March is National Nutrition Month, a time when we raise awareness of the importance of making healthy diet and exercise choices. While most of us understand that choosing good food has an effect on our overall health, we find that a lot of our patients forget to take their teeth into account.
In observance of National Nutrition Month, the Dentistry of Nashville team is here to offer a list of the 8 best foods to eat to keep your teeth healthy.
Black and green teas are full of polyphenols, compounds that slow the growth of bacterias that cause cavities and gum disease. Researchers from the University of Chicago found that people who rinsed their mouths with black tea for 1 minute 10 times per day had less plaque buildup on their teeth as opposed to those who rinsed with water. Even more, the size and stickiness of their plaque was reduced as well.
Not only does tea prevent bacteria from clumping together with other bacteria, it can also keep bad breath at bay. Those polyphenols suppress the genes of bacteria that stimulate the production of smelly compounds in the mouth.
Recent studies found that teenagers aged 12-15 who ate cheddar cheese had lower levels of acid in their mouths than those who ate yogurt or milk. This signifies that cheese can neutralize acidic compounds around the teeth, compounds that can cause cavities and gum disease.
Cheese also stimulates saliva production, which washes away bacteria and debris.
Natural raisins are sweet without the addition of sucrose, better known as table sugar. The bacteria in your mouth feed on sugar and produce an acid waste, which is the primary cause of cavities. Raisins are a source of phytochemicals as well, which kill cavity-causing plaque and bacteria.
4. Crunchy Fruits And Vegetables
You’ve probably been hearing about the health benefits of fruits and vegetables since you were young, so it should come as no surprise that they also help your teeth.
Crisp produce such as apples, celery and carrots act like natural toothbrushes. When you chew on them, their fibers scrub against your enamel and help remove plaque and other harmful bacteria.
5. Vitamin-rich Foods
Foods containing calcium—such as cheese, almonds and leafy greens—and foods high in phosphorous—like meat, eggs and fish—can help keep tooth enamel strong and healthy. Foods and drinks with high acid levels can cause tiny, damaging lesions on tooth enamel. Calcium and phosphate help redeposit minerals back into those lesions, repairing damaged enamel as you eat.
Calcium also strengthens bones, including those in your jaw. This helps prevent tooth loss and jawbone deterioration.
6. Sugarless Gum
Chewing sugar-free gum after meals and snacks can help rinse off and neutralize the acids released by the bacteria in plaque, which are harmful to tooth enamel. Both the act of chewing and the flavor of the artificial sweeteners in the gum stimulate 10 times the normal rate of saliva flow. Not only does saliva neutralize the acids in your mouth, it also washes away food particles, helping keep your teeth clean.
In addition, sugar-free gum sweetened with xylitol has the added benefit of inhibiting the growth of streptococcus mutans, one of the oral bacteria that cause cavities. In the presence of xylitol, the bacteria lose the ability to adhere to the tooth, halting the cavity formation process. With xylitol use over a period of time, the types of bacteria in the mouth change and fewer decay-causing bacteria survive on tooth surfaces.
The sugar present in milk is lactose, which is the least damaging type of sugar for your teeth. This gives milk a sweet and tasty quality while not being harmful to teeth. In fact, the calcium in milk strengthens and revitalizes enamel that has been damaged by acidic foods.
Additionally, studies have shown that when cavity-causing foods are eaten along with milk, like a sugary chocolate chip cookie, the milk can help protect the teeth from damage. If you’re lactose intolerant or don’t drink milk, ask your dentist about other calcium-rich foods and toothpastes that can remineralize your teeth.
The enzymes in cranberries pack a powerful punch. Along with stopping the bacteria before they start to feed on sugars in your mouth, they may also disrupt the production of glucan, one of the main components of plaque.
While helping you fight plaque formation, a single glass of 100% cranberry juice can also:
- Lower cholesterol
- Treat colds and sore throats
- Boost eyesight
- Lower blood pressure
- Fight free-radicals
Learn More About The Best Foods To Keep Your Teeth Healthy
The Dentistry of Nashville team is dedicated to enhancing the smiles of each and every patient that comes through our doors. But visiting your dentist every 6 months is only half the battle toward a healthy smile. Ensuring that you eat properly and establish a good dental health routine is essential in attaining bright, healthy teeth.
If you want to learn more about the best cavity-fighting foods, contact our office to make an appointment today.