It's easy to know what not to eat if you want healthy teeth and gums -- candy, ice cream, cookies -- but what foods are actually good for your oral health? A lot, it turns out. Regardless of your palette or your dietary restrictions, there is something out there that can improve your dental well-being. Here's a quick guide.
Fiber, Fiber, Fiber
Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, like apples, pears, carrots and celery, are hugely beneficial to your dental health for several reasons. The fiber they contain stimulates the gums and helps clean them by scraping away food particles and bacteria. These foods aren't a substitute for brushing your teeth, but can hold you over until you have a chance to brush.
Foods like apples, pears, celery and carrots also have high water content. Because of this, the act of eating these foods produces saliva in your mouth, which helps flush out bacteria that gets caught near your gum line. In fruits like apples and pears, their water and fiber content offsets the sugar they contain, a benefit not shared by sugary snacks like candy and cookies. That makes these foods a perfect dessert or post-meal snack.
Everyone from your primary care physician to your parents tells you to eat your vegetables for the general health benefits, but they may not know how helpful leafy greens can be to your oral health, too.
Leafy greens, like spinach, arugula and kale, contain tons of calcium that builds your teeth's enamel. That also makes them a good dairy substitute for people who are lactose intolerant. They also have lots of vitamin C, which reduces inflammation and can help fight gum irritation and disease.
If you're struggling to fit leafy greens into your diet -- maybe you're just not a salad person -- try putting them on a pizza or blending them into a smoothie.
Lots of Dairy
The oral-health benefits of dairy products like cheese, yogurt and milk go far beyond their high amounts of calcium and protein, which strengthen tooth enamel. A 2013 study in the journal General Dentistry found that eating cheese reduces your risk of developing tooth decay. That's because, like with high-fiber fruits and veggies, the act of chewing cheese produces teeth-cleaning saliva in your mouth.
Dairy products like cheese, yogurt and milk also contain a protein called casein, which neutralizes bacteria-produced acids in your mouth that can cause tooth decay and gum disease.
It's important to choose dairy products with no sugar added if you're looking out for your dental health, because otherwise the added sugar will do as much damage as the calcium and protein does good. That means chocolate, strawberry and other flavored milks are off-limits. You should also choose plain yogurt, because flavored or fruit-filled yogurt can have high sugar contents. If you need some flavor in your yogurt, buy plain yogurt and add fruit.
Contact Your Indianapolis Dentist Today
With years of training and experience, Dr. Phelps and his team are committed to providing you thoughtful and caring service for your cosmetic, restorative and general dentistry needs.
If you or a loved one live in the Indianapolis area and would like to learn more about how Dr. Phelps can help you achieve your brightest smile, call us today at (317) 818-9858.