It isn’t a stretch to say that your teeth are some of the best friends you will ever have. If you treat them right, they have a very good chance of staying with you throughout your entire life. Of course, much of that excellent maintenance has to do with brushing and flossing them on a regular basis, as well as visiting your dental care professional at least twice per year. However, there is another thing you can and should do on a regular basis to ensure the long-term health of your teeth and gums: Eat foods that will strengthen them and keep them healthy. If you’re not sure what those tooth-friendly foods may be, we’ve got you covered. Just read on;
1. Milk. This delicious, nutritious drink is packed with calcium, a mineral that promotes healthy, strong bones, including your jawbone. It helps to ward off periodontal (gum) disease, which is especially common in women. If you are concerned about clogging your arteries or elevating your cholesterol because of too much dairy, try 1% or skim milk.
2. Wild salmon. This delicious fish has gotten a tremendous amount of positive attention in recent years because of its many nutritional benefits. It contains omega-3 fatty acids, protein, amino acids and Vitamins A, B6, B and E, as well as several vital minerals. In particular, your teeth benefit from its high concentrations of Vitamin D, which helps your body to absorb and use calcium. In turn, the calcium strengthens your teeth and gums and helps to protect them from disease. Now that you know just how beneficial wild salmon is for your entire body including your teeth, you never have to feel guilty about splurging on it again.
3. Citrus fruits. You probably are already aware that oranges, grapefruit and other citrus fruits are loaded with vitamin C, but you may not have realized what a difference this vitamin can make to the staying power of your teeth. Vitamin C helps to strengthen connective tissue and blood vessels throughout your body, including those that hold your teeth tightly in your jaw. Because vitamin C also reduces inflammation, it can delay or slow down the effects of gingivitis.
4. Strawberries. Did you know that just a half a cup of these delicious berries gives you 70 percent of the vitamin C you need for the whole day? Just as with citrus fruits, the vitamin C in strawberries is great for your gums, helping them to create the protein called collagen that is so important in maintaining your gums’ strength and integrity. Every time you enjoy the tangy, sweet taste of a fresh strawberry, think about how happy your gums and teeth must be.
5. Water. Staying hydrated with simple, fresh water is one of the best things you can do for your teeth and gums. Drinking at least eight glasses every day helps to clean debris from between your teeth and stimulates production of saliva, which is your mouth’s most effective cleaning system. Saliva actually contains minerals and proteins that neutralize acids that can eat away the enamel of your teeth. Not only your internal organs and your skin benefit from hydration; your teeth need it as well. With summer right around the corner, water can be one of the best drinks to have on hand on hot days.
While sweet, fruity drinks can be tempting, remember that they are loaded with sugar and can lead to tooth decay. Not only that, but they really won’t quench your thirst. Here are a few other tooth-unfriendly foods:
1. Ice. Sure, it’s just frozen water, but chewing on it can damage the enamel of your teeth.
2. Dried fruits. Raisins, prunes and others in this category are called nature’s candy for a reason: they are high in sugars. Their stickiness means that they often get caught in the crevices of your teeth and can be the culprit in eventual tooth decay.
3. Bread and pasta. These starchy foods quickly become a sugary paste once they are chewed and can often settle in the crevices of your teeth, providing a feast for bacteria.
4. Alcohol and caffeinated beverages. It’s not the sugars in these drinks that are the problem; they all dry out your mouth, depriving it of the cleansing, acid-killing saliva that keeps tooth decay away.
Now that the warm weather is here and you’re gearing up to have a little fun, don’t get stressed if you have a piece of dried fruit or crunch on an ice cube once in awhile. The key is moderation and on-going dental diligence. Keep water handy to rinse out your mouth after a sugary snack; brush and floss your teeth at the end of a day of food and fun. And most important, remember to keep eating the foods that will keep your teeth and gums healthy. If you do, you can expect to keep your teeth for years to come.