We all know the harmful effects that certain foods can have on our teeth. It may be safe to assume that most sticky and overly-sweet foods are bad for our teeth, but don’t rule out too many dishes this holiday season. Some foods can actually prevent tooth decay and gum disease from developing. Others can wash off some of the acidity and sugar build-up from your last snack. The following 10 foods or ingredients are actually good for your oral and total health, and here’s why:
Cheese is great for our teeth because it can combat acidic erosion. Every meal you eat with bread, citrus, sweets, or sugary drinks, coats your teeth with decay-causing acids. Cheese does a great job of cleaning off teeth surfaces and counteracting the acid left behind. Sheep and goat cheeses are best for your overall health and are easier on the digestive tract.
Strawberries are loaded with vitamin C and antioxidants to help our gums fight the inflammation-causing bacteria that can lead to periodontal disease. Strawberries also contain malic acid which helps to whiten teeth.
Eating too much fruit can be bad for our teeth because fruit contains such high levels of sugar. These sugars team up with the fruit’s acidic base to coat your teeth, gums, and tongue in decay-causing saliva. Fortunately, fruits like apples are high in fiber and water so as you eat them, more saliva is produced in your mouth which flushes out plaque and bacteria. The skin of the apple has the most fiber content so be sure to eat that too!
Oranges are very citrusy, so this healthy fruit may come as a surprise. The vitamin C in oranges strengthens the blood vessels and connective tissues in your gums, reducing inflammation and slowing down the progression of gum disease. Enjoy oranges and orange juice on a regular basis, just be sure not to brush right after. Instead, drink a glass of water or sparkling water. The high levels of pH and minerals in the sparkling water will reduce acid build up for now until you can brush later.
Like apples, carrots are also full of teeth-strengthening fiber. Carrots help us produce a lot of saliva as we eat them, washing away bacteria that can cause gum disease. Carrots are also a good source of vitamin A, so they strengthen your teeth from the inside out.
Snacking on celery is a great way to clean your teeth too. As you chew, it helps to clean between teeth and clean plaque off the surfaces. It also massages your gums in the process. Eating celery produces plenty of saliva to neutralize bacteria and wash away any residual acid build-up.
Almonds are a great source of calcium and protein which can help to strengthen your teeth. Eat them as a snack, add them into a home-cooked meal, or have an almond-topped salad. Almonds go great with apple slices, making it easy to indulge in two healthy teeth snacks. Natural and unsalted almonds are best for overall health.
If you can stand the stinky side effects, raw onion is incredibly healthy for you. As an added bonus, the antibacterial sulfur compounds it contains will kill the harmful bacteria on your teeth.
Yogurt is loaded with probiotics, especially Greek yogurt. These probiotics are great for overall health, but they also help fight off cavities, bad breath, and gum disease. This snack is rich in calcium too, which promotes strong and healthy teeth.
Eating plenty of calcium is important for a balanced diet, but did you know that without enough vitamin D your body can’t absorb all that calcium properly? Salmon is a great source of D vitamins to ensure your body is making the most of its cavity-protecting vitamins like calcium.
11. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens like kale, spinach and collard greens are filled with vitamins and minerals that are great for your total health, but these veggies are also high in calcium to help strengthen the enamel on your teeth.
Whether or not this qualifies as a food is debatable, but as many advertisements promise, chewing gum is indeed good for your teeth, provided it is sugar-free. This is because chewing speeds up saliva production, which in turn helps rinse away harmful acids more effectively. As an added bonus, it makes your breath smell better.
13. Green and Black Tea
Polyphenols, which are found in green and black tea, interact with the bacteria that cause plaque by killing or suppressing them. The bacteria that builds up on our teeth feed on the sugars in our mouths and once they’ve had their feast they excrete acids that destroy tooth enamel. Polyphenols in tea also have cavity-fighting properties. This makes tea a great choice for during or after a meal.
14. Dark Chocolate
Thanks to the superhero compound in dark chocolate, CBH, this snack is actually proven to harden tooth enamel, making them less susceptible to tooth decay. Not the milk chocolate-filled caramel chocolates, but the 70% cacao stuff.
15. Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds are like an exfoliant from your teeth. They scrape away plaque, leaving smoother teeth. They are also rich in calcium, supporting stronger teeth and overall health.
When you eat starchy or sugary foods, not only do you feed yourself but you feed the bacteria that can cause tooth decay and gum disease in your mouth. Manage your diet in a way that benefits both your total health and oral health by packing teeth-healthy snacks and using ingredients that are high in calcium when you cook.
It is important to brush after eating, regardless of how healthy your snack or meal may be. Another way to keep clean teeth and fresh breath is by avoiding the most harmful foods for our teeth.