You’re on the right track to healthy teeth and gums if you brush twice daily as recommended by the American Dental Association. However, you can complement your hygiene routine by eating certain foods that can improve your dental health and provide natural protection against cavities and gum disease.
While too much sugar and caffeine can damage your oral health, some foods promote healthy teeth and gums. In fact, maintaining healthy levels of some nutrients is so important that your body may be unable to properly fight off tooth decay without them.
The dentists at Rifkin Dental in Yorktown Heights and Carmel, New York encourage patients to eat foods that can protect their oral health. When combined with twice-annual dental cleanings, a healthy diet can protect your teeth as well as your overall well-being. Having healthy teeth can also help you enjoy the results of orthodontic treatments — such as braces and Invisalign® — and maintain the dramatic results of teeth whitening.
Find out more about foods that can naturally boost your oral health and protect your teeth:
Crunchy fruits and vegetables
The texture of crunchy fruits and vegetables including apples, celery, and carrots can increase saliva production and thereby help reduce the risk of cavities. Chewing these types of foods is excellent for your teeth because the chewing generates saliva that rinses and cleans your teeth while also neutralizing cavity-causing acid.
Carrots and celery are both rich in vitamin C, which contributes to the formation of blood vessels and other tissues that support teeth. Vitamin C also enhances your body’s ability to efficiently heal and repair itself. Insufficient amounts of vitamin C can result in bleeding gums and gum disease.
The fibrous texture of these foods can also help stimulate your gum tissue and increase the flow of nutrient-rich blood to your gums. This can help fight gum disease and improve gum health. You can delay the effects of destructive oral bacteria until you can properly brush by eating an apple after your meal.
Cheese and dairy products
Your teeth are made primarily of calcium, a mineral that helps harden tooth enamel and strengthen your jawbone. Calcium can also help protect your teeth from acids that cause decay. You can add healthy doses of calcium to your diet by including certain cheeses, milk, plain yogurt, and other dairy products.
However, you don’t have to consume dairy foods to benefit from natural calcium. You can get the same benefits from soy milk, calcium-fortified juices, and certain foods, such as spinach, canned salmon, sardines with bones, and fortified cereals.
Many dairy products and other calcium-rich foods are also fortified with vitamin D, a nutrient that helps your body absorb calcium and move it into your bloodstream. For example, wild salmon is a rich source of Vitamin D.
Black and green teas
Green tea contains polyphenols, substances that kill and fight bacteria. Polyphenols can protect your teeth from gum disease and cavities by preventing plaque from sticking to teeth and gums.
Teas usually contain fluoride, which prevents tooth decay and helps repair enamel. Using fluoridated water to brew any tea can enhance your level of this protective mineral.
Phosphorus ranks as the second most common mineral in your body, with most of it in your bones and teeth. It is so plentiful that it comprises up to 1% of your total body weight. You can maintain healthy phosphorus levels by consuming protein-rich foods such as meat, eggs, nuts, and legumes.
Maintaining an adequate amount of phosphorus is vital for healthy bones and teeth.
Phosphorus supports calcium in building strong teeth and bones. Without adequate phosphorus levels, the calcium in your body goes to waste and your teeth can chip and crack.
Sugarless chewing gum
Don’t be surprised if your dentist encourages you to chew sugar-free gum after you eat. Chewing can stimulate 10 times the normal rate of saliva flow. This can help preserve tooth enamel because it helps neutralize and rinse off the acid that remains on your teeth when food is broken down by bacteria.
The xylitol in sugarless gum may also prevent tooth decay. It can inhibit the growth of Streptococcus mutans, the oral bacteria that can cause cavities.
Find out more about ways to maintain your oral health by arranging a dental checkup at Rifkin Dental. Schedule an appointment online or call one of our offices today.