Best and Worst Foods for Your Teeth
Everything you eat and drink hits your teeth before any other part of your body. So it stands to reason that your food and drink choices would have direct effects on your dental health! Great oral health nutrition is about more than just cutting back on the sugar. Here is a quick primer on the best and worst foods for your teeth!
Best Tooth-Friendly Foods
There are tons of foods that can actively improve your oral health. While the usual general advice about eating a well-balanced diet always applies, there are a few specifics when it comes to tooth-friendly foods.
Natural Toothbrush: High Fiber Foods
Fresh fruits and veggies are the cornerstone to any healthy diet. Your oral health is no exception. However, the reason may surprise you. Eating fibrous foods can actually cleanse your teeth and gums and remove plaque buildup!
Chewing fiber-rich leafy greens or chomping on a refreshing apple scrubs your teeth, scraping away soft buildup and bacteria. It’s kind of like those dental chews you might give your pet. Not only are fiber-rich foods great for your teeth, however. They also help control blood cholesterol and promote healthy digestion. Talk about a win!
Get Your Vitamins!
We all know we should try to get plenty of vitamins. With COVID on everyone’s mind these past couple of years, many of us have made sure not to slack on them! But did you know vitamins do more than help you out if you get sick?
Vitamin deficiencies can cause a host of oral health issues. Did you know insufficient vitamin D can lead to gum disease and even cavities? It plays a crucial role in providing minerals that protect the teeth and keep the gums healthy. Likewise, vitamin C is essential for great oral health, and vitamin A helps maintain saliva production. Try to eat something from the full rainbow of fruits and vegetables each day to ensure you’re getting the full spectrum of vitamins. A general multivitamin is okay, too!
Don’t Forget Those Minerals.
While vitamins are a cornerstone of great health, many of us neglect the other group of micronutrients: minerals! Getting sufficient minerals is essential to healthy teeth and gums. Of course, calcium springs to mind when we think of nutrients for healthy teeth and bones, right? But calcium isn’t the only mineral in the game.
Phosphorus and magnesium both help the body absorb and use calcium, which keeps teeth strong by reinforcing enamel. Zinc helps fight bad breath, keep your gums healthy, and can even correct certain disorders that can affect your sense of taste! And of course the true superstar mineral for oral health: fluoride. Fluoride is a naturally occurring essential nutrient found in many foods, but we can supplement fluoride delivery to our teeth with toothpastes and mouthwashes as well.
If you’re looking to improve the mineral content of your diet, think lean proteins, fish like salmon, nuts, eggs, dairy, fortified cereals, and avocado.
Worst Offenders: Foods That Can Cause Your Teeth Harm
Obviously your dentist will tell you to never eat sugar, right? Not exactly. We appreciate a sweet treat as much as anyone. It’s about knowing what kinds of sugary snacks do the most harm to your teeth, and how to minimize the harm.
Sugar doesn’t cause cavities directly. In reality, the bacteria in your mouth digests the sugars on your teeth and produce acid, and that’s when the damage happens. So, either remove the bacteria with great brushing and flossing, and/or make sure the sugar doesn’t linger in your mouth giving the bacteria plenty of time to chow down.
If you need a little sugar hit, opt for something that will wash out quickly. Chocolate is usually a good choice, for example. Sticky sweets, sucking candies, and even some starchy foods all leave sugar in your mouth for a longer period of time. After any sugary or starchy foods, rinse well with water to try and cleanse your mouth.
We all know soda is not great for your teeth, but many people think of sports drinks as a healthy alternative. Not quite! Sports drinks, even sugar-free options, are super acidic. Remember the discussion above about acid harming your teeth? We see a ton of decay in athletes who sip sports drinks all day. It’s better to opt for water, or, if you need the electrolytes, just pound that Gatorade and then rinse well.
Some beverages and medications can seriously dry out your mouth, which can be very harmful to your oral health. Alcohol is a huge offender here. When they talk about a “dry” wine, they don’t just mean the flavor! Likewise, many medications can decrease saliva flow, especially if you take more than one medication. Be sure to stay hydrated and talk to your dentist about dry mouth! We know how to help.
If you have any questions about how your diet might be affecting your oral health, don’t hesitate to ask! Here at Anderson Family Dental, we aren’t just concerned about your teeth; we see ourselves as an integral part of helping you achieve great whole-body wellness. Schedule your next appointment here in Winter Park so we can protect those pearly whites for a long lifetime of healthy eating!