Solid brushing and flossing habits are most important to your overall dental health. Still, your choice of foods and beverages can also significantly impact the appearance and vitality of your teeth. In addition to maintaining consistent hygiene, consider increasing your intake of foods that are beneficial (or simply less harmful) for your teeth and avoiding those that can cause damage.
It’s important to note that frequent snacking throughout the day (on any kind of food) can negatively impact your teeth than the types of food you consume. Regardless of what you’re reaching for, make sure to limit snacking between meals. And of course, you can’t be expected to avoid all the harmful foods all the time. When you do indulge in “the bad stuff,” just remember to swish your mouth with water or go one step further and brush your teeth directly after. Simply getting water flowing and releasing food particles from your teeth goes a long way in preventing tooth decay, gum disease, and many other dental health issues.
With all of that in consideration, here are some of the best and worst foods for dental health.
Fibrous foods, including fruits like apples and vegetables like broccoli and leafy greens, help stimulate saliva when you eat them, washing harmful food particles and acids away. These foods help do some of the work in cleaning your teeth as you eat.
By now, we’re all used to washing our hands frequently, avoiding touching our faces, cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces, and keeping a distance from sick people. All of these common practices hold true when it comes to the flu.
It’s a smart idea to wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before eating or preparing food, after coughing or sneezing, using the restroom, touching garbage, or petting an animal. When you wash your hands, be sure to scrub them well for at least 20 seconds, getting under your nails, between your fingers, and the backs of your hands too.
Dairy products such as milk, cheese, and plain yogurt are rich in protein and calcium, which can help strengthen your teeth. Dairy products are also generally low in sugar (unless your dairy of choice is Go-Gurt), which is beneficial to avoid. So long as your stomach allows it, bring on the cheese! In moderation, of course.
Both black and green tea contains fluoride, a helpful agent in fighting tooth decay. Also found in water, toothpaste, and mouthwashes, the mineral fluoride helps strengthen and repair tooth enamel. Tea also contains polyphenols, which are micronutrients from plant-based foods that reduce gum inflammation and disease. Here’s the caveat with tea: It contains tannin, which can stain your teeth, so be sure to rinse your mouth with water or, better yet, brush your teeth after consuming it
Crunchy, nourishing nuts such as pecans, macadamia nuts, and Brazil nuts are good for your teeth because they’re low in carbohydrates, which is ideal. After all, carbohydrates can cause tooth decay through acid-producing bacteria. In addition to providing minerals and proteins that are great for your overall health, they also aid in saliva production, just like fiber-rich foods.
Chances are, you’ve been told since childhood that too much candy will result in cavities, and it’s true. Sweets that remain in your mouth for longer periods of time, such as lollipops, hard candies that you suck on, and caramels, have a better chance of eating away at enamel and causing tooth decay. If you need a sweet treat, reach for things like chocolate, which washes off teeth more easily.
Super starchy foods such as soft bread and potato chips can get stuck in your teeth, creating a perfect environment for tooth decay to take place.
Most sodas, sports drinks, and even juices contain loads of sugar that cause those pesky cavities. In addition, many contain phosphoric and citric acids that wear away tooth enamel. Instead, reach for sugar-free flavored seltzer water, tea, or just plain water.
Alcoholic beverages of all kinds have a tendency to dehydrate and dry out your mouth. With reduced saliva flow, you’re at higher risk for both tooth decay and gum disease.
Citrus fruits, pickles, tomatoes, and coffee are all examples of foods with high acid content. These foods can wear away at your teeth over time, causing decay, sensitivity, and discoloring.
Regular appointments with a dental hygienist and check-ups with a dentist can help you prevent unwanted issues with your teeth that may be caused by your diet. Contact Community Health Partners’ nearest dental clinic to set up an appointment and take your dental health into your own hands.