5 Ways to Eat Your Way to Healthier Teeth
February is National Children's Dental Health Month!
If you see your dentist twice a year for professional cleanings and brush and floss twice a day, every day, you’re well on your way to maintaining optimal oral health for the rest of your life. But your efforts to preserve your pearly whites shouldn’t end there. Read on to find out how you can adjust your eating habits to give your teeth a healthy boost.
Follow these five tips to eat your way to healthier teeth and gums:
Replace coffee with tea. Black coffee is one of the best-known teeth stainers, and has little to no nutritional value. Trade out your daily cup of joe for black or green teas instead. These varieties contain polyphenols, antioxidant plant compounds that prevent plaque from adhering to your teeth and help reduce your chances of developing cavities and gum disease. Both are good for you, although greens teas have slightly higher polyphenol content.
Drink soda through a straw (if you must drink soda at all). Drinking directly from a cup or a bottle places the beverage directly onto the teeth, meaning that the acids sodas contain are more likely to contribute to the erosion of tooth enamel. And don’t think that diet sodas are any better for your dental health—you may save on calories, but the acid levels remain the same. Sipping soda through a straw angled toward the back of your mouth will help to push the soda away from your teeth.
Don’t snack on carbs. Bread and potato chips can wreak just as much havoc on your teeth as all those sugary sweets. That’s because once carbs are broken down in the chewing process, they are converted into sugars that bacteria turns into plaque—that stubborn, sticky goo that leads to the development of cavities and gum disease. You’re better off saving your carbs for meals—you’ll be eating more volume, which will help your mouth create more saliva which will in turn keep those offending food particles from hanging out around the teeth and gum line and turning into plaque.
Get plenty of Vitamin C. This antioxidant plays an essential role in keeping gums healthy, which will help prevent gum disease and keep gums strong enough to keep teeth in place for the rest of your life. Get your C through your diet (citrus fruits, leafy green vegetables, red bell peppers, and cantaloupes are all rich in Vitamin C), or add a dietary supplement to your health regimen.
Bone up on calcium. This nutrient is important for overall bone health, which of course extends to the teeth as well as the jaw, the facial bone that holds teeth in position. Dairy products are an excellent source of calcium, as are black beans, soybeans, and fortified breads and orange juice.
Optimal oral health extends far beyond your yearly dental exams and regular brushing and flossing. For the healthiest mouth possible, make sure you incorporate the above tips into your daily regimen.