You know that brushing, flossing, and visiting the dentist and hygienist regularly are necessary for keeping your teeth and gums healthy, but there’s something else that has a huge impact on dental health: the things you eat. By choosing foods that provide the nutrients your teeth need to stay strong, and avoiding foods that damage the teeth, you’ll help keep those pearly whites looking good for longer.
Here are the best and worst foods for your teeth. Do you regularly eat any of these?
Eat These Foods That Are Good for Your Teeth
Foods rich in calcium and vitamin D Calcium is the single most important nutrient to teeth because it makes up a large part of the outer coating of the tooth called the enamel. Vitamin D is also important because it strengthens the underlying bone supporting the teeth and it helps the body absorb calcium more efficiently. Get calcium from dairy, seeds, soy, and sardines, and look for vitamin D in certain fatty foods like egg yolks, cheese, and fatty fish. Or you can get both at once by drinking milk fortified with Vitamin D.
“Detergent foods” While they may not sound appetizing, so-called detergent foods are actually good for your teeth because they help clean it. The texture of crunchy foods like raw apples, carrots, celery, and broccoli means they “scrub” the teeth when eaten.
Water Water is the single best thing you can drink for oral health and the only thing you can eat or drink that doesn’t require brushing afterwards. It doesn’t contain any sugars to promote decay and may contain fluoride, depending on where you live. Water washes away food particles and sugars from the rest of your meal and also helps with saliva production. Saliva is important in part because it contains small amounts of calcium and phosphate to help remineralize and strengthen tooth enamel.
Avoid (or Reduce) These Foods That Are Bad for Your Teeth
Sugary foods You already know that sugar is enemy #1 of teeth. That’s because bacteria in the mouth feed on the sugars and produce plaque, which weakens teeth and leads to decay if not treated in a timely manner. Remember that sugar isn’t just found in sweet foods like candies and cakes, but in all carbohydrate-rich foods like pasta and bread, too.
Hard foods Hard candy, frozen candy bars, biscotti, olive pits, unpopped popcorn kernels, and the list goes on. These are some of the most common types of food that can lead to cracked and chipped teeth, so be careful when eating them. Hard caramels may be the worst, as they not only can cause cracking or chipping, but are made of sugar which can cause cavities, too.
Fizzy pop It’s not just the sugar in pop that’s bad for teeth, but the other ingredients, which is why diet soda should be limited, too. Most sugary drinks contain citric acid and phosphoric acid which can weaken enamel over time, making teeth more susceptible to decay.
A Simple Rule of Thumb
Have you noticed a pattern here? Things that are generally good for your health (water, raw vegetables, fatty fish, nuts and seeds) are good for your teeth and things that are generally bad for your health (cakes, cookies, hard caramels, fizzy pop) are bad for your teeth. It’s not surprising that our bodies work this way; it’s just one more way connection between dental health and overall health. By making good food and drink choices for your dental health, you’ll be making good choices for your overall health, and vice versa. So choose wisely.