15 Foods That Are Surprisingly Good for the Teeth
It is no secret that the best way to have healthy teeth is to have good oral hygiene. That means brushing teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing at least once daily. Everyone also knows that eating sugary and sticky foods can affect teeth and gum health. It is why parents always warn their kids to stay away from candy. As adults, we should avoid those foods, as well.
Some of the things we eat can indeed encourage dental issues, including tooth decay. It gets worse for people who do not follow a regular oral routine. But it does not mean you have to avoid a lot of food. The good news is that some even prevent gum and other dental diseases – and we are not just talking about vegetables.
Here are 15 foods that you can eat without worrying too much about their effects on your teeth:
1. Citrus Fruits
We already know that citrus fruits, such as lemons, grapefruits, and oranges, are healthy. Best of all, these tasty fruits are packed with vitamin C. This vitamin helps reduce inflammation while also strengthening the gums.
However, eating citrus fruits should be approached with caution. They have high acid content, which is known to erode the tooth enamel. When the enamel is damaged, you are more prone to tooth decay. It is why you should never brush your teeth immediately after eating oranges and other citrus fruits. Wait at least 30 minutes before flossing and brushing. Another problem with citrus fruits is that they can be bothersome when you have mouth sores.
It does not mean, though, that you should entirely avoid citrus fruits. They are, after all, good for your teeth. As long as you eat them in moderation and rinse with water after, citrus will give you benefits.
2. Raw Vegetables
Raw veggies are incredibly healthy. One more reason to eat a lot of them is that they are teeth-friendly. Pick those that are firm, crunchy, and fibre-rich. Fibre is a mineral that can help clean your teeth as you chew the vegetables. Lettuce and watercress particularly have high water content, making them even more beneficial to your oral health.
Spinach is another leafy veggie loaded with water, as well as iron, calcium, and vitamins A and C. Adding spinach to your dish or smoothie can have a positive impact on your oral health.
Eating cheese is like maintaining alkalinity in your mouth. A research study published by the Academy of General Dentistry in 2013 confirmed that those who consume cheese have low acid levels in their mouth. Even those who choose sugar-free yoghurt and milk every day have higher acidity content.
What does it mean? When acidity levels are low, the mouth is alkaline, which has reduced bacteria. It can be concluded that cheese can help create an anti-cavity mouth. This benefit is possible because of the ability of cheese to increase saliva production. Cheese also has a protein called casein, which may help repair damaged tooth enamel.
However, it should be noted that cheeses are not created equal when it comes to oral health benefits. String cheese and other similar products are the best choices. Sheep and goat cheeses are also better than products made from cow’s milk. Avoid starchy cheese powders and cheese-flavoured snacks. They do not help your teeth in any way.
Carrots are known for their eye health benefits. Plus, they have low calories, making them an ideal snack. But eating carrots is also good for your teeth by breaking plaque apart. Because of the thick texture and abrasiveness, carrots can help remove plaque from your teeth.
Carrots also contain plenty of vitamins and minerals. For example, they contain vitamin A, which is not just good for your eyes but also the body’s development and mouth health. Carrots also have biotin, which is useful in synthesising fat and protein, which can help in building stronger gums. Other nutrients present are vitamin K1 and potassium, which improve oral strength and prevent dental issues.
As mentioned above, fibre-rich foods are beneficial to the teeth. Carrots are among them, containing high levels of fibre, which helps increase saliva production and lower gum disease risk.
Apples have been considered “nature’s toothbrush” for a reason. They have thick skins and flesh with high fibre content. They have just the right texture that can help clean teeth the natural way.
The problem, however, is that apples today contain more sugar than they used to in the past. Different varieties, such as pink lady, fuji, and gala have about 15% more sugar, which means about four teaspoons of sugar in your mouth!
That information can quickly make you turn you away from apples. But it does not mean you should. They remain healthy and useful in keeping your teeth free from dental plaque. However, caution must be exercised.
If you love apples, you may want to follow these tips when you eat them:
- Eat the apple as quickly as you can. Consume it in just one sitting; otherwise, it will create more acid and sugar on your teeth.
- Eat cheese, bread, or any other food while or after eating apples. It will help neutralise the acids.
- Don’t brush your teeth after eating an apple. Instead, rinse your mouth with water to get rid of acid and sugar.
Chewing an apple produces more saliva, countering bacteria in the mouth. This effect is similar when you brush your teeth.
For a healthy crunch, go for almonds, which provide protein and calcium. They also have low sugar content. Just a quarter cup of almonds will give you 95mg of calcium, which is almost equivalent to a whole cup of milk.
It is important to remember that almonds may not be recommended for those who are wearing dentures. They can be hard and can cause damage to your teeth. However, if you have natural teeth, you can boost their health by adding almonds to your snacks.
Yoghurt is one of the healthy snacks around. It is loaded with calcium, probiotics, and protein, which all promote good health. Calcium, as you may already know, is essential to your teeth and bones. Meanwhile, protein is helpful in the development of your mucosal tissue. Finally, probiotics can deliver good bacteria to the mouth, which lowers the occurrence of harmful bacteria. The nutrient is also a known bad breath fighter.
Just like the cheeses above, you cannot pick any yoghurt. Go for sugar-free varieties and those with low sugar content. High levels of sugar will outweigh the benefits of yoghurt to your teeth. As much as possible, go for Greek yoghurt, which can contribute to balancing the pH levels in your mouth. Plus, it has higher amounts of calcium than other varieties.
Salmon is a type of fatty fish rich in vitamin D. This particular vitamin is crucial for our oral health because it enables the body to absorb and consume calcium better. The same vitamin also protects the gums and teeth from various diseases. A study even discovered that people who have high amounts of Omega-3 DHA in the body have a lower risk of periodontitis or gum disease. Salmon is rich in Omega-3.
Both wild and farmed salmon provide the benefits mentioned above. However, wild salmon is a little ahead of the game and is considered the healthier option.
Aside from salmon, you can add anchovies and sardines to your diet. They are both high in Omega=3 fatty acids, vitamin D, and calcium.
Onions are among the known superfoods because they offer plenty of health benefits. What most people do not know is that they are also good for their teeth. Sure, eating raw onions will leave you with a less than appealing breath, but these vegetables are packed with oral health benefits.
Onions contain both antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, which are beneficial for the mouth and the entire body. A raw onion, when chewed, can strengthen teeth. It can also kill harmful bacteria that you may have been harbouring in your mouth for a long time now. Onions can detoxify the body and fight osteoporosis and inflammation.
If you are among those who think chewing raw onion is not a good idea, you can add a few slices to a sandwich. You can also chop them up and sprinkle them on your favourite salad.
We can all recognise garlic because it is one of the most used spices around, adding flavour to meals. Many people use garlic as a remedy for different health problems, including toothaches and tooth decay.
Garlic has antibacterial properties that lower the bacteria activity in the mouth. These bacteria are the culprit behind bad breath and tooth decay. Garlic contains allicin, which is one of its most popular components. It is known to be effective against oral flora imbalance, keeping the mouth healthy and dental disease-free.
This spice is also a source of prebiotic fibre, which supports digestion and is suitable for the teeth, as well. Just like an onion, however, garlic is not a good option when in social situations. You can still reap the benefits by adding garlic as a common ingredient when cooking.
11. Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds can help scrub the teeth, which efficiently removes plaque on them. You can eat sesame seeds on their own to get the most health benefits for your teeth. But you can also bake them into bread, which offers the same positive effects.
Another reason to eat sesame seeds is that they are high in calcium. Because of this mineral, sesame seeds can help preserve the bone surrounding your teeth. They also contribute to the protection of your gums.
Make sure though that you remove any seeds caught between the teeth.
Strawberries are acidic and sweet. Also, they can stain the teeth. So, how are they beneficial to your oral health? The answer is in their malic acid content, which has a whitening effect on the enamel. Believe it or not, strawberries can remove stains from your teeth.
You may have heard about the DIY whitening methods using strawberries. Most of them combine the fruit with baking soda. Although some people swear on its efficacy, it is always best to simply eat a strawberry, rather than use it for scrubbing teeth.
Just like sesame seeds above, make sure that you get rid of any strawberry seeds that got stuck between your teeth. It helps to floss after you eat the fruit.
13. Green Tea
For a caffeine boost that’s good for your oral health, choose green tea over coffee. Regularly drinking green tea can help protect your teeth against cavities and gum disease. Green tea drinkers are also less prone to have bad breath compared to those who go for more cups of coffee.
Another reason why you may want to switch from coffee to green tea is that the latter helps lower the risk for oral cancer.
But to get the most out of this beverage, don’t forget to skip the sugar or other sweeteners. Even honey, which is viewed as something healthy, can promote the development of cavities.
14. Chewing Gum
A survey showed that about 50% of the Australian respondents chew gum regularly. Unfortunately, most of them do not opt for the sugarless kind. Gum, for most people, is a type of candy, which is not entirely wrong. But unlike candies, gum can also be good for the teeth. It helps in many ways, including increasing the flow of saliva in the mouth. With adequate saliva production, the entire mouth benefits.
Gum can help prevent tooth decay because there is more saliva in the mouth. Plus, you can find gum products on the market today that promote teeth whitening.
15. Dark Chocolate
Another big surprise in this list is dark chocolate. Who would have thought that eating dark chocolates can be good for your teeth? In moderation, dark chocolates can fight tooth decay. Unlike milk chocolate, dark chocolates do not contain sugar and milk.
But not all dark chocolates are created equal. Again, you have to pick the correct kind of snack here. Make sure that your choice is made of 70% cocoa and with less than six to eight grams of sugar per serving. If possible, go for organic chocolate. It is even better if you can get hold of raw chocolate, which is a less processed product. Plus, it comes with more antioxidants, so you get more benefits.
No food can replace brushing and flossing. You cannot rely entirely on what you eat to take care of your teeth. Despite the healthy compounds, minerals, and vitamins present, good oral hygiene is still a must.
Do not forget to visit your dentist every six months to get your teeth cleaned and examined for issues. If you wear braces or any orthodontic appliance, make sure you don’t miss any appointment with your orthodontist.