What you eat can directly affect your oral health, and your food choices can spell the difference between strong, healthy teeth or a mouth that’s full of cavities.
While dental procedures and professional care can cure many teeth problems, it’s better and cheaper to avoid them in the first place by proper oral health habits and eating right. Here’s a quick list of the best foods for your gums and teeth, and why they are so:
Chicken, Meat, Cheese and Milk
These foods are bundled together as one in the list because they provide similar nutrients that are helpful for teeth health. They provide phosphorus and calcium which are important for the remineralization of teeth. Remineralization is a natural process that involves the depositing of minerals into tooth enamel after they are removed by acids.
Fruits and Vegetables
The best choices when it comes to fruits and vegetables are crunchy and firm ones. Think apples, pears, and celeries. These choices have high water content, which dilutes the effects of fructose (fruit sugars) and stimulate the production and flow of saliva. Saliva washes away food particles and buffers mouth acids, and protecting the teeth against decay.
Other great choices are fruits rich in Vitamin C, which is known to strengthen blood vessels and connective tissues in your jaw. Vitamin C also reduces inflammation, which can help with cases of gingivitis. Citrus fruits are a rich source of this nutrient, but they are highly acidic and should be taken in moderation. You can get lots of vitamin C from other fruits such as strawberries, blueberries, cranberries, cantaloupe, kiwis, and pineapples.
Fatty fish like wild salmon, tuna and mackerel are rich in Vitamin D, which is critical for oral health. Vitamin D allows the body to absorb calcium. Vitamin D from wild fish makes it easier for your bones (and teeth!) to absorb calcium from the other foods that you are eating.
Green tea contains phenols known as catechins, which are antioxidants that control bacterial infection and fight inflammation. Regular intake of green tea can reduce the occurrence of periodontal disease and lower the risk of teeth loss, especially for older individuals.
Onions and Garlic
Most of us avoid onions and garlic for the fear of having bad breath, but eating them raw can actually be good for the oral cavity. Raw onions and garlic have antimicrobial compounds that kill cavity causing bacteria inside the mouth. If you really can’t stomach either of them raw, then you can have them cooked, as cooked onions and garlic is better than none at all.
Sugars from the food we eat feed bacteria found inside our mouth, increasing the risk for developing tooth decay. Sugar substitutes taste like sugar but are not digested the same way, and are better for the mouth. Some substitutes include aspartame, saccharin, sucralose and sorbitol among others.
Your Best Drinks
When it comes to drinking to your oral health, your best bet is always water. Milk and unsweetened tea are also good choices. Limit your consumption of sugary drinks as much as you can, and avoid sipping on sugary juices and sodas throughout the day, as it exposes your teeth to cavity causing sugars.
What About Bad Food?
Given this list of foods that are bad for the teeth, then it’s helpful to have a list of what to avoid. Instead of going through a very extensive list, here’s something you may want to remember – anything starchy or sugary feeds the bacteria that causes problems in your oral cavity. When these starches and sugars come into contact with plaque, they produce acids that attack your teeth right after you eat. Repeated attacks can cause enamel breakage, which leads to tooth decay. Foods high in acids are also bad choices because they damage the enamel.
It can be difficult to avoid these foods entirely, but it helps to eat them in moderation, or as part of a bigger meal. Of course, it’s important to follow up with proper oral care activities such as flossing, brushing, use of mouth wash and regular visits to your dentist.
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