The Best and the Worst Foods for Your Oral Health

The Best and the Worst Foods for Your Oral Health

We’ve all heard that certain foods are better than others for your overall health. Choose an apple over candy for a sweet treat, grab whole-grain bread over white, and replace caffeinated soda with green tea or flavored water. 

Eat better = Feel better. It’s a pretty common message we see across all forms of media. 

But did you know that certain foods are specifically better for your teeth than others? Certain foods and beverages bring an increased risk of plaque, and over time, cause some severe damage to your teeth. 

We’re going to break down some of the worst foods and beverages for your teeth health, along with some of the best, so you can make better, informed decisions for your oral health in 2021!  

The Bad Guys

Soda and Energy Drinks

These carbonated drinks are the worst of the worst. Soda and energy drinks are full of syrupy sugars that will stick to your teeth and cause bacteria to grow in large quantities. Beyond the high sugar count, the carbonation and high acidity levels will further damage tooth enamel, making your mouth susceptible to all kinds of bacteria growth. Before you start thinking that reaching for drinks that say “diet” on them is better - think again. These drinks still have high levels of acidity, so if you sip on them throughout the day or even drink them in a single sitting, you’re essentially coating your teeth in acid. (That sounds as bad as it is)! 

Sticky and Sour Candies 

We’re sure it doesn’t come as a shock that candy is bad for teeth. Sour candy and sticky candy contain more acids than other candies and stick to your teeth for long periods - allowing bacteria and decay to form. If you’re craving sweets, try chocolate or other candies that easily wash away instead. 

Ice 

Ice should only be used for chilling, not for chewing. Some people think that ice is good for their teeth - after all, it’s just water, and it could help rinse off their teeth. That belief is misguided at best. Chewing on any hard surface, ice included, can leave your teeth vulnerable to damaged enamel and dental emergencies such as a cracked tooth. It’s best to enjoy ice in its liquid form only. 

Popcorn 

It’s the most common go-to movie-watching snack, but it’s also a common tooth-damaging snack. The puffy popcorn particles often get lodged in your teeth and generate massive amounts of bacteria. The crunchy kernels left at the bottom of the bowl can also cause cracked teeth, and the sharp hulls can cut up your gums. That’s three major concerns from just one little snack! 

Alcohol 

How many times have you spent a night out drinking and woke up the next day with your mouth feeling like a desert? Alcohol dries your mouth out and decreases your natural saliva production. Saliva helps wash away food particles and bacteria in your mouth, so when saliva isn’t being produced, bacteria will grow. If you do want to enjoy a drink or two on occasion, make sure to sip water in between to help flush out your mouth and keep it hydrated. 

The Good Guys 

Dairy Products

Dairy increases saliva production in your mouth - and as previously stated, saliva helps keep your mouth healthy! Additionally, the calcium found in most dairy products helps remineralize your teeth and rebuild tooth enamel.  

Sugarless Gum 

While sugary gum is horrible for your teeth, sugarless gum can help keep your teeth healthier! Chewing gum creates more saliva and removes food particles stuck in your teeth. Just make sure that the gum you choose is sugar-free! 

Super Crunchy Vegetables 

Crunchy vegetables such as celery and carrots help clean teeth surfaces because of their consistency and require a lot of chewing. These crunchy foods contain a lot of water and act like natural teeth cleaners because they stimulate the salivary glands in your mouth. They’re also packed with vitamins and minerals that help keep your body healthy as well as keeping your teeth healthy. It’s a win-win! 

Leafy Greens

Overall, having a diet high in vegetables will provide your oral health with a lot of support. Leafy greens, specifically, also take a good amount of chewing to fully breakdown. Greens like spinach, lettuce, and kale will generate more saliva as you chew, helping to clean your teeth naturally.

Water 

Unlike any other drink on the market, water is the healthiest drink option available. Staying hydrated helps the systems in our bodies work effectively and efficiently. When these systems are working correctly, our bodies can distribute healthy nutrients, remove waste, create healthy and glowing skin and keep our muscles moving! Drinking water also helps your teeth stay healthy, too. Water helps wash away food particles and bacteria and aids in keeping your salivary glands working properly. Increase the power of water even further by drinking fluoride water. You’ll be fighting cavities while staying hydrated at the same time! 

In general, foods that are good for your body are also good for your oral health. When you choose what foods to eat in your day-to-day life, remember this list and work to maintain your complete health and oral health. If you have more questions about how diet and your teeth are interconnected, ask the team at CNS Dental at your next bi-annual cleaning, and they’ll be happy to help you!