Good preventive dental care encompasses a range of habits and behaviors. There’s the obvious: brushing and flossing regularly, visiting the dentist twice a year, and avoiding sticky sweets and other decay-causing foods. But on the subject of food, are there edibles that help your oral health?
The answer is a resounding “Yes!”
Add more of these tasty and teeth-friendly foods to your diet, and you will be doing a good thing for your teeth and gums.
Dairy products in general are good for your bones and teeth, thanks to their high content of calcium and phosphorus. These minerals are stored almost exclusively in your bones and teeth, and are essential for maintaining their structure and strength. Dairy products also contain proteins called caseins, which link together to form a protective coating over the tooth enamel and protect it from the bacterial acids that cause decay.
Cheese however, is believed to go above and beyond other dairy products in its benefits for your dental health. Researchers have found that the act of eating cheese raises the pH level in the mouth. The higher the pH level, the lower the chance of developing tooth decay and cavities. The pH effect is likely due to increased saliva production while eating cheese (saliva is your mouth’s natural way of keeping clean).
Not at all surprisingly, another dairy product makes the list. Yogurt is high in calcium and phosphorus, which keep teeth and bones strong. It also contains caseins, which, as we’ve discussed, protect the tooth enamel from harmful bacteria.
Yogurt holds another secret weapon in the battle to protect your teeth. It is loaded with probiotics, or good bacteria. A Japanese study showed that people who eat yogurt have healthier gums. This is likely because the good bacteria crowd out the nasty bacteria that cause gum disease and tooth decay as well. Research has also found that eating yogurt may reduce compounds that cause bad breath. Try to stick to plain yogurt, though — sweetened yogurts often contain lots of sugar, which will cancel out any positive effects.
Load up on kale, spinach, Swiss chard, and other leafy green vegetables. These will benefit your health in all sorts of ways, including your oral health specifically. They are rich in calcium, which, as we’ve already discussed, is a building block for your bones and teeth. They are a great way for vegans to get their calcium!
Leafy greens also contain folic acid, which has been shown to promote gum health by reducing inflammation, protecting tissue from harmful bacteria, and helping gums to repair themselves.
You can’t beat nuts as a healthy, teeth-healthy snack. They are low in sugar and high in protein — making them an especially good choice for people who don’t eat meat. Almonds contain calcium as well. When you chew nuts, you stimulate saliva production in your mouth. This helps clean away food particles and the bacteria that produce decay-causing acids. Nuts are high in omega-3 fatty acids and lots of nutrients to boost your oral health — and overall health.
Crunchy Vegetables and Fruits
Bring on the carrot sticks, bring on the celery, bring on the apples. Yes, even sugar-containing apples are dentist approved for your teeth! What all these things have in common is that they are loaded with nutrients, and high in water and fiber content. When you eat them, you stimulate saliva production in your mouth, which helps to wash away bacteria and food particles if you don’t have a toothbrush handy. Not excited to snack on raw celery? Adding cream cheese or no-sugar-added peanut butter makes it much tastier.
Wean yourself off the soda, juices, and sports drinks. The only beverage you need is plain H2O. Water keeps you hydrated and your mouth clean, rinsing away stuck food and decay-causing bacteria. It also dilutes the bacteria-produced acids that cause cavities. If possible, buy a reusable bottle (better for the environment than disposable) and drink tap. Most municipal water supplies are fortified with fluoride, which keeps your tooth enamel strong.
Eating and drinking well can go a long way in keeping your teeth and gums healthy. To book an appointment at Davenport Dental Group, fill out our online form. Or call either of our offices: Junction Drive at 956-242-6745 or Winfield at 956-517-2695.