We all know that the best way to keep your teeth clean and healthy is by regularly brushing and flossing. Keeping up with an oral hygiene routine gets rid of food particles, sugar, and bacteria in your mouth that form plaque which damages tooth enamel. This can lead to gum disease and tooth decay. Did you know, however, that what you eat also affects your oral health?
The foods you eat are an important factor in your oral health because the moment food enters your mouth, bacteria starts working to convert carbohydrates and sugars into acids that attack your teeth. The more starchy and sugary foods you eat, the more the bacteria in your mouth grows and the more acids are produced to attack your teeth.
The bacteria in your mouth can also cause inflammation in your gums, leading to gum disease or even problems with your jaw. However, there are some healthy foods that can cleanse your teeth and reinforce their strength if you incorporate them into your diet. Our staff here at Advanced Dental Care of Anderson has compiled this guide to help you figure out which teeth-healthy foods to start eating today!
A 2013 study published in General Dentistry found that eating cheese raised the pH in participants’ mouths and lowered their risk of tooth decay compared to those who drank a glass of milk or ate sugar-free yogurt. This is thought to happen for three reasons. First, chewing increases the amount of saliva present in your mouth and eating cheese requires a lot of chewing. The excessive saliva in your mouth after chewing all that cheese will wash away bacteria and food particles on your teeth.
Cheese also contains calcium, which strengthens and refortifies your teeth. It also contains a protein called casein, which repairs and stabilizes tooth enamel. The study also showed that those who ate yogurt or drank milk showed no change in their pH levels, while those who had eaten cheese showed a rapid drop in pH.
Christine Wu, a pediatric dentistry researcher at the University of Illinois at Chicago, theorizes that cheese may neutralize plaque acid in your mouth, reducing the damage the acid does to your teeth. If you can find a way to eat more cheese, whether as an appetizer or even dessert, you will be contributing to your overall oral health.
Raisins are another great food to work into your diet for better oral health. Raisins, similar to cheese, require enough chewing to produce extra saliva to rinse your teeth. Raisins are also naturally sweet, full of healthy sugars like fructose and glucose. According to a 2016 study of raisins and human health, raisins have also been shown to contain compounds known as phytochemicals. Phytochemicals not only suppress the growth of plaque bacteria on your teeth but also benefit your skin, immune system, bone health, and vision! Raisins are an awesome snack for keeping your teeth and gums healthy.
We know this category won’t be for everyone, but leafy greens have several oral health benefits – even if you don’t like the way they taste! Foods such as kale and spinach are high in calcium, which contributes to the strength of your enamel. Leafy greens are also high in folic acid, a type of B vitamin that may help fight gum disease.
“Acidic foods and beverages may cause tiny lesions on tooth enamel,” explained Wu. “Calcium and phosphate help redeposit minerals back into those lesions.” Calcium is also good for bones, including your jaw. These foods are high in fiber which allows them to literally “scrub” your teeth, similar to the way your toothbrush would. Eating some spinach is sort of like taking your teeth through a car wash: the chewing generates saliva as the leafy green physically scrubs your teeth in between chomps. Afterward, your smile will sparkle and shine!
Eating more fish has been shown to contribute to the health of your teeth and gums due to two properties: fish are high in phosphate and they are also high in vitamin D. Phosphate contributes to the remineralization of your enamel, strengthening and reinforcing it. Consuming foods high in calcium and phosphate is a great choice for your health, but your body can’t absorb them if you don’t have enough vitamin D. Fatty fish such as salmon is a great source of vitamin D, allowing your body to fully absorb the calcium and phosphate from other parts of your diet.
Almonds are another awesome snack to reach for when you want to give your oral health a little extra boost. Like some of the other foods on this list, almonds are high in calcium while also being low in sugar, contributing to the remineralization and strengthening of your enamel. Consider enjoying a few handfuls of almonds with your lunch or toss some on top of any salad.
Book Your Appointment with Advanced Dental Care of Anderson
Now that you know five foods that are known to contribute to better oral health, you can take the necessary steps to take care of your teeth. Along with watching what you eat, however, you should also be maintaining regular dental checkups. Book your next appointment today at Advanced Dental Care of Anderson!