14 Best And Worst Foods For Your Teeth - Best

July 18, 2018 by Dr. Andrew Smyth

When it comes to healthy teeth, we're all familiar with the basics: brush two times a day, try to floss at least once a day and visit your dentist for a check-up every six months.

Since April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, health professionals urge people to not only keep up with their oral hygiene, but also be more aware of health risks associated with gums and teeth. Oral cancer, for example, is one of the only cancers in the U.S. that is increasing in numbers, and 40 per cent of diagnosed cases are young people and non-smokers.

And yet, oral health is often overlooked or ignored — one survey from the U.K. even found about 7 million Britons didn't brush their teeth regularly. Sometimes keeping on top of your oral health just means watching out for what goes in your mouth.

"A tooth's worst enemy is acid – either directly contained in the food and drink, or produced by oral bacteria which thrive on sugar and then convert it to acid," says Dr. Matthew Steinberg, a dentist based in Austin. "The mouth’s best friends are foods that neutralize acids, provide minerals and vitamins to repair tooth enamel and stimulate saliva."

Steinberg adds that while some foods like sugary candies or fizzy pop contribute to the build-up of tooth decay or gum disease, there are healthier foods and drinks that essentially act like our mouth's laundry detergent.

Here is Steinberg's ultimate cheat sheet of the best and worst foods for your teeth. Now while eliminating all of these 'bad' foods won't necessarily guarantee perfect teeth, watching how often you eat certain foods along with regular brushing and flossing all impact the health of your mouth:

Best:

Fibre-Rich Fruits And Veggies

High-fibre foods work like a detergent in the mouth, not only physically “scrubbing” the teeth, but also stimulating saliva flow. Saliva is the mouth’s first line of defense, because it neutralizes tooth-damaging acids, and contains calcium and phosphates that help rebuild minerals leached away by bacterial acids. Try fruits and vegetables with a high water content like apples, carrots and celery to clean plaque from teeth and freshen breath.

Water

Are you really surprised with this one? When it comes to oral health, water is indispensable. It’s the primary component of saliva, and is important to both tooth and gum health.

Dairy Products

The calcium, phosphates and vitamin D in cheese, milk and other dairy products are important minerals for oral health. Your teeth are made mostly of calcium, and without enough in your diet, you lower your resistance and increase your risk of developing tooth decay and other problems. Are you vegan? There are many calcium-fortified juices, soy milks and other foods available that can supply as much calcium to your diet as milk does.

Sugarless Gum

Chewing sugarless gums or mints after meals and snacks can help rinse harmful acid off your teeth to help you preserve tooth enamel. On the flip side, chewing gum containing sugar may actually increase your chances of developing a cavity.

Green And Black Teas

Green and black teas contain compounds called polyphenols that interact with plaque and uppress harmful bacteria, preventing them from growing or producing tooth-attacking acid. This not only helps to prevent cavities, but also reduces inflammation and the chances of gum disease.

Nuts

Many nuts provide vitamins and minerals that help your teeth. These include peanuts (calcium and vitamin D), almonds (high levels of calcium that help both teeth and gums), cashews (stimulate saliva and help clean teeth) and walnuts (fibre, folic acid, iron, thiamine, magnesium, iron, niacin, vitamin E, vitamin B6, potassium and zinc).

Other Healthy Foods

Food rich in vitamins A, C, and D as well as calcium and phosphorus, are all good for your teeth overall. Try eating more beef, eggs, fish, potatoes, spinach, fortified cereals, tofu, leafy green vegetables, beans, whole grains and poultry.

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