What’s the secret to a clean, healthy smile?
It’s not too complicated – first, the basics still apply. That means brushing teeth at least twice a day, flossing at least once a day, and seeing the dentist every 6 months. Additionally, diet can be a significant influence on oral health. Certain foods can promote healthier teeth and gums, while others may damage them.
Let’s do a run-through of 5 smile-friendly foods, and 4 foods to cut down on to keep your pearly whites healthy and clean.
Five foods for a healthy smile:
Crunchy, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables
Fruits and vegetables tend to be contain high levels of water, which helps dilute teeth-damaging sugars in the mouth. They’re also high in fiber, which stimulates saliva flow, helping wash away food particles and neutralizing enamel-eroding acids. Crunchy fruits and veggies like apples, carrots, and celery also help clean plaque and freshen breath.
High calcium foods
Calcium is essential to maintain strong, healthy bones, including teeth. Teeth are strengthened because calcium promotes remineralization of the enamel which protects against tooth decay. Good sources of calcium include cheese, milk, and other dairy products, as well as leafy green vegetables and soy products.
Green and black teas
Green and black teas can repel bacteria in the mouth that cause cavities, as well as reduce inflammation and prevent gum disease. However, if sugar is added, it’s best to keep it to a minimum as it will counteract the benefits of the tea.
Sugarless chewing gum
Gum loaded with sugar attracts pesky cavity-causing bacteria, but sugarless gum sweetened with xylitol can help keep a smile bright. The mechanism of chewing stimulates saliva production, washing away food debris and releasing anti-bacterial agents in the mouth. Also, studies show that chewing xylitol can reduce bad bacteria in the mouth by 27-75%.
Apart from helping whisk away plaque-causing bacteria, tap water contains fluoride, which can help prevent, and even reverse, tooth decay. Fluoride promotes the retention of calcium, which keeps dental enamel strong and prevents erosion from damaging acids.
Four foods that may damage teeth:
Sugars lingering in the mouth after enjoying a piece of candy can be a breeding-ground for cavity-causing bacteria. Candy, especially gummies, is difficult to dislodge from the mouth with saliva alone. Go ahead and enjoy that lollipop, but remember to brush afterwards to keep those damaging bugs away.
Did you know that starchy foods are also considered a type of sugar? The type of bacteria that cause cavities can’t tell the difference between the sweet sugars you taste in candy and the not-so-sweet sugars in carb-rich foods such as chips, crackers, breads, and pastas. Drinking plenty of water and brushing after every meal will ensure those french fries don’t turn into an unwanted trip to the dentist.
Just like starchy foods and candy, sodas and fruit juices that are left behind in the mouth can put you on the fast-track to tooth decay. Using a straw while enjoying your refreshing beverage can help keep the sugars away from your teeth and straight into your belly where they belong.
Consuming acidic foods like citrus, tomatoes, or even wine can significantly break down enamel and weaken the teeth. Think twice before sucking on that lemon wedge, but if you can’t resist, consider keeping a glass of water on the side to help neutralize the acidity.
Keeping this list of dos and don’ts in mind can be your best friend when it comes to having that beautiful smile others will envy. Please remember that an appointment with the dentist at least every 6 months for a check-up and cleaning is necessary for a healthy mouth. Additionally, following these dietary guidelines with regular brushing and flossing will ensure an A+ on your next dental visit.
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