Did you know that your oral health is not just dependent on brushing? In fact, what you eat can have just as much of an effect on your teeth as what you do after eating. It’s a good practice to choose a good toothpaste; it’s just as important to choose what and how you eat.
There are some obvious things to stay away from, things your dentist has warned you about your whole life. Sugary drinks like soda and juice, hard and chewy candy, and other acidic foods lead to cavities and a host of other dental issues. Drinks like wine and coffee stain your teeth, and crackers and popcorn kernels can take ages to come out. We know, we know…maintaining good oral health doesn’t sound fun at all.
We’ll do you one better though. The truth is any food can cause decay and other issues unless you exercise proper oral care.
Foods that are bad for your teeth are such because they attack enamel. Enamel acts as the first line of defense against harmful bacteria and the decay they bring in their wake. Acidic foods, if not consumed in moderation, can do remarkable damage to this protective layering. This happens as a result of plaque buildup; and if there is no enamel to fight it, the tooth quickly becomes susceptible to decay.
Thankfully, when coupled with proper oral care, there are some foods that prove very beneficial to dental health. Due to the presence of specific vitamins (and the absence of sucrose), these foods promote strength, cleanliness, and resistance
As far as “foods to eat” lists go, cheese usually isn’t in the lineup. However, dairy has a unique capability of drastically lowering levels of acidity in the mouth. Cheese seems to work particularly well for this, though milk has also shown positive effects.
Some properties of dairy such as cheese that make it so helpful around the mouth are its high amounts of protein and calcium. Teeth, though technically not a bone, share similar qualities, one of them being a love affair with calcium. Protein, in turn, also helps build up tooth strength.
Many kinds of cheese also contain high amounts of phosphorus, which is not only the second most common mineral in the body but 85% of it is found in bones and teeth. Other phosphorus-rich foods — such as meat, eggs, and fish — are good for the teeth in this respect.
Though most renowned for preventing urinary tract infections, cranberries have a host of health benefits. Among these include protecting tooth enamel. Cranberries contain polyphenols, chemical compounds which not only give these berries their vibrant color but prevent plaque from sticking to teeth.
This validates the argument for cranberries as a healthy and worthy snack, but there is a catch. Being that the fruit is naturally so tart, many cranberry products have had a lot of sugar added by the time they reach you. In the name of flavor, a lot of the good cranberries can do for your teeth may be undone. So make sure to eat your cranberries tart, for your teeth.
Other beneficial properties of cranberries are its high calcium content and dietary fiber. They are also antioxidant powerhouses.
When finding foods that are good for your teeth, you want to look at two characteristics: what vitamins does it have, and how much saliva will it generate. Most of our mouths don’t figuratively water for a nice clump of spinach, but literally, it’s a wash.
Spinach is a great source of Vitamin A, which is good but doesn’t necessarily mean much for teeth. It is, however, also a good source of calcium and Vitamin C. The real power in this superfood, for our purposes, is in its chewability. As you chew spinach, you generate saliva which helps wash out your mouth. Also, the little bits of leafy green actually help scrub away bacteria that would otherwise turn into plaque.
Both ways you look at it, spinach is a helpful and amazing food for your teeth.
There are many teeth whitening services out there, and Foothills and RiverWest Dental offer it at a great price. But perhaps no method is quite as tasty as eating strawberries.
Strawberries contain something called malic acid, which in keeping with what we’ve discussed, is no friend to your enamel. It does, however, work well to whiten your teeth. And, just like with everything, if you balance out your consumption of strawberries with water, brushing, and good old-fashioned salivation, you can keep the pH levels in your mouth at a good spot in addition to whitening your teeth and keeping your enamel intact.
Malic acid can be found in many types of fruits, but strawberries seem to be especially good at using it for teeth whitening.
Another quality in your food to look for is crunchiness. But just like with that malic acid, you’ll need to find a balance here. Really crunchy foods like peanut brittle do your teeth no favors. You’ll want to look for foods that not only scrub with every bite but infuse your mouth with all the right vitamins. That’s where apples come in.
Apart from flowing with flavonoids, antioxidants, and dietary fiber, apples are satisfyingly crunchy. And it’s not just the sound of biting into one that is therapeutic — crunchy foods like apples and cucumbers scrub as you penetrate their tough skin. Why didn’t we include cucumbers on this list, you ask? Because apples are tastier.
Familiarize your palate with apples. Chances are, you won’t only be repelling doctors but also dentists.
Water is every bit essential to a healthy body as people say it is. It’s a great practice to wash your hands before eating, but have you ever considered washing after? Water is a fantastic cleansing agent, and it would do you well to chase each meal or snack with a glass of water.
Water is also your saving grace when it comes to enjoying other foods not on this list. Let’s face it, eating citrus fruits, processed foods, and candy can be very enjoyable. And these things are good to eat in moderation, and all the better when accompanied by the cleansing equalizer of water.
This is probably also a good time to address fluoride. Once and for all, fluoride in your water is a good thing. It is not a government mind-control experiment. And if it is, then at least it’s also helping to fight tooth decay.
As we’ve seen throughout our list, many different types of foods work well with your teeth. It’s not all about how often or hard you brush, or what toothpaste you use, though these are vital as well. We all spend more time of the day eating than we do brushing, so as you watch your diet you will also find ways to strengthen and whiten your teeth.
Have any questions about whether other foods are good for your oral health? Leave a comment and we’ll respond as soon as we can!