Consuming dairy products that are rich in calcium and keeping away from sugary treats can help your teeth keep healthy. What we often disregard is that some foods that are otherwise healthy can have a negative impact on your teeth. So, while regular brushing and dental hygiene is essential for a healthy, pretty smile, balancing your diet, so that you eat enough food that is beneficial for your teeth and limit the number of foods that could damage them, is also important. How and when you eat certain foods also plays a role. King’s College London Dental Institute conducted a study including more than one thousand people between ages of eighteen and thirty to find any links between dental erosion and diet habits. The results – consuming foods that are highly acidic, like apples, slowly throughout the day can cause tooth erosion, while eating them at meal times is much safer.
Foods that are beneficial to your teeth
Tooth enamel is a highly mineralised substance that makes up the outside of your teeth and is the first line of defence against decay. It is the hardest substance in the human body, but it is susceptible to degradation, which can lead to tooth sensitivity and cavities. Consuming calcium rich foods can strengthen your enamel and help protect your teeth, while eating foods high in vitamin D helps absorbing the calcium needed for your teeth.
- Foods high in vitamin D. Most fish, mushroom and egg yolks are foods that contain a high amount of the vitamin your body needs to absorb calcium that strengthens your enamel and protects your teeth
- Foods high in vitamin C. Sweet potatoes and red peppers are a good source of vitamin C, which keeps your gums healthy. Healthy gums are key to maintaining healthy teeth. Citrus fruits like lemons, oranges and grapefruits are also high in vitamin C, but be mindful of their acidity.
- Foods high in calcium. Leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale and broccoli are splendid ways to boost your calcium intake, which helps protect your enamel layer and your teeth healthy. Dairy products like milk, cheese and yogurt are also good choices, but also have a high saturated fat content, so go for the low-fat variety. Hard cheese is particularly helpful as it also neutralizes the acidity in your mouth.
- Healthy foods with a crunch. Raw vegetables like celery, carrots and peppers and raw fruits like pears, apples have a crunchy, fibrous texture that physically scrubs and cleans your tooth surfaces and helps keep your teeth healthy. Crunchy vegetables, fruits and nuts also require a lot of chewing which stimulates saliva production. Saliva neutralizes bacteria found in your mouth. Rinse your mouth after eating to help prevent the acidity effect of some of the fruits mentioned.
Foods that are not good for your teeth
A film of bacteria called plaque covers your tooth surfaces and your gumline after ingesting food. Plaque degrades sugars in your oral cavity and produces acid that causes tooth decay and gum disease. Brushing regularly and using dental floss prevent plaque build-ups, but avoiding food that is highly acidic and high in sugar content also helps keep your teeth and gums healthy.
- Carbohydrate food. Pasta, potato chips or white bread mostly contain carbohydrates that are processed into sugars when we digest the food. Sugar is a breeding ground for acid producing bacteria when food particles linger in our oral cavity.
- Soda, fruit juices. Drinking such beverages often and over longer periods of time creates lengthy exposure of our teeth to sugar and acid.
- Hard candy. Hard candy takes a considerable amount of time to dissolve in out mouth, all the while exposing our teeth to sugar and acid which cause decay to the enamel layer.
- Overdoing citrus. Lemons and oranges are excellent sources of vitamin C needed for healthy gums, but also create high acidity in your oral cavity. Balance your consumption of citrus fruits to avoid such situations.
- Hard food. Food that is hard to chew like nuts, corn on the cob or even ice should be treated with care. You can easily crack your tooth while biting down on crunchy food like that
- Food that stains teeth. Many people enjoy a cup of coffee or a glass of red wine, but prolonged exposure to those beverages leaves stained teeth. Stains are not harmful directly, but aggressive methods of cleaning them can wear down the enamel layer and cause further complications.
Any kind of food can cause tooth problems if you don’t regularly brush your teeth and maintain oral hygiene. These problems do not occur overnight, so when you feel the urge to eat something sweet, here is some advice. Do not overindulge, but rather show some restraint. Mix the sweets with different food to easier neutralize the acid. Help wash away any remaining bits and pieces of food by drinking some water after eating. Brush your teeth, but remember to wait at least 30 minutes, because acidic food weakens the enamel coating and it is more likely you will damage it by brushing immediately after the meal. If you don’t have a toothbrush handy, a piece of sugar-free gum will also help. Follow that advice and your teeth should be healthy and your smile picture-ready. If everything doesn’t go as planned you can always use THIS – your perfect smile.
A list of healthy foods for that perfect smile:
- Foods high in vitamin D. Most fish, mushroom and egg yolks.
- Foods high in vitamin C. Sweet potatoes and red peppers.
- Foods high in calcium. Leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale and broccoli.
- Healthy foods with a crunch. Raw vegetables like celery, carrots and peppers.
If that’s not enough, you can read more about food tht’s good for your teeth here – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oral_hygiene#Food_and_drink
Stefan Grasic (Dipl.-Jur) A researcher with considerable experience in health related niches. While he was studying in Netherlands he used to be a part time writer for Health~Holland on-line magazine.