It’s hardly a secret that what you eat affects (for better or for worse) your body as a whole. So why wouldn’t it impact the state of your teeth and gums as well? You brush and floss meticulously every day. You visit the dentist every six months. But if you are eating the wrong foods — and not enough of the right ones — you may be sabotaging your oral health efforts.
Read on to learn what to eat to give yourself the best chance for a healthy mouth. These dental superfoods fight cavities, stave off gum disease, and tend to be good for your overall well-being to boot.
And be sure to get your next dental cleaning and examination in the books. If you live in or around Louisville, KY, come to Natural Smiles. You may reach us via our online form or call our office at 502-785-8695.
For all you cheese lovers out there, we have good news. Very good news. Cheese is a super cavity fighter, and we give you permission to eat lots of it. Like all dairy products, cheese is a good source of protein and loaded with calcium. This mineral is a building block of the bones and teeth and is critical to keeping them strong and resilient. Dairy products also contain proteins called caseins, which appear to create a coating over the teeth that protect the enamel from bacterial acid attacks.
But even amongst dairy products cheese is a standout. Studies have shown that it raises the pH level inside the mouth, which creates an inhospitable environment for bacteria and the decay-causing acids they produce.
Yogurt, like other dairy products, is rich in tooth-strengthening calcium and protein. Like cheese, though, it may have its own dental health benefits. This is likely due to the probiotics, or “good bacteria” it contains. These probiotics may essentially crowd out or slow the growth of the harmful bacteria that generate acids and lead to gum disease and tooth decay.
Leafy green vegetables are superfoods for your entire body. They’re chock-full of essential nutrients, low in calories, versatile, and delicious! They are an excellent source of calcium — so vegans and other people who can’t eat dairy products should be especially vigilant about eating their greens. Leafy greens are also rich in folic acid, which is a B vitamin that promotes gum health. Folic acid is especially important for pregnant women, who are susceptible to a condition called “pregnancy gingivitis.”
Crunchy Fruits and Vegetables
Next time you’re craving a snack, skip the chips and reach for carrot sticks, celery, or a nice sweet apple. Raw, crunchy produce (even if, like apples, it contains sugar) is a body-healthy and mouth-healthy snack. The fibrous texture keeps the gums stimulated. The act of chewing these foods increases the production of saliva in your mouth, which helps to rinse away bacteria and food particles. Plus they are low-calorie way to stave off hunger.
Nuts are another excellent snack that won’t negatively affect your dental healthy. They are low in sugar but packed with protein and important nutrients. When you eat them, you up the production of saliva in your mouth and help keep your teeth and gums clean.
Skip the soda, juices, and sports drinks. These sweet concoctions coat your mouth in a layer of sugar that’s difficult to remove entirely. This encourages bacteria to proliferate, and they give off the acids that destroy your tooth enamel. And diet soda has a big problem of its own: due to its high acid content, it too will eat away at your teeth.
If you want to quench your thirst, reach for plain old water. Adequate consumption of H2O is essential for the health of your entire body, and drinking it throughout the day keeps your mouth clean. You can’t always have a toothbrush at hand, but water does a fine job of rinsing away food particles and nasty bacteria. Try to drink tap water when possible. It’s better for the environment (no disposable plastic bottles), and most U.S. water supplies are fortified with enamel-boosting fluoride. If you don’t have a reusable water bottle, buy one and carry it with you as you go about your day.
Eating right will go a long way toward keeping your teeth and gums in great shape. As will visiting the dentist every six months for a checkup. If you live in the Louisville, KY area, book your next appointment with Natural Smiles. You may fill out our online form or call our office at 502-785-8695.