Foods For Healthy Teeth
Most of us know that sugary drinks and snacks are bad news for our teeth, but you might be surprised to learn another common type of food can be just as bad: starch.
Bacteria in our mouths aid in digestion by beginning to break down the foods we eat as soon as we begin chewing.
But, sugars and starches both break down into acidic compounds—which then starts to wreak havoc with our gums and tooth enamel. In fact, this “acid wash” can last twenty minutes or more after the end of a meal or snack.
Healthy Sugar Substitutes
To keep our teeth and gums and the rest of our bodies healthy, dentists recommend limiting sugary foods as much as possible. Since that’s a pretty tall order for most, one of the most important places to start is with sticky foods, such as caramel, and processed, sugared beverages, like soda. In their place, try unsweetened fruit juices high in vitamin C, and fresh “crunchy” fruits in vegetables. Not only are fruits and vegetables rich in nutrients, but the act of chewing them helps to scrub away food remnants and acidic films (which eventually turn to plaque) left behind from other meals. Plus, leafy greens, like broccoli, are high in calcium which is an essential mineral for healthy teeth and bones.
Consider Foods Rich in Calcium and Antioxidants
Dairy products are helpful. Not only are milk products high in calcium, but many dairy products are rich in B12 and vitamin D. Be aware of some flavored yogurts that often mean lots of added sugar. When in doubt, check the label.
Green tea is thought to promote good oral health. In addition to being rich in antioxidants, green tea contains compounds called polyphenols, which stimulate saliva production that help naturally clean plaque from teeth. A simpler approach is just making sure to drink a few glasses of water every day. Also, regular doses of fluoride are known to help prevent tooth decay, so most municipalities add fluoride to their tap water (67%, according to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research).
Finally, make sure to schedule regular teeth cleanings and preventative checkups with your dentist. None of us are perfect, and visiting the dentist early and often gives you the best chance of catching minor problems before they turn into more costly and painful ones.