every Wednesday on Pune365.
Dr Shail Jaggi