We all know that regular brushing and flossing is the best way to maintain healthy teeth and gums, but did you realize the foods you eat also have an impact? Yes, you should stay away from candy. However, eating for oral health isn’t just about avoiding harmful foods. It’s also about choosing foods that protect enamel, clean and whiten teeth surfaces, and stimulate saliva flow. Read on to discover eight foods to eat for a healthy mouth.
1. Raw Vegetables
Munching on raw vegetables, especially ones with high water content, will get your saliva flowing. The top two waterlogged veggies are cucumbers and lettuce at 96 percent water. Celery, radishes and zucchini are a close second at 95 percent water.
Raw veggies will also give you a whiter smile. Think of that celery stick as a gentle exfoliating scrub for the surface of your teeth.
2. High-Fiber Fruits
Fruits that offer a hearty serving of fiber have similar benefits as vegetables. They also stimulate your mouth’s saliva production and the fiber acts as a scrub brush for stain removal.
In particular, raw pears neutralize acid, which can cause cavities and enamel damage. An apple a day will do more than keep the doctor away – this delicious fruit freshens breath and comes in a variety of flavors, so you won’t get bored.
Now you have another reason to look forward to the cheese plate. According to a recent study, cheese consumption causes your mouth’s pH levels to rise, which lowers your risk of developing cavities. Certain compounds in cheese may also act as a protective coating for tooth enamel.
Xylitol is a natural sweetener commonly found in sugar-free gum. It can also be used to make candy, cookies and other desserts. Consuming xylitol has been shown to prevent cavities in children and adults by decreasing levels of harmful bacteria in your mouth. If you want to experiment with using xylitol to bake, check out this recipe for chocolate chip cookies.
5. Calcium and Vitamin D
Think of this pair as the Batman and Robin of oral health. Calcium builds strong teeth and your body needs vitamin D to take in calcium. So load up on foods that are rich in calcium such as broccoli, milk, bok choy and leafy greens. Yogurt is also a good source, but make sure to buy the unsweetened kind to protect your teeth from the ravages of sugar.
After you’ve eaten your calcium, you can get a dose of vitamin D from 10 minutes of sun exposure or foods such as egg yolks, mushrooms and fish.
While malic acid can wear down tooth enamel, it does have an upside for stained teeth. The malic acid found in strawberries can be used as a natural whitener.
Try crushing a few strawberries and adding a pinch of baking soda. Then brush your teeth with this concoction every few months to prevent or reduce stains. Don’t worry – you can guard against enamel erosion by rinsing with mouthwash or water immediately afterward.
Technically, water isn’t a food but it is the best beverage to pair every meal with. Unlike just about every other drink out there, water has no sugar and the fluoridated kind from the tap helps to prevent cavities and other tooth deterioration.
You can also use water as an easy mouthwash when you can’t brush after a meal. Swirl it around in your mouth to rinse away plaque and sugar residue.
8. Meat, Fish and Tofu
Carnivores and vegetarians can both choose a protein source rich in phosphorus, another essential mineral for maintaining tooth enamel. In addition to meat, fish and tofu, eggs are also good sources of phosphorus.
Now that you know which foods will keep your teeth strong, you can enjoy them even more. Also make sure you give your teeth a break between meals. Frequent snacking leaves carbohydrates on your teeth, which is a bigger cause of cavities than plain sugar. Leaving space between meals gives your saliva a chance to wash away food residue. Your dentist is sure to be impressed at your next cleaning.