We’ve all been told to avoid sugary and acidic foods and drinks, but many of us may be unaware of what we can eat that could increase our oral health. It turns out, there’s a number of foods we can add to our diets to promote healthier teeth and gums. While what we eat can’t replace the importance of receiving regular preventive care from a dentist, it can certainly help decrease our risks for common oral health conditions.
Below are five foods you should incorporate in your diet to promote healthier teeth and gums.
You might be aware of how calcium can strengthen teeth, but you may not know that phosphorus is another important mineral related to dental health. Our tooth enamel consists of many minerals, but two of the most important are calcium and phosphorus. Eggs contain high concentrations of phosphorus. They’re also a source of Vitamin D, which helps our bodies absorb calcium. Incorporating eggs a few times a week into your breakfasts could help keep your tooth enamel healthy and strong.
Chocolate is not usually considered a healthy food. However, there are different types of chocolate. Milk and white chocolate are full of sugar. But since it contains tannins and antioxidants, dark chocolate can actually inhibit the growth of bacteria. It also has a chemical called theobromine that can harden tooth enamel and has health benefits for your heart. Dark chocolate’s benefits shouldn’t be misconstrued as a free license to eat candy bars everyday, but coating fresh fruit in dark chocolate is certainly a healthier choice for an indulgent treat.
Alcohol-based sweeteners do not have the same effect as sugar on oral bacteria. One alcohol-based sweetener, xylitol, is actually good for controlling harmful bacteria like s. mutans—the specific bacteria that causes cavities. Xylitol tricks oral bacteria into thinking it is a food source, but unlike real sugar, xylitol starves bacteria. We recommend using xylitol breath mints and/or chewing gum on a regular basis to reap the benefits of this cavity-fighting ingredient.
Most people know that dairy is a great source of protein and calcium. One way to increase your calcium intake is to incorporate cheese into your diet. Cheese is a great food to eat for your oral health because it also neutralizes acid, which can help you maintain a healthy oral pH. Cheese does contain fat and cholesterol, however, so it’s wise to consume appropriate portions to avoid unwanted weight gain or potential cardiovascular issues.
Like cheese, kale is a great source of calcium and a number of other crucial nutrients. What is unique about kale is that it requires plenty of chewing. This has the same effect on your teeth that sugar free gums do. The excess saliva production needed to break down kale loosens food particles and neutralizes acid in your mouth.
In addition to practicing great oral hygiene and receiving routine checkups, eating a healthy and balanced diet can do wonders for your oral health. If it’s time for a checkup or cleaning, give our Lafayette dental office a call today at (337) 234-2186 to reserve an appointment with our gentle dentist, Dr. Chauvin.