While an apple a day doesn’t exactly keep the dentist away, a healthy diet can help you maintain good oral health. To gain a better idea of what foods to eat and what to avoid for a healthier lifestyle and healthier teeth, keep reading.
How big of a difference can diet make in your oral health?
By eating foods that are high in starch and sugar, you essentially give energy and fuel to the bacteria in your mouth which can cause tooth decay and even gum disease. Tooth decay starts with plaque which is a layer of bacteria. When the plaque on your teeth consumes sugar, it creates an acid that is harmful to the enamel or outer surface of your teeth. The bacteria present in plaque triggers an inflammatory reaction that may lead gums to become swollen and irritated as well.
What are the best foods for your teeth?
Prioritizing healthier foods is one of the most important things we can do on a daily basis. Aside from brushing and flossing twice a day, and regularly seeing your family dentist, healthy food is a great way to help your teeth remain strong and cavity-free.
Fruits and vegetables
Although this may not come as a surprise – fruits (in moderation) and vegetables, especially those high in fiber, can help your teeth and gums stay clean throughout the day. This is because they increase the amount of saliva in your mouth, making them some of the best foods to keep your teeth healthy.
Products such as milk and cheese help to give minerals back to your teeth that they may have lost from eating other foods. This is because of the phosphate and calcium present in dairy products. These foods may even help to rebuild lost tooth enamel.
Foods that contain fluoride
Although we know that tap water contains fluoride, which is extremely beneficial in preventing tooth decay, you can also get the benefits of fluoride through some commercially prepared foods. These foods often include poultry or seafood products.
Gum that does not contain sugar is one easy way to support your teeth. Sugar-free gum helps your mouth generate saliva that can remove leftover food in your mouth. Xylitol is a natural sweetener that also fights cavities.
What are the worst foods for your teeth?
While numerous foods are great for supporting your overall oral health, there are also foods to avoid. Although you can certainly still enjoy some of these foods in moderation, it is generally best to try to limit the frequency in which you eat them.
Bread and potato chips
Foods, such as bread and potato chips, that are high in starch and can get stuck in your teeth are among the worst foods for your oral health. Trapped foods have the ability to cause much more harm than foods that can be easily swallowed.
Mouth drying substances
Some of the substances that dry out your mouth include alcohol and certain types of medication. If you’re prescribed a medication that is mouth-drying, it can be a good idea to talk to your dentist about what you can do to mitigate the dryness. For example, your dentist may recommend trying a fluoride rinse or gel to help.
Carbonated soft drinks are actually the leading cause of added sugar for children and teenagers. Not only do they contain high amounts of sugar, but they also contain phosphoric and citrus acids which wear away and break down tooth enamel.
While it might not be a surprise that candy is bad for your teeth, there are some types of candy that are worse than others. Candy that is sticky or hard and can get stuck to your teeth is worse than candy that washes down more easily. While softer candy still isn’t good for your teeth, it’s certainly the better choice of the two.
So you’re not ready to give up all the sweet things in life?
We all enjoy a treat once in a while, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive for a healthy balance. Planning healthy snacks and aiming to do just a little better can make a big difference. For example, if you know you’re going to enjoy some foods that are high in starch, but you have some veggies to go with them, try to finish off your meal with the veggies last. This can help generate saliva to reduce the number of unwanted food particles leftover.
Another great tip for healthier teeth is to drink water throughout the day, especially during and directly after meals and snacks. Drinking tap water helps give your teeth an extra boost of fluoride and washes away bits of food.
You should also regularly seek dental care from your family dentist. We recommend two check-ups or teeth cleanings each year to help maintain the best oral health possible. For more information, or to make an appointment for dental care in Olathe, call us at 913-782-7227 or contact us today.