Everyone is aware that candy and sugary drinks can seriously affect your smile by causing tooth decay and gum disease. But did you realize that there are foods that can improve your smile by strengthening tooth enamel, preventing cavities, and removing harmful bacteria?
That’s right! There is a strong link between dietary choices and the health of your teeth and gums. The American Dental Association cites the connection as a critical factor in the development and progression of periodontal disease.
In this article, we’ll be exploring the link between diet and oral health, and how the foods you eat can often mean the difference between a healthy smile and frequent trips to the dentist.
How Does Eating Healthy Contribute to Smiling
There are a number of nutritional and dietary factors that can influence the health of the oral cavity, including the types of vitamins and nutrients consumed, the pH properties of the food, and even the behavior associated with the intake of a particular food or drink. All of these can affect the development and progression of different oral diseases and tooth decay.
Foods That Are Good For Your Teeth
Generally speaking, dentists recommend an overall diet that encompasses a wide variety of foods, with an emphasis on nutrient-rich offerings that can help neutralize acids in the mouth and fight the bacteria that cause so many oral issues.
Here’s a look at some of the best foods to eat to improve your smile:
Food for Healthy Teeth and Gums
- Dairy Products: Milk, cheese, and yogurt—all calcium-dense dairy products—are among the top foods that are good for your teeth. The calcium and phosphates in milk and cheese, for instance, help balance your mouth’s pH while also strengthening the teeth by rebuilding tooth enamel. Yogurt has the added benefit of probiotics, which protect against cavities, gum disease, and bad breath.
- Leafy Greens: Dark, leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, and kale are rich in calcium and folic acids, which work to strengthen tooth enamel and reduce inflammation, along with other crucial vitamins and minerals that keep your teeth and gums healthy.
- Fruits: Did you know that apples are referred to as “nature’s toothbrush” due to their ability to stimulate the gums, increase saliva flow—which neutralizes the citric and malic acids in your mouth—and reduce the build-up of bacteria? Or that the vitamin C found in a kiwi helps in the production of collagen, one of the primary ingredients of gum tissue?
- Nuts: There are so many oral benefits to eating various nuts. Almonds and cashews, for instance, have high levels of calcium and phosphorus, while peanuts can be a good source of vitamin D, and walnuts contain everything from fiber to iron, thiamine, magnesium, vitamin B6, potassium, and zinc. Most positively, nuts contain no additives—specifically sugar—and are low in carbohydrates, which plaque can use to damage tooth enamel.
- Fatty Fish: Salmon is chock-full of phosphorous and omega-3 fatty acids, a crucial element in reducing oral inflammation and preventing the development of gum disease. Omega-3s have also been found to help gum tissue heal faster after treatment!
Foods that Prevent Tooth Decay
- Whole Grains: Unlike simple carbohydrates such as white bread, complex carbs found in brown rice, oatmeal, and whole wheat bread don’t stick to your teeth and cause cavities.
- Grass-fed beef: In addition to offering important nutrients such as iron, red meat is particularly beneficial in the amount of saliva produced while eating it. The more saliva, the better! That’s what decreases the acidity in your mouth and washes away food particles.
- Mushrooms, Onions, & Garlic: Mushrooms that contain lentinan, a type of carb, are beneficial to breaking down plaque in the mouth, while onions and garlic work wonders in reducing the kinds of bacteria that lead to the development of gum disease.
- Crunchy Vegetables: Crunchy, firm vegetables like carrots and broccoli are great natural teeth cleaners, stimulating saliva and scrubbing away food particles. Celery, in particular, has been cited as “nature’s dental floss,” with its fibrous, watery stalk capable of cleaning and rinsing between the teeth.
The Importance of Regular Dental Cleanings
As important as it is to make better oral-health-conscious dietary decisions—eating your fruits and veggies and drinking plenty of milk, just like your mom always said—that’s only one preventative action when it comes to the long-term health of your teeth and gums. A daily routine of brushing and flossing is also necessary, along with regular dental checkups and cleanings.
At Inspire Dental Wellness in Orland Park, we believe in a well-rounded approach to your oral health, and our dental cleanings and x-rays can play an important role in your preventative oral care routine. Contact Inspire Wellness Orland Park to schedule a routine checkup today!