We all know that sugar is bad for our teeth. Too much sugar leads to tooth decay and more time in the dentist’s chair than we’d like. But sugar isn’t the only culprit when it comes to damaging our teeth and gums. A healthy diet full of fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains is not only good for our bodies, it is also great for our oral health! In fact, according to the ADA, one of the first areas in your body to suffer from a poor diet is your teeth.
Do you know which foods are the best and which are the worst for your teeth? Next time you’re making a grocery list, make sure to include the foods that are good for your teeth, and omit those that can actually harm them. Because, honestly, it’s not the occasional candy bar that’s going to do the real harm, it’s the foods you eat day in and day out that make the most difference …
Plan Your Menu Around These “Good for Your Teeth” Foods:
- Cheese – If you’re a cheese lover, you’re in luck! A 2013 study found that eating cheese raises the PH level in your mouth and lowers your risk of tooth decay. Cheese is also loaded with calcium and protein, nutrients that strengthen tooth enamel.
- Plain Yogurt – Like cheese, yogurt is rich in calcium. It also contains probiotics (“good” bacteria) which crowds out the bad bacteria that causes gum disease. Stay away from the sweetened varieties, or you’ll be counteracting the effects with too much sugar!
- Apples – You know the saying, “An apple a day …?” Well it not only “keeps the doctor away”, but the dentist as well! The action of eating a crisp, juicy apple produces saliva, which helps rinse away food particles and bacteria. It also stimulates your gums.
- Leafy Greens – Popeye was onto something with a diet heavy in spinach. Spinach and other leafy greens such as kale are rich in enamel-strengthening calcium.
- Carrots and Celery – Like apples, carrots are crunchy and filled with fiber. Eating a raw carrot produces saliva which washes away food particles and bacteria, while stimulating your gums and providing a healthy dose of Vitamin A. Celery has the same effect, and to perk it up add a little cream cheese for more flavor and a little added calcium.
- Almonds – These tasty nuts are low in sugar but high in calcium and protein. Have a handful as a snack or toss some into a stir fry for some tasty crunch.
For Good Oral Health, Minimize the Following Foods:
- Citrus Fruits – Wait, aren’t citrus fruits healthy? It’s true that citrus fruits are high in Vitamin C and other nutrients, but they’re also very acidic, which can erode tooth enamel over time. An occasional orange is okay, but avoid lemons and grapefruit, which are the most damaging.
- Candy – Treats like caramel and nougat stick to your teeth and provide the perfect breeding ground for bacteria to thrive and cause tooth decay. The same is true of hard candies which linger in your mouth as they dissolve, depositing sugar on your teeth.
- Soda – Okay, this one’s no surprise since it’s loaded with sugar, but even the diet varieties have acid which can do even more harm than the sugar. Better to avoid soda altogether. Ditto for sports drinks.
- Wine – Both red and white wine make teeth more vulnerable to stains. Indulging now and then is okay, but daily consumption is harmful to teeth!
- Coffee and Tea – They stain your teeth. (Look at the inside of your coffee cup!)
A final note: Water is a friend to both your body and your teeth. It will help wash away damaging sugars and acids!