9 Foods to Eat for a Beautiful Smile, and A Few to Avoid
Every day, you brush and floss your teeth to keep your mouth healthy. Have you thought about your diet as well? Certain foods are known to help keep teeth and gums strong, while others can darken and stain teeth or put you at a higher risk for gum disease.
1. Stock up on crunchy foods, such as carrots, celery and nuts. These cause saliva to flow which neutralizes the acids formed by cavity-causing bacteria. Also, the solid texture of fibrous fruits and vegetables can help get rid of excessive plaque on the teeth.
2. Got Milk? Dairy foods, such as milk and cheese provide calcium, which keeps teeth – as well as bones – healthy and strong. In addition, vitamin D-fortified milk is good for oral health as well. A study from the New Jersey Dental School in Newark found that vitamin D may help fight bacterial infections that attack the gums and lead to gingivitis and tooth loss. Another dairy nutrient, casein, may also help reduce cavity formation.
3. Go for Yogurt. In the Journal of Periodontology, researchers from Japan published a study that analyzed the dietary intakes from nearly 1000 adults and found that those who consumed yogurt rich in probiotics had the healthiest gums. Yogurt may also have the benefit of stopping the growth of bad-breath-causing bacteria.
4. Indulge in a Little Chocolate (yes, you read correctly!). A study published in the dental journal Caries Research has found that an organic compound found in chocolate called theobromine may help to remineralize and harden tooth enamel at a rate greater than fluoride.
5. Snack on Raisins. You might think that because raisins are sweet and sticky that they might not be a good choice for your teeth. However, raisins contain boron that is a trace mineral linked to bone and tooth health as it is required for the conversion of vitamin D to its most active form. Raisins also contain phytochemicals that suppress the growth of certain bacteria associated with caries and gum disease.
6. Have Some Citrus. Even though citrus fruits are acidic, these foods can increase saliva flow and protect tooth enamel. They also contain vitamin C, necessary for healthy gums.
7. Fish, Flax and Omega-3’s. When bacteria collects in gum pockets, it can cause inflammation that can damage the connective tissue anchoring teeth to bone. Omega-3’s are powerful anti-inflammatory nutrients. . “People who consume diets high in omega-3s are more resistant to inflammation and infection,” says Dr. Anthony Iacopino DMD PhD. “We also think they may be more resistant to gum disease.”
8. Drink Some Green Tea. Green tea contains polyphenols which may have the potential to clean plaque from the teeth. In addition, catechins in green team may decrease the body’s inflammatory response to the bacteria that cause gum disease.
8. Ditch the Soda, Drink More Water. In addition to eliminating a source of sugar, trading out your daily soda for a glass of water can help wash away acid-producing foods from your mouth.
Foods to Avoid
If you want to keep your teeth health and white, these are foods to avoid:
• Sugary drinks, especially carbonated beverages. “Carbonation increases acidity,” says Dr. Steven E. Schonfeld DDS PhD. This makes them one of the worst offenders for eroding enamel.
• Chewy candy – the stickier the candy, the worse it is for your teeth.
• Coffee, tea and red wine – although we mentioned tea as a food good for your teeth, remember that certain types of beverages contain colorings that stain teeth. Brush well after consuming.
• Refined Carbs – starchy foods such as potatoes and white bread can raise acid levels from bacteria in the mouth. The more refined or cooked a starch, the more likely it is to damage teeth.
BT Amaechi et al. Remineralization of Artificial Enamel Lesions by Theobromine. Caries Research 2013; 47; 399-405.
American Society for Microbiology (2005, June 13). Raisins As A Functional Food For Oral Health.
Christine D. Wu. Grape Products and Oral Health. Journal of Nutrition; 2009 September, 139(9):1818S-1823S