This week we have a wonderful post from guest writer Susan Louisa of Oxford House Dental Practice discussing some great food and nutrition tips for optimizing your dental health. Throughout the post Susan discusses both foods that are potentially beneficial for dental health as well as those foods that you should be cautious of in relation to dental health. **Please consult with your Dentist or Dietitian with any questions in relation to foods and dental health for the individual as these recommendations can vary for individuals who already struggle with certain dental problems or have certain medical conditions.** I hope you enjoy this awesome post and would love to hear any feedback you have!
Good Foods for Dental Health
Fluoridated water is the key to maintaining good dental health because it enables the teeth to build a stronger immunity to cavities.
Dental carries are one of the most common childhood diseases, and fluoridating the water we drink is the most effective way to build resistance to cavities on a community-wide level.
2. Milk and Other Dairy Products
Milk, cheese, and yogurt contain protein and calcium which strengthen teeth and encourage good dental health.
Dairy products are also low in sugar, making them less likely to cause problems such as tooth decay.
3. Lean Proteins
Foods such as poultry, meat, fish, milk, and eggs are rich in phosphorus. Phosphorus helps maintain strong, healthy teeth.
4. Fruits and Veggies
- Apples and Other Fibrous Fruit
It is true that “an apple a day keeps the dentist away”! While eating apples does not count as a substitute for brushing and flossing, eating apples and other fibrous fruits like oranges can remove plaque and other bacteria from the teeth, as you chew. They also increase salivation, which keeps the mouth clean and neutralised.
Increase vitamin C levels in your diet by consuming citrus fruits and other fresh fruits like apples, strawberries, pineapples, and pears. Vitamin C is essential for healthy gums and chewing fibrous fruits and crunchy vegetables stimulates your gums.
- Carrots, Celery, and Root Vegetables
Raw carrots, celery, and other fibrous vegetables are excellent sources of beta carotene, which helps the body produce vitamin A. Vitamin A plays a huge role in maintaining healthy, strong teeth.
Chewing these hard, fibrous vegetables stimulates saliva production, which acts as a natural cleanser to the mouth.
- Leafy Green and Cruciferous Vegetables
Veggies like lettuce, kale, spinach, cabbage, chard, asparagus, and other leafy greens and dark multi-coloured vegetables are rich in various vitamins and nutrients that are essential to good oral health.
Dark greens contain vitamins A and C, beta carotene, phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium. Phosphorus helps your body maintain balance and assists in the absorption of magnesium and calcium.
Raspberries, cranberries, and blueberries are high in anthocyanins, which prevent the infectious pathogens from forming colonies on the teeth. These pathogens include the bacteria that cause plaque, tartar, and tooth decay.
5. Nourishing Nuts
Nuts contain an assortment of minerals and vitamins to strengthen your teeth and gums. Calcium, fibre, iron, folic acid, and magnesium are all essential to your oral health.
Also, chewing nuts stimulates salivation, which naturally cleans the teeth.
Foods to Avoid
1. Sour Candies
Sour candies contain higher levels of harmful acids that are tough on the teeth. They stick in the crevices of your molars and if not removed properly cause problems like tooth decay and cavities.
When craving carbs, look for whole wheat varieties because these options contain less sugar, and are less likely to bind to the teeth and create cavities.
When you eat white bread, the saliva in your mouth turns the starches into sugar, which then stick to the teeth. This sugar leads to tooth decay and cavities.
Drinking alcohol, for many people, leads to dry mouth. Dry mouth is problematic because saliva production is essential to a healthy, clean mouth. Dry mouth causes the gums and other oral tissues to swell, become uncomfortable, and no longer produce saliva. Also, a dry mouth is the perfect setting for germs to thrive. Germs, dry mouth, and swollen gums lead to bad breath.
Dry mouth leads to tooth decay because the lack of saliva prevents food particles from being washed from the mouth. Saliva also helps address symptoms of periodontal diseases and other oral conditions.
4. Carbonated Drinks
Not only does soda stain teeth over the years, but it also encourages plaque and tartar build-up.
If you sip on carbonated drinks and sodas all day, you are sipping on acids and sugars that dry out the mouth, stain your teeth, and attack your enamel.
Chewing on ice will hurt the enamel of your teeth, making you more susceptible to damage such as cracks, breaks, and chips in the teeth.
You may use ice with your drinks, but resist chewing on it.
6. Limit Citrus
While these fruits are high in vitamin C, which can be helpful for the teeth, limit your consumption of oranges, lemons, and grapefruits to avoid enamel erosion due to their acidity.
Eat and drink these in moderation and rinse the mouth with water after.
7. Dried Fruits
Most dried fruits are sticky, they bind to the teeth and remain in the crevices of the back molars until washed or brushed away. They also leave behind sugars on the enamel that slowly eats away at the surface of the tooth, causing cavities and other issues.
Thank you again Susan for this fabulous post!
Wishing you all a great week and beautiful smiles,
–Ricci-Lee Hotz, MS, RDN
Denver’s Dancing Dietitian
A Taste of Health, LLC
“Improving Quality of life one bite at a time”