Although regularly brushing, flossing, and making the twice annual visit to the dentist are recommended for proper dental hygiene, for truly healthy teeth and gums, attention should also be given to all food and drink that come in contact with your teeth.
Colgate’s healthy foods list of the seven best foods for your teeth include:
- Cheese – A study published by EurekAlert! discovered that eating cheese raised the pH in the subjects’ mouths and lowered their risk of tooth decay. Additionally, cheese contains calcium and protein that help strengthen tooth enamel.
- Yogurt – Similar to cheese, yogurt is high in calcium and protein and will help to strengthen enamel. Yogurt also contains probiotics, or beneficial bacteria, that benefits your gums when the good bacteria crowds out bacteria that causes cavities
- Leafy Greens – Such as kale (approximately 180 mg calcium per cup) or spinach (approx. 250 mg calcium per cup) contain folic acid, a type of vitamin B. Additionally leafy greens are also low in calories and high in fiber.
- Apples – Apples, although sweet, are high in fiber and water. The texture of apples, along with the amount of chewing involved while eating an apple, stimulates the gums and produces saliva in the mouth that rinse away bacteria and other food particles.
- Celery – Celery is a great source of vitamins A and C, two antioxidants that give the health of your gums a boost. Similarly to apples, celery scraps food particles and bacteria away from your teeth. Celery is low-calorie, high crunch snack option.
- Almonds – Almonds contain healthy fats, fiber, magnesium and vitamin E. They are also a good source of calcium while being low in sugar.
The ADA’s list of the top 9 foods that damage your teeth include:
- Hard candies – The constant exposure to sugar, resulting from eating too many hard candies, can be harmful to your teeth. Hard candies can also trigger dental emergencies such as a broken or chipped tooth. The recommended alternative is chewing sugar-free gum that carries the ADA seal.
- Ice – Chewing on ice, or any hard surface, can leave your teeth vulnerable to a dental emergency and damage enamel.
- Citrus (acidic fruits) – Exposure to acidic foods can erode enamel, making teeth more susceptible to decay over time. The acids found in citrus break down the enamel, and can cause irreversible damage.
- Coffee – Caffeinated coffee and tea can dry out your mouth, which can cause an increase of bacteria in the mouth and bad breath. Frequent drinks of coffee/tea may also stain your teeth. It’s recommended to limit the amount of consumption and
- Sticky foods – Sticky foods, such as dried fruit, can damage your teeth because they tend to stay on teeth longer than other types of food, which can lead to a plethora of harmful bacteria activity in the mouth and on the teeth.
- Potato Chips – Potato chips are loaded with starch, which tends to get stuck between teeth. Trapped food particles can lead to plaque build-up that can cause tooth decay or gum disease.
- Soda – Plaque bacteria use sugar, from constant exposure to sugary foods and drinks, to produce acids that attack your enamel. Most carbonated soft drinks, including diet soda, are acidic and bad for your teeth.
- Alcohol – Alcohol causes dehydration and dry mouth. Saliva reduction can lead to tooth decay and other oral infections such as gum disease. Heavy alcohol use also increases risk for mouth cancer.
- Sports drinks – Not only do most sports drinks contain high amounts of sugar, but they are also highly acidic which eats away at enamel.
For good dental health, the ADA recommends drinking plenty of plain water, and eating a wide variety of foods from each of the five major food groups: whole grains, fruits/vegetables, lean proteins, and low-fat/fat-free dairy.