Food is almost always to blame for the problems that affect our teeth. Too much sugar, too many starches, and heavy grains pull minerals from the body that are vital to dental health without replacing them, and sugars are largely responsible for the plaque that builds up on teeth and causes cavities. So we know what to avoid – but what about eating to improve dental health? These ten foods can help you develop stronger, healthier teeth and gums.
Everybody knows that dairy is essential to good oral health, because the calcium found in dairy is necessary for bone and tooth development. Try getting your calcium from the following dairy sources to maximize both the amount of calcium you get and your body’s ability to use it:
- Cheese contains casein, a protein that helps strengthen tooth enamel.
- Plain yogurt. Sweeten it with honey, vanilla extract, and real fruit.
- Whole milk. The sugars often added to skim milk can take a toll on your teeth, and the fat found in whole milk actually helps your body absorb many of the essential nutrients that milk supplies.
Yes, fruits are high in natural sugars. Natural sugar, however, is much gentler on your teeth and your body than adding refined sugar, and the benefits of all the nutrients found in most fruit far outweighs the perceived risks of the sugar. Eat these fruits raw for their teeth-cleaning benefits:
- The malic acid in apples scours away plaque.
- Oranges and other citrus fruits, such as pineapple and mango, are loaded with Vitamin C, another crucial nutrient for your teeth.
- Make a paste with strawberries and baking soda once a month to whiten your teeth naturally.
- Keep bananas around for a quick tooth-strengthening boost – rubbing the peel on your teeth can supply lots of lesser-known but equally important nutrients.
Like fruit, vegetables are best eaten raw or almost raw to get the most benefit for your oral health. Leafy greens top the chart, but there are dozens of veggies that can give you a stronger and brighter smile:
- Spinach, kale, and other leafy greens. Chewing produces saliva, saliva is your first line of defense against plaque, and leafy green vegetables have to be thoroughly chewed.
- Carrots are an abrasive food that can scrape away particles on your teeth as you chew.
- Cook with garlic to take advantage of its super antioxidant properties, drink a tea of it at the first sign of a cold, and chew a raw clove to dispel tooth pain.
By kicking out the foods that are causing tooth problems and adding in more of these healthful goodies, you can stop and possibly even begin to reverse cavities, tooth decay, and even the earliest stage of gum disease.