Brushing and flossing are important ways to take care of your oral health, avoid tooth decay and gum disease. But if you want to go the extra mile, start paying attention to the foods you eat as well. The old saying “you are what you eat” doesn’t only pertain to your body. Healthy choices at the dinner table can make a difference in keeping your teeth and gums healthy and strong. On the whole, choosing foods high in nutrients and low in sugar will promote healthy teeth, but there are some foods that are better choices than others.
Healthy Nutrition for Healthy Teeth
If you want to keep a healthy smile, choose foods that are high in calcium, vitamins, and protein. All the foods listed below contain important nutrients that not only play a part in healthy eating but are important to the health of your teeth and gums.
Calcium-rich dairy products such as cheese, milk, and plain yogurt help put minerals back into your teeth that may have been lost due to other foods. Yogurt contains beneficial bacteria called probiotics which counteracts the harmful bacteria in the mouth, just be sure to choose yogurt without any added sugar. Cheese increases the production of saliva, which helps wash the teeth during and in between meals. If you are allergic to dairy products, different types of milk including soy, almond, and other nut milk provide similar benefits and give a little boost of protein.
Kale, spinach, chard, and other leafy greens are full of vitamins and minerals and provide a lot of volume with minimal calorie spend. Leafy vegetables are high in calcium, B vitamins, and folic acid and also increase saliva production to help protect your teeth.
Other Fruits and Vegetables
Other fruits and veggies including celery, carrots, and apples are great choices to increase your dental health. Carrots and celery are high in Vitamin C and Vitamin A. They also do an excellent job at scraping down the teeth to help remove excess plaque as it builds up throughout the day. Eating an apple is a healthy sweet treat that not only increases saliva production but is a good source of fiber. Fruits and vegetables have a high water content, keeping your body hydrated, and also take a lot of chewing, which scrapes down the teeth removing food particles and the bacteria that cause cavities and tooth decay.
Eat lots of lean protein, such as fish, poultry, and tofu. These have phosphorous as well as protein to promote strong teeth and maintain good oral health. Almonds and other tree nuts are high in protein and make a good and crunchy snack with very low sugar content. Include food in your diet that is high in both protein and phosphorus to keep your teeth healthy and strong.
Never underestimate the benefits of drinking plain old water. Drinking water is the best way to keep your body hydrated and help prevent your mouth from drying out. Water also aids in the production of saliva and keeps your teeth washed in between meals. You can even step it up and drink fluoridated water, which will strengthen tooth enamel and further prevent cavities and gum disease. If you prefer something with flavor, unsweetened black tea is excellent for your teeth. Both green and black teas have plaque-fighting ingredients that prevent tooth decay.
Foods Detrimental to Your Teeth
As you can see, there are a lot of choices you can make for food good for teeth. But, are there other foods that are downright bad for your teeth? Yes, but there are also ways to mitigate the damage so you can still enjoy these treats in moderation.
Sticky Sweets and Candy
There’s no getting around it, sugar causes cavities. The bacteria that live in your mouth thrive on eating sugar. And the longer your teeth are exposed to bacteria, the higher your chance of getting cavities becomes. Therefore, sugar-laden hard candy, lollipops, and cough drops are not the best choice. The same goes for caramel, taffy, and other ooey-gooey sweet things that easily stick to your teeth. A better choice would be something made from chocolate. While chocolate has sugar, it washes away very easily and may even have some benefits if you choose one with 70% or more cacao.
Acidic Foods and Drinks
Eating foods that contain a lot of acid can attack the enamel that lines each tooth, making it weaker. Wine, carbonated beverages, citrus fruits, and even tomatoes all contain high amounts of acids. Acid causes erosion of your teeth which can lead to tooth sensitivity, cracks, and cupping (small dents on the surface of your teeth). In order to reduce the effect of acidic food, be sure to eat them with regular meals and drink lots of water to rinse your teeth after ingesting them. Another tip is to chew some sugar-free gum after meals. It helps keep your mouth moist and rinses food away from your teeth.
Eat Right for Good Oral Health
Sticking to a healthy diet is bound to keep your body healthy and your smile bright. Choose a diet that focuses on calcium-rich foods, leafy greens, fruits, vegetables, and lots of protein to strengthen your teeth, banish bad breath and keep your dental health in check. Your dental health and overall wellbeing are related, so it only goes to reason that good food is beneficial to all. Contact us to schedule your appointment today!