It’s no news flash that sugary foods and drinks can lead to tooth decay (see “Fight the Bad Guy”). But certain foods and beverages can actually strengthen oral health. For a dental boost, incorporate these key consumables into your diet.
Multiple studies point to dairy products—especially cheese and plain yogurt—as being pro-tooth. The calcium, phosphorus and casein in dairy seem to inhibit tooth decay. Plus, a 2013 study in General Dentistry found that cheese increased participants’ oral pH levels, which can protect against cavities. Probiotics in yogurt may enhance the “good” bacteria in your mouth.
Drinking one to four cups of tea per day fights against tooth decay and gum disease by reducing levels of harmful oral bacteria. Research suggests positive effects from black, green and white teas.
Apples, carrots, celery and other fiber-filled fruits and veggies with a crunch can aid your teeth, and here’s why: Biting on these crunchy foods increases saliva production, rinsing food particles and bacteria from your mouth. Plus, the food itself acts as a toothbrush of sorts, removing debris and stimulating your gums.
Dark Leafy Greens
Nutrient-dense greens such as kale, spinach and collards are jammed with vitamins and minerals that strengthen your teeth, including calcium and folic acid, a B vitamin that has been shown to diminish gum disease in pregnant women.
As with crunchy produce, nuts stimulate saliva production. Also, studies have shown that omega-3 fatty acids, which are prevalent in nuts, squelch harmful oral bacteria and combat periodontitis.
Good ol’ water is one of your best dental-health defenses. Drink it throughout the day to rinse away stray bits of food. Also, most U.S. water contains fluoride, which protects your teeth.
Fight the Bad Guy
Sugar is the undisputed dental-health villain—especially added sugars, which don’t have the built-in buffers that fruit, dairy and other natural sugars do. Follow these tips from the American Dental Association to minimize sugar’s bad effects on your teeth.
Choose wisely. The faster the sugar can pass through your mouth the better, making chocolate a better option than hard or sticky candies.
Time it right. If you eat sugary foods, do so with meals when your saliva production is high; avoid sugary snacks.
Gulp it fast. Drink sugary or acidic beverages quickly to minimize the amount of time they linger in your mouth; the less time they’re there, the less effect they’ll have.
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