How Eating the Right Foods will Boost Your Oral Health
A big part of staying fit and healthy is maintaining a balanced and nutritious diet. Just as digestion begins with the mouth, the health of your mouth starts with the foods you consume. March is National Nutrition Month, and we’re highlighting some of the best healthy foods for optimal oral health.
- Dark, Leafy Greens. In addition to the long list of positive effects dark, leafy greens have on overall health, these powerhouse health foods like kale and spinach can help maintain a great smile. These greens are high in calcium, which helps re-mineralize and strengthen tooth enamel. They involve lots of chewing, which increases saliva production, and the abrasive texture of the leaves helps scrub plaque off teeth naturally. That’s worth getting a little broccoli stuck in between your teeth!
- Crunchy Veggies. Vegetables with a nice crunch, such as celery, carrots, and cucumbers, are great for your mouth. Like leafy greens, the texture and crunchiness help clean debris and plaque off teeth—the high water content of these veggies also helps clean your teeth and helps neutralize the acids that make holes in teeth. Most of these veggies contain tons of vitamins necessary for bone health; for instance, carrots and celery contain vitamin A, which promotes saliva production and healthy mucous membranes.
- Nuts. These nutrient-rich treats contain high amounts of calcium and phosphorus. Phosphorus allows the body to readily absorb calcium, both of which promote strong teeth and healthy gums.
- Fatty fish. Fish such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna contain high levels of vitamin D. Vitamin D, like phosphorus, helps the body efficiently absorb calcium. Furthermore, a deficiency of vitamin D can lead to a serious decrease in saliva production, resulting in increased tooth decay. You can also absorb vitamin D from the sun if you have an aversion to fish.
- Fruits. Fruit is packed with fiber, vitamins, and minerals that help keep your mouth healthy. Apples are high in fiber and their texture cleans plaque from teeth. When eaten raw, pears can neutralize acids in the mouth, protecting tooth enamel. Though you wouldn’t guess it from their bright red color, strawberries can naturally whiten teeth, and kiwis are an excellent source of vitamin C!
- Dairy. Dairy is one of the best sources of calcium out there. Drinking milk or eating yogurt regularly can keep your teeth strong. If you’re a cheese-lover, hard, aged cheeses like cheddar are most beneficial for oral health.
- Spices. Sometimes you don’t need to look any further than your spice cabinet for superfoods. Garlic has antimicrobial properties, which fight tooth decay and periodontal disease. Cinnamon contains a natural oil known as cinnamic aldehyde that has been proven to destroy bacteria in the mouth. Turmeric has anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties and has been used for tooth and gum care for centuries.
- Shiitake mushrooms. Recently, there have been studies researching the healing properties of shiitake mushrooms. In regards to oral health, this variety of mushroom helps decrease bad bacteria in the mouth, while promoting the growth of good bacteria. By lessening harmful bacteria, you reduce the risk of gum disease and tooth decay.
- Green tea. Another superfood from Asia, green tea contains antioxidants known as catechins that help lower the risk of gum disease.
- Sugar-free gum. Chewing sugar-free gum can help clean teeth throughout the day, as well as temporarily freshen breath.
All of these foods can be included in a balanced, healthy diet to maintain not only superior oral health but overall health as well. Happy snacking!