November 9, 2017
You know that what you eat and drink has a profound effect on the health of your body. So it may come as no surprise to you that diet also affects the state of your teeth and gums specifically.
Consume a poor diet, and you won’t get the nutrients you need for strong enamel and robust gums. Chowing down on chewy sweets, sodas, and other sugary foods encourages the proliferation of nasty bacteria, which create the acids that cause tooth decay.
The right foods boost your overall health and dental health with essential vitamins and minerals and may even offer specific protection for your tooth enamel and gums. In fact, good eating habits go hand in hand with oral hygiene and dental visits as an important component of preventive dental care.
Read on to learn about a few tooth-healthy foods that should become a regular part of your diet, if they are not already.
You probably know that dairy products — milk, cheese, yogurt — contain calcium, which are good for your bones and teeth. In fact, bones and teeth store almost all of your body’s calcium, which is essential to keeping them strong.
Dairy products are also an excellent source of phosphorus. This abundant mineral is stored primarily in the bones and teeth and works with calcium to strengthen them. Calcium and phosphorus help repair damage to the enamel.
Milk, yogurt, and cheese contain proteins called caseins. These caseins are believed to form a protective coating on the surface of your teeth, protecting them from acid attacks and decay.
Cheese in particular seems to be good for your teeth. Studies have shown that cheese increases the pH level in the mouth. The higher the pH level, the lower the risk of cavities. These beneficial effects may be due to increased saliva production from chewing, plus protective compounds in the cheese.
While we do encourage you to fill your diet with dairy, be sure to stick with low-sugar options — avoid sweetened yogurts and flavored milks.
Go ahead, load up on the leafy greens — kale, spinach, Swiss chard, collard greens, or whatever fits your fancy. These superfoods are packed with vitamins and minerals that keep your entire body healthy, plus they are low in calories.
They also benefit your oral health specifically. Leafy greens are rich in enamel-boosting calcium, and they contain folic acid. Folic acid has been shown to reduce gum inflammation, bleeding of the gums, and help protect gum tissue from disease-causing bacteria.
If you (or your kids) aren’t a fan of the green stuff, try being creative: blend them into a smoothie, add a little spinach to the top of a pizza.
Crunchy Fruits and Vegetables
Snack away on raw carrots, celery, apples, and other crunchy produce. While some of them, like apples, do contain sugar, their dental health benefits far outweigh the sugar content.
In addition to containing lots of body-enriching nutrients, these crunchy fruits and vegetables are packed with water and fiber. The act of chewing these fibrous foods stimulates the gums in a beneficial way and increases the production of saliva. Saliva and water keep your mouth clean by rinsing away food particles, bacteria, and other nasty stuff.
You don’t always have a toothbrush handy, but eating an apple is a simple and tasty way to help keep your mouth clean between meals.
Nuts and Seeds
Nuts are another awesome, tooth-friendly snack. They are filling, low in sugar, and jam-packed with nutrients that help keep your teeth and body healthy. Almonds are an excellent source of calcium, which we know is vital for strong bones and tooth enamel. Peanuts offer calcium and vitamin D to boot. Cashews and walnuts are also good to include in your diet.
Sesame seeds are another way to get a calcium boost, plus the act of chewing the tiny seeds may actually help clean the teeth of harmful plaque.
Lean Meats (and Eggs)
Lean meats are excellent sources of protein and phosphorus, which is vital for the strength and health of your teeth. So fill your diet with plenty of chicken, fish, and eggs.
A good diet is just one part of maintaining your oral health. It’s also important to practice consistent brushing and flossing habits and to visit the dentist every six months for a cleaning and examination.