We’ve all heard it a million times; sugary foods and drinks are bad for our teeth. Everybody knows which foods to avoid if we want shiny, healthy mouths. But we don’t spend as much time talking about the foods that have a positive impact on our oral health.
We’ve put together five food types that are great for your oral health that you can look forward to enjoying guilt-free.
Calcium, phosphates, and a vitamin called K2 all have great benefits for your teeth. They replenish essential minerals and can even help enamel develop – loss of enamel can lead to serious issues, so calcium intake is very important.
Milk and cheese help your teeth to grow strong and healthy. If you’re lactose intolerant or follow a vegan diet, your dental specialist can recommend alternatives to provide these key benefits.
If you’re a dairy-lover, though, then it’s all good news: your favorite foods help your teeth to grow strong and last for many years. Dairy also makes us salivate, which cleans small bits out of our teeth.
Of course, a drawback of some dairy products is that they’re not exactly a breath freshener. While cleaning your teeth regularly is recommended, using sugar-free gum is a better way to keep your mouth minty fresh and also helps clean your mouth by producing saliva.
2. Fresh Fruit and Vegetables
Fiber-rich fresh fruit and vegetables have wide-ranging benefits for the entire body. The mouth is no exception: fiber helps generate saliva, which reduces the impact of acids in the mouth.
Fresh fruit and vegetables are also great for helping wounds heal, reducing the risk of bleeding gums. Vitamin C-rich fruits like citrus are especially good at this – scurvy was a fatal illness until it was discovered that citrus fruit stopped the rot it caused in sailors’ gums.
However, it’s important to moderate your acidic fruit consumption, as too much can damage your teeth. An apple and an orange a day will do you no harm, though.
3. Fatty Fish
Eating fatty and oily fish helps keep your gums healthy, as fish promotes healing and reduces inflammation. Another benefit of fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel, and sardines is that they contain plenty of vitamin D, which works with other vitamins to build enamel growth and reduce your risk of gum disease.
Fatty fish also has numerous health benefits for your blood pressure and muscle growth, making it an all-around great choice to include in your diet.
Whether you like your tea with milk or cream, good news: tea is good for your mouth. Black and green teas fight bacteria and stop them from developing in the gums. Some teas, like mint, are also an excellent palate-cleanser.
Fluoride is also an important element in protecting your teeth. While some people prefer to avoid tap water due to concerns over fluoride levels in drinking water, these concerns are often based on outdated health scares,and your mouth can only benefit from making your tea with tap water.
5. Sugar-Free Cocoa
Chocolate is polarizing when it comes to health and wellness. This is because the chocolate we consume is usually packed with too much sugar.
Unsweetened cocoa products and chocolate with a high level of cocoa solids can have a beneficial effect on many areas of your body, including your mouth. Polyphenols in cocoa fight bacteria in the mouth and improve your oral health.
It might be an acquired taste compared to what we’re used to, but it’s very healthy, and you’ll love it if you give it a try.
6. Dried Fruits
Dried fruit might seem surprising, as sticky substances are prone to get caught in gaps between teeth. This causes decay over time, so if you’re eating dried fruit, be sure to brush your teeth fairly soon afterward.
However, some dried fruits are good for your mouth. These include:
- Raisins and sultanas
- Dried plums (prunes)
- Dried cranberries
These dried fruits contain phytochemicals that help strengthen your teeth, reducing the risk of cavities developing. As long as the fruits don’t spend too long stuck to your teeth, they can be beneficial!
It’s also worth noting that some dried fruits are candied and have sugar added to them – these are much less helpful, as getting sugar stuck between your teeth promotes decay.
Cinnamon contains many amazing chemical compounds. It’s a natural solution for so many things, from treating mold to promoting oral health. Cinnamic aldehyde is a compound that destroys bacteria that are commonly found in the mouth, keeping your breath fresh and promoting healthy gums.
Cinnamon can be consumed by infusing it into healthy meals like curries or mixing powdered cinnamon into yogurt (the dairy is also beneficial!) It can also be infused in healthy teas.
8. Sugar-Free Gum
Sugar-free gum isn’t technically a food, as you don’t swallow it. However, chewing produces saliva, which washes bits of food and build-ups of sugar from your teeth. Sugar-free gum is, therefore, a good way to reduce your risk of cavities and decay.
It also helps keep your breath fresh, which makes it great after a meal. Remember that while gum helps prevent build-ups of food, it’s cleaning your teeth by washing them rather than contributing nutrients and chemicals that strengthen your teeth. Gum shouldn’t be considered an alternative to healthy, fresh food.
Joining oily fish and dairy products in the category of “strong-smelling foods that are great for your oral health,” onions contain helpful microbial agents that destroy bacteria in the mouth.
Remember that you don’t have to eat them raw – onions are the base of a huge number of stews and sauces around the world where you can’t even taste them once cooked.
Staying Healthy, Staying Fresh
Most people don’t associate a diet of mackerel and cheese with a healthy mouth. However, these foods go a long way towards clearing away bacteria and refreshing the mouth with saliva. Pair these foods with sugar-free gum and you’ll enjoy health benefits while staying minty fresh.