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The foods you eat can either help strengthen your teeth and improve your overall dental health, or they could damage your teeth, promote tooth decay, and contribute to an unhealthy mouth. By eating a diet of healthy foods, you can improve your oral health. Focus your diet to incorporate the five best foods for your teeth and to avoid the five worst foods.
The Five Best Foods
Natural foods are generally most healthful for your body and for your teeth. The five best foods for oral health include fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, water, dairy products, nuts, and green and black teas. Fruits and vegetables contain high amounts of fiber. As you chew fibrous foods, your mouth creates more saliva to process the foods. Saliva works to neutralize acids and harmful enzymes present in foods, which cleans your mouth. Saliva also contains small amounts of calcium and phosphate. As saliva spreads over the surfaces of your teeth, they receive exposure to these minerals. Dairy products contain calcium, which helps strengthen teeth. Chewing dairy products also encourages more saliva production, which helps keep your mouth clean and strengthens teeth. Green and black teas contain polyphenols, which helps to eliminate bacteria from teeth surfaces. Polyphenols also prevent bacteria from developing in the mouth. Many sources of water contain fluoride, which can benefit teeth. By drinking water and even by using it to brew green or black tea, you increase the amount of fluoride you consume. Munching on nuts has benefits for your teeth, also, because most nuts contain vitamin D and calcium. The crunch of nuts in your mouth stimulates saliva production and cleans your teeth. Nuts such as walnuts contain folic acid, magnesium, iron, and potassium, nutrients which can contribute to better oral health.
The Five Worst Foods
Some specific foods can be detrimental to overall health and oral health. Surgery candies and other sweets, carbonated beverages, citrus fruits and other acidic foods, sports drinks, vitamin waters, and fruit juice are common villains in the oral health department. One of the main problems with sugary candies and sweets is the amount of time these substances can stay on your teeth. Many of these types of foods are sticky and chewy. When you eat these types of foods, they stick to your teeth and coat them for long after you finish the treat. As this refined sugar remains on tooth surfaces, it can promote tooth decay and periodontal disease, also known as gum disease. Some starchy foods, such as soft breads, can also stick in and between teeth. Food that remains in these areas can trap bacteria, which often leads to tooth decay and gum disease. Carbonated beverages typically contain phosphoric and citric acid. These ingredients can damage tooth enamel over time. Drinking sports drinks and fruit juices can bathe your teeth in sugar, which often leads to tooth decay. Citrus fruits and acidic foods such as tomatoes can cause dental erosion. This erosion results in a chemical etching on the surfaces of teeth where tooth enamel actually dissolves off tooth surfaces. When you do eat citrus fruits or other acidic foods, brush your teeth soon after to minimize tooth enamel erosion and tooth damage.
- The Best and Worst Foods for Your Teeth – Review recommendations for the best and worst foods for dental health.
- Nutrition and Oral Health – This web page offers an overview of oral health, including dietary recommendations.
- Smile! Are You Eating Healthy? – Learn tips for healthy eating to improve dental health.
- Periodontal Disease – Explore periodontal disease and how healthy eating can reduce risks for this disease.
- Choose Sensibly – This web page offers guidance for choosing healthy foods, which can reduce tooth decay.
- Foods for Healthy Teeth – Explore tips for choosing foods and learn what foods to avoid to minimize tooth decay.
- Eat Your Way to Healthier, Whiter Teeth – This web page offers specific food suggestions for improving dental health.
- Tasty Treats for Teeth – This publication offers suggestions for children’s diets to improve oral health.
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