A Guide to the Best and Worst Foods for Your Teeth
We are constantly asked by patients for additional ways to improve their oral health, besides brushing and flossing. One of the easiest methods we recommend is to stay conscientious of the food you are eating and not only limit foods that are bad for your teeth, but frequently include foods that are beneficial for oral health.
To make it easy for you to decide what to pick up on your next shopping trip, we’ve compiled a list of five of the best foods for your teeth and three to avoid.
The 5 Best Foods for Healthy Teeth
Fruits and Vegetables Rich with Fiber
Fruits and vegetables high in fiber, such as those in this list by Healthline, are not only good for your body, they’re good for your oral health too! Fiber-rich produce can help keep teeth and gums clean. According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, they can also induce saliva production, which reduces the harmful effects of acids and enzymes on your teeth.
While it’s true that the calcium from milk helps create strong healthy teeth, dairy products can also reduce tooth decay – making them some of the best foods for healthy teeth. As explained by Colgate, milk contains proteins called caseins which combine together to form a protective film on enamel that defends your teeth from common bacterial acids.
Drinks with Fluoride
Do not let this one scare you: we’re not suggesting you add fluoride powder to your drinks. However, most tap water in the U.S. is currently fluoridated. That means that whenever you make a drink from tap water (coffee, tea, Kool-Aid, etc.), you will experience the positive oral health benefits of fluoride. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, drinking fluoridated water reduces cavities by about 25 percent in both children and adults.
Black and Green Teas
Not only will making tea with fluoridated tap water improve your oral health, the tea leaves themselves also contain compounds that are good for your teeth. According to LiveScience, these compounds, called polyphenols, slow the growth of bacteria associated with cavities and gum disease.
While we encourage our patients to stay away from sugary candies and gum, sugarless gum is beneficial for your oral health. Not only will it make your breath smell better after a meal, it will increase saliva flow in the mouth, washing away accumulated acids and harmful bacteria. According to the American Dental Association, gum is only considered sugar-free if it contains less than 0.5 grams of sugar per serving. However, be sure to remove your Invisalign® clear aligners before enjoying gum.
Three Foods to Reduce for Better Oral Health
Now that you have a list of the best foods for healthy teeth, here are a few that we recommend staying away from, or at least reducing your intake of.
Foods like gummy candy or dried fruit often get stuck and stay in your teeth long after you’ve eaten them. This can increase your chances of developing tooth decay, putting your oral health at risk. According to Mouth Healthy, the best way to avoid this is to rinse thoroughly with water after consuming any sticky snack.
While we recommend a generous water intake, chewing on solid ice can cause damage to your enamel and gums. Colgate says to avoid this habit or try switching to shaved ice, slushies or crushed ice.
We all love a nice big orange or a cool glass of lemonade on a hot day, but citrus fruits and their equally-acidic derivatives can hurt your oral health. According to Healthline, this can erode enamel and make teeth more vulnerable to decay. To save your teeth and still enjoy these acidic fruits, make sure to rinse with water after eating and thoroughly brush your teeth.
Now that we’ve reviewed several of the best and worst foods for your teeth, we hope you feel ready to make informed decisions about your diet with your oral health in mind.
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