When it comes to teeth, it seems like we always hear about the foods we shouldn’t eat or the beverages we shouldn’t drink because they cause cavities. But are there foods and drinks that could actually prevent tooth decay and cavities. Turns out the answer is Yes, as you’ll read in this guest post from Jon Engle.
There is more to healthy teeth than just brushing and flossing. For optimal dental health and general wellbeing, it is important to eat the right foods for your teeth. While cavities and gum disease aren’t regarded as life threatening illnesses, more studies are finding that dental health is related to other health outcomes such as heart disease, mental illness, and neurological disorders. In addition to regular dentist appointments and proper at home care, make sure you are getting enough of the following foods for the prevention of tooth decay, periodontal disease, and to increase your overall health and wellbeing.
- Cheese. Cheese is high in calcium and phosphate, both of which promote dental health by balancing the pH levels in your mouth and neutralizing acid. These minerals also preserve tooth enamel and kill cavity causing bacteria. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends dairy foods as part of a balanced diet for dental health because of their low acidity and high calcium content.
- Chili Peppers. This might come as a surprise, but red and green chili peppers are high in Vitamin C (they contain even more Vitamin C than oranges and other citrus fruits). Vitamin C helps gums stay healthy. A Vitamin C deficiency can cause bleeding gums and gum disease. Researchers at University of Miami also found that Vitamin C can decrease recovery time after dental surgery and maintain the integrity of connective tissue in your gums.
- Carrots. Vitamin A, which is found in carrots is essential for healthy tooth enamel. Carrots are also crunchy, which dental health professionals say helps to clean gums and strengthen teeth. The high fiber content present in carrots increases the production and flow of saliva.
- Tea. Green tea contains powerful antioxidants which can reduce plaque and protect your from cavities, and gum disease. Green tea has also been demonstrated to eliminate bad breath and strengthen the tooth enamel because of its high fluoride content.
- Garlic. In addition to reducing inflammation in gums, onions also contain antibacterial sulfur compounds (called allicin). Allicin has been shown to increase your immune system and kill harmful bacteria in the mouth. The health benefits of garlic increase when you eat garlic raw instead of cooking it.
- Water. In addition to facilitating saliva production, water also helps to hydrate your gums. Many dentists recommend drinking tap water for dental health because of the added fluoride. Fluoride is a primary protector against dental cavities. Fluoride makes the surface of teeth more resistant to acids during the process of remineralisation (i.e., when minerals are returned to the teeth). Water also washes away food particles that get caught in your teeth and gums.
- Eggs. Eggs contain both phosphorus and calcium. It is important to consume calcium with phosphate, otherwise it won’t absorb properly. This is why eggs are a better choice than calcium supplements for dental health. Eggs contain ratios of phosphate and calcium that are comparable to the ratios that are present in teeth. Eggs also contain Vitamin K2, which is abundant in egg yolk helps prevent tooth decay by regulating calcium.
- Fish. Vitamin D is essential for dental health and it is found in many types of fish, such as sock-eye salmon, tuna fish, herring, or cod oil (if you can handle it). You don’t need much fish, as approximately 90 percent of the RDA value is found in a single 3.5 ounce serving. Vitamin D produces a polypeptide called cathelicidin, which fights bacteria found in your mouth. For an added Vitamin D boost, put some shitake mushrooms on your fish.
Flores, M. T., Andersson, L., . . . Andreasen, J.O., et al. (2009). Guidelines for the management of traumatic dental injuries. I. Fractures and luxations of permanent teeth. Dent Traumatol, 23, 66–71.
Halberstein, R. A. (n.d.). Vitamin C and Dental Health. University of Miami: Nova, pp 57-69.
World Health Organization. Oral Health. http://www.who.int/oral_health/en/