Our teeth are good for more than just a pretty smile. We need them to eat and speak, too! Teeth help us bite food into manageable pieces and chew them for digestion. Our teeth also help our tongues form the correct shapes needed in order for us to enunciate each syllable. Of course, because our teeth are so important, we must ensure that we’re taking proper care of them. This is why dentists and oral hygienists emphasize the importance of good dental care. However, this doesn’t just mean brushing regularly, although this is a significant part of it. Good oral hygiene also comes from eating the right foods. Certain foods can stain teeth or even significantly wear down the protective coating known as enamel. Others can help strengthen said enamel and protect our teeth from tooth decay.
Top 5 Foods for Good Oral Hygiene
In fact, according to the American Dental Association, dental health is usually the most susceptible to decline and neglect. However, thankfully, they’ve compiled a list of foods that can actually help maintain good dental health and oral hygiene. Follow this list and enjoy a beautiful smile for years to come:
Dairy-based products like yogurt and cheese are great for teeth because they’re a good source of calcium, protein, and vitamin D! These ingredients help maintain the strength and overall good health of teeth. Yogurt also often contains probiotics, which are beneficial bacterial cultures that can help maintain healthy gums. These helpful bacteria push out harmful bacteria which can otherwise lead to cavities and tooth decay. However, the best yogurt is the kind without added sugar or flavorings, as these can counteract the health benefits.
2. Lean Proteins
The ADA explains that “phosphorus-rich foods such as meat, poultry, fish, milk and eggs help to strengthen your teeth and contain valuable protein.” These lean proteins can help protect and rebuild our tooth enamel. Protein also aids in the development of connective tissue and can help support our immune function.
3. Leafy Vegetables
It’s no secret that vegetables are a big part of any healthy diet, but leafy greens are also really important for healthy teeth. High in both water and fiber, these vegetables help balance the sugars they contain to clean our teeth. Not to mention, they contain a number of essential vitamins and minerals, like folic acid, a form of vitamin b. This ingredient has numerous health benefits, including aiding with cell regeneration. In fact, some studies have shown that folic acid can potentially treat gum disease, particularly for pregnant women. Chewing veggies can also help stimulate the production of saliva, which helps our mouths to wash away otherwise harmful food particles and acids.
Similarly, fruits are another diet staple high in water and fiber which can help contribute to good dental health. However, we must be careful, as some fruits that are overly sugary can actually have the opposite effect! In fact, the ADA recommends staying away from most sugary foods, but certain fruits like apples can prove to be beneficial. Many of us are familiar with the old saying: “an apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but there may be more truth to this than we previously realized! Of course, even an apple can’t replace regular brushing and visits to the dentist.
Science has shown how nuts like almonds contain proteins and minerals which can be important for our overall health. However, what many of us may not realize is that many nuts are also low in carbohydrates. Why is this important? Well, according to the ADA, “tooth decay is caused by acid-producing bacteria that are activated by carbs.” Therefore foods low in carbs, like nuts, do not contribute to the risk of cavities. Almonds are an especially good source of protein and calcium, whilst being low in sugar. Like leafy greens, chewing nuts for a snack can also help stimulate saliva production, which washes away tooth-decay causing acid and bacteria.
The Most Important Thing to Remember about Good Oral Health
These foods can all help maintain overall oral health as well as allow us to maintain a healthy, vibrant smile. However, the most important thing to consume? Water. The ADA says that “water, especially fluoridated water, is the best beverage for maintaining your oral health.” Since 2012, nearly 75% of the US population has had access to fluoridated water, which has helped make our teeth more resistant to the acids which can cause cavities. Water is the most important thing to consume, not only for our teeth, but for our overall health and well-being!