Your diet plays a key role in promoting a healthy physical and mental outlook. However, it is very easy to not pay attention to the foods and beverages you consume, resulting in the neglect of oral health, and causing a plethora of issues over time. Preventing or reversing this requires a nutritious and well-balanced meal. And it all starts with including and eliminating certain staples and unhealthy food choices, respectively. Read on to find out how you can plan an oral health-friendly diet.
Foods to eat
From healthy greens to juicy fruits, assorted nuts, and even certain dairy products, these foods must form part of your daily diet to help promote teeth and gum health.
- Green vegetables
Almost all nutritious diets are incomplete without a selection of green vegetables. There are several options rich in calcium and folic acids that help maintain healthy teeth. Spinach, turnip greens, kale, and Swiss chard are at the top of the list of leafy greens, and for good reason too. Most of these veggies are rich in phytochemicals that reduce the risk of bacteria feeding off the plaque. Darker green veggies are additionally rich in nutrients that help with the re-mineralization of the enamel to make your teeth stronger. Green vegetables are also low in sugar and help promote the production of saliva owing to the chewing action. Most veggies also act as a natural scrub to clean the surface while chewing.
- Fiber-rich fruits
Apart from having your bowl of green veggies, there are a number of fiber-rich fruits that you should include to balance out the diet. Apples are almost always recommended by doctors for its immune-boosting qualities. The chewing action of crunchy apples can also naturally clean the surface of the teeth, and promote the production of saliva to reduce the risk of infections that affect the teeth and gums. Cranberries are an excellent antioxidant-rich fruit that further counters the formation of glucan. With less glucan in the system, the chances of plaque buildup are greatly reduced. You can also include more grapefruit and oranges rich in vitamin C. These fruits help improve immunity, strengthen blood vessels, and improve the quality of connective tissues in the mouth.
- Dairy products
Most dairy products are rich in calcium, an essential nutrient that helps strengthen the teeth and make them less vulnerable to chipping or enamel erosion. Milk and cheese are rich in this nutrient. They also contain a protein called casein, which is effective against the acids produced by bacteria that results in the erosion. Yogurt is also a good alternative for people who are not lactose intolerant. It contains healthy probiotics that improve gut health to boost immunity. Consuming dairy, additionally, helps balance the pH levels in the body to promote improved oral hygiene.
- Healthy nuts
Nuts are rich in the good fats and oils that further help strengthen your pearly whites. Almonds, cashews, and peanuts help shield the enamel from various acidic responses with the natural oils present in them and make your teeth more resistant to developing cavities. Nuts are loaded with calcium and phosphorus, and all you need is a handful of assorted options that you can pre-soak and have each morning.
Foods to avoid
Knowing what to eat is just one part of the spectrum. You must also refrain from the following foods and beverages to promote better oral health.
- Sticky sweets and candies
Sugar is your worst enemy, and the number one reason for cavities. When you consume sticky sweets and candies rich in sugars, a lot of it is left behind in the gaps between teeth and gums. Millions of bacteria already present in the mouth feed off the residue and release acids. If left unchecked, these acids can erode the enamel (outer layer) and expose the dentin (inner layer), thus increasing the risk of cavities. Sugars also increase the risk of gum infections, so it is best to avoid chewy, sticky candies like taffy and caramel sweets.
- Alcohol, caffeinated, aerated, and flavored beverages
Beverages bought off the shelves in the supermarket are all rich in artificial sugars, flavoring, coloring, and even certain chemicals that can stain your teeth. Carbonated beverages actually help the bacteria thrive on the plaque and speed up the tooth decay. Even consuming alcohol in moderation can dry out your mouth and affect the production of saliva. With less saliva, the risk of foods sticking to the surface of the teeth and forming plaque is high.
- Crackers and chips
Foods that are rich in carbohydrates are also the ones that stick to your mouth and teeth. These include your crackers, potato chips, and tortilla chips, among other processed foods that can easily lodge between the spaces of two molars. The bacteria actively feed off these leftovers and result in the cavities that lead to decay.
- Dried fruits
Not all fruits help, especially the ones that are processed and dried. The texture of dried apples, cherries, and crystallized ginger, among several others make it difficult to chew and swallow properly, thus leaving behind a lot of the fruit between the teeth. This only results in plaque and tartar buildup, leading to cavities.