Whether you enjoy sweets or more savory options, we often don’t think about the effects different foods have on our teeth. However, it’s critical to understand the role diet plays in your overall health – including your oral health. While you may know the obvious differences between nutritious and less nutritious foods, have you ever wondered what some of the best foods are for your teeth?
Best Foods for Your Teeth
Although the most important components of your oral hygiene include brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing daily, and visiting your dentist at least twice a year for cleanings, eating the right foods for your teeth can also help maintain your teeth’s health and prevent cavities.
Remember, always speak with your primary care provider before making any significant dietary changes, be mindful of food allergies, and know that diet alone is not a substitute for proper oral hygiene. With that in mind, here are some of the best foods for your oral and overall health:
1. Dairy Products
Dairy products contain significant levels of calcium and protein. These minerals help strengthen your teeth’s enamel, the hard, protective coating that protects your teeth from decay and cavities.
Some dairy products like yogurts also contain probiotics, which are microorganisms that restore your gut and digestive health, which may further improve your overall health. Remember to select unsweetened or sugar-free dairy yogurts when possible.
2. Leafy Green Vegetables
Leafy green vegetables are a great source of vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, folic acid, and B vitamins, which all contribute to your teeth’s health. They are packed with nutrients and are also low in calories, which means they may help reduce your risk for obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic illnesses.
Apples are another excellent food for your oral health because they improve your gum health, strengthen your teeth, and naturally reduce cavity-inducing bacteria. Due to their fibrous texture and crisp exterior, chewing apples can also:
- Stimulate your gums
- Remove plaque between your teeth
- Lower your cholesterol
- Regulate your blood sugar levels
- Kill bacteria that cause bad breath
- Increase saliva flow
4. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish are packed with omega-3 fatty acids, which may help prevent tooth decay and gum diseases. Omega-3 fatty acids may also protect against heart disease. Some of the best fatty fish to add to your diet include:
Foods to Avoid
Some of the most harmful foods for your teeth are sugary snacks and acidic fruits, which can cause enamel erosion and cavities. Highly processed foods may also negatively impact your oral and overall health, as these foods are frequently packed with high levels of fats, sodium, and added preservatives.
The CDC recommends that Americans keep their daily added sugar intake to less than 10% of their total calories. For example, if you consume a 2,000-calorie diet, only 200 calories should be from added sugars. Some of the top foods to avoid for your oral health include:
- Pickles: the vinegar needed in the pickling process holds acids that can stain and wear away your teeth’s enamel
- Soft drinks: contain acids that can damage the teeth, leading to increased cavities and enamel erosion
- Potato chips: starchy foods are more likely to get lodged in our teeth, and the starch quickly breaks down into sugar, which feeds bacteria in our teeth’s plaque
- Sour candies: contain significant amounts of acids, and combined with their sugars, it strips vital minerals from the enamel
- Dried fruit: has high levels of concentrated sugar and its gummy-like consistency causes the sugars to cling to your teeth
- Red wine: includes erosive acids and tannins, which can dry your mouth and stain your teeth
Importance of Oral Health
Your mouth is the entry point to your digestive and respiratory system, meaning it’s where any number of harmful bacteria can easily enter. In addition, poor oral health can lead to gingivitis, which has been linked to numerous health concerns, such as heart disease, diabetes, and respiratory illnesses. Gingivitis may also eventually progress to periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease.
In untreated cases of periodontitis, the infection may destroy the soft tissue and bones that support your teeth, which can lead to tooth loss. Your teeth are crucial to chewing your food properly and communicating with others. They also play a considerable role in your self-confidence, which is why it’s important to eat foods that will benefit your teeth.
Take Control of Your Oral Health with ChildSmiles•FamilySmiles
In a world where we are surrounded by so many unhealthy food options, maintaining your oral health can be difficult at times. The best way to ensure that you maintain your teeth’s health is to visit the dentist twice a year for cleanings. From your teeth to your toes, ChildSmiles•FamilySmiles provides dental and primary care for the whole family.