When thinking about maintaining oral health we all yearn for a winning smile and we know we need to brush and floss, but sometimes fail to see the important connection a healthy diet has with strong teeth and gums. We are all aware sugar is bad for our teeth and causes cavities, but but do they effect our smile and what foods are actually good for our oral health?
Yes, you heard that right; the first food on the list is cheese! Snacking on cheese can reduce the acidity in the mouth (1). Acid erodes the enamel of our teeth, making them susceptible to cavities. In addition to this, cavity-causing bacteria thrives in high acidity.
Also, the calcium in cheese can lead to stronger teeth. When your body doesn’t have enough calcium it starts taking from other sources, including the teeth. This can weaken them, cause tooth decay, and irritate the gums.
Carrots are another great snack choice if you are looking to improve your oral health. They are crunchy and high in fiber, requiring a lot of chewing leading to saliva production. Saliva provides a protective barrier for the teeth. They are naturally cleaning your teeth as you eat them, without you even knowing it! Other healthy snacks with a similar cleaning effect are apples and cucumbers. Carrots have the added benefit of containing several B vitamins, which can help fight and prevent gum disease.
3. Sugarless Gum
Not exactly a food, but something as simple as chewing sugarless gum can do wonders for your oral health. Not only can gum leave your breath smelling minty fresh, chewing gum increases your saliva production. Saliva protects your teeth from bacteria and washes away debris left in the mouth. Chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after eating a meal can help prevent tooth decay and cavities.
4. Green Tea
Coffee is notorious for staining teeth, and soda is linked with causing cavities. But if you need your daily dose of caffeine, don’t fear: there is a healthy caffeine alternative in green tea. Studies show green tea may reduce bacteria in the mouth (3). This lessens the chance of developing cavities, gum disease, and bad breath. Black tea can also provide these oral health benefits, but is more staining on the teeth than green tea. Also, be conscious of the amount of sugar you are putting in your tea, as this can cancel out any of the positive effects.
Spinach is a notoriously healthy food, and can easily be incorporated into salads, smoothies, and omelettes. Many of the nutrients in spinach promote positive oral health. Folic acid is known to be beneficial for gum health, and the beta-carotene found in spinach help to strengthen enamel.
Almonds are chock full of nutrients and vitamins essential for dental health, such as:
- Calcium: strengthen jaw bones
- Fiber: keeps teeth and gums clean
- Vitamin E: helps relieve gum pain and can prevent inflammation from periodontal disease
- Magnesium: for strong teeth
It is important to remember that almonds are hard and crunchy, which can be damaging. You can get all the benefits of almonds without the damage by opting for almond slivers or chopped almonds.
7. Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes have anti-inflammatory properties, which can aid in preventing periodontal disease. This is important in keeping that great smile. Periodontal disease is infection of the area surrounding the teeth, such as the bone and gums. In addition to eating foods with anti-inflammatories and maintaining a healthy diet it is still vital to get dental cleanings and exams every six months from providers such as dentrixdentalcare.com who provide specialty services for periodontal disease.
We tend to place oral health in a different category from our overall health. Oral health and overall health are strongly linked. None of these foods will magically erase the damage a diet filled with sugar and starchy junk food can do. These foods can give your pearly whites a health boost, but a nutritious and balanced diet is necessary for a healthy smile.
by Cara Lucas