This is definitely something to chew on: Certain foods can actually help protect your pearly whites. While brushing and flossing are most effective for ridding your mouth of nasty germs, there are foods that make your teeth strong and contribute to a healthy enamel.
The buildup of sugar and food particles in your teeth causes plaque and decay, while wearing down your teeth, making flossing and brushing extremely important to maintain the health of your teeth and mouth. Oral hygiene also plays a big role in other diseases in the body.
“There’s a relationship between the bacteria – and the inflammation that bacteria cause in the mouth – [and] a lot of other diseases,” says Dr. Donald Ratcliffe, chairman of the Department of Dental Medicine at Staten Island University Hospital in New York.
In addition to taking care of your oral hygiene, when it comes to your health, you are what you eat. This also holds true for the health of your mouth. Sugary foods contribute to tooth decay and can take a toll on your oral hygiene. Chomping down on candy and soda will only harm your insides and cause tooth decay and plaque buildup. Yet, like there are healthy foods for your heart and muscles, there are healthy foods for your oral health, according to the American Dental Association (ADA).
We’ve rounded up a list of foods you should eat to keep your oral hygiene at its peak — and to enhance your overall health.
Full of calcium, cheese (and other dairy products) are great for keeping your chompers strong and healthy. A study conducted by the Academy of General Dentistry showed that cheese may protect against cavities. If your mouth’s pH balance is lower than 5.5, you are at risk for tooth erosion. Subjects in the study who ate cheese, and other calcium-filled dairy products, had their pH levels increase dramatically, suggesting that this food may help in preventing cavities.
2. Crunchy foods
Foods like carrots, apples, and cucumbers that require a lot of chewing can actually disturb dental plaque and serve as a cleansing mechanism for your teeth. Raw carrots increase saliva production which can reduce the risk of cavities. Celery, like carrots, acts as a toothbrush by scraping away food particles and bacteria from your teeth. It’s also full of vitamins A and C. Sweet fruits like apples contain sugar, but also pack a lot of fiber. The fibrous texture stimulates your gums, and the crunching creates saliva to cleanse your mouth. Saliva helps neutralize the acids attacking your teeth.
3. Leafy greens
They are full of vitamins and minerals, but low in calories. Spinach and kale are high in calcium and folic acid, a type of B vitamin that could possibly treat gum disease in pregnant women, according to Medline Plus. It’s a safe assumption that these nutrients can also help protect men’s gums. Watery veggies, like leafy greens, have high water content which helps offset any sugar in the meal.
Low in sugar, high in protein, and high in calcium, almonds are another great treat for your teeth and gums. They are crunchy and stimulate saliva for cleansing properties.
Not technically a food, water is an all-around benefactor for healthy teeth. Drinking fluoridated water can make teeth stronger. At the dentist, fluoride treatments may help strengthen the enamel. Especially in babies and children, fluoride is sometimes put on their teeth to harden enamel. Nearly 75% of the U.S. drinks fluoridated water.
Tea is full of compounds call polyphenols that are found in green and black tea, which are proven to slow the growth of bacteria associated with gum disease. In addition to preventing tooth decay, green tea also hinders bad breath. Talk about a win-win!