When most people think of “dieting” they think of things like waistline, thighs, arms or belly – but did you know that the foods you eat can actually affect your oral health as well? That’s right, and it’s not just about the foods you put on your teeth that can make a difference – we all know that things like sugar and starches that sit on the teeth can break them down and form cavities and other issues – but it’s important to remember that the foods you consume and digest can also play a part in the health of your teeth.
While there are lots of foods out there that are great for your ivories, we’re going to hone in on some of the best, most popular ones. With any luck, you’ll find that some of these foods are already staples in your daily diet.
High Calcium Foods
Ok, this one may seem like a no-brainer but that doesn’t make it any less important. When we think teeth, we think of bones. And for healthy bones, we think of calcium. Calcium is essential to maintaining healthy enamel and nice, strong teeth. Some of the best suppliers of calcium are:
- Cheese. If you’re one of the many people who consider cheese a primary food group, you’re in luck! Cheeses, especially cheeses that are hard and aged, are high in calcium and protein which can help strengthen your tooth enamel. As an added benefit, cheese also raises the pH level in your mouth, which can reduce your risk of tooth decay!
- Almonds. Almonds are another great source of calcium and they are also very low in sugar.
- Yogurt. In addition to the calcium benefits provided, yogurt is also high in probiotics (healthy bacteria) which benefits not only your teeth but your gums as well.
Foods High in Phosphorus
The minerals that make up the enamel of your teeth can be easily supported by eating foods rich in phosphorus. Phosphorous works hand in hand with calcium to build up your enamel and keep your teeth firm and healthy. High phosphorus foods are easier to find than you may think:
- Seafood. Fish is naturally high in phosphorus, but it also brings the added benefit of Vitamin B3 to the table which will not only help keep your teeth strong and healthy but which can also contribute to happy gums as well.
- Red Meat. Red meat is packed FULL of benefits for your mouth. Not only is it delicious and full of phosphorous, but red meat also contains iron and B12. Deficiencies in either one of those nutrients can cause inflammation and sores in the mouth.
- Pumpkin seeds. If you like snacking on these tasty little treats, don’t hold back. Pumpkin seeds have not only great benefits for your teeth, but they are also a full-body benefit snack.
Crunchy, Water-Based Foods
Crunchy foods are naturally “scrubby” which helps to keep the surface of your teeth cleaner. Chewing these fruits and veggies also forces your mouth to produce more saliva, and the more saliva in your mouth the better. Saliva helps to neutralize the bad bacteria in your mouth that causes cavities. Keep in mind, not ALL crunchy foods will keep your teeth clean, but these foods will:
- Apples. Remember that old adage “An apple a day keeps the doctor away?” In this case, it’s true, apples are not only high in water content leading to saliva production, but the flesh is also naturally abrasive and will give your teeth a nice, clean feeling.
- Carrots. Carrots will also increase saliva production in your mouth, helping to rinse away any food or bacteria remaining at the end of a meal.
- Celery. While sometimes a tricky food to eat, celery is full of water and the stringy texture scrapes away food and bacteria from your teeth.
Vitamin C-Positive Foods
Vitamin C has so many benefits for the body, but let’s talk about what it can do for your teeth. Foods high in vitamin C can help reduce inflammation and maintain healthy blood vessels to give you the gums you need to support your teeth. Vitamin C deficiencies can lead to sensitive gums and an increased risk of diseases caused by bacteria in your mouth.
- Oranges. While oranges are juicy, delicious and tangy as well as high in vitamin C, it is important to eat them in moderation. Even though they are great for your gums, oranges also have a high acid content that can be harmful to your teeth.
- Strawberries. In addition to a high vitamin C level, strawberries are also high in potassium and fiber. A great inclusion for a healthy diet!
- Bell Peppers. If you want to pack a vitamin C punch, don’t be afraid to reach for a bell pepper. Red peppers are particularly high in vitamin C, almost three-hundred percent of the daily requirement in fact.
While all of the foods on this list have general properties that make them great contributors to a tooth-healthy diet, everyone’s teeth are just as unique as the person caring for them. It’s important to talk with your dentist about the foods your teeth could benefit from the most – then get to snacking!