One of the most rewarding aspects of the dental profession comes from helping patients and their families make sound choices about how they care for their teeth and approach their overall oral health. Over the years, we’ve spoken at length about brushing, flossing, and regular dental check-ups and cleanings. It’s probably safe to say that every practicing dentist administers pretty-much the same oral care advice. But there’s one aspect about caring for your teeth (and your children’s teeth) that may fall by the wayside in some dental offices. It’s something that can have a dramatic effect on your teeth, as well as your overall health. Therefore, we thought this article would be a great way to introduce healthy eating – as it specifically relates to the health of your teeth.
How do certain foods affect my teeth? Good question! Let’s look at a few essential ingredients for healthy teeth. These include Calcium, Phosphorus, and Water.
We’ll start with the easy stuff. Your teeth need calcium to protect tooth enamel. One of the most common forms of calcium in a typical American diet comes from cheese, milk, almonds, and yogurt. All are kid-friendly! You also need phosphorus to stimulate proper cell functions and regulate calcium. Some great (and tasty) sources for phosphorus include oat bran, pumpkin or sunflower seeds, roasted soybeans (edamame), low-fat or skim milk, and Parmesan or Romano cheese. And if your kids are open to new foods, these are pretty easy suggestions.
But what about water? We’re glad you asked. Water is essential to good health. Water makes up around 60% of your body, and it’s an essential element for proper functioning in every internal system. The additional benefit to drinking water in the United States is that it may help to prevent cavities in both children and adults – due to the simple fact that it has been fluoridated in many U.S. cities. But sometimes, water isn’t enough. From what we know about the importance of calcium and phosphorus, we can honestly say that the best beverages for your teeth are water and low-fat or skim milk. For adults who just can’t get through the day without a little bit of caffeine, it’s safe to say that unsweetened tea (especially green tea) is a fair choice. For kids, eliminating (or seriously limiting) soda pop, sweetened fruit juices, energy drinks, and other sugary beverages from their diet will not only reduce a great amount of decay-causing acids, but their daily calorie intake as well!
So, to round-out this conversation, let’s take a look at a selection of other foods that are tasty, healthy, and offer additional benefits to your children’s teeth.
The Top 10 Beneficial Foods for your Teeth:
- Celery – a natural tooth brush that stimulates beneficial saliva that kills bacteria in the mouth.
- Hard cheeses – loaded with calcium and phosphorus, these make a great snack that is also great for the health of your teeth and bones.
- Milk – for the same reason as hard cheese, milk is a super-food for the teeth.
- Bananas – high in magnesium, and fun to eat, bananas are a great food for healthy enamel.
- Carrots – loaded with beta-carotene, which the body turns into Vitamin A, carrots are also great for strong teeth and bones.
- Meat, and fish – are all high in phosphorus and part of any balanced diet.
- Chicken and eggs – rich in phosphorus, which combines with calcium to form Vitamin D and help protect our teeth.
- Crunchy fruits – apples and pears are full of soluble fiber and antioxidants and great for your overall body health.
- Broccoli – full of Vitamin C and Vitamin A, broccoli is a great choice for strong bones.
- Spinach – yes, with loads of antioxidants, phosphorus, Vitamin A and Vitamin K for bones, Popeye the Sailor had it right all along!
Dr. Cobb always says, “Good oral hygiene habits, combined with healthy food choices and bi-annual checkups, are the best ways to prevent tooth decay.” Eating healthy can literally change your life! If you have more questions about dental health, please come see us! Happy Holidays!