Sometimes it can be easy to think that all foods either stain or weaken our teeth, but there’s a number of healthy options to help strengthen them.
A lot of the foods that are bad for your teeth probably won’t come as a surprise, but you might not have thought of a couple of them. Read on to learn more about what foods are good or bad for your teeth and why.
Best Foods for Your Teeth
Milk & Cheese
Dairy products are known for being rich in calcium which is a key nutrient for healthy teeth. But did you know they also stimulate saliva production? After prolonged exposure, a number of dairy products, mainly milk and cheese can actually form a thin protective barrier around your teeth to mitigate the effects of sugar, acid, and bacteria.
Milk in particular can actually help negate the effects of sugary and acidic foods when drunk at the same time. It also helps decrease your likelihood of developing cavities and preventing demineralization by strengthening enamel. Also, if you ever have a tooth knocked out, it’s better to put it in milk than water while transporting it to the dentist.
According to this from Western Kentucky University, cheese can raise the pH level in your mouth immediately after consuming a sugary and acidic carbonated beverage. Cheese also has high levels of vitamin A and phosphates, both of which are good for teeth.
Kale, Spinach, and Other Leafy Greens
Remember when your parents always told you it was important to eat your leafy greens? Well, they were right. Leafy green vegetables are full of vitamins and minerals that help keep your mouth healthy. Kale & spinach specifically are high in calcium amongst other leafy greens.
Believe it or not, some kinds of dark chocolate can actually help fight plaque build-up and protect against cavities. The best kind of dark chocolate for your teeth is 70% (or higher) cocoa with less than 10 grams of sugar per serving. The less processed it is the better, as this will leave more of the natural antioxidants in the chocolate rather than processing them out.
Dark chocolate contains polyphenols which are a group of antioxidants that reduce inflammation, lowering your risk of gingivitis. Some dark chocolate can be sugar-saturated too (and this you want to avoid), but in most cases, the closer the chocolate is to pure cocoa, the healthier it is.
You may have heard carrots are good for your eyes, but they’re also good for your teeth.
Carrots are rich in vitamin A which is vitally important to the health of your gums and enamel. They also promote saliva production, which is your mouth’s natural cleaner. Also, the carrot’s hard texture acts as a natural toothbrush while chewing to scrub away plaque and not harm enamel.
Sugar-free gum is great for your teeth because it promotes saliva production and consistently chewing can loosen and potentially dislodge any food particles stuck between teeth. Being sugar-free is important so there’s zero chance your teeth will be negatively impacted by sugar.
Honorable Mention: Turmeric
Turmeric has antiseptic, antibiotic, and anti-inflammatory elements which can help treat dental conditions such as early stages of gum disease and toothache. Despite its reputation for staining everything it comes in contact with, people use turmeric to whiten their teeth. This whitening method is especially popular in India.
Worst Foods for Your Teeth
Probably the single worst choice for your teeth is chewy sticky sour candy. They’re generally high in both sugar and acidity, which break down your enamel and feed bad bacteria. Since they’re chewy and sticky, they tend to stay around longer than you may even realize.
Citrus fruits like lemons, lime, oranges, grapefruit, etc. have a lot of health benefits, but they are not exactly teeth-friendly. The citric acid wears down your enamel and eventually your teeth will look a dull yellow due to discoloration and the now exposed dentin, the layer underneath your enamel.
Alcohol & Pop
dries the mouth which cuts down saliva production letting bacteria grow more easily and plaque stays on teeth longer. Dark drinks stain teeth. Beer and other citrus drinks are acidic. Plus, if you chew the ice in your drinks your teeth are at a higher risk of being damaged.
Similar to sour candies, pop also has a high sugar and acid content. You can counteract its adverse effects by rinsing your mouth with water to wash away residual acid or use a fluoride mouthwash. Chilling acidic drinks and using a straw also help minimize their effect on your teeth.
A lot of people love carbs, but your teeth aren’t exactly their biggest fan. When people think of foods that are bad for their teeth, they generally don’t think of bread or potatoes. However, they can be if they linger in your mouth too long and the same goes for a lot of starches.
The problem arises when the starch gets in between your teeth or in the ridges on top of them. If you don’t floss them out or brush/rinse them away, they’ll break down into sugar which feeds the plaque creating acid.
The popcorn husk (also called hull) is the thin covering around the kernel, and they tend to find their way between your teeth or between your gums and teeth. This can be removed by flossing, but you may not even realize it’s there.
The husk will eventually attract bacteria that can gather around the gum line and cause damage long-term. Biting down on unpopped kernels is equivalent to biting down on ice which is not advisable.
Honorable Mention: Dried Fruits
Dried fruits are often loaded with sugar. They can be a great on-go snack for road trips or outdoor excursions, but be aware of the effect they can have on your teeth. Dried fruits are often chewy and sticky so there’s a chance they can pull out dental sealants and/or fillings that were protecting your teeth.
Schedule an Appointment Today!
Our dentists in Novi, MI want to help you maintain or get a smile you love. Whether that means teeth whitening, tooth replacements, or another service we offer, you can contact us online or call R. Peter Maly DDS at (248) 347-3700!