What you eat has an impact on every aspect of your health, including your oral health. Our team at Bucktown Wicker Park Dental in Chicago, Illinois, recommend that you keep an eye on your diet and ensure you’re eating foods that are both good for you and not damaging to your teeth.
While we all know that sugary drinks and snacks aren’t good for your teeth and increase your risk for cavities, there are many other foods that can interfere with the long-term health of your teeth and gums.
Here’s an overview of some of the best and the worst foods for your oral health.
The best foods for good oral health
There are a number of foods that support long-term tooth and gum health including:
Fiber-rich foods, like fruits and vegetables, actively work to keep your teeth and gums clean. When you eat fiber-rich foods, you produce more saliva. This is important because saliva breaks down the starches, sugars, and acids in the foods that can attack your teeth.
Your saliva also has particles of phosphate and calcium that help restore lost minerals in your teeth.
Foods rich in calcium, such as milk, cheese, and plain yogurt, also stimulate the production of saliva to replace minerals in your teeth and rebuild your teeth’s protective enamel.
Foods with fluoride
Fluoride found in drinking water helps protect your teeth. But you can also get fluoride from powdered juices, dehydrated soups, and poultry and seafood products. To get optimal results, be sure to stay aware of the sugar content in these same products.
Black and green teas have polyphenols, a substance that can kill bacteria and prevent it from growing on your teeth. The water you use to make the tea may also contain fluoride, further boosting your cavity-fighting results.
Sugar-free gum is an alternative to brushing after meals if you don’t have access to your toothbrush. Chewing gum helps remove food particles in your mouth and in between your teeth.
The worst foods for your oral health
In addition to sugary foods and drinks, there are several foods that you should limit or avoid to maintain good oral health including:
Acidic foods, like lemons, oranges, and pickles, can prematurely break down your teeth’s protective enamel. While it’s okay to eat these foods from time to time, it’s best to limit how much you consume to protect your oral health.
Starchy products like bread might taste good but also get caught in your teeth. Even with regular brushing and flossing, you might not be able to remove all of these particles effectively and can end up with cavities.
Carbonated beverages not only contain high levels of sugar, they also contain acids that can wear away your tooth enamel. You should limit how much soda and other carbonated beverages you drink, and use a straw whenever possible to preserve your enamel.
Alcohol can dry out your mouth and reduce the amount of saliva you make to flush out food particles from between your teeth. There are certain medications that can also have the same effect.
If you have persistent dry mouth, there are products you can use to combat it. Our team at Bucktown Wicker Park Dental can tell you all about them and recommend a good choice for you.
Hard foods, like candy and pretzels, can increase your risk for chipping or breaking your teeth. Hard foods also take longer to chew and dissolve, so they have more time to produce cavity-causing bacteria.
Coffee can not only dull and stain your teeth brown, the resulting stains can attract more bacteria and food particles that can lead to cavities.
You can address the discoloration with professional teeth whitening, but if you continue drinking your daily cup of joe, the stains can come back. It's better to change your habits by drinking less coffee and more water to keep your smile bright and healthy.
Don’t skip out on regular teeth cleanings
No matter what you eat or how often your brush, the best way to protect your teeth is through professional teeth cleanings at Bucktown Wicker Park Dental .
Teeth cleanings help to remove the bacteria and plaque that clings to your teeth. Plaque and its hardened form (tartar) cause cavities in your teeth and can potentially irritate your gums.
Our team recommends scheduling routine cleanings every six months in addition to improving your diet to protect and preserve your oral health.
Schedule a visit to have your teeth cleaned today by calling our office or requesting an appointment online.