There is more to keeping your teeth healthy than just brushing and flossing every day. When it comes to taking care of those pearly whites, watching what you eat is essential. Tooth decay and gum diseases can take a long time to develop, and as such, they can go unnoticed before we realize that there is a problem. This is why knowing which foods benefit and harm our teeth can help us prevent a lot of pain, and expensive visits to the dentist.
- Apples: It is for various reasons that apples are on this list. The action of eating an apple produces enough saliva in your mouth to rinse away bacteria and food particles. Its fibrous texture can also stimulate the gums, while the fiber it contains can help remove traces of stains and plaque on your teeth.
- Celery: Along with other crunchy veggies, such as carrots, celery can protect your teeth in two ways. The extra chewing that celery demands produces plenty of saliva, which neutralizes the bacteria that cause cavities. Additionally, its texture makes it naturally abrasive, meaning it gently scrubs and cleans other food particles off your teeth.
- Leafy Greens: The reason why leafy greens, like kale and spinach, can promote healthier teeth is because they are high in calcium, which builds your teeth’s enamel. They are also rich in folate, which can be particularly beneficial for pregnant women, given that it can treat periodontal disease.
- Strawberries: These berries contain malic acid, which helps to soften and dissolve stains on your teeth. They are also brimming with vitamin C, an antioxidant that is necessary for the production of collagen, a key protein that maintains strength of your gums.
- Chewy Candy: The stickier the candy, the worse it tends to be for your teeth. Candies like taffy or caramels stick to (and between) teeth for a long time, allowing bacteria in the mouth to leisurely feast on the remaining sugar. As a result, bacteria burns sugar to create acid, which dissolves the protective layer of tooth enamel, and causes cavities.
- Pickles: As tasty as they may be for many people, pickles contain vinegar, which is highly acidic. This can demineralize your teeth, causing erosion and long-term damage.
- Dried Fruits: Although they are still better than processed fruit snacks, and are used by many as a complement to their diet, dried fruits are still very sticky and high in sugar. They are like chewy candy, adhering to the teeth, and promoting dental erosion. If you eat dried fruit, strive to only purchase unsulfured varieties that don’t contain added sugars or other preservatives.
- Crackers: Along with starchy foods, the refined carbs found in saltines and other types of crackers convert to sugar in the mouth very quickly, providing food for cavity-forming bacteria. Crackers also become mushy when chewed, turning into a paste-like substance that builds up in your molars.
- Citrus Fruits and Juices (in excess): Citrus fruits are beneficial in many ways. They are rich in vitamins and nutrients that are essential for the body. However, consuming sugary fruit juices (particularly grapefruit and lemonade) in excess can erode tooth enamel over time due to the high sugar and acid content.