We all know that we need to keep our teeth clean by brushing and flossing. This helps to remove food particles that can turn into horrible plaque once they combine with bacteria. Plaque is a real destroyer of teeth, with its acid breaking down tooth enamel and forming cavities.
But that is taking care of teeth from the outside – what about promoting healthy teeth from the inside? You can do this by eating healthy foods. Here is our list of just 7 simple foods that will help keep your teeth healthy and happy:
1. Tea – this may be an unexpected one but tea contains polyphenols, in both the green and black varieties. These slow down the production of bacteria. If you don’t like to drink tea, try rinsing your mouth with black or green tea. In a study where participants did this ten times a day, they had less plaque on their teeth than those that rinsed with water. Of the plaque that managed to hang on, it was far less sticky and decreased in size. Tea also gets rid of bad breath (halitosis). The polyphenols in the tea keep the bacteria at bay that causes the unpleasant smell on the breath.
2. Cheese – a recent study showed that when a group of people ate cheddar cheese, the acid levels in their mouth were lower than those that drank milk or ate sugar-free yogurt. After rinsing with water, the cheese-eaters showed a large drop in the pH levels in their mouths whereas the others showed none. So it appears that cheese actually neutralizes the plaque acid. When eating chewy cheese, saliva is also produced which washes away bacteria so cheese is a winner in many ways.
3. Raisins – raisins don’t contain any form of sugar which is great as sugar acts as a glue, enabling bacteria to stick to the teeth. Raisins also contain phytochemicals which appear to help kill off the plaque bacteria that damages teeth. Raisins even contain certain compounds that slow the growth of this unpleasant bacteria, helping to keep gum disease at bay.
4. Foods that ‘crunch’ – this could be apples, carrots, cucumber, celery or anything similar. When you chew hard foods such as these, dental plaque is dislodged and cleared away.
5. Foods rich in vitamins – think calcium (cheese, almonds, greens) and phosphorous (fish, eggs, meat). These help keep the tooth enamel strong. Calcium is also generally good for bones, including of course the jaw bone.
6. Sugar-free chewing gum – chewing gum is good for teeth as it boosts the production of saliva which helps wash away bacteria. Without sucrose, bacteria cannot create plaque which is why gum should be sugar-free. Get used to keeping a pack of gum in your bag or in the car and chew between meals to keep your teeth healthier.
7. Milk – a study carried out showed that drinking milk after eating sugary food lowered the level of acid in the mouth, more than drinking apple juice or water. This is because milk helps neutralize some of the acid created by the plaque bacteria. Drinking milk alone, without adding it to anything sugary, such as cereals, is a good way of protecting teeth. Try drinking a glass after eating sweet foods such as cake, chocolate or ice-cream.
So there’s our top 7. There are also other foods that can help promote healthy teeth. A good example of this is cranberries which contain similar polyphenols to tea. By including simple foods like these in your diet you can help keep your teeth looking good and healthy without too much effort.
It’s also a good idea to get the whole family used to eating these types of foods. Children should have things like carrot sticks and apples added to their school lunchbox, as well as cubes of cheese and small bags of raisins. Drinking a glass of milk after breakfast is also a good habit to get into.
When cooking family meals, remember to always include some with high vitamin content such as calcium and phosphorous. Once you get used to cooking regularly with these types of food, you will find it takes no more time than popping a pizza into the oven.
On your next visit to the dentist, you should also find that your teeth are in far better condition and will not need to be treated with fillings, or even worse, extractions.
Would you like to discuss the health of your teeth with one of our dentists? If so, get in touch with one of our experts today. Alternatively, complete the form below to sign up for a consultation with one of our dental experts.
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