Taking care of your teeth isn’t difficult. In fact, you can even help your teeth while you eat! According to the American Dental Association (ADA), healthy eating patterns and food choices can help prevent tooth decay. Conversely, choosing foods that are bad for your teeth can negatively impact your oral health. Learn what foods are right for your teeth and what good habits can help your oral health.
How does food impact my teeth?
Eating whole grains in low-sugar bread and cereals or fruits and vegetables and quality protein are the best foods for a healthy mouth. Fruits and vegetables are especially beneficial because chewing firm, coarse, watery, and fibrous foods help you produce saliva, removing leftover food particles.
Best Foods for Your Teeth
According to the ADA, many healthy foods help your teeth stay strong and help your mouth clear bacteria and acid from your teeth. Even if you can’t eat all these because of allergies or sensitivities, there are still lots of other options:
Yogurt and cheeses
Carrots, celery, and leafy greens
Black and green teas
Why dairy products are good for your teeth
First, dairy products like cheese, yogurt, and milk encourage your body to produce more saliva, protecting your teeth. Second, cheese and yogurt are high in calcium and protein, which helps strengthen your teeth. Also, yogurt contains probiotics, or beneficial bacteria, for your digestive system. Just remember to choose unsweetened or sugar-free yogurt and add a touch of sweetener or honey yourself. Suppose you are sensitive or allergic to dairy. In that case, you can find calcium- and protein-fortified nut milk like almond, soy, or cashew milk.
Vegetables should be a star in your diet because they have many health benefits without being heavy or calorie-dense. Vegetables provide vitamins and minerals and help you produce saliva to clean your mouth and keep enamel healthy.
Leafy greens like kale, spinach, chard, or collard greens are full of vitamins and minerals while being low in calories. If you don’t go too heavy on the dressings or toppings, you could eat as many leafy greens as you want! Leafy greens are high in calcium, folic acid, and B vitamins, which help your health. You can easily add these leafy greens can to a salad or smoothie.
Why do apples, carrots, and celery help your teeth?
Instead of grabbing a candy bar or dessert, if you have a sweet tooth, eat an apple instead! Apples provide hydration and fiber for your body. By replacing sugary treats with apples, you’re promoting good saliva production. Celery helps clean your teeth because the texture can scrape leftover food particles and bacteria away from your teeth.
Carrots and celery are a great source of fiber, vitamin C, and vitamin A. Add raw carrots to a salad, or enjoy some baby carrots as a snack.
Tea, nuts, and lean proteins
Unsweetened black and green teas provide plaque-fighting ingredients. Lean proteins like meat, fish, poultry, and tofu have phosphorous and protein to help keep teeth healthy. Almonds are great for your teeth because they are a good source of calcium and protein while being low in sugar.
What about snacks and sweets?
The ADA recommends limiting snacks between meals. Typical snack foods are high in sugar. Frequent eating of these foods increases the amount of time you expose your teeth to the harmful effects of sugar while decreasing saliva’s ability to neutralize tooth-damaging acids. Bacteria uses sugar as a fuel that gets converted into acid. This means that those foods will continue to harm your teeth long after you have finished eating them.
When deciding on a snack, opt for some of the foods mentioned like almonds, cheese, fruits, and vegetables.
Beverages are just as important for your teeth
Continuously sipping sugary beverages like juice, soda, or wine feeds the bacteria in your mouth. When bacteria feed on the sugar on your teeth, they leave damaging acids behind. This is why experts recommend drinking water and limiting the amount of sugar you consume.
Other foods best for your teeth
Fluoride plays a vital role in building strong teeth and bones, helping prevent tooth decay. This is why we add fluoride to toothpaste and water. Choosing fluoride toothpaste or eating foods with fluoride helps your teeth absorb this mineral, allowing the fluoride to make your teeth acid-resistant.
Most seafood is a good source of fluoride because oceans are full of natural sodium fluoride. Carrots, beets, canned pork and beans, canned tomato products, and cheeses all have some fluoride. See this list of fluoride-enriched foods on the USDA National Nutrient Database.
Water is a great cleanser. Drinking plenty of water throughout the day can help eliminate dry mouth by keeping your mouth moist to prevent the bacteria that lead to cavities, gum disease, or bad breath. Chewing sugar-free gum, especially after a meal, keeps the flow of saliva going and freshen after-dinner breath.
Adding these foods to your diet can make a difference in your oral health. You can also focus on healthy habits such as limiting snacking and limiting sugar in your diet. Ensuring you pack your diet with vegetables, low- or no-sugar-added dairy products, fruits, lean proteins, and plenty of water is an excellent way to prevent tooth decay and promote oral health.
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