We’re constantly bombarded with suggestions to “eat this, not that” because simple food swaps can help us lose weight and live a more healthy life.
It’s no secret that we are what we eat. But, as a dentist, I’ll take that a little further to say… so are our teeth.
We like to think that prevention is the best medicine when it comes to your smile.
Just because we all have access to fillings and crowns to fix broken or decayed teeth as well as teeth whitening to brighten stained and dingy looking smiles, don’t you think it’s better – not to mention more affordable – to avoid cavities and stains in the first place?
That can easily be accomplished by focusing on daily brushing, flossing, and (gasp!) eating right.
The American Dental Association says that what we eat (and when) are both major factors when it comes to dental health.
Check out these superfoods that will help keep your teeth healthy and strong. Many of these are easy to grab-and-go when you and your family are busy and on the run.
Before you pick up that milk chocolate bar while you’re waiting in the grocery line… think again. This stuff that is good for your teeth is 70% cacao and contains a compound called CBH which studies show helps harden tooth enamel and actually prevent tooth decay as well as provide other benefits. Who knew?!
Who doesn’t love cheese? This tasty superfood combats acid erosion of the teeth — especially when we eat things such as breads, sweets, citrus, or soda that expose teeth to tooth decay causing acid.
Eating cheese after these foods raises the pH in the mouth, lowering the risk of tooth decay and the simple act of chewing it increases saliva. And let’s not forget the calcium and protein that strengthen tooth enamel.
You might think I’m crazy since since we just talked about acids and how they affect your teeth. The good news here is the vitamin C – which actually strengthens blood vessels and connective tissue and slows down the progression of gum disease by reducing inflammation.
The key is to not brush right after you eat citrus-containing fruits – just rinse your mouth with water (sparkling mineral water is best) and brush a little later (like 30 mintues).
When you don’t drink enough water, the saliva in your mouth gets thick and can lead to a host of dental problems because saliva can’t properly breakdown food, neutralize bacterial acid that causes bad breath and prevent tooth decay.
Keep hydrated by drinking half your body weight in ounces of water throughout the day. If you’re 150 pounds, that’s roughly 75 ounces of water every day that you need to stay hydrated.
Fruits and Veggies
Apples may be sweet, but they contain a lot of fiber and water. If you don’t have access to a toothbrush right after a meal, take a bite out of an apple — it produces saliva which rinses away bacteria and food particles and its fibrous texture is also great for the gums. It’s not the same as brushing your teeth with toothpaste, but it’s the next best choice until you can get to your toothbrush.
The same goes for carrots, which are crunchy and also full of fiber. Eating a handful of raw carrots at the end of the meal increases saliva production, which reduces your risk of cavities. They are also a great source of vitamin A.
Xyli… what?! It sounds like a tongue twister, but it’s so good for your teeth and found in sugarless chewing gum. The benefit is two-fold here: chewing gum increases saliva to ward off tooth decay and bad breath and the xylitol helps maintain the proper levels of good and bacteria in the mouth – which also aids in digestion.
Green and Black Tea
Polyphenols, which are found in green and black tea, interact with the bacteria that cause plaque by killing or suppressing them. Tea a great choice for during or after a meal, since it suppresses the presence of these acid producing bacteria in the mouth. Polyphenols in tea also have cavity-fighting properties.
What are some of your favorite superfoods? Share with our readers in the comments below.
Dr. Potts is a gentle, caring dentist uses the most advanced materials and procedures available. He practices comfortable, health-centered dentistry, with a strong emphasis on getting to know each patient. In addition technical proficiency, Dr. Potts is a careful listener. He makes sure to understand what you want and will explain beforehand what treatment is best for your individual needs, along with all options available to you.