While many people assume that watching what they eat is crucial only to weight loss, your eating habits can have either a negative or positive impact on your smile. Whether you have gum disease, are prone to cavities or just want to maintain healthy teeth, you need to avoid the worst foods for teeth and stick to foods for healthy teeth that are geared to helping strengthen and improve the quality of your smile. Understanding which foods are good for you and which ones to avoid is key to having a smile-friendly diet.
Best Foods and Drinks for Healthy Teeth and Gums
Here are the top 10 foods and drinks that you should consume if you want to improve the health of both your teeth and gums.
- Leafy Greens - Leafy greens, such as kale and spinach, are rich in vitamins and minerals like calcium and folic acid, both of which are essential for strengthening teeth and gum tissue. One benefit to folic acid, in particular, is that it is thought to prevent gum disease in pregnant women who are more prone to this condition. For individuals who have trouble getting leafy greens into their diet, consider adding a handful of spinach or kale to a fruit smoothie or make a delicious salad using a wide range of ingredients.
- Cheese - Cheese is incredibly rich in calcium and is thought to raise the pH in the mouth to make it more difficult for bacteria to thrive and cause decay. While it's important to avoid eating large amounts of cheese due to its high cholesterol content, you may want to consider adding it to your diet in small amounts to reap the vitamin and pH raising benefit.
- Yogurt - Yogurt is full of protein, calcium and probiotics, making it an ideal choice for those wanting a smile-friendly food that they can enjoy. Protein and calcium strengthen the teeth while probiotics help to introduce healthy bacteria in the mouth to ward off harmful bacteria. However, keep in mind that many yogurts on the market are chock-full of sugar, so when you're choosing a product for yourself, look for ones that are low in sugar and more plain in flavor and texture.
- Green Tea - Green tea is full of antioxidants which help to fend off inflammation in the body. Gingivitis and gum disease both involve inflammation of the gum tissue and because of this, green tea may help to bring down the swelling and promote healthier gums. Green tea is delicious on its own and can be enjoyed both hot or cold. If you're not much of a tea drinker, consider green tea compresses for inflamed gums.
- Apples - While some may wonder why apples are essential for healthy teeth and gums because of the fruit's sugar content, just picture yourself biting into one and eating it. It takes a lot of chewing to get that apple to break down, which means that it is rubbing and scraping against your teeth in the process. In case you forgot your toothbrush, you can theoretically eat an apple to remove the plaque. Of course, this is not an everyday method of toothbrushing.
- Celery - Celery is loaded with water, vitamins and minerals, making it an ideal choice for those looking for foods specific to oral health. Plus, the hardness of celery helps to scrape off plaque and food particles from the teeth while you're eating, giving your teeth a good brushing without the need for toothpaste. For an even healthier boost, add some spreadable cheese to your celery sticks and you're double-dosing on the vitamin enrichment.
Almonds - Almonds are full of protein while being low in sugar. They also help to scrape and brush teeth while they're being eaten. If you're not much for eating a handful of almonds throughout the day, consider adding them to your salad for a healthy boost.
Peppers - Peppers of all colors are rich in Vitamin C, which is well known for its anti-inflammatory properties. When it comes to finding food for healthy teeth and gums, peppers are ideal because they bring down any inflammation that is present with patients who have gingivitis or gum disease.
Citrus Fruits - Like peppers, citrus fruits such as lemons, pineapple, strawberries and kiwi are all rich in Vitamin C. They are essential for bringing down inflammation within the body and are a delicious option for optimum oral health. To get more of this food for healthy teeth and gums, you may want to consider adding fruits to your salads or mixing them up in a smoothie.
Milk - As with yogurt and cheese, milk is high in calcium, Vitamin D and protein. These nutrients against gum disease are essential for strengthening your teeth and preventing dental decay. Drinking milk is easy because you can either drink it alone or in a smoothie with yogurt. Your bones will also thank you for drinking more milk on a regular basis.
Tips and Tricks for Healthy Teeth
Along with eating the right foods for healthy teeth and foods for gum disease, you also need to practice good oral hygiene on a regular basis. This includes brushing your teeth twice a day with a high-quality toothbrush, preferably an electric brush, and flossing at least once a day.
Avoid brushing immediately after eating as this can wear down the enamel, especially if you have just eaten something spicy or full of citrus juice. Try to avoid eating hard foods that could break or crack sensitive teeth and drink plain water after eating to wash away any leftover food within the mouth. Also, keep up with your bi-annual dental appointments to ensure that your teeth are in good shape and that any work you need done gets completed before it is allowed to get worse.
By changing your diet and getting more vitamin-rich foods into your body, you'll find that your teeth aren't as prone to cavities and gum inflammation as they once were. While it might be difficult at first to make a change, adding small increments of a food into your diet is essential for eventually switching over to a healthy and well-balanced diet.