Often, where you hear about food and oral hygiene, it’s what not to eat. While soda and candies can harm your teeth, you might not know that other foods offer oral health benefits. Here are six things to eat that are great for your teeth, as recommended by our Tampa dentists.
Tea offers many health benefits (provided you drink it without added sugars). Dentists love tea because of compounds known as polyphenols, which slow the growth of bad bacteria that can cause cavities or gum disease. Since oral bacteria also causes bad breath, one side effect of drinking tea is that your breath will naturally smell sweeter.
A study showed that rinsing the mouth with black tea ten times per day decreased plaque buildup to a greater extent than using water.
While the study examined black tea, both black and green tea offer polyphenols, which means that both are beneficial.
2. Sugarless gum
Sugarless gum can be a sweet substitute for sugary candies and sugar-rich gum. Sugarless gum cannot feed the bad bacteria in your mouth, due to the lack of sugar. As you chew the gum, you produce saliva, which flushes plaque and bacteria off teeth.
A new study looked at the results of eating different types of dairy, from cheddar cheese to milk or sugar-free yogurt. The study found that cheddar cheese lowered the pH level in the mouth, where yogurt and milk did not affect oral pH. Since the oral pH level measures acid in the mouth, the cheese had a beneficial effect on mouth acids, such as plaque.
Scientists believe that cheese is beneficial because it reduces plaque and because chewing the cheese boosts saliva production; saliva cleanses the mouth from bacteria.
Milk benefits your oral health in two key ways: First, the calcium in milk helps make tooth enamel strong, so your teeth stay healthy. Calcium also benefits the jaw bone. Second, milk helps to neutralizes some of the acid that’s produced by bacteria, which can lower the amount of plaque on your teeth. Any time you can reduce plaque, you create a healthier oral environment.
5. Vitamin-Rich Foods
Like milk, almonds and leafy greens have a lot of calcium, which means they aid teeth enamel. Foods that are high in phosphorus, such as eggs, fish, and meat, also strengthen your enamel.
When you eat or drink acidic foods, like coffee, it can actually cause small lesions on the enamel. Chasing that acidic food with something that’s high in calcium or phosphorus puts minerals into those lesions, to benefit your oral hygiene.
For a naturally sweet snack, look to raisins. They contain only natural sugars, so they won’t harm oral health; their phytochemicals kill bad bacteria.
While eating right for your teeth will benefit your entire well-being, don’t forget about the rest of oral hygiene. Floss and brush daily and visit the dentist for cleanings to keep everything in top shape.