Teeth have been around for a lot longer than toothpaste, so it shouldn’t be surprising that your teeth have naturally evolved to resist cavities and decay. Your teeth are protected by a layer of enamel, made from decay-resistant calcium phosphate. However, in tandem with your teeth’s natural defenses, proper tooth care is an essential ally against today’s sugar-proliferated diets. General wear and a poor diet can eat away at your enamel, stripping your teeth from their protective minerals.
So what should you do to protect your teeth from malicious sugars and the elements? Re-establish mineralization of your teeth. We gathered 7 easy ways to mineralize your teeth and protect your pearly whites.
1. Limit Sugar Intake
Sugar is bad for your teeth for many reasons. One in particular is chemical in nature—and it’s not even happening in your mouth. Sugar alters your hormone balance, and your body works hard to even things out. One way it does that is to redirect calcium and phosphorous to neutralize the imbalance. This means those key minerals are not getting to your teeth as they are intended. If you eat less sugary food, you can give your body more of a fighting chance to replenish tooth enamel.
2. Eat Natural Sweeteners
Instead of sugar, satisfy your sweet tooth with natural sweeteners. Honey and stevia, for example, are excellent options. Neither has the negative effect of sugar, and both taste delicious!
3. Limit Grains
Most people are unaware that a grainy diet can have a negative effect on your tooth enamel. Grains, nuts and legumes all contain high amounts of phytates, which lower your metabolism and prevent minerals from getting where they need to be. Your best bet is to eat grains in moderation.
4. Eat Butter
Finally, some good news! Butter works well for a couple of reasons—one of which is that it has several fat-soluble vitamins essential to enamel growth. Second, butter (especially from a grass-fed source) contains hormones that trigger the response that is suppressed by such foods as sugar and grains. In short, if you keep a healthy dose of butter in your everyday diet, your teeth and bones stand to benefit.
5. Drink Milk
You’ve heard all your life that milk helps establish strong bones. It’s true for your teeth, as well. The properties of milk are excellent for preventing damage and restoring tooth enamel. Like butter, milk contains vitamins and minerals needed to promote healthy bone and enamel growth. On the outside, milk acts as a base, countering the more acidic foods that will erode your teeth over time. Add a glass or two of milk to your everyday diet, and benefit from its protective qualities.
6. Eat Vitamin D
Vitamin D naturally promotes remineralization, and it’s easy to find. Natural sunlight, for example, stimulates natural vitamin D production and in effect helps your teeth. It’s also found in milk (cow, soy and coconut), eggs, yogurt and fish. If you are still in doubt, consider a vitamin D supplement. About 600 international units each day will help to replenish bone and tooth enamel.
7. Chew Gum
It doesn’t have to be gum, but it helps if it’s chewy. Chewing stimulates the natural production of saliva, which in turn, works to mineralize your teeth. If you go the gum route, be sure it is sugar free. Also, avoid chewy foods that are citrusy or sour, as the negative effects of citric acids can more than counter the benefits from chewing.
Bonnie Coberly is a graduate from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition at Columbia. She is now a Certified Health Counselor at Natural Horizons Wellness Centers and focuses on educating her clients on improving their overall health.