Good oral hygiene doesn’t end with your daily brushing routine. What you eat every day can have an impact on the strength of your teeth, as well as the color of your chompers.
So which foods have been deemed the best, and which ones are considered the worst, for tooth health? Take a look at the list below for some helpful pointers.
Eating for oral health is easier than you might think, as a lot of the same foods that are recommended for overall wellness will also be great for your teeth. Plus, eating the right foods, some of which are listed below, can help undo some of the damage that’s caused by indulging in the wrong foods for your teeth.
High-fiber foods: Foods that are high in fiber, such as crunchy vegetables, leafy greens, and fruit, are a great choice for teeth because you have to really chew on them before you swallow. Chewing not only helps break down your food, it also promotes the production of saliva, which naturally helps keep your mouth clean. And if you eat crunchy vegetables and fruits that have a tough exterior, they can also serve as a sort of brush for your teeth as you eat.
Watery foods: Many fruits and vegetables, such as apples and celery, have a good amount of water in them, so that will help reduce the negative effects of any of the natural sugar that they may contain. Plus, they stimulate saliva flow, further protecting against tooth decay by helping to buffer acid and rinse away food debris.
Calcium-rich foods: Foods that are high in calcium, such as leafy green vegetables and dairy products, can help to maintain the strength of your enamel. Yogurt that is low in sugar might also be beneficial, as it contains protein, calcium, and probiotics, all of which could help to keep your teeth and gums strong.
Nuts: Munching on nuts, such as almonds, could be good for your teeth, thanks to the protein and calcium in these foods. Plus, nuts are low in sugar and they contain healthy fats and phosphorus, which can help you maintain a beautiful smile and healthy gums.
Foods that are acidic, sugary, starchy, and chewy are detrimental to oral health because they could contribute to cavities. And chomping down on food that’s very hard could result in broken, chipped teeth. Therefore, try to enjoy the following foods in moderation so you can limit the amount of damage that they can cause.
White flour and starchy foods: When shopping for bread, stick with varieties that are less refined. A good example would be whole wheat bread, as opposed to white bread. What’s the difference? Well, saliva will break starches down into sugar, and that could do damage to your teeth. But whole wheat products will have fewer sugars, and they will also be harder to break down. Other tooth-damaging foods include starchy potato chips and crackers, both of which stick to the teeth, so it’s a good idea to limit your intake (even though we all know how hard it is to eat just one).
Sugary drinks: Soda can be detrimental to the health of your teeth, especially if you consume it regularly. Carbonated soda could even help plaque create more acid that will wreak havoc on enamel, and drinking a lot of soda will basically leave an acidic coating on the teeth. On top of that, it can dry out your mouth and cause stains. And if you think that brushing your teeth right after you drink soda will help, think again, as it could instead cause decay to happen more quickly. Beyond soda, sugary fruit juices and sports drinks can also wear down tooth enamel, so sticking with water really is best.
Alcohol and coffee: When you drink alcohol, your mouth is more likely to become dry. Without enough saliva to help naturally wash food particles off of your teeth, your pearly whites could become damaged. And, like alcohol, coffee is acidic and can stain your teeth, as well as dry out your mouth, so try not to drink too many cups every day.
Citrus fruits: Sure, citrus fruits, and their juices are packed with nutrients like vitamin C, making them good for your overall health. But you don’t want to overdo it, especially when it comes to lemon juice and grapefruit juice, as these are so acidic that they could erode enamel. If you love orange juice, you can rest assured that it’s less acidic, but consider consuming it in moderation and rinsing your mouth with water after enjoying it.
Candy: Of course, candy is on the list of some of the worst foods for your teeth, but chewy candies can do even more damage because they will stick to the surface of your teeth, as well as in between your teeth, for an extended period of time. All of that sugar will help bacteria thrive and create even more acid that can lead to decay. The worst culprits are candies that aren’t only sugary and chewy but also acidic, so it’s recommended to steer clear of sour varieties.
Dried fruits: Like candy, dried fruits are a tasty and sweet snack, but they’re also chewy, so they will—you guessed it—stick to your teeth. When dried fruits attach to the surface of your teeth, and in between them, all of that concentrated sugar could start damaging enamel, making you more susceptible to developing cavities. That’s why experts recommend sticking with fresh fruit instead.
A good oral hygiene routine at home, coupled with a healthy diet that’s good for your teeth, may help to prevent problems like cavities and stains. Nevertheless, seeing your dentist at least annually is necessary in order to catch problems in their earliest stages and receive the appropriate cleanings and treatments.
Just because some foods and drinks could damage your teeth certainly doesn’t mean you need to deprive yourself. Like everything else in life, it’s all about the balance. So go ahead and indulge in your favorite treats, but consider taking a couple of extra steps, such as rinsing your mouth right away or brushing more than twice a day, to keep decay at bay.