Complete oral health care extends far beyond brushing and flossing. Here is a list of 7 healthy food ideas for your teeth and brace. Your mouth is the gateway to the rest of your body. By keeping your mouth healthy, you are keeping the rest of your body healthy.
Along with cleaning your teeth and gums, there are lots of healthy foods you can eat and good dietary habits you can get in to ensure your smile stays bright and beautiful. Many simple, everyday foods have powerful cleansing properties.
The following seven are supercharged foods for your teeth – helping to build healthier teeth and gums, as well as prevent tooth decay and gum disease.
This is my favourite super food for teeth! Not only is it delicious but it can also combat acid erosion of the teeth.
Every time you eat, the bacteria in your mouth convert the sugar in food into acid. Eating cheese after a meal can counteract the acid left behind by a meal, making it a great choice for dessert. Cheese also contains calcium and protein. These are nutrients that strengthen tooth enamel.
Fish is a great healthy food for your teeth. It’s important to get enough calcium in your diet to protect your teeth and gums from disease. However, your body can’t absorb calcium if you don’t have enough vitamin D. Fatty fish (such a salmon) is a fantastic source of vitamin D, allowing your teeth and gums to get the full disease-fighting benefits of calcium from the foods you eat.
This one may be a bit of a surprise, given oranges are a citrus fruit. However, the vitamin C in citrus strengthens blood vessels and connective tissue and slows down the progression of gum disease by reducing inflammation.
Eating fruit is much better than drinking fruit. This is something to be aware of for our smoothie loving patients.
Try to limit having a juice or smoothie to once a day when you are eating, e.g. with breakfast.
Don’t forget to make sure to wait at least half an hour before brushing your teeth after you eat citrus fruits.
Water is the best thing you can drink for your teeth and gums. Saliva is made up of 99.5% water. Dehydration can thicken your saliva which limits its protective properties for your mouth.
Optimum levels of water in your saliva are essential for the breakdown of food, neutralising bacterial acid (hello morning breath!) and preventing tooth decay. Another amazing property of water, is the tiny amount of fluoride that is added to our mains water by Irish Water. This tiny addition helps re-strengthen teeth after an acid attack and thus reduce dental decay. Lastly, rinsing with water after drinking tea or coffee can help reduce staining to the teeth!
Fruits and vegetables
Don’t have a toothbrush handy? High-fibre fruits and vegetables are your next best option. Their high fibre content actually ‘scrubs’ the teeth similar to the way your toothbrush might. The chewing action also stimulates extra saliva production.
Salad greens including lettuce, cucumber, spinach pack an all-round healthy punch. The high water content in crunchy, juicy fruits and vegetables also helps to offset their sugar content. Carrots and celery are a great source of fibre and are packed with vitamin A and C. Keep these healthy food such as, fresh carrots, celery, cucumber and apples on hand at all times and your teeth will thank you!
Green and black tea
Polyphenols, which are found in green and black tea, interact with the bacteria that cause plaque by killing or suppressing them. Bacteria feed on the sugars in your mouth and convert the sugar to acid which can damage your enamel and cause decay. This makes tea a great choice for during or after a meal, since it suppresses the presence of these acid producing bacteria in the mouth. Black tea also contains Fluoride which is good in small amounts for tour teeth. Just don’t forget that adding sugar to your tea will get rid of all these protective properties.
Yes, you heard right. Chocolate! As long as it is at least 70% cacao, and eaten in moderation of course.
Dark chocolate is a superfood for the teeth due to a compound called CBH which has shown to help harden tooth enamel, making your teeth less susceptible to tooth decay. However, not every kind of chocolate is good for you. The cocoa bean is what houses the good stuff – not the chocolate itself – so make sure you opt for the dark chocolate option and remember to brush your teeth afterwards 30 minutes after.
If you have braces, it’s a good idea to avoid chocolate with nuts. You should also store your chocolate treats at room temperature rather than in the fridge – cold, hard chocolate can be tough to bite.
Lastly, healthy eating habits
The most important thing to remember about food and drink consumption is to reduce the ‘frequency of intake’. This is key to keeping a healthy mouth. It is much better to eat a bunch of grapes in one go rather than snacking on them for hours throughout the day. Every time you eat or drink something, the bacteria in your mouth turn the sugar into acid. It takes 20 minutes for your saliva to neutralise this acid and to restore your mouth’s natural pH balance. Taking the example above, if you were to eat one grape every 20 minutes throughout the day your teeth would be constantly coated in acid. This also applies to sipping on drinks with sugar in them (juices, tea with sugar). If you want to sip on a drink, the safest drink is tap water.
Take home message
My best advice is to stick to 3 main meals a day and 2 healthy snacks in between and drink plenty of water.