5 Foods for Oral Health

September 17, 2013 | Posted in Dental Info, Education

We all know that brushing, flossing, and staying away from sugary foods helps to keep our teeth healthy, but did you know that there are certain foods that can help make your mouth healthier?

1. Cheese - There’s a reason why we say, “Cheese!” when we show off our smile for a photo. Cheese contains calcium, phosphorus, and casein, all of which can help keep our tooth enamel strong. Cheese is also low in sugar and acid (which can cause cavities), balances the pH in your mouth, helps produce more saliva, and fights the bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease. Dairy foods in general are great mainstays for a healthy diet, but you'll want to avoid chocolate or flavored milk and yogurts because they often have large amounts of added sugar.

2. Crunchy Fruits and Vegetables - Chewing is good for our teeth! Raw fruits and vegetables such as apples, pears, celery, and broccoli are also high in water content, which dilutes the sugars they contain, and makes your mouth produce more saliva. Saliva production is important because it acts as a buffer, preventing the acid contained in some foods from causing tooth decay. Raw fruits and veggies also keep plaque from building up on teeth and they massage your gums. Veggies like Carrots, Sweet Potato, and Broccoli also have vitamin A, which helps keeps tooth enamel healthy.

3. Citrus Fruits - Don't forget about keeping those gums in good shape too! Citrus and other foods rich in Vitamin C help keep gums healthy and prevent gum disease. Don’t overdo it though, as citrus is generally high in acid, which is hard on your teeth. Eat your vitamin C powerhouses, like kiwi, oranges, and tomatoes with other foods to minimize the effects of the acid.

4. Sugarless Gum - Ok, so gum isn’t really food, but chewing sugarless gum helps dislodge food from between your teeth and also increases saliva production. Some gums contain Xylitol, a sugar replacement that actually prevents the harmful bacteria in plaque from turning sugar into the acids that cause cavities. Make sure your gum is indeed sugarless though, as gum with sugar will encourage cavities to form!

5. Water and Green Tea - These two drinks can be helpful to your mouth too. Fluoridated water is best, as the topical absorption of flouride by your teeth as you drink the water will keep teeth strong. Many public water systems have fluoride added to them, but not all. If you want to see if your water has fluoride, visit http://apps.nccd.cdc.gov/MWF/Index.asp. Green tea has antioxidants that prevent plaque build up, thus preventing cavities and bad breath. Some green teas also contain fluoride.

Brushing and flossing will always be your best defense against tooth decay and gum disease, but incorporating these foods into your diet will also contribute to a beautiful, healthy smile. An added bonus, all these foods are great for the rest of your body too!

This article was originally written by Little Grins Dental for From The Nest magazine.

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