Most of us are told, time and again, that we have to avoid certain foods if we want to keep our teeth nice and healthy. Which means that not a lot of people will be surprised if they were told that they should stay away from sugary, sticky snacks and beverages.
But is there a more positive angle to take on this? Why focus so much on what you shouldn't do when you can instead look at the things you can do to improve your dental health?
Many of us understand that we need certain foods to maintain our overall health, but there are also many foods that can have a direct impact on our dental health, too. These foods include, but are not limited to:
Greens are filled with folic acid, which promotes a healthy mouth structure and cell growth, which means they can contribute to stronger tooth enamel. There is also a lot of vitamin B, which reduces irritations and inflammations.
Celery features vitamins A and C, which contribute to overall health of your gums. As a side benefit, chewing celery is like brushing your teeth without actually brushing your teeth because it can help clean some of the food particles from your teeth. (Note that this does not replace your regular teeth brushing.)
There is a lot of goodness in most of the fruit available at your local grocery store, but it's usually best to stick with firmer varieties, like apples, that have a high water and fiber content. This is because despite the number of vitamins and nutrients, fruits also have a lot of sugar, and soft fruits that stick to your teeth can be as bad as any other sugary snack.
This is one of the richest sources of saturated fat in the world which means it is composed of triglycerides and lauric acid. This element breaks down into monolaurin, which helps to kill harmful bacteria and viruses that are setting up shop in your mouth.
Most nuts – but almonds in particular – can be really good for your teeth. They are a major source of protein and calcium without any unnecessary sugars.
Some studies suggest that cheese may actually have enough calcium in it that it can protect your teeth from the acids in other foods. Also, like many other foods on this list, as you chew these firm foods, it helps produce extra saliva, which can lower the risk of tooth decay.
Like many other dairy products, yogurt packs a lot of calcium and protein. This helps strengthen your teeth, but the real benefit is in the probiotics, which have a positive impact on your gums and push out some of the other bacteria that could cause cavities. (Just make sure you're not getting a brand/flavor of yogurt that has a high sugar content.)
This is a difficult one. Strawberries contain malic acid, which is used by the body to convert carbohydrates into energy. However, it can break down tooth enamel. On the other hand, that same malic acid can act as a natural teeth whitener (if you smash a couple up with some baking soda). The solution, then, is to always rinse or brush your teeth after any strawberry application.
Yes, technically this is a drink and not a food, but it is a critical part of a tooth-healthy diet. Water helps wash sugars and acid off your teeth. If you are living in an area with fluoridated water, studies have shown that this also helps reduce the risk of cavities.
Maintaining healthy teeth and gums doesn't have to be difficult, and it doesn't have to mean giving up a lot of delicious foods. There are plenty of great things you can eat that actually have a beneficial impact on the state of your teeth. Keep these things in mind on your next trip to the grocery store.
by Anna Bird