5 Foods That Keep Your Smile Healthy
- February 7, 2018
You are surely aware that what you eat affects your body. But have you thought much about the nutrition and oral health connection?
Some foods — sugary drinks, chewy sweets, and carbs in general — feed harmful bacteria that wreak havoc on your teeth and gums.
But there are other foods that are dental health superheros, reducing bacteria, building up enamel, and helping to keep our mouths clean.
Read on to learn about five foods that fight for your teeth and that should be an important part of your and your family’s diets.
Double Up on Dairy
Dairy products, of course, are loaded with calcium. This mineral is stored in your bones and teeth and is responsible for much of their structure and strength. That glass of milk is also a good source of phosphorus, which aids calcium in fortifying teeth.
Research also shows dairy products provide other benefits to your teeth and gums. They contain proteins called caseins, which form a sort of protective coating over your tooth enamel that bacterial acids have difficulty breaching.
Drinking milk can help neutralize bacterial acids after you eat sugary treats — so go ahead, rinse that cookie down with a glass of the white stuff.
Cheese in particular has been shown to possess powerful cavity-fighting properties. Eating it raises the pH level of the mouth. This creates an inhospitable environment for the bacteria that produce destructive acids.
Eat Your Leafy Greens
Leafy greens such as spinach, swiss chard, kale, and watercress are superfoods, period. They are low and calories and rich in nutrients that are good for your entire body. So it’s no surprise that they offer good things for your teeth and gums in particular.
These versatile green veggies are an excellent source of calcium, making them an especially important food for vegans and other people who can’t eat dairy. (Though everyone should really get their share of greens.)
Leafy green vegetables also contain folic acid. This B vitamin has various health benefits, including for your gums. It may diminish inflammation and make them better able to stave off the destructive effects of bacteria. It may also reduce bleeding of the gums. Folic acid is especially recommended for pregnant women, who are prone to a hormone-induced condition called “pregnancy gingivitis.”
Snack on Crunchy Fruits and Veggies
Next time you’re itching for a mid-afternoon nibble, skip the carb-heavy (and bacteria-friendly) chips and pretzels and reach for a crisp apple or handful of carrot sticks.
Crunchy raw vegetables and fruits — even if they contain some sugar — are delicious, packed with vitamins and minerals, and actually help keep your mouth clean.
They have a high water content and stimulate the flow of cleansing saliva in your mouth. This helps to rinse away food particles and bacteria and neutralize acids. They contain a lot of fiber, which stimulates the gums when you chew.
Stave off Hunger with Nuts
Nuts are another excellent option for a healthy, tooth-friendly snack. They are high in nutrients, low in sugar, and just a handful fills you up.
When you chew on nuts, their crunchy texture makes you produce a lot of saliva. This cleans out your mouth and reduces the bacteria and acids that decay your teeth and lead to gum disease. And, being low in carbs themselves, they are not a good food source for harmful bacteria.
Fill Up on Water
Okay, water is not a food exactly, but it is crucial for good oral health. When you’re feeling thirsty, don’t reach for a soft drink, juice, or sports drink. Reach for good old H2O. And make it a habit. Rather than coating your teeth in destructive sugars and acids, water actually helps keep your mouth clean. It rinses away food particles and bacteria, and neutralizes the acids that wear away your tooth enamel.
Tap water is the best choice, as most municipal water supplies (including Columbia’s) are fortified with fluoride. As you may know, fluoride is a mineral that helps to strengthen tooth enamel. It is totally safe and must be replenished continuously.
We recommend investing in a reusable bottle, keeping it filled with tap water, and carrying it with you throughout the day. This is good for your dental health and good for the environment, as you won’t be going through disposable plastic bottles.
Good nutrition boosts oral health. As do regular dental visits. To book a cleaning and exam at Total Dental Care of South Carolina, call our Columbia, SC office at 803-272-4162. Or get in touch through our online form.