Good oral health care is not just about brushing, flossing and visiting your dentist regularly. A healthy diet can also greatly contribute to healthier teeth and gums and assist with preventing more serious dental issues like tooth decay and gum disease. But not sure what’s healthy and what’s not? Here are our top 7 foods for healthy teeth and gums.
#1 – Dairy Foods
As one of the core food groups, dairy foods are an important part of good nutrition for both children and adults. Foods such as cheese, milk and yoghurt provide at least 10 essential nutrients including protein, carbohydrate, Vitamins A and B12 and minerals like calcium, phosphorous, potassium, zinc and magnesium.
In terms of one of the best foods for dental health, research has also shown that dairy foods can help prevent tooth decay and protect tooth enamel. This is because these foods contain a protein called casein which, when combined with calcium and phosphorous, creates a protective protein film over the enamel surface of your teeth.
The combination can also help repair teeth after acid attacks. In particular, cheese eaten after a meal can counteract the acid left behind particularly if you have eaten sweets, citrus or bread.
If you love to treat yourself with a flavoured milk drink once in a while it’s worth noting that although they are more tooth friendly that other sweetened beverages (like cordial and soft drinks) and some fruit juices (like pineapple and orange juice) many of them still contain sugar, so make sure you check the product label before indulging!
#2 – Fatty Fish
Calcium is an important element of a healthy diet for many reasons including for brain health, and in terms of tips for healthy teeth it is vital for protecting your teeth and gums from disease. Calcium can be found in leafy green vegetables, soy and tofu and in milk and milk products like cheese, milk and yoghurt. However, our bodies can’t absorb calcium properly if we don’t get enough Vitamin D.
Fatty fish like salmon or mackerel are a great source of Vitamin D and eating it regularly will allow your gums and teeth to get the full disease-fighting benefits of calcium from your diet.
#3 – Fruits and vegetables
High-fibre fruits and vegetables like celery, carrots and apples and those with a high water content like salad greens are great foods for healthy teeth and gums because they stimulate saliva production and help dilute a food’s sugar content. They can also actually ‘scrub’ teeth in a similar way to your toothbrush!
Some of the best foods for dental health are also things like carrots, pumpkins, broccoli and sweet potato. This is because they contain Vitamin A, which is essential to enamel production.
Citrus fruit like oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruits are also good for oral health because their Vitamin C content can help strengthen blood vessels and connective tissue and slow down the progression of gum disease by reducing inflammation. And strawberries are not only high in Vitamin C, they contain an enzyme known as malic acid that’s actually a natural tooth whitener. However, with all acidic foods, after eating rinse out your mouth with water in order to prevent excess acid coming into contact with your teeth.
#4 – Green tea
Bacteria feeds on sugars in your mouth and excretes acids that destroy tooth enamel. Green tea contains polyphenols that interact with bacteria that cause plaque by supressing or killing them. Because it also lowers the acidity of saliva and dental plaque it can also assist with preventing cavities.
In terms of good food for teeth, green tea also contains catechin, an antioxidant substance that can reduce inflammation in the body. It can also help reduce periodontal disease that can damage gums and the bone structure that supports your teeth, which will enhance the overall health of your teeth and gums.
#5 – Chocolate
When it comes to tips for healthy teeth, you may be surprised to learn that chocolate that contains at least 70% cacao and is eaten in moderation is actually a wonderfully indulgent superfood! This is because dark chocolate contains cocoa bean husk or CBH, which has been shown to help harden tooth enamel making your teeth less susceptible to tooth decay.
However, it’s important to remember that it’s the cacao bean not the chocolate itself which is the beneficial component, so avoid ‘lighter’ chocolates which are full of sugar – the darker the better! You should also avoid varieties with nuts if you have braces or dentures, enjoy it softened at room temperature to avoid damaging teeth and make sure you rinse out your mouth after eating it.
#6 – Water
Saliva is made up of 99.5% water and if you’re not drinking enough it can lead to dehydration that can thicken your saliva and wreak havoc in your mouth. Optimum levels of water are essential for breaking down food, neutralising bacterial acid and preventing tooth decay. In terms of tips for healthy teeth, water can also aid in reducing plaque by rinsing away food debris and decreasing staining caused by foods like coffee, tea and dark fruit juices.
Water is also a better choice than less tooth-friendly drinks like soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks and high-sugar fruit juices. If you choose tap water over bottled water you’ll also be gaining the benefits of fluoride, which can help protect teeth against tooth decay.
#7 – Chewing Gum
Although not technically a ‘food’, it’s worth mentioning that sugar-free gum can also be beneficial to your oral health in terms of fighting tooth decay. This is because gum helps produce saliva that neutralises acid and washes the sugars out of your mouth. This can help your body fight bacteria and repair the early stages of tooth decay.
Need some advice on making your diet more tooth-friendly? Contact the friendly staff at Australia Dental on (07) 3888 9125 or (07) 3284 7112 to book an appointment today.