Everyone knows that avoiding foods, such as candy and sugary drinks, can help ward off cavities. But, did you know that eating certain foods can actually improve your oral health? Like other parts of our body, our teeth and gums require specific nutrients to stay strong and healthy. What’s more, eating foods that support gum and tooth health doesn’t have to be complicated. In fact, most of these foods should be a part of any balanced diet.
To help you improve your oral health, Thornton Park Dental Arts has compiled six different types of foods to either add or limit in your diet. Even if you have tooth implants or veneers, it’s important to prioritize your oral health.
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Just like your bones, your teeth require calcium to stay strong. Many calcium-rich foods also provide additional helpful nutrients, such as casein, which strengthens tooth enamel, and phosphate, which helps balance pH levels in your mouth. Both nutrients can also help prevent tooth decay. Calcium-rich foods include milk, yogurt, cheese, almonds, canned salmon, fortified soy products, and dark leafy greens.
Dark leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, collard greens, and bok choy, really pack a punch when it comes to oral health. They an excellent source of calcium. They also contain folic acid which can reduce gum inflammation while increasing their resilience to plaque. Folic acid can also help prevent gingivitis and gum disease. When added to meals high in starch, such as sandwiches, burgers, or pasta, leafy greens can also help to remove the sticky residue from your teeth.
Most vegetables are valuable sources of vitamins and minerals to keep your teeth strong. But crunchy vegetables like carrots, celery, broccoli, and bell peppers have a double effect by helping to keep teeth clean. Crunchy vegetables are typically high in water, promoting saliva production and removing food particles and plaque. What’s more, carrots are a good source of vitamin C, which is essential for oral health, without being high in acidity, which can weaken tooth enamel.
While fruits can be higher in sugars, the fibrous nature of crunchy fruits can be a boon for your mouth. Similar to crunchy vegetables, apples and pears are excellent crunchy fruits that are lower in acidity and stimulate saliva production. They can even help to neutralize acids in your mouth. And the chunks of fruit can help remove plaque from your teeth and gums by acting as gentle scrubbers.
One of the simplest things you can do for your oral health is to drink plenty of water. Staying hydrated is necessary for overall health, especially for your mouth. Water promotes the production of saliva, which helps keep your teeth clean, whether you’re eating or not. Drinking water fortified with fluoride is also important. Fluoride is a natural cavity fighter and can even reverse early tooth decay.
Avoiding certain foods is equally as crucial as eating certain foods. While foods high in vitamin C are important for oral health, acidic fruits such as oranges, lemons, cranberry, and tomatoes (whether whole or as a juice) can damage your teeth. Pair them with other foods from this list to help neutralize their acidity. You should also be mindful of foods that cling to your teeth. This includes sugary foods such as honey, molasses, and dried fruit, and starchy foods such as bread and potato chips. Moderation is key for these foods in conjunction with good brushing and flossing habits.