You’ve heard the saying before: You are what you eat. But have you actually thought about the best and worst foods for your teeth? Whereas some foods are good for your teeth and help protect your enamel, others do the opposite.
Here’s how certain foods can help you or hurt you on the way to a bright and healthy smile that boosts your confidence and keeps your teeth healthy!
The best and worst foods for your teeth
You only get one set of teeth, so keeping those teeth as healthy as possible is a goal worth keeping. Regular visits to the dentist and good oral hygiene are important to achieve this goal, so here’s some insight into making it happen.
Foods that harm your teeth
Citrus fruit and juices
Citrus fruits and juices are generally good for you. But unfortunately, they’re also generally bad for your teeth. Lemon juice and grapefruit juice in particular are highly acidic, which causes tooth sensitivity and enamel erosion.
When your enamel (or the outer layer of your teeth) breaks down, you become more likely to have tooth decay. If you can’t live without your citrus juice, orange juice is the way to go. This is because it’s the least acidic and causes the least damage.
Candy and soda
Candy and soda are notoriously high in sugar, but some are worse than others. This sugar provides a food source for bacteria called plaque. The bacteria then creates acid, which breaks down your enamel and forms cavities. Hard candy is particularly bad for teeth, because those candies take longer to dissolve. This means that bacteria has more time to make the acid that harms your teeth.
If you’re craving a sweet, healthy alternative to soda, you might reach for a sports drink. But if you don’t check the label, you won’t know that it’s loaded with sugar. Sports drinks are also slightly acidic and have been linked to dental erosion. So in the future, if you’re craving a healthy alternative to soda, you’re better off choosing water.
Crackers and chips
Crackers, chips, and other snacks that go “crunch” are full of refined carbohydrates that quickly turn to sugar, giving way to cavity-forming bacteria. These snacks are full of starch and turn mushy when chewed, which helps them get stuck in your teeth. If you don’t follow up your snack with a thorough brushing and flossing, excessive plaque can build up on your teeth.
Now that you’ve seen which foods can weaken or damage your teeth, take a look at the foods that can prevent or even reverse dental damage. The good news is that if you follow a healthy diet, you’re more than likely already consuming the majority of these foods. That’s because what’s good for the body is generally also good for your teeth.
Foods that clean your teeth
You’ve heard that an apple a day keeps the doctor away. But did you know that an apple a day could also keep the dentist away? Apples are great for cleaning teeth and fighting bad breath. The fibrous texture of apples cleanses your teeth by scrubbing away food debris and plaque, while the slight acidity in apples kills the bacteria that can cause bad breath.
Just like apples, carrots are full of fiber that helps scrub away plaque cleaning teeth as you eat. Carrots also help stimulate the production of saliva, which naturally cleans your mouth, keeps enamel strong, and prevents tooth decay.
Raw carrots are best, because cooking them takes away a lot of what makes them great for you. Moreover, since the tough texture of the carrot helps with the teeth cleaning, it’s best to avoid cooking them if you want a brighter smile.
Leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, or chard, are full of vitamins. Calcium helps strengthen teeth, while the B vitamins these veggies contain help fight gingivitis, or gum disease. These vegetables are also very high in fiber, so they contain the same scrubbing power that apples and carrots have to clear away food debris and plaque as you eat them.
Foods to eat when you have a cavity
Dairy products, such as cheese, milk, and yogurt, encourage the production of saliva, which protects your teeth. They are also high in calcium, which is key for keeping your pearly whites healthy. In addition, dairy products (especially cheese) contain a type of protein called casein. Both casein and calcium play a crucial part in stabilizing, strengthening, and repairing your tooth enamel.
Foods with fluoride
Fluoride has an important role in oral health. It helps build strong teeth and helps prevent tooth decay. This is the reason fluoride is added to toothpaste and water. Using a toothpaste with fluoride or eating something containing fluoride encourages your teeth to absorb this mineral.
In turn, this helps your teeth become more resistant to acid. Foods containing fluoride include most seafood, beets, canned tomato products, carrots, cheeses, and canned pork and beans.
As just mentioned, drinking fluoridated water can help strengthen teeth and prevent damage. But water is also a great cleanser that helps wash sugar, acid, and other food debris off your teeth. When you drink enough water each day, this helps keep your mouth moist, which prevents bacteria that cause gingivitis, cavities, and bad breath from growing.
Ready for your bright and healthy smile?
When you know the best and worst foods for your teeth, you can use what you eat to keep a bright and healthy smile. If you’d like an added boost to the confidence behind your smile with straighter teeth, Dean Dental Solutions can help.
For a less-painful alternative to braces, ask your dentist about Invisalign and how it can straighten your teeth without anyone noticing — even you!
Call us at (501) 271-3588, or fill out this form to request an appointment!