You probably know that what you eat matters to your health, but did you know that what you eat has a direct impact on the health of your teeth? Eating certain foods can provide your body with the nutrients that it needs in order to build strong, healthy teeth. There are also foods that you can eat that can really do a lot of damage to your teeth and create a lasting impact on your oral health. Our Chicago dentist believes in educating patients so they know which foods are best for their oral health! Check out this list of what foods you should add to this week’s grocery list in order to make teeth healthy and happy (as well as some foods to avoid!).
Eat These Foods for Healthier Teeth…
Yogurt is an excellent source of calcium, which is one of the main building blocks of your teeth. You’ll find calcium in all dairy products, but yogurt is an especially good source of it. If you are lactose intolerant, don’t worry; you can get the calcium you need from another food item on this list. If you do eat yogurt, pick a brand that doesn’t add sugar, though. The additional sugar could damage your teeth and cancel out the benefits of the calcium.
Pumpkin seeds are a great source of phosphorus. This is another big building block of healthy teeth along with calcium. These minerals are what make up the hard shell of your tooth. As food and drinks wear away that enamel shell with acids, phosphorus and calcium are used to repair the damage and rebuild the enamel. Throw some pumpkin seeds in your yogurt for the ultimate teeth-friendly breakfast. You can also add them to a salad or just eat them on their own as a great afternoon snack!
Spinach is packed with lots of teeth-friendly vitamins, including folic acid, calcium (attention to those who are lactose intolerant!), and Vitamin C. Some of these nutrients, like calcium, are used to help build stronger teeth. Other nutrients, like Vitamin C, can help reduce inflammation in the mouth and help your gums stay healthy. Spinach is a great vegetable to sneak into other dishes; you can blend it into pasta sauce, top a pizza with it, or even add it to your morning smoothies.
Cheese lovers, rejoice! Cheese is actually a food that’s great for your teeth. It’s packed with calcium, sure, but that’s just the beginning of what cheese does for your mouth. A number of studies have found that cheese can lower the acid levels in your mouth; acid is the stuff that eats away at the enamel in your teeth, making them weak and prone to issues like cavities. Cheese can also help increase the amount of saliva in your mouth, which helps wash out some of the teeth-destroying bacteria hidden in there.
Many people write tea off as a teeth-friendly beverage because they are worried about it staining their teeth. While there is some danger of that, if you brush regularly this shouldn’t be a big issue. Plus, there are some great things that tea can do for your teeth! Tea can help slow down the growth of harmful bacteria in your mouth. This can lead to less plaque buildup and could even help promote healthier gums. Black tea seems to be the most effective, though some studies suggest green tea has benefits as well.
Crunchy fruits and vegetables are great for your teeth! Apples also increase the saliva in your mouth, which is a bit like giving your mouth a rinse from the inside because it flushes away some of the harmful bacteria. The crunchy texture of the apple can also help scrape plaque and bacteria off of the surface of your teeth, cleaning them while you eat. It’s almost like brushing your teeth (although we don’t recommend replacing your toothbrush with an apple). Add an apple to your lunch or cut them up into slices for a great afternoon snack that’s also teeth-friendly.
Onions contain natural antibacterial properties that can really benefit your mouth. Eating onions can neutralize the bacteria in your mouth, and that’s the stuff that’s responsible for giving you cavities and gum disease. Add onions to your salad, soups, or top off your sandwich with them for a little boost to your oral health.
…and Avoid These
- Sugar. Sugar is one of the most harmful things you can eat when it comes to your oral health. That’s because it feeds the bacteria in your mouth and helps it grow. That bacteria can attack your gums and cause gum disease or it can end up creating cavities or other oral health concerns. Sugar in a soda can be especially corrosive to your teeth, as sipping on a soda allows the sugars to spend more time in your mouth doing damage.
- Citrus fruits. Citrus fruits contain high levels of acid that can erode the enamel of your teeth over time. Some fruits are worse for your teeth than others; for instance, lemons are far more acidic than oranges. If you left your teeth in lemon juice for a few days, they’d start to erode. Fortunately, that doesn’t happen too often, but it’s still good to avoid too much of these acid-filled foods in your diet.
When you do consume these foods, make sure that you brush, floss, and rinse afterward. That can help get rid of the harmful substances. It’s a good idea to consume these foods along with other teeth-friendly foods in order to mitigate the potential damage. For instance, adding lemon juice to your spinach salad will help lower the impact of the acid, as the spinach will deliver good nutrients to your body and the saliva the salad stimulates in your mouth will help wash the acid away.
How is your diet affecting your teeth? Our Chicago dentist will be able to tell you. Make an appointment for a dental exam today and let’s see how your teeth are doing. You can contact us by phone or through our website to make an appointment.