Some food for thought: not everything you eat is bad for your teeth. In fact, there are certain types of foods that will not only strengthen your teeth but also provide whitening and antibacterial properties.
As a child, you were always taught to stay away from sugary foods such as lollies, soft drinks and chocolate.
Any food that contains high sugar was considered bad for your teeth, and in most circumstances, this is true.
However, there are certain types of foods that actually can improve your dental health despite containing sugar.
In this article, we discover foods that strengthen and whiten your teeth, as well as fight off bacteria. We’ll also list some foods to avoid that contribute to staining and tooth decay.
Food that strengthens your teeth and fights off bacteria
Not only are carrots good for your eyes they are also great for your dental health. Just like an apple, crunchy carrots are full of fibre and are a great source of vitamin A. Carrots encourage the production of saliva and in turn, help reduce the risk of cavities, especially after a meal.
Leafy greens are a no-brainer. They are super healthy and provide a natural source of vitamins and minerals, and fibre while being low in calories. Greens that are high in calcium, such as kale and spinach, help build your teeth’s enamel, as well as contain folic acid and vitamin B, which help treat gum disease in pregnant women.
Who doesn’t love a good cheese board? Well you can enjoy it even more than before without feeling too guilty about it. Cheese is a supercharged food for teeth due to its ability to counter acid erosion of the teeth. According to a study conducted by the Academy of General Dentistry in 2013 found that cheese and other dairy products raised pH levels in subjects mouths and lowered the risk of tooth decay. The act of chewing increases saliva production and in turn helps protect the tooth from enamel acid. Being rich in calcium and protein, cheese can also help strengthen the enamel.
Fish is rich in vitamin D, which is the active ingredient that helps your body absorb calcium effectively. Without vitamin D, your gums and teeth will not receive all the health benefits of calcium from the foods you eat. Calcium helps build your enamel and contains vitamins and minerals that help fight off gum disease.
Green and black tea
Both types of tea contain polyphenols, an active ingredient that interacts with plaque-causing bacteria. Polyphenols help prevent bacteria from growing and actively works to kill them off before they are able to excrete tooth destroyed acids. This makes tea an excellent beverage during and after a meal.
Fluoridated water promotes dental health by helping to prevent tooth decay. Fluoride promotes dental health by preventing tooth decay and strengthening tooth enamel. Water also helps with saliva production which is essential to the breakdown of food and neutralising bacterial acid. Rinsing your mouth out with water, while isn’t as effective as brushing or flossing, can help remove any food debris caught in your mouth and teeth.
An exception that we were alluding to earlier are fruits such as apples. Although they are sweet and sugary, they are also packed full of fibre and water. The fibrous texture of an apple helps stimulate the gums and saliva production, rinsing away bacteria and leftover food particles. Make sure to leave the skin on the apple as this is the part that’s full of mouth-healthy fibre that’s good for dental hygiene.
Food and drinks to avoid
- Sticky lollies and sweets are the most obvious choice as they are packed full of sugar, which is the main source of food for harmful bacteria that live inside your mouth. These harmful bacteria produce acid whenever they encounter and digest sugar. The acids will then start to erode the tooth enamel, the outer protective layer of your tooth.
- Sports or energy drinks that are vibrant in colour and full of sugar can stain your teeth and erode the enamel.
- Soft drinks are not only high in sugar they are also very high in acids that can cause tooth decay. A study conducted by the Australian Policy Health Collaboration and the Australian Dental Association in February 2018 found that almost 50% of adults in Australia are consuming too much sugar and more than 90% have experienced tooth decay in their permanent teeth. Dental caries are extremely high in Australia due to the fact that only 56% of adults brush their teeth twice a day.
- Starchy foods such as potato chips and bread can get trapped between your teeth.
Tips to maintain good oral health
- Brush at least twice a day with proper brush technique
- Floss at least once a day with correct flossing technique
- Visit your dentist every 6 months for a regular check-up, clean and scale
- Limit in between-meal snacks
- Avoid substances that can dry your mouth out, this includes alcohol and medicines. It’s best to consult your health professional before stopping any sort of medication.