We have all heard the benefits of eating healthy foods and the fact that eating the right foods can help you live longer, but what about the effects foods have on your teeth?
It is true that some foods are better for your teeth then others. We all know that sugar is not good for your teeth but what about the healthy foods? At Murray Scholls Family Dental, we have a lot of patients asking us, “What are the best foods for my teeth?” Dr. Scott Walker, a dentist in Beaverton, OR, compiled this helpful list of the best foods to keep you smiling bright.
Dairy and High Protein Foods
The best food choices for your mouth include dairy products or if you are vegan, anything with a lot of calcium. The reason we recommend dairy products for good oral care is because of the high calcium concentrate, including cheeses, chicken or other meats, nuts, and milk.
These foods are great for your teethe because they can protect tooth enamel by providing the calcium and phosphorus needed to remineralize teeth (a natural process by which minerals are redeposit in tooth enamel after being removed by acids).
Other popular food choices include firm and crunchy foods, especially fruits like apples and pears as well as vegetables. These foods have a high water content, which dilutes the effects of the sugars they contain, and stimulate the flow of saliva, which helps protect against decay by washing away food particles and buffering acid. At Murray Scholls Family Dental, we warn our patients to be wary of high acidic foods such as citrus fruits, tomatoes, and lemons. They should be eaten as part of a larger meal because it will help to minimize the acid from them and protect your teeth.
Water and Green Tea
You’ve heard from your doctor how important it is to drink enough water everyday, but maybe you don’t realize that your dentist recommends it too. Drinking enough water daily will not only prevent dehydration but it washes away the tiny layers of bacteria that build up on your teeth. All naturally occurring water sources contain fluoride—a mineral that has been proven to prevent, and even reverse, tooth decay.
Tooth decay is caused by certain bacteria in the mouth. When a person eats sugar and other refined carbohydrates, these bacteria produce acid that removes minerals from the surface of the tooth. Fluoride helps to remineralize tooth surfaces and prevents cavities from continuing to form.
Foods to Avoid
There are several foods that Dr. Walker and the staff at Murray Scholls Family Dental recommend you to avoid – the top of the list includes refined sugar.
Sugar substitutes are available that look and taste like sugar; however, they are not digested the same way as sugar, so they don’t “feed” the bacteria in the mouth and therefore don’t produce decay-causing acids. They include: erythritol, isomalt, sorbitol, and mannitol. Other sugar substitutes that are available in the U.S. include saccharin, aspartame (marketed as Equal), acesulfame potassium (marketed as Sunett), and sucralose (marketed as Splenda).
Sugarless or sugar-free food sometimes simply means that no sugar was added to the foods during processing. However, this does not mean that the foods do not contain other natural sweeteners, such as honey, molasses, evaporated cane sugar, fructose, barley malt, or rice syrup. These natural sweeteners contain the same number of calories as sugar and can be just as harmful to teeth.
Soft Drinks are horrible for your teeth. Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in your body, but some foods may be stronger. Sugar isn’t the biggest culprit when it comes to a fizzy drink’s impact on teeth. These beverages — diet or not — strip minerals from tooth enamel because of their high acid content. We’re talking corrosive acids like phosphoric, malic, citric, and tartaric. Instead of choosing sodas or other drinks high in sugar content, choose water and natural green tea instead to maintain a bright and healthy smile.