Health professionals talk a lot about preventative care, which usually takes the form of daily oral hygiene and regular visits to Dugger Dentistry (the best West Linn dentist!)
But did you know that diet is also a critical part of preventative dental care? Eating right gives your body the vitamins and minerals it needs to maintain optimal oral health. Plus, staying healthy ensures that other health problems– problems that can affect your smile– never get a chance to develop.
So what does eating for great dental health look like?
One of the most important jobs your mouth has to do to stay healthy is to keep your dental enamel well-mineralized. This ensures that your teeth constantly have rock-hard protection against wear, tear, and daily attacks by bacteria– whose acidic byproducts damage dental enamel.
Therefore, foods high in calcium and phosphorous also give your teeth a healthy boost (as well as your bones). Some rich sources of these minerals are:
- dairy products, like milk, yogurt, and especially cheese (and, in addition, cheese has been shown to raise the pH of your mouth by stimulating saliva production, an even bigger boost!).
- Whole, unsalted nuts are another great source of minerals– and protein.
- You can also try chicken or turkey for a great source of phosphorous.
And don’t forget veggies
Crunchy fruits and vegetables are another dentally delicious option. The adage “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” actually has truth to it: apple (and other crunchy fruits and vegetables) cleans gums and teeth, and its high water content stimulates saliva and dilutes its natural sugars, making it an excellent snack.
For a crunchy bite, try celery with peanut butter, whole pears, and carrot sticks!
Tricks of the trade
An acidic oral environment leads to cavities. But there are many acidic foods out there that aren’t only delicious– they’re good for you! To enjoy acidic foods like tomatoes, lemon juice, oranges or grapefruit, try combining them with water or more basic ingredients, such as grains or cheese. For instance, eat your fresh tomatoes with a big slice of mozzarella for a mouth-healthy snack!
The dental diet drink list is a bit small: water, milk, and unsweetened tea are all the best beverages for oral health. Water washes your mouth out as well as working to neutralize acid. Milk provides those critical vitamins and minerals, and tea is neutralizes the mouth as well providing antioxidants.
When it comes to drinks, the list of what to avoid is quite a bit longer. Most drinks out there are either highly acidic (such as orange juice) or high in sugar (this would be almost all fruit juices) or both (like soda: scourge of dental health.) All these types of drinks damage enamel and feed bacteria– your smile is better off without them!