Among all the features on your face, your teeth make the most impression. They’re only revealed when you smile. They say a lot about what kind of person you are, whether you’re approachable, friendly and confident, and if you’re negligent of your oral health.
Good oral hygiene is crucial for having a healthy smile that makes a good impression, and this includes the food you eat. Here are the best and worst foods for your teeth.
Best Foods for Your Oral Health
Here’s a fun fact — tooth enamel is the hardest substance in your body. Although it’s only as thin as paper, it’s stronger than bones. That’s why this outer covering of the tooth plays an important role in dental health. Two minerals — calcium and phosphorus — are vital for reinforcing tooth enamel. Sources include dairy products and protein-loaded foods.
You might only think of your enamel when experiencing a sharp pain in your teeth while eating or drinking hot or cold beverages. Teeth sensitivity is a sign the enamel is worn out, and it’s just the beginning of other dental problems. Care for your teeth by observing proper hygiene and including the following foods in your diet.
1. Fiber-Rich Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables — like spinach or beans — work as excellent teeth cleaners. Fibrous foods are typically bulky, so they require longer chewing, allowing the mouth to produce more saliva.
Saliva is essential in oral health due to its several functions. It washes away food particles in the mouth to prevent bacteria from building up. It also neutralizes the acid produced by these bacteria that harm the teeth. Lastly, saliva provides a protective thin coating as a buffer between bacteria and the teeth.
Your mouth needs more of this natural lubricant. Eating highly fiber-rich veggies and fruits promotes salivation and performs an oral cleanup. These include pears, bananas, carrots, broccoli and chickpeas.
2. Protein-Packed Foods
Protein is essential for muscle growth, but it’s also important in oral health. It’s the building block for bone — including the teeth. Eating meat, eggs and poultry products will boost dental health.
A study suggests protein deficiencies may be associated with poor dental health, particularly in older adults who are malnourished. Mouth care is a significant segment of general well-being, so it makes sense that individuals who lack proper nourishment are at high risk for gum or tooth diseases.
Some examples of foods in this group to take care of your health are:
- Poultry, like duck, chicken and turkey
- Lean meats, like lamb, pork and beef
- Fish and seafood, like lobster, mussels, oysters and crab
- Dairy products, like yogurt and milk
- Seeds and nuts, like almonds, walnuts and pumpkin seeds
- Beans and legumes, like tofu, lentils and split peas
There are several ways to include protein in your meals and boost oral health.
3. Sugarless Chewing Gum
Sugarless gum works similarly to fiber foods. Chewing it increases saliva in your mouth, removes tiny food particles and washes acids to the stomach. What’s even more powerful is saliva can repair mild signs of enamel erosion.
Although tooth enamel is harder than bone, it’s not a living tissue. It can’t regenerate or regrow like your rib bones, but saliva can help remineralize the tooth by pushing phosphates and calcium back into it to harden it again. While it sounds like good news, saliva can only restore weakened enamel. It’s way past its rebuilding ability if the surface has eroded.
Saliva is crucial in this remineralization process. Chewing sugar-free gum can aid in promoting oral health and strengthening your teeth.
4. Foods With Fluoride
Saliva has a helper in protecting enamel — fluoride. It helps the saliva reverse minor dental problems with enamel. It’s often featured in many toothpaste products and is sometimes added to drinking water.
The mouth contains more than 700 natural species of bacteria that are both good and bad. The harmful bacteria convert sugar into lactic acid and gnaw the phosphates and calcium layering the teeth. While it does this, fluoride collects the minerals drawn from the teeth and forces them back, rebuilding enamel.
Fluoride protects your teeth, so eating foods loaded with it — like fluoridated water, oatmeal, potatoes and raisins — must be part of a healthy nutritional diet. Men should take 4 milligrams of fluoride daily for optimum oral health, while women must take 3 mg.
Drinking water helps flush acid and sugar into the stomach. Additionally, fluoride is naturally found in all types of water — although not enough to prevent tooth decay. Groundwater and spring water can have higher traces of fluoride than tap, so drink them if you can. Ensure you drink enough water to stay hydrated throughout the day and care for your teeth simultaneously.
Worst Foods for Your Teeth
The worst foods for the teeth share two common qualities — they have sugar and acid. You’ll often hear sugar causes tooth decay, but acid is also involved. Here are nine foods to avoid as they create cavities and holes in your teeth and sabotage your smile.
1. Candies and Sweets
Eating sweets increases the amount of sugar in the mouth, which gives bacteria more resources to make acid and damage the teeth. Sugar is linked to many serious health conditions, like obesity, diabetes and heart disease. One study found it raises the risk of cavities and decay, leading to problems. Limit them to special occasions only.
2. Starchy Foods
Bread, pasta and rice are bad for your teeth for two reasons. One is they break down into simple sugars, a recipe for acid production. They’re also easily trapped between the teeth. If you don’t floss, these particles can accumulate and cause problems later.
Ensure you lower the amount of starch you eat daily to sidestep dental issues. Furthermore, proper hygiene is required to keep the teeth healthy.
3. Carbonated Drinks
Carbonated drinks contain heaps of sugar — the enemy of enamel —- so you should avoid them at all costs. Various studies found several negative consequences of consuming sugary beverages. One discovered that one week of exposure to soft drinks leads to a wide range of enamel decay. In another study, the teeth became more rough, and researchers found they lost a high amount of calcium in a different one.
These beverages have a high erosive effect, so it’s best to avoid them for the sake of your oral health.
4. Citrus Fruits
Lemons and grapefruits can harm your teeth due to their high acidic levels. Citrus fruits are packed with vitamin C, which helps strengthen immunity. The body needs this vitamin to function properly, but it’s best to control your intake as the acids in these fruits can erode enamel over time.
You can still drink lemonade or have oranges as snacks, but clean your mouth afterward. Remember to brush your teeth twice daily and floss to minimize acid.
Like sugary beverages, drinking alcohol in excess is linked with myriad health issues, including oral conditions. It promotes dry mouth, which for some people is an instant effect after a few glasses of alcoholic drinks.
Alcohol is a known diuretic that causes the body to produce more urine. Frequent bathroom trips can result in dehydration, lessening the saliva produced and causing bacteria to adhere to your teeth. The acids will increase oral damage, impair the enamel and cause gum disease. It’s OK to drink alcohol, but ensure you do it moderately.
Some people chew on ice in summer to cool themselves off. This isn’t recommended, as it can cause enamel to crack, teeth to break and crowns to loosen. You can suck on ice instead to minimize the pressure on teeth and prevent problems.
While your beloved marinated vegetables can help promote digestion and gut health, you should also moderate your consumption. Vinegar is a main ingredient in pickled vegetables, and it contains acetic acid, which kills any microorganisms during pickling. Acid is bad for your teeth, so you should limit eating pickles.
8. Tomato Sauce
You may also have to change your pasta recipe and replace tomato sauce with cream or white sauce. Tomatoes are high in acid, so they also affect your teeth. Limit your consumption and try Alfredo instead.
9. Coffee and Tea
Coffee and tea contain acid and can leave stubborn stains on your teeth, which affect your smile. Drink them in moderation and consider taking your cup of morning joe with milk to lessen the dark color it leaves in your mouth. You can also use a straw and rinse your mouth with water when done.
Take Care of Your Oral Health Through Nutrition
The appropriate oral diet has less sugar and acidic foods, as both ruin the protective surface of the teeth. Avoid carbonated beverages, starch foods and citrus fruits, and enjoy alcohol in moderation.
In contrast, foods rich in fiber, protein, calcium and fluoride are necessary for dental health. Fill your plate with these items, which have the minerals essential for building enamel. Finally, visit your dentist for a regular checkup and routine prophylaxis. Taking these measures will improve your oral health and your smile.