Brushing, flossing, and regular dental check-ups aren’t the only ways you can be taking care of your teeth. Our diets have a profound impact on every part of our body: from our energy levels to disease risk to the health of our teeth and gums.
You make a choice every time you sit down at the table to eat dinner or pick up some food for a snack. You should make sure those choices are good for your body, including your teeth.
Keep reading to learn the best foods to eat for nutrition and oral health.
Crunchy vegetables are great for teeth as they require more chewing which promotes saliva production. Your teeth also need vitamins and minerals like Vitamin C, A, K, fiber, calcium, potassium, and magnesium which vegetables are full of.
1. Leafy Greens
Leafy greens like kale and spinach are rich sources of Vitamins A, C, E and K, and folate. Vitamins C and E help strengthen gums and fight gingivitis. Vitamins A and K help your tooth enamel, gums, and healing process.
Carrots are high in the essential nutrients Vitamin A, C, fiber, and potassium. Their low carbohydrate content won’t increase the acidity in your mouth as other foods do and all the chewing helps to clean bacteria, plaque, and food particles stuck to your teeth. Some even call carrots “nature’s toothbrush” although that doesn’t mean you should replace brushing with a crunchy snack!
Celery, similar to carrots, are high in Vitamin A, C, and fiber. It protects your teeth against demineralization by neutralizing acids in your mouth which leads to tooth decay if not controlled. Celery can also help control bad breath.
Foods to Avoid: Pickles
Cucumbers on their own are great for your oral health. On the flip side, pickles (or any kind of pickled vegetables) are damaging to your tooth enamel and may lead to demineralization and tooth decay.
Fruit is higher in sugar than vegetables. However, it is still beneficial for dental health as it aids in neutralizing acids in your mouth that lead to tooth decay. If you pick up a piece of fruit for a snack, stick to these:
Similar to crunchy vegetables, apples are great for your oral hygiene due to their high Vitamin C content and tough texture. Apples are higher in sugar than vegetables so they should be eaten in moderation. Unfortunately, an apple a day doesn’t keep the dentist away.
Blueberries contain micronutrients called polyphenols. Polyphenols linger in saliva even after you’ve eaten and they break down bad bacteria. Blueberries have even been suggested as an added ingredient in mouthwash because of its bacteria-fighting abilities.
Strawberries have an organic compound called malic acid. Malic acid is an enzyme that may whiten your teeth when combined with baking soda.
Foods to Avoid: Citrus Fruits and Dried Fruits
Citrus fruits: think lemons, oranges, grapefruit, and citrus juices are bad for your teeth. Grapefruit and lemon juice actually have acidity levels close to Coca-Cola. These juices or foods are alright on occasion but after consumption, you should drink a large glass of water, wait about 20 minutes and then brush your teeth.
Dried fruit is nearly as bad for your teeth as candy. It gets stuck to your teeth and the high levels of sugar work with the bacteria in your mouth to create acid to break down your teeth. Sugar is the most destructive source of your teeth. If you have a diet high in sugar, make sure you are doing all you can to protect your oral health.
Nuts are full of essential vitamins and minerals and are low in carbohydrates. You can add nuts to a salad or simply snack on them. They are a good alternative to other foods that are worse for your teeth like potato chips or pretzels.
A serving of walnuts contains 11% RDI of magnesium and 10% RDI of phosphorus, both of which support strong and healthy bones. With less than 1 gram of sugar, walnuts are great for your oral and overall health.
Similar to walnuts, almonds are low in sugar and high in essential nutrients like Vitamin E and protein. Vitamin E reduces inflammation in the gums and mouth and can help prevent periodontal disease.
Now that you know all the foods you should be eating for great oral health, what should you be drinking? Try out these beverages:
9. Green Tea
Green tea is a popular “superfood” known for its many benefits. It contains polyphenols, like blueberries, and antioxidants which may help prevent periodontal disease and oral cancer.
Milk is a good source of calcium which can help remineralize teeth and build up the strength of your tooth enamel. In fact, a low intake of dairy products has been correlated with more cavities. If dairy milk isn’t your thing, you can get all the benefits from unsweetened nut milk or almond milk or cashew milk.
Your Guide to Nutrition and Oral Health Simplified
Proper nutrition and oral health are undoubtedly related. You should be aware of the food you eat and how it influences the health of your teeth and gums. A good diet should consist of foods high in essential vitamins and minerals like Vitamin A, C, E, K, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus.
Sugary foods and drinks taste great but are terrible for your mouth. Consuming sugar in moderation, regular brushing, and flossing and scheduling dental checkups and cleanings are necessary for quality oral health and a great smile.
Contact Willow Creek Dental here to schedule an appointment with us or check out the rest of our blog for more oral hygiene tips!