You probably know that some foods, such as sticky caramels, hard candies and carb-heavy crackers, aren’t good for your teeth and increase your risk for tooth decay and the development of gum disease. Other types of foods, such acidic pickles, also wear down your teeth, meaning you might end up needing a toothreplacement sooner rather than later.
But, just as some foods are bad news for the health of your teeth, others can help keep your mouth healthy. Add at least some of the following foods to your diet to improve the health and appearance of your smile.
For healthy, strong teeth, some of the best foods you can eat include dairy products, such as milk, yogurt and cheese. The calcium found in dairy is essential for the structure of your teeth and plays a role in keeping the enamel strong. Dairy products also contain a protein called casein, which has been shown to help strengthen enamel too. As an added benefit, the calcium in cheese, milk and yogurt can also help keep gum disease at bay. A study published in 2000 in the Journal of Periodontology found that people who didn’t have enough calcium in their diets had a higher risk for gum disease.
A diet that has a lot of calcium in it isn’t worth much without a sufficient amount of vitamin D. Your body needs vitamin D to properly absorb the calcium. Certain types of fish, namely fatty fish such as salmon, are also great sources of vitamin D and great to eat for the health of your teeth and gums. Fish is also a good source of calcium.
Crunchy vegetables, such as celery and carrots, are great for your teeth. They aren’t called nature’s toothbrush for no reason. Snacking on raw vegetables can help scrub the surface of the teeth, removing sugar and plaque. The crunchiness of the vegetables also creates a lot of saliva in your mouth, which rinses away the bad stuff. While any type of crunchy vegetable or fruit, from apples to carrots, will help your teeth, celery is considered the best. The fibery strands on a celery stalk mimic the bristles on a toothbrush, sweeping away food particles and debris.
Along with having a toothbrush-like effect on your teeth, many fruits also help keep your mouth healthy due to the high levels of vitamin C they contain. Vitamin C is an antioxidant, meaning it reduces damage to the cells of your gums. It can also reduce inflammation of the gums.
Although fruits are generally considered good for your teeth, keep in mind that they do contain sugars and that some, such as citrus fruits, are high in acid. Acidic foods can wear down the enamel on your teeth. Try to choose low acid foods, such as apples or pears. If you do eat acidic foods, such as oranges and other citrus, rinse your mouth well with water afterwards.
Leafy greens like lettuce, spinach and kale are high in fiber, which helps scrub your teeth. They also tend to be a good source of calcium, as well as a good source of folate, a type of B vitamin. Folate plays a big part in helping keep cells healthy and in the growth of cells. Combined with vitamin C, a diet that contains an ample amount of folate can help slow down or stop the progression of gum disease.
Bonus: Tap Water
If you’re not drinking tap water, it’s a good idea to start. The fluoride that’s added to tap water across the US plays a big role in fighting cavities. Like calcium, fluoride strengthens the enamel on your teeth by removing the acids that eat away at the enamel.
Along with helping to fight cavities, drinking more water replaces beverages that aren’t so great for your teeth, such as sugary sodas or juices. If you aren’t comfortable drinking the tap water in your area, look for bottled water that contains fluoride.
Eating a healthy diet is just one way to keep your mouth healthy and to prevent gum disease. Check in on the health of your mouth and find out more about treatment options for gum disease by calling Gallardo & Lamas, a Miami periodontics and implant dentistry practice for an appointment. For a consultation in the Miami area, call 305-447-1447 today.