We’ve spend countless hours warning you of dangers and perils of various foods that are unhealthy and simply bad for your teeth. Even with the risk of sounding like a broken record, we’ve felt it pays to get that message across.
And the message is very simple – and so far anyone should be acquainted with it – avoid sugary, chewy and acidic foods – especially when combined. Sodas, candy bars, chewy candy – all that is best left uneaten.
But we also understand that it’s no fun just giving out the bad news and how the food you eat is killing you. It leads to people perceiving new health advice as paranoia and fearmongering, and rightly so in some cases.
That’s why we’ve decided do give you a list of the foods that are actually good for your dental health. What’s more, such food is in most cases nothing extraordinary, expensive or difficult to procure. In most cases, such foods are also very delicious! Let’s start with our list of good food:
If you just cannot say no to a few slices of Swiss, or perhaps prefer the more upscale hard cheeses, you’re in luck. Not only is there evidence that cheese is in general a rather healthy food, but it seems it does good to your teeth, too.
Cheese is basically concentrated milk, so it contains high levels of calcium which is beneficial for the reduction of cavity-causing bacteria by strengthening the enamel. But it is not the only mechanism which helps cheese inhibit the development of caries. Cheese raises the pH in your mouth when you eat it, aiding remineralization. The chewing motion often necessary when eating cheese also increase the production of saliva, and as we all know, saliva is crucial to maintaining optimal dental health.
It seems that hard and aged cheeses are the best. That’s great, because they taste excellent as well. Avoid those decidedly “not-cheese” products such as “cheese slices” or similar – these contain only traces of cheese and are loaded with vegetable fats.
Another dairy product, yogurt, is also said to be good for your dental health. There are lots of good bacteria in yogurt that help regulate the mouth flora. Beware though – always buy plain, natural yogurt without added sugars!
While celery is probably not on most people’s top 10 list of foods to eat, there’s no denying that it helps your teeth… and makes for great broths and soups!
Chewing celery is a time-proven way of cleaning your mouth from debris. Celery is a bit abrasive and munching on it naturally cleans your teeth. It also helps promote the production of saliva. And while we don’t think you necessarily have to chew celery every day, such a habit would certainly do your teeth good.
3. Sugar-free Chewing Gum
While not exactly something you should literally eat, sugar-free gum containing sugar alcohols such as sorbitol and especially xylitol have been proven to be beneficial for your dental health. Still, you should avoid especially acidic gums, even if they are sugar-free. The acids do your teeth no good. Chewing gums are even better if you substitute gum for snacks.
Chewing gums are best chewed for at least twenty minutes after you’re done with your meal. Again – it’s both the mechanical effect of chewing that removes debris and food leftovers, along with the increased salivary flow. It is estimated that only ten minutes of chewing reduce the bacterial load in your mouth by as much as 10 per cent – or about 100 million bacteria. However, don’t let chewing gums replace your usual dental routine – toothbrushes and dental floss are still very much required!
The ancient Chinese leaves with a rich history – they’ve even been used as currency in the form of tea bricks – and plenty of health benefits. Its rich antioxidant properties have been touted ever since it first arrived to the Western world, with the cuppa now being a favorite pastime of many people.
Turns out, green tea (and black, as well) indeed is very good for your health. And unsurprisingly, this includes your dental health too. Now, we won’t deny that the consumption of copious amounts of tea do come with a drawback that is aesthetic in nature; namely, discolored teeth. Because of that, some people avoid the consumption of this tea, which is unfortunate.
Tea is rich in polyphenols. They are classified as micronutrients that are responsible for many physical and chemical processes in our bodies. Preliminary studies show that these polyphenols kill and prevent the bacteria from multiplying. For you, this means less cavities and less flareups of gingivitis.
It sounds silly, but water really is good for your teeth. It’s not that the water itself is particularly beneficial, but the fact that it’s much better than other drinks and beverages makes it a worthy mention.
Yes, fluoridated water is even more effective and truly beneficial, but it may not even be necessary if you use a fluoride toothpaste. The main benefit is the damage you prevent by reaching for a glass of water, instead of a soda can. Juices are also no good. Why not eat the fruit yourself? It’s much healthier that way.
Water contains no calories and no sugars. It’s also not carbonated nor acidic. It’s a perfect thirst quencher, no matter what some marketing campaigns try to say. Water can also help you prevent dry mouth. It both lubricates your mouth and prevents dehydration, which is when the production of saliva is at its lowest.
It also helps clean your mouth of various gunk and debris that may reside on your teeth and gums, which is a fertile ground for bacterial overgrowth.
So, drink up! But only when you’re thirsty. There’s no point in overloading on water, and the old adage of a fixed number of glasses per day is crock. Your body knows when it’s time to have some water.
6. Almonds (and other nuts)
Almonds are a great source of high quality dietary fats, calcium and protein. Their vitamin E content is also rather high. At the same time, they don’t contain much sugar and are a great snack.
Generally, nuts are very healthy foods and if they replace the usual sweet snacks people love to eat, they are a boon for your health in general.
However, be careful when eating them. Nuts in general, but particularly almonds, can be very hard. In some cases they’ve even caused teeth fractures, which is no laughing matter. But, if you’re careful, the risk is negligible and the benefits are huge.
7. Apples, Carrots (And Other Fiber-Rich Food)
Even though we keep telling you all the time to avoid sugars and sweet food, not all is so bleak. Nature has made sure to provide us with natural sweets that are both very tasty and healthy.
For example, apples, while being fairly rich in sugar, also contain a multitude of other great nutrients – antioxidants, vitamins, minerals, water, and fiber. The way sugars are packaged inside the apple and other fruit is markedly different than in the processed foods, mostly because of fiber. The fibrous structure of the apple exerts a cleaning effect on your gums and teeth.
Carrots are similar – while they are much tougher to eat, they are starchy and fibrous and clean your teeth just as well. The production of saliva is also increased as a result of chewing. Plus, you get lots of beta-carotene (vitamin A). Vitamin deficiency can contribute to dental problems – check out scurvy, vitamin C deficiency, as an extreme example.
As you can see, a multitude of foods and ingredients is beneficial for your teeth. Most of these foods you already consume, so it’s not difficult to incorporate them into your recipes. The most exciting thing, however, is that we’ve barely scraped the surface. It’s generally very difficult to look at various foods in isolation. A healthy diet provides a plethora of benefits that are usually realized when there is a good balance of ingredients – and that includes things such as meat or cereals, too.
There is, however, a common tread. Most foods that are deemed good for your teeth are natural and unprocessed. Very few to processed foods are good for you, mainly due to added sugars.
Unfortunately, even with a perfect diet, you can experience dental issues. They are pervasive and very common. That’s why your dental hygiene should be up to par at all times, and especially if you consume some of the “forbidden foods” that us dentists don’t like at all. Visit your dentist at least once a year for regular check-ups.
If you live in Henderson, NV (Las Vegas, NV) area, set up an appointment with our renowned cosmetic dentist, Dr. George Harouni. His team of professionals will do their best to help get your teeth in top shape – and keep them that way! Make your appointment today by calling his office at 702-434-9464. Why wait until tomorrow for a smile you can have today?