Your Diet and Your Teeth
By now, we all know that regular brushing and flossing are important techniques for teeth and oral health maintenance. But protecting your teeth involves more than just the cleaning part – watching what you eat can lead to a whiter and longer-lasting smile.
A more balanced-diet can lead to stronger tooth enamel, lowered risk of tooth decay, improved gum health, and other various health benefits.
We’ve all been told what not to eat: sugar can lead to tooth decay and the formation of cavities. Chips and crackers get stuck between your teeth, which then serve as breeding grounds for bacteria. But knowing what to eat is just as important.
What Foods Are Good for Your Teeth?
In general, it’s best to look for foods that are high in calcium and that aid in the production of saliva. Another common property of foods that are good for your oral health are foods that contain fluoride. Here are some specific foods and beverages you should lean towards in your diet to improve your oral health.
Most public sources of drinking water, including the water that flows into your home or business, contains fluoride. This naturally-occurring substance aids in the formation of stronger teeth (in children) and strengthens the enamel of existing teeth (in adults). Drinking more water is the easiest way to add fluoride to your diet, although many types of foods also naturally include fluoride such as grapes, seafood, spinach, and potatoes.
Drinking fluoridated water also hydrates your mouth which encourages saliva production. Saliva is great for the teeth because it naturally washes away food particles and bacteria from the teeth and gums This stops the formation of plaque and prevents tooth decay. A well-hydrated body and mouth will have an easier time ridding the mouth of harmful bacteria.
Maybe it’s time to trade in that cup of coffee for a cup of green or black tea. Tea contains polyphenols, a nutrient that occurs in plants that tea leaves are made from. Polyphenols bring down gum inflammation and prevent tooth decay by warding away bacteria that can take host in your mouth.
If you brew your tea using tap water that contains fluoride, you’ll enjoy an even bigger benefit for your oral health.
Dairy is a great source of calcium. Calcium, which helps rebuild enamel, can be found in dairy products such as milk, cheese, and yogurt. Dairy products are also filled with casein proteins which form a protective layer over your existing enamel to prevent decay.
Milk, like water, can also rinse food particles and bacteria out of your mouth left over after a meal. Dairy also aids in the formation of saliva, allowing your body to naturally wash away those pesky particles. So swap out your post-meal dessert with a piece of cheese or a cup of sugar-free yogurt!
While chewing gum can never replace two minutes of teeth brushing when it comes to cleaning your teeth (we know you’ve done this before), sugar-free gum is actually good for your oral health.
The act of chewing gum can dislodge bits of food that might have gotten stuck in your teeth. Additionally, the act of chewing tricks your brain into producing more saliva. Be careful not to chew gum with sugar in it though, as the prolonged exposure of sugar in your mouth leads to tooth decay.
Gum that contains Xylitol is especially good at preventing cavities and cutting down on acid levels in the mouth.
Eggs, fish, and chicken are all examples of foods that contain high amounts of protein. Eaten in moderation, protein strengthens your jaw and teeth.
However, too much protein requires a lot of acid to break down. Acid erodes tooth enamel and in large amounts, will be harmful to the protective layer around your teeth. Put more simply: protein is great as part of a balanced diet, but it’s best to skip the all-you-can-eat steakhouse.
Fruits and Vegetables
Any good diet includes a healthy amount of fruits and veggies, and that includes a diet geared towards supporting a healthy mouth. Fruits, raw veggies, and leafy greens strengthen your teeth by helping to clean away particles from other foods you’ve eaten. Several types of fruits and vegetables also contain Vitamin C and other minerals that are beneficial for both your oral and overall health.
Loudoun Smile Center is proud to help people all over Northern Virginia maintain strong oral health through our wide range of dental services. Whether you’re looking for a routine teeth cleaning, a root canal, or anything in between, Dr. Bachour and her staff are ready to give you the best smile you’ve ever had!