You’ve heard time and again that sugar is bad for your teeth. Plaque collected on our teeth creates acid that causes tooth decay when it meets sugars in our mouths. If some foods are so destructive, are there others that are not only safe but even promote optimal oral health?
This month we’re talking about smile-happy foods, the ones that rid your mouth of harmful bacteria and keep your teeth pearly-white. Since overall health and dental health are so closely related, it will come as no surprise that our favorite smile-happy snacks are also low-sugar, vitamin and protein-rich choices that your whole body will thank you for. Read on to learn which healthy snacks equal a healthy smile.
What makes snacks healthy for my mouth?
High levels of acid contribute to rapid tooth decay as well as the destruction of enamel. Foods with low acidity levels help create an alkaline environment in your mouth, preventing tooth decay and the breakdown of enamel.
Calcium & Phosphorous
Calcium and phosphorous are the building blocks of your teeth. Sugars and acids commonly found in food strip these fortifying minerals from your mouth. Eating foods that are rich in calcium and phosphorous helps boost your enamel and keep your teeth healthy and strong.
Not all bacteria are bad four your mouth! The benefit of probiotic-rich foods is that they are chock full of good bacteria. These bacteria crowd out the bad bacteria, replacing them with bacteria that prevent plaque build-up and promote healthy gums.
Simulates Saliva Production
Next to healthy brushing and flossing habits, saliva production is your best defense against tooth decay. Saliva neutralizes acids and enzymes that attack your teeth. Foods that promote saliva production, rather than those that leave your mouth feeling dry & dehydrated, are an excellent choice for maintaining the health of your mouth, naturally.
Soft or sticky textures cling to teeth and create a virtual playground for decay-causing bacteria to breed. Foods that are crunchy or rough gently scrub teeth, cleaning them as you eat. They are certainly not replacements for your toothbrush, but foods that scrub your teeth keep your mouth free of harmful bacteria between brushings.
Smile-friendly Healthy Snack Choices
Apples and other fiber-rich fruits and veggies
- Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables are crunchy and full of water, both of which help maintain healthy saliva production.
- Ultra-crunchy choices like apples and carrots gently scrub teeth preventing plaque build-up. Pack a couple of baby carrots for after a meal or some apple slices to combat the damages of your morning cup of coffee. Your mouth and your breath will feel noticeably fresher.
- Sweet potatoes, carrots, and broccoli are full of Vitamin A which promotes the production of enamel and is essential for healthy gums.
Cheese, yogurt, and other dairy items
- Dairy items are low in sugar and packed full of protein and calcium, both of which strengthen teeth.
- Whole milk yogurts are full of protein and probiotics, ridding the mouth of harmful bacteria and replacing them with good ones.
- Some cheeses, like blue cheese and Camembert, have bacterial elements, which promote a healthy oral environment.
- Cheese has been shown to protect teeth from acids by forming a protective barrier of calcium which neutralizes them.
Chicken, eggs, fish, and other lean proteins
- Lean proteins are phosphorous-rich which, along with calcium, helps form hard structures and strengthen teeth.
- Plenty of lean protein is good for your muscles and overall health. Dental health and general health are closely related so staying in great physical shape is always a bonus for your mouth too!
- You’ll be hard pressed to find any list of healthy foods that doesn’t contain leafy greens. They’re low in calories and rich in vitamins and minerals, a regular two-for-one deal.
- Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and chard are packed full of calcium which builds enamel, creating a protective defense barrier around your teeth.
- Drinking plenty of water is one of the easiest ways to boost your oral health.
- Sugary and caffeinated beverages like coffee and soda dry your mouth out. Water keeps your mouth (as well as the rest of you) hydrated, which supports healthy saliva production.
- 75% of Americans have access to fluoridated water right from their taps. Fluoride in water prevents cavities by making teeth resistant to the acid that causes them, so drink up!
Schedule a Check-up
If you have any concerns about your snacking habits or your overall oral health, it’s a good idea to come in and see your dentist. We recommend professional cleanings every six months to ensure your teeth are in tip-top shape. Schedule an appointment at Park Avenue Dental in Gainesville, FL today!