Good and Worst Foods for Teeth
We eat for a lot of reasons. Because we are hungry, we eat what we like, we eat what tastes good or we eat healthy for our bodies. But when, if ever, do we eat for our teeth? Do you ever even think about your teeth when making food choices? Now, we talk about the foods for teeth.
When it comes to food, your teeth are the first to be affected. And your teeth do have enemies. It’s important to know what foods are good for your mouth and which ones can have negative effects on your teeth and gums.
Let’s first talk about sugar. Is it one of the worst foods for teeth? That grainy white stuff you dump in your coffee — Yep, not nice for your teeth. Eating candy or candy bars, sucking on a lollipop, eating cake or cookies — all of this is detrimental to your teeth. You may have a lot of fillings in your mouth because you had cavities in your younger years. Maybe because you had too much sugar as a child and into your young adulthood. Keep in mind that a little bit of natural sugar is okay but things like agave nectar, Stevia and artificial sweeteners don’t contribute to decay like good old-fashioned sugar does.
Note that chemical-based artificial sweeteners may not be good for us so they should be consumed in very limited quantity. Just a dash of Splenda rather than a whole pack is the way to go. But play around with different sweeteners and figure out what works for you.
Now let’s talk about the crunchy stuff. Decay starts with bacteria and so any foods that cut back bacteria are good foods for teeth. Sugar — you guessed it — actually contributes to bacteria growth. But things that we crunch like celery, carrots, apples and cucumbers will not only fight bacteria in our mouth by producing saliva, but they also help keep plaque from forming on your teeth and at the gum line. Get in the habit of crunching one fruit a day, ideally in the morning. Why? Because eating fruit at night — which has a good amount of sugar in it — means you don’t burn it off and the sugar becomes fattening for you. Better to eat sugary foods earlier in the day so that you burn the calories.
And of course we are going to talk about dairy. You need calcium not just for strong teeth but also for strong bones. Many people are calcium deficient. Do you eat enough yogurt, milk, and cheese? Maybe a little ice cream now and then – but again, choose ones that are low in sugar. Sunflower seeds are actually very high in calcium and they promote building tooth enamel so try snacking on them once in a while.
Let’s talk about beverages now. Are you consuming sugary beverages like lemonade, sweetened iced tea, energy drinks, Gatorade, sodas? Alas, these are not your friends. Not only are they bad for your teeth and potentially cause cavities but they put too much sugar in our body. Sugar has been linked to all kinds of health problems and should be consumed in very small quantities. Keep this in mind when making beverage choices. Try having water with just a small amount of fruit juice or lemonade mixed in. Drink light iced tea and add ice and lemon. It’s important to make good beverage choices. Coffee of course stains your teeth as do any dark beverages so try limiting them and replacing them with lighter colored beverages if you’re concerned about white teeth. Green tea is a perfect substitute.
Now keep in mind that some foods can actually wedge in between your teeth more easily than others. Things like breads, crackers and potato chips can leave small particles in the cracks of your teeth and you don’t even know it. They create a perfect home for bacteria. This is why flossing is so important.
At the end of the day it is up to you to take care of your teeth and avoid decay. As New York City’s root canal specialists, we’ve seen our share of decay. We know what foods can do to our precious teeth. So, take care of your teeth, New York! Toss out the candy bar and have celery with peanut butter or apples with a bit of almond butter instead. Thanks for reading.