You probably already watch what you eat for your heart health and the overall health of your body. Are you also watching out for your dental health? Dental care starts at home, and what you put on your dinner plate or what you snack on throughout the day can make a huge difference to your teeth’s health. Read on to learn more about what to eat and what to avoid!
Some General Do’s
Do eat a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains! These foods are powerhouses when it comes to nutrition. Collectively, they supply the vitamins, minerals, macronutrients, antioxidants, and more that your teeth need for their health.
Should you cook them or eat them raw? Try a bit of both! Vegetables are great cooked (such as steamed, broiled, stir-fried, or baked) and raw (by themselves, in salads and sandwiches, as toppings, or cut up and served with your favorite dip, for example). Both cooked and raw options deliver nutrition to your body, so for the best results, eat a wide variety of produce in its fresh, natural state (always be sure to wash foods thoroughly first) AND heated up in your favorite dish!
Now we go to the other end of the spectrum. What foods should you definitely avoid? The ones that aren’t that great for your body or your teeth, gums, and mouth are the overly processed, super sweet items that some people (especially kids) really seem to crave. We’ll go over a few specifics later in this blog. For now, it suffices to say that sugary snacks are not the best ones to consume if your goal is good dental health (and at Merritt Mill Dental Associates, we think this SHOULD be everyone’s goal).
These Fruits Are Great!
Let’s go over some specific fruits you could be eating for the health of your teeth and gums. These fruits include:
- Apples: Bite into a juicy, delicious apple to help keep your teeth clean! The apple’s fibrous texture actually removes bacteria and other food particles stuck to your teeth and gums. In addition, apples are high in vitamin C, which serves to strengthen gums and all the soft tissues in your mouth.
- Asian Pears: These crunchy fruits help remove food particles from your teeth, exercise your gums, and encourage the production of saliva (which serves to wash away anything that’s stuck to your teeth). What’s more, they are high in fiber and deliver micronutrients that help your teeth and bones stay strong.
- Strawberries: Nowadays we’re fortunate to be able to consume strawberries nearly year-round! These delicious berries offer malic acid, which brightens tooth enamel naturally and safely.
- Cranberries: These fruits contain polyphenols, which happen to also be found in tea. These substances are believed to keep plaque from adhering to teeth, lowering the risk of cavities and tooth decay.
You can send the kids to school with apples, pears, or strawberries as part of their lunches, or serve these as snacks when they come home from school activities. Add these fruits and cranberries into salads, cereals, oatmeal, and more. Be sure you consume these fruits, too, for better dental health and a brighter, more beautiful smile!
Eat These Vegetables
We’ve covered a few great fruits to include in your diet for the health of your teeth and gums. Now let’s go over some vegetables:
- Celery: The fibrous texture of this crunchy vegetable serves to remove plaque-causing bacteria from your teeth, cleaning them in the process. It also helps to increase the production of saliva, which keeps your mouth healthier.
- Carrots: In addition to stimulating the production of saliva and cleaning your teeth and gums, carrots offer vitamin A, which is necessary for building strong teeth.
- Leafy Greens: Vegetables like spinach, Swiss chard, cabbage, beet greens, romaine lettuce, kale, turnip greens, bok choy, and many other leafy varieties deliver important minerals (including calcium, believe it or not) that your teeth need for strength and durability. They also provide healthy doses of vitamins, including folic acid (a member of the B family of vitamins) that helps prevent gum disease (also referred to as gingivitis in the early stages and periodontitis in the later stages).
- Cucumbers: While this may technically be a fruit, most people think of cucumbers as vegetables. Great in salads and sandwiches, cucumbers are high in water content and crunch! As we mentioned earlier, crunchy fruits and vegetables help clean your teeth, especially when these produce items are high in water, too, flushing out bacteria and other stuff that adheres to your teeth and increases your chances of developing tooth decay.
There are so many ways to incorporate vegetables daily into your diet. Make a great big salad for the whole family to enjoy! Snack on carrots, celery, cucumber slices, and bell peppers whenever hunger strikes in between meals (peanut butter can serve as an easy, convenient, healthy, and delicious dip for these veggies). Cook these and other vegetables into stews, soups, casseroles, stir-fries, chilis, and more!
The sky’s the limit; use your imagination to come up with more ideas on incorporating these health foods into your meals. If you need some help, the Internet is a great resource; simply type the vegetable names and the word “recipes” and you’ll find all kinds of wonderful ways to prepare them!
Other Good Foods For You
What else can you be consuming for the health of your teeth and gums? Try these items:
- Almonds: These nuts deliver much-needed calcium to your teeth to keep them strong.
- Other Nuts: So long as you’re not allergic to them, all nuts are healthy and can provide your body (including your teeth, mouth, and gums) with important nutrients. Among them is phosphorous (and we’ve already mentioned calcium above).
- Dried Fruits: Not only do these serve as a healthier substitute to sugary sweets, they are packed with vitamins and minerals that do your teeth good!
In addition to making great snacks, nuts and dried fruits can be added to salads or used as toppings for some of your favorite dinnertime dishes.
Avoid These Foods
Now it’s time to talk about the foods and drinks you should not be eating, or at the very least, not be eating as much of:
- Popcorn: The crunchy kernels that fail to pop can be highly detrimental to the integrity of your teeth, potentially cracking them.
- Ice: While it’s okay to put ice in your drinks, avoid crunching ice to keep your teeth from breaking.
- Sodas: Full of sugar, soda pop is not good for your teeth. The sugar in the beverage reacts with the bacteria in your mouth to create an acid that harms tooth enamel. Avoid drinking soft drinks.
- Sticky Candy: Not only is the sugar content detrimental to your teeth, but the stickiness of the candy makes it adhere to your teeth pervasively, where it can accelerate tooth decay.
- Hard Candy: Just as bad, hard candies add too much sugar to your mouth and pose a cracking or breaking risk to your teeth.
Turn To Your Friendly Dentist In Salisbury For More Info
Want to learn more about what to consume and what to avoid for the health of your mouth? Get in touch with Merritt Mill Dental Associates! Our staff will be happy to share with you which foods and habits are good for your dental health, and which are not. Reach out to our dentist in Salisbury, MD today!