In our past couple of blogs, we emphasized the importance of a healthy mouth and learning to view dental health as a key to great overall health. To help you choose your foods and drinks wisely, Sorrento Valley Perfect Smile has compiled a list of the top foods and drinks that are best for your mouth.
Milk and other dairy products you’ll see on the list can help neutralize acids produced in the mouth and also build back teeth with essential nutrients like protein and calcium. Additionally, milk contains phosphorus and magnesium which aid in the absorption and use of calcium in the body. While calcium may be present in other foods, milk is the best delivery medium with its ease of absorbance into the body.
Cheese is a common favorite among dentists and oral hygiene professionals for several reasons. The saliva produced from chewing cheese raises the pH in the mouth and helps lower the risk of tooth decay by neutralizing what may be an otherwise acidic environment (American Academy of General Dentistry). Additionally, the dairy in cheese contains calcium, proteins, and caseins which help strengthen and protect the tooth enamel. Additional tip: aged & hard cheeses are better for mitigating problem bacteria.
Another product high in calcium and protein helping to strengthen and restore enamel is yogurt. An additional bonus for yogurt is that it is full of probiotics, which help displace the bad bacteria lingering around in your mouth and gums. Not only does this reduce potential plaque, but it can help get rid of bad breath as well. Probiotics are also useful in keeping a healthy gut, as well as your overall health. However, in order for the yogurt to be effective, choose those with low sugar or no added sugar; otherwise, you will cancel out the positive effects.
Fruits and Vegetables
If you aren’t able to consume dairy products, don’t worry. There are other foods that are friendly to a lactose-intolerant digestive system. Kale and spinach, for example, are high in calcium. In addition to being healthy for your overall diet anyway, leafy greens pose an added benefit to your oral health; they contain folic acid which helps prevent gum disease by mitigating inflammation.
Raisins are sweet but in a natural way. They don’t contain sucrose (table sugar), the kind of sugar that aids in the proliferation of bacteria in the mouth. In fact, they contain phytochemicals which actually kill off the bad, plaque-causing bacteria.
Crunchy fruits and vegetables are notable for helping reduce the amount of plaque-causing bacteria on/around your teeth. The chewing required to break down these firm foods can abrade plaque-causing bacteria off the teeth and the saliva cleans it away.
Generally, it’s a good idea to avoid too many sweet fruits, but there are some exceptions. The fibrous and watery nature of apples and pears causes your mouth to produce extra saliva which washes away bacteria build-up and food particles. It’s no substitute for brushing, but it’s a great way to tide you over in the middle of the day. Try packing an apple for a snack after your lunch break, but skip the peanut butter as it tends to stick to the teeth and gives bacteria something to snack on all day.
Like apples, carrots do an incredible job getting your salivary glands working to wash away excess food debris and bacteria that might be lingering from lunch. Add them to your salad or eat them raw. Carrots also have a great deal of vitamin A, which is a known benefit for vision health, but also the immune system and aiding in the proper function of the heart, lungs, kidneys, and more.
If you’d prefer to mix it up, celery is a great alternative and one of the best at scrubbing that irritating food debris. In fact, its use as a palette cleanser is so notorious that lots of restaurants serve it as a side with spicy foods. Celery is a good source of vitamin A and vitamin C. These powerful antioxidants do wonders to boost your gum’s immune system.
Another surprise treat to find on this list is almonds. They’re a great source of protein and calcium while remaining low in sugar. Throw them on a salad or into a stir fry to add some crunch to your meal. Rest assured, your mouth will thank you.
The safest go-to option for your oral health is a glass of plain water. It’s a great way to wash away food debris and keep your mouth hydrated. Avoid consuming flavored water, even the kind with lemon wedges. Tap water is the best option because it has added fluoride to help kill bacteria.
Clear teas, such as white or green varieties, wash the teeth and stimulate saliva production; you might have gathered by now that saliva is on your side. Avoid dark teas that can potentially stain your teeth and steer clear of bottled varieties with added sugar.
Real Fruit Juice
Natural fruit juice from non-acidic plants like apples and pears are a good choice for a sweet beverage that will go easy on your teeth. It’s important to do your research when selecting a fruit juice brand to ensure they don’t use added sugars. Browse your local health foods grocery store and read the labels. A good sign is noticeable chunks of fruit and pulp in the bottle.
It’s best to avoid soda and sports drinks as much as possible, but the next time you need to satisfy that craving, try a natural root beer. They have less sugar and lower acidity levels than most sodas and have been deemed the safest soda by World Dental.
In addition to monitoring the food and drinks you intake, those regular visits to the dentist’s office are still important. Whether you’re a current patient or seeking a new dentist, Sorrento Valley Perfect Smile is here to help. Choose from our two locations in Sorrento Valley or Oceanside and make your appointment today!