Comfort eating, eating for a healthy heart, and snacking—these are things people understand. But eating for optimum oral hygiene isn’t a cause that holds a lot of the spotlight; that should change.
The common concerns with oral hygiene revolve around making sure to brush, floss, and rinse. Yet, it’s important to remember that what you’re eating and when you’re eating it also play an important role in the health of your mouth.
Foods that are starchy or high in sugar are broken down by plaque and bacteria in the mouth to form acids that erode tooth enamel and hurt the gums. These acids can attack your teeth for up to 20 minutes after you stop eating! That means, the more often you’re eating and snacking throughout the day, the more often your teeth are exposed to danger.
The best foods for your teeth are those containing calcium and phosphorous, which can help remineralize your teeth and to make up for the damage done from other, acid-inducing foods. Foods such a milk, cheese, and poultry are in this category. Cheese also generates saliva, which can help lessen the effects of acid on your teeth as well.
Crunchy fruits and vegetables are also great for your teeth. Look to apples and pears and celery as suggestions. These foods contain lots of water which helps dilute their natural sugars, and they help stimulate saliva production, too. Fruits and veggies that are high in fiber are especially helpful because they act as a detergent for the mouth. Try choosing broccoli, carrots, and sweet potato. Onions are great for their antibacterial sulfur compounds that kill bacteria in your mouth.
For tooth-healthy beverages be sure to drink plenty of water—fluoride-infused water is the best—and milk and unsweetened teas. Try to limit consumption of sugary drinks throughout the day. Green and black teas contain polyphenols, which interact with plaque bacteria and help prevent tooth-attacking acid.
The obvious bad guys for your teeth include candy, sodas, and all manner of sweets including breads, cakes, and pies. Eat them sparingly and try to eat them with a meal because your mouth produces more saliva helping to neutralize the acid and loose particles out of your mouth.