Everyone knows that candy, especially the chewy, sticky types, is terrible for your teeth. And if you have braces or dentures, you know to steer clear of corn on the cob, apples, and other super crunchy food. Ever wonder if there are some foods and beverages that are actually good for your dental health? Well, wonder no more — just keep reading and we’ll tell you all about them!
Who doesn’t love an ooey-gooey wedge of brie, a sprinkling of salty feta atop a salad, or a simple snack of string cheese? Research suggests that for the sake of your smile, you should go ahead and indulge in some cheese.
Cheese is a great source of both phosphate and calcium, which help maintain strong, healthy teeth as well as bones. In addition, cheese contains a type of protein called casein. Casein works to stabilize and repair tooth enamel.
Not only that, but cheese has been found to balance the pH level of the mouth. This means that after eating a nice hunk of cheddar or gouda, there is less harmful acid on hand and therefore a less hospitable environment for tooth decay.
The next time you stumble across a vegetable tray, help yourself to some of the carrot and celery sticks, broccoli, and cauliflower for the sake of your pearly whites.
Not only are these vegetables packed with nutrients that will do your body good, but they can also act as natural toothbrushes to help scrub away plaque from your teeth’s surface.
Leafy greens like spinach or kale do the trick, too. All that chewing can loosen the particles of plaque, and it also generates a lot of saliva. Saliva washes away bacteria, so crunchy vegetables that really work your chompers are like a one-two punch preventing tooth decay.
Granted, sugarless gum isn’t exactly a food — but for many folks, it can sometimes substitute for a sweet dessert (or a post-meal cigarette). Turns out that sugarless gum isn’t just better than its high-sugar counterpart, it actually benefits your dental health in a couple of different ways.
First, it amps up the production of saliva to sluice away acids in your mouth. It also contains calcium and phosphate and can help to redeposit these minerals to your teeth.
Look for a gum that contains xylitol. This is a naturally occurring sweetener that offers even more protection against bacteria.
A Few Foods to Avoid
Now that you’ve learned how best to fill your plate to help your teeth stay healthy, here are a few to eliminate from your diet — or at least take some precautions with.
As expected, sticky and chewy candies and other sweet treats top the list. Hard candy isn’t much better for you, though, because it’s designed to stay in your mouth for a long time. That means it contributes to a lot of sugar, and therefore bacteria, swilling around in your saliva.
When it comes to keeping your smile bright, dentists caution against drinking red wine, colas, coffee, and tea.
“If it would stain a white t-shirt or white tablecloth, it will eventually stain your teeth,” explain the experts at 44 West Dental Professionals. “Be sure to rinse your mouth with water after drinking these beverages, or use a straw to bypass your teeth altogether.”
Citrus fruits and other highly acidic foods may pose a problem, too. One study found that teenagers who ate a large amount of pickles were more prone to dental problems because of the high levels of vinegar in the pickling solution. This likely isn’t a problem for most people, but bear it in mind the next time you’re considering a snack of kosher dills.