There’s more to oral health than brushing and flossing your teeth. Avoiding foods that can cause tooth decay, erode your enamel, and stain your teeth can help your smile stay clean and healthy.
While cutting out foods and drinks, such as candy and caffeine, can help prevent dental diseases, you can do more than just take preventive measures. Eating certain foods and maintaining good nutrition can also help you improve your dental health and provide protection for your teeth and gums. In fact, if you don’t have certain nutrients, your body may be unable to properly fight off tooth decay.
Emanuel Mizrahi, DDS, of Forest Hills Orthodontic Associates in Forest Hills, New York, encourages his patients to eat foods that can protect their oral health. Having healthy teeth can help you enjoy the results of orthodontic treatments — such as braces and Invisalign® — and also help you maintain the striking results of whitening your teeth.
Here are some foods that can naturally boost your oral health and protect your teeth:
An apple a day may not just keep the doctor away. It may help keep the dentist away, too. While apples are sweet, they’re also high in fiber and water. Eating a crunchy apple produces saliva, and saliva helps cleanse teeth by rinsing away bacteria and food particles. Furthermore, 20 minutes after eating, saliva begins to neutralize the acids that attack teeth.
The fibrous texture of apples can also help stimulate your gum tissue and thereby increase the flow of nutrient-rich blood to your gums to help fight gum disease and improve your gum health. Eating an apple at the end of your meal can help delay the effects of bacteria until you can properly brush your teeth.
Celery and carrots
The crunchy texture of celery and carrots can increase saliva production and thereby help reduce the risk of cavities. Furthermore, carrots are a good source of fiber and vitamin A, which helps form and maintain tissues, such as teeth and mucous membranes.
Celery provides vitamins A and C. Vitamin C contributes to the formation of blood vessels and other tissues that support teeth. It also contributes to the body’s ability to efficiently heal and repair itself. Bleeding gums can occur if you don’t have sufficient amounts of vitamin C.
Dairy products or substitutes
Foods, such as cheese, milk, plain yogurt, and other daily products can provide minerals important to the health of your teeth. Teeth are made primarily of calcium, a mineral that helps harden tooth enamel and strengthen the jawbone. Calcium can also help protect your teeth from acids that cause decay. A diet lacking in calcium can put you at risk for tooth decay.
Calcium doesn’t have to come from dairy foods. If you have a dairy allergy or intolerance, you can get the same benefits from soy milk, calcium-fortified juices, and certain foods, such as spinach, canned salmon, sardines with bones, and fortified cereals.
Many dairy products and other calcium-rich foods are also fortified with vitamin D, a nutrient that helps your body absorb calcium and move it into your bloodstream.
Protein-rich foods, such as meat, eggs, nuts, and legumes provide phosphorus, an important vitamin for healthy bones and teeth. Phosphorus is so plentiful in the body that it comprises up to 1% of your total body weight.
Phosphorus ranks as the second most common mineral in your body, with most of it in your bones and teeth. Without adequate phosphorus levels, your teeth can chip and crack.
Green and black teas
Both green and black teas contain polyphenols, substances that kill and hold back bacteria. Polyphenols can prevent bacteria from growing or making acid. If you use fluoridated water to brew the teas, the beverages can also be a source of fluoride.
Sugarless chewing gum
Chewing sugar-free gum after meals can help rinse acid off your teeth and help preserve your tooth enamel. Furthermore, sugarless gum contains xylitol, which may help prevent decay. It can also inhibit the growth of Streptococcus mutaris, the oral bacteria that can cause cavities.
To learn more ways to maintain your oral health, book an appointment over the phone with Forest Hills Orthodontic Associates today.