07 Jan 2021

The Best and Worst Foods for Your Teeth

When it comes to the things you eat and drink, the choices you make can have a huge impact on your health. Foods can either support or reduce your energy levels, physical fitness, and even mental health. One facet of general health that is often overlooked when it comes to nutritional intake is your dental health. After all, the foods you eat can have a significant impact on your teeth and gums.

Ingredients found in certain foods, such as starch or sugar, can react negatively to the naturally occurring bacteria on your teeth. Known as plaque, these harmful acids eat away at your tooth enamel over time and cause tooth decay. Tooth decay often leads to cavities, inflamed gums, or other dental issues, which can require fillings or other restorative dentistry procedures.

The Best and the Worst: How to Eat for Good Oral Health

People that attend regular preventative dentistry appointments are often aware of the kinds of foods to avoid in order to keep their teeth and gums healthy. However, some foods are a little bit sneakier than others when it comes to negative effects on your dental health, and other foods may actually have noticeably positive effects on your teeth.

Want to take in more of the foods that help your oral health and avoid the ones that harm? Take a look at our guide to the best and worst foods for your teeth.

The Worst Foods for Your Teeth

Several foods top the list when it comes down to items that can damage your oral health. Here are the most common ones to avoid:

Hard, Sticky, or Sour Candy

Candy in general is not great for your teeth, as the exposure to sugar can cause tooth decay over time. However, candies that are quickly chewed and swallowed, like chocolate, are much less harmful to your teeth than their longer-lasting counterparts. Tricky treats like lollipops, jawbreakers, caramels, and even cough drops (if they have sugar added) should be on your “few and far between” list.

The longer a piece of candy has to stay in your mouth to be eaten, the worse it will be for your oral health. Because the harmful sugars will sit on your teeth for a longer period of time, they are more likely to cause acidic reactions and damage your enamel. If you’re craving a sweet treat, reach for something that you can quickly chew and swallow, and if you’re able, take a swig of water afterward to clear out any excess sugary particles that may have been left behind.

Carbonated Beverages

Most people know that sugary sodas aren’t great for their teeth, but even calorie-free or diet sodas and sparkling waters can have a negative effect on your dental health. Carbonated drinks are known to produce acid as they interact with the plaque on your teeth, leading to decreased enamel strength and greater susceptibility to decay and cavities.

Citrus Fruits

Fruits in the citrus category, including lemons, grapefruits, and oranges, offer a host of health benefits. They are often considered to be nutritionally helpful, as they carry high levels of Vitamin C. However, when eaten in excess, the very high acid content of these fruits can lead to enamel erosion and ultimately increase your risk of tooth decay.

Even if you regularly squeeze lime or lemon into your water, make sure that you’re mindful of the ways that you expose your mouth to acids when it comes to citrus fruits.

The Best Foods for Your Teeth

Now that you know some of the types of foods to avoid, take a look at some of the best “tooth-friendly foods” that we recommend including in your diet.

Yogurt

In addition to being filled with healthy fats that keep you satiated throughout the day, yogurt has high amounts of protein and calcium, two naturally occurring substances that help to strengthen enamel.

Additionally, most yogurts on the market today contain probiotics, which have been found to support good gum health in several studies. The best type of yogurt to choose is unsweetened Greek yogurt, as it contains the most beneficial forms of active cultures and lacks harmful added sugars.

Vegetables and Fruits with High Fiber Contents

When you wait to attain a healthy digestive system, it’s important to maintain a high-fiber diet. High-fiber foods are also incredibly beneficial for your oral health.

As you chew and swallow, saliva works to clear extra food particles out of your teeth and mouth in order to prevent gum inflammation or enamel damage. Foods that are high in protein help to produce more saliva. Saliva also contains trace amounts of phosphate and calcium, which can help to restore the mineral content of teeth that have been damaged by acid buildup.

Cheese and Other Dairy Products

Lucky for cheese lovers everywhere, dairy products like milk and cottage cheese have oral health-protecting properties. Like yogurt, cheese contains high levels of protein and calcium, which can serve to balance the pH levels in your mouth as you eat, protecting your enamel from damage.

Due to its consistency, cheese is also a great saliva producer. This means that after you eat a meal that includes cheese or a similar dairy product, your mouth will be better equipped to get rid of leftover food particles.

Unsweetened Tea

Both black and green teas contain polyphenols, which are essential micronutrients that interact in an interesting way with the plaque on your teeth. These polyphenols work to prevent additional bacteria buildup on your teeth while simultaneously reducing the volume of harmful bacteria that is already present. Using fluoride-enriched water to brew your tea can reap even more impressive dental health benefits, as fluoride is known to strengthen your teeth, as well.

It is extremely important to make wise food choices when it comes to maintaining your oral health on a daily basis. However, you’ll also need to make sure that you maintain a dedication to regular dental appointments. For a top-notch dentist in San Diego who can help you to maximize your oral health, schedule an appointment with William V. Carlo General Dentistry.

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