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Sugarcane cleans teeth, prevents decay

Health & Science

Sugarcane contains natural sugar and the liquid in sugarcane helps to wash the teeth and help maintain freshness. [Courtesy]

Valley like Nakuru and around the southern parts of Nyanza with prevalence of sodium bicarbonate.

Oral health also affects people in regions with a lot of sodium chloride and poor oral hygiene.

The 2015 Kenya National Oral Survey (KNOS), the only such survey so far, revealed that three out of four teenagers suffered from bleeding gums, a prevalence above 99 percent in the five-year-olds. Nearly all adults, over 98 percent, screened had some form of gum disease.

The study concluded that both children and adults had unmet dental caries and gum related treatment needs with a significant population in Kenya still exposed to fluoride levels above normal in their drinking water.

But did you know what you eat plays a part in oral health?

 “Changes in your mouth start the minute you eat certain foods”, says molecular biologist, Dr Stephen Olwith.

He adds that the bacteria in the mouth converts sugar and carbohydrates from the foods one eats to acid which is what kick starts attack on the teeth enamel thus setting the stage for tooth decay-which is worsened by frequent consumption of snacks.

 The best food choices for a healthy mouth, healthy and white teeth include cheese, chicken, other meats, nuts and milk which provides calcium and phosphorus needed to remineralize the teeth.

Remineralizing is a natural process in which minerals are re-deposited in the tooth enamel after being removed by acids.

 Dr Olwith also recommends consumption of apples, pears and vegetables which also prevents tooth decay as they have high water content which dilutes the effects of the sugars besides stimulating flow of saliva which washes away food particles and buffering acids.

Chewing sugarless gum also increases saliva flow, but acidic foods like citrus fruits, tomatoes, and lemons should be eaten as part of larger meals to minimize acids from them.

 Fluoridated water, unsweetened tea and coffee are also idea but “limit consumption of sugary drinks such as soft drinks, lemonade, sweetened tea or coffee. Also avoid day long sipping of sodas as you watch movies or football matches as this exposes your teeth to constant sugar and in turn constant decay causing acids”, advises Dr Olwith.

Another ideal food item is sugarcane which also increases saliva flow to help buffer or neutralize mouth acids.

Indeed, sugarcane contains natural sugar and the liquid in sugarcane helps to wash the teeth and help maintain freshness of the teeth. Dentists also recommend some gums especially the non-sweetened ones like natural gum Arabic from acacia trees which reduce tooth cavities. 

The 2015 study also found that oral health-seeking behaviour and oral hygiene practices was found to be poor with the quality of life adversely affected by existing oral diseases, a situation worsened by the low number of dentists: only 1, 426 dentists have been registered by the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Council since 1978.

Of this, only 816 are currently licensed to practice in 2021. Less than half work in public service, meaning we have less than ten dentists per county or a dentist to population ratio of 1:110,000, according to the 2019 National Census.


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