Worried about your teeth? We’ve got 6 foods to reach for that can actually help you fight cavities. Some of them help by physically removing plaque or acid, while others can make your mouth an unsupportive environment for bacteria.
All dairy products help your teeth by providing calcium and protein to strengthen your bones, teeth included. However, a study from General Dentistry published in 2013 found that cheese has an added benefit in fighting cavities. The study tested the acidity of participant’s mouthes after eating milk, sugar-free yogurt, and cheese. When pH levels in the mouth drop below 5.5, chances of cavities increase. After eating, the participants were asked to rinse with just water. Then acidity was tested at 10, 20, and 30 minutes after eating. Those participants who consumed milk or yogurt didn’t have a noticeable increase in acidity. However, those participants who consumed cheese did show a dramatic increase in mouth acidity at each interval. Some theories as to why the cheese had this impact are either because it must be chewed, which increases saliva production, or because the cheese neutralizes the plaque acidity.
Even though apples contain some natural sugars, they are chock full of fiber and provide the perfect resistance for your teeth. Crunchy foods can help develop your jaw and gently scrub plaque off your teeth. The resistance of the fruit can also help gently massage your gums and increase circulation. Try to plan to enjoy a whole apple at the end of your meal to satisfy the “dessert” craving, while also increasing salvia and scrubbing your teeth.
Yet another reason to pile the greens on your plate. Leafy greens are full of vitamins and minerals and low in calories and sugar. Leafy greens help provide the nutrition your teeth need to grow strong, without being paired with anything that could weaken your enamel. Additionally, leafy greens require chewing which stimulates saliva production.
Like apples, celery provide nutrition while also removing plaque from your teeth. Celery has the added benefit of no sugars, and the fibrous nature of the stalk helps to scrub away bacteria and plaque. Celery provides vitamins A and C which can help improve your gum health.
Unsweetened black or green tea is the best type of tea for your dental health. Black and green tea blends contain polyphenols. Polyphenols can slow the growth of bacteria in your mouth. Bacteria is the leading cause of cavities and weakened enamel. Additionally, compounds in tea can reduce the size and stickiness of dental plaque. In a recent study done at the University of Illinois at Chicago, researchers found that swishing with tea for 30 seconds 3 times a day significantly reduced dental plaque.
After meals especially, it’s important to rinse well and increase saliva production. Sugarless gum can help dislodge food and bacteria after a meal. It increases saliva production which helps to wash away particles. It’s important to find sugarless gum, preferably gum sweetened with Xylitol. You want to ensure there’s no sugar so you don’t accidentally feed the bacteria you want to starve. Additionally, xylitol has been proven to reduce the risk of cavities itself.
Of course, this list is not exhaustive. When looking for foods that support your dental health, keep these things in mind. You want a food that is low in sugar, high in vitamins and minerals. Try to avoid foods that neutralize your body’s natural acidity. Fiber is helpful to gently scrub away plaque. Foods that encourage you to chew or salivate are helpful too.
What are your favorite teeth-supporting snacks? What do you do to avoid sugary foods?