We hear a lot about the things that are bad for your teeth, which means we’re not going to surprise anyone by saying that you ought to avoid sugary foods and beverages. It also probably won’t shake your world to hear, again, that sticky foods that hold onto your teeth can be particularly detrimental.
However, the connection between your oral health and the foods you eat does go a little further than that. In fact, if your diet is deficient in certain nutrients, it can be harder for your mouth to resist infections or heal after wounds or dental procedures.
Of course, it’s not all about “stay away from these foods,” or “beware of those drinks.” there are some foods and drinks that can actively protect your teeth and have a positive impact on your oral health.
- Chicken, cheese, and nuts
Foods like these are thought to have sufficient levels of calcium and phosphorus, which can help protect or even remineralize teeth. Cheese, for example, has enough calcium that it can protect your teeth from the acids in other foods. It can also help stimulate the flow of saliva, which counteracts some of the acids those foods leave behind.
- Firm fruits and vegetables
While we’re all aware that fruits and vegetables have a lot of great vitamins and minerals, they also have a lot of sugars. However, when you stick with firm fruits and vegetables like apples or celery, the high water content dilutes the effect.
They also stimulate flow of saliva and even contribute to scraping the plaque off your teeth while you’re eating them.
On a couple of related notes, research is suggesting that fresh cranberries can interrupt the bonding of oral bacteria before they form plaque. Just remember this is fresh cranberries. Dried cranberries, while a convenient and healthy snack, are very sticky and stick to your teeth. With the sugars in the fruit that can cause problems, so be sure to brush well after a snack like that.
And as far as citrus fruits that are high in citric acid and sugar, they still have a lot of health benefits so eat them as part of a larger meal to minimize their acidic effect.
Milk is full of the calcium, potassium, and phosphorus that helps keep your teeth strong. On top of that, is also has vitamin D, which helps promote health teeth and bones. That means your teeth will be more stable and you can reduce the risk of losing them.
- Leafy Greens
The folic acid in leafy greens promotes healthy mouth structures because it supports general cell growth. Greens are also high in vitamin B, which can reduce irritation and painful cracking of the lips as well as inflammation of the tongue and other soft tissues in the mouth.
- Sugarless gum
Chewing sugarless gum after meals can be beneficial to your teeth because it helps clean off the food particles that get lodged there. It also helps generate saliva which can neutralize the effects of sugars and acids from food.
A lot of the information here probably isn’t that much of a surprise. In fact, all of these things that we’ve listed as good for your oral health are also good for your overall health and general wellbeing.
There’s a good reason for that.
Your dental health and your overall health are tied very closely together, so be sure to take some time and look at the things you eat regularly and see if you can add in some more tooth-healthy options.