As dentists, we’re always stressing about how important it is to brush, floss, and see a dentist regularly.
But it’s not just practicing good hygiene and seeing a dentist that make for great dental health. It’s also the food in your fridge, what you put on your plate, and what you drink to wash it all down. You may not realize it, but the food you eat has a huge impact on your teeth and gums.
You don’t need to be a dentist to realize that foods high in sugar like sodas and candy are hard on teeth. But other things that can also damage your smile are less apparent — like orange juice, raisins, or bread.
Here are a few tips to maintain a healthy diet that’s great for your teeth, gums, and smile.
Skip the Sticky
Certain sticky foods like honey, raisins, dried fruit and molasses cling to the surface of your teeth, increasing the risk of cavities. Foods high in starch like potato chips and bread can also get stuck to teeth surfaces.
These foods are fine to eat — but do so in moderation. Be sure to drink lots of water afterwards. Don’t forget to brush and floss regularly as well.
Watch Out for Acidic Foods
Unless you’re a dentist, you probably aren’t aware of how acidic tomatoes, lemons, and oranges can be — and how they can impact your teeth. The acidic nature of certain vegetables and fruit (especially fruit juices) can eat through your tooth enamel.
We recommend eating these foods as a meal, perhaps on salads or as a stir fry, rather than on their own. Limit the consumption of orange juice and be sure to brush afterwards. This will minimize the damage done to your teeth.
Limit Teeth Staining Drinks
Drinks such as coffee, tea, and red wine may be delicious, invigorating, and relaxing, but they can permanently stain your teeth. These beverages tend to be rich in chromogens, which attach to and stain enamel. Don’t worry! You can still enjoy your java, tea time, or a relaxing glass of merlot — just be sure to drink plenty of water to wash away the stains. Check out this blog on how to avoid wine stains on your teeth.
Speaking of wine, we also encourage you to limit your alcohol consumption. Drinking too much alcohol leads to dry mouth and dehydration. Saliva is a natural mouth cleanser. When you lack saliva from drinking too much alcohol, your mouth retains bits of food, sugars, and acidity that cause cavities. Keep in mind that drinking too much alcohol can also lead to mouth cancer.
Feast on Anti-Inflammatory Foods
Anti-inflammatory foods like cherries, blueberries, kale, broccoli, beans and lentils are not just good for your body — they’re great for your teeth. Studies have found a diet high in anti-inflammatory foods encourages healthy gums and a lower rate of tooth loss.
Count on Calcium
Want to avoid gum disease? Get plenty of calcium. People who consume at least 1,000 to 1,300 milligrams of calcium daily are significantly less likely to suffer from gum disease. Foods high in calcium include the obvious — milk, yogurt and cheese — but also beans, almonds, and leafy greens. Yogurt also happens to be rich in probiotics — a healthy bacteria that reduces your risk of cavities. Cheese is high in phosphate, which helps to counteract the acid in your mouth and fights cavities.
Drink Plenty of Water
Water naturally cleanses your mouth, washing away bits of foods and sugar that cause cavities. Drinking plenty of water also ensures great salvia production, which further cleans your teeth. We recommend keeping a water bottle by your desk and regularly drinking from it throughout the day.
Chew Sugar Free Gum
OK, technically gum isn’t a food, but it can be good for saliva production which happens to be great for your teeth. Dentists recommend chewing sugar free gum throughout the day to boost saliva production and avoid dry mouth. But be sure it’s sugar free! Chewing sugar gum too often will increase your risk of cavities.