With warmer weather around the corner, everyone is thinking about eating healthier to look and feel better in fewer layers of clothing. However, eating healthy is also good for your oral health too, and certain foods can even improve and strengthen your teeth. When you eat the right foods for your physical wellness, it has a positive impact on your overall health, which makes you want to show off your healthy smile that much more.
For your overall body health and your oral health, the best beverage is water, and if you have access to fluoridated water, that’s even better. If you’re craving something aside from water after a workout or with a meal, try some of the following options that help your physical and oral health.
- Milk – Milk contains calcium for stronger bones (including your teeth) and has protein for muscle health. Having milk after consuming sugary foods can lower acid levels caused by the sugar, which helps reduce plaque bacteria. When you’re trying to get and stay fit, it’s best to avoid sugary foods anyway, but if you indulge in a “cheat day” help protect your teeth by having a glass of milk with that sweet treat.
- Tea – Black and green teas contain polyphenols, which slow the growth of bacteria that can lead to gum disease. The polyphenols prevent the bacteria from clumping together effectively, and that not only reduces plaque buildup, it can also improve breath.
- Fruit juice – Drinking fruit juice is good for your body because it’s full of Vitamin C and nutrients, but the acid in it can erode tooth enamel. Orange juice is less acidic than lemon or grapefruit juice and varieties fortified with calcium, and Vitamin D can help strengthen teeth, but it’s best to brush 20-30 minutes after consuming fruit juice to allow the enamel time to recover from the acid exposure.
Drinks to avoid when you want to improve your physical and oral health include sugar-filled soft drinks and tea or coffee that contains added sugar. If you do indulge in these sweeter beverages periodically make sure you don’t sip at them all day and brush regularly to remove the acids that cause tooth decay.
Foods that contain phosphorus and calcium such as nuts, dairy, leafy greens, fish, eggs, chicken and other meat are great choices for your oral health because they help redeposit the minerals that acid removes from tooth enamel, which keeps your tooth enamel healthy and strong. Calcium is also good for strengthening bones such as your jawbone. To help balance your healthy diet, select from these other mouth-friendly foods:
- Fruits and vegetables – Firm, crunchy fruits, and vegetables like pears, apples, and carrots have a high water content which helps minimize the effect of the natural sugars within them. The act of chewing those crunchy foods and their high water content stimulates saliva, which washes away food particles and acid, protecting against tooth decay. When you eat citrus fruits such as oranges or grapefruit, include them in large meals to reduce the effects of their acidic content.
- Cheese – Eating cheese can result in lower acid levels than those created by eating other dairy foods such as milk or sugar-free yogurt. Cheese can help neutralize plaque acid and chewing it increases saliva, which helps wash bacteria from your mouth.
- Raisins – These tiny, wrinkly fruits are a powerful source of phytochemicals that can eliminate the bacteria that causes cavities. Raisins are naturally sweet and don’t have added sugar that makes bacteria stick to teeth surfaces. Their fiber content makes them an ideal snack as part of your healthy diet, and their natural compounds can help prevent gum disease. Because raisins can stick to teeth, follow up with a good brushing to remove any food particles.
When you’re following a healthy diet, you know that poor food choices include sweets like candy, cookies, and fried foods, but you also need to be aware of seemingly healthy foods that aren’t good for your teeth. Dried fruit is often more convenient than fresh fruit, but it can contain high amounts of sugar that can lead to cavities and gum disease. Always read the labels on the food you’re eating to be aware of sugar content and the presence of natural sweeteners such as honey, fructose, and rice syrup, which can be just as harmful to your teeth as sugar. While sugar substitutes like aspartame and sucralose don’t produce decay-causing acids and are less harmful to teeth, they’re not necessarily good for your body so it’s important to find the right balance.
By focusing on eating right for your body and your oral health, you improve your physical wellness and maintain your beautiful smile. Look your best this spring and summer by scheduling a visit to our offices for a routine cleaning or to inquire about options that can improve your smile.