September 15th, 2016
Have you ever thought about the food you eat and how your choices might improve your smile? According to the American Dental Association (ADA), avoiding foods high in sugar such as candy and soda can prevent tooth decay. Want more tips on eating for a fabulous smile? Check out these diet dynamos:
1. Foods high in calcium and protein, like milk, cheese and yogurt, are great because these nutrients build tooth enamel. In addition, the probiotics (healthy bacteria) of yogurt benefit your gums by crowding out bacteria that causes cavities.
A recent study published in the Journal of American Dental Association found that milk reduces the levels of acid in the mouth caused by bacteria. When brushing is not an option, try drinking milk after eating a sweet food.
2. Not all sweet foods are bad for your teeth. Raisins don’t contain sucrose (table sugar) which helps bacteria stick to your tooth’s surface allowing for plaque. Raisins are also a good source of phytochemicals which may actually kill cavity-causing bacteria.
3. Crunchy foods high in water and fiber, like apples and carrots, may disturb dental plaque and produce saliva which rinses away bacteria and food particles. The fiber also stimulates your gums.
Celery has been called nature’s floss, acting a bit like a toothbrush to scrape away food particles. It’s also a good source of vitamins A and C, great for gum health.
4. Foods high in phosphorous, such as meat, eggs and fish, can help keep tooth enamel strong and healthy according to the American Dental Association. And, according to researchers, calcium and phosphate help redeposit minerals back into lesions caused by acidic foods.
5. Cranberries contain polyphenols, phytochemicals or micronutrients that have antioxidant properties, and may keep plaque from sticking to teeth, lowering the risk of cavities. Look for cranberries without added sugar.
6. While foods high in vitamin C can be acidic, the vitamin also strengthens blood vessels and reduces inflammation which may help your gums stay healthy. The vitamin is also necessary for production of collagen, a protein that helps fight periodontal disease. Try oranges (the least acidic of the citrus fruits), kale, kiwi, strawberries and broccoli to get plenty of vitamin C in your diet.
7. Love gum? Choose sugarless gum since chewing boosts saliva production, clearing away bacteria. Since sugarless gum doesn’t contain sugar, you won’t worry about bacteria which rely on sucrose (table sugar) to produce plaque.
8. Like cranberries, green and black teas contain compounds called polyphenols that slow the growth of bacteria associated with cavities and gum disease. A 2010 study also found that black tea controls bad breath. So drink up!
9. Vitamin D is critical to bone and tooth health because it helps your body absorb calcium and may lower your risk for disease. While sunlight is the best natural source of Vitamin D, foods such as fish, egg yolks and cod liver oil also provide the valuable nutrient.
10. Antioxidants fight the bacteria that cause inflammation and periodontal disease, and protect your gums (and other tissues) from cell damage and bacterial infection. Mix foods rich in vitamins C and E, such as apples, berries, nuts and beans, into your diet to get these valuable micronutrients.
11. Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, miso, sour pickles and tempeh (made from fermented soybeans), contain good bacteria called probiotics that help decrease plaque and promote healthy gums.
12. Leafy greens are full of vitamins and minerals while low in sugar. Greens like kale and spinach are also high in calcium which builds tooth enamel. Need another reason to eat your leafy greens? How about folic acid, a type of B vitamin that might help treat gum disease.
13. Love nuts? Well of course you do! They provide vitamins and minerals that help your teeth and the abrasive texture of sunflower seeds, almonds, walnuts, and cashews may work to remove surface stains, like an exfoliator for your teeth.
14. While garlic may give you bad breath, when finely chopped or crushed, it produces allicin, the key ingredient responsible for its anti-bacterial activity. Beware – allicin begins to degrade quickly and cooking and microwaving appear to destroy the valuable compound. Best advice? Add freshly crushed garlic to foods just before serving.
15. There are tons of good reasons to eat pears, including the phytonutrients and anti-inflammatory flavonoids found in the skin. In addition to these, pears neutralize acids that can damage your teeth. So eat up!
16. Low in fat and packed with protein, the shitake mushroom may improve oral health if taken in sufficient quantity because of the “good” bacteria that means less harmful plaque, gum disease and possibly fewer cavities.
From controlling bad breath to avoiding plaque and cavities, the foods we eat can have in impact on oral health. So choose well and gnash for a great smile!