The same advice that people get when they’re trying to lose weight applies to good dental care – eat less sugar, replace it with healthy foods and throw in a solid mix of antioxidants that boost the immune system and ward off illnesses.
As your dentist has probably told you, sugar is harmful to teeth because it leaves behind bacteria that can inflame gums and cause decay in tooth enamel. But trying to limit sugar isn’t enough to reduce disease and inflammation, which is linked to heart disease, cancer and other conditions.
Antioxidants are found in many fruits, vegetables and dairy products that are among the healthiest for the body and teeth. Eating more foods that contain them has been shown to improve dental health as well as reduce inflammation in the body.
If your aim is to eat foods that will save money at the dentist, focus on reducing sugar and adding antioxidants to the daily diet. Another way to cope with the high cost of dentist visits, especially if you have no dental insurance, is to look intodental savings plans, which can help you pay reduced prices for dental services.
Between trips to the dentist, eating healthy foods is an excellent way to ensure good oral health. And it’s not difficult to do. You’d be amazed at how many foods that you’re probably already eating regularly that can bolster your system against illness.
Among the best known antioxidants are beta-carotene, lutein, lycopene, vitamin C, selenium and vitamin E. They can be found in a wide range of fruits – especially berries – and vegetables that include sweet potatoes, carrots, squash and greens. Other foods such as milk and almonds have a good share of antioxidants as well.
Add in a Crunch
Remember two words – crunch and calcium – when looking for ways to limit tooth decay. Healthy, crunchy foods like carrot sticks and apples keep plaque from building up on teeth while a good portion of calcium will help strengthen them. Another bonus of crunchy foods are that they also can help remove stains on teeth from coffee, tea and red wine.
Then there are foods that contain lots of calcium and phosphorus – dairy products, nuts and chicken – that have a unique ability to “remineralize” teeth. That’s a natural process that redeposits those minerals onto the tooth enamel that are removed by acidic foods.
In addition, fruits and vegetables also have high water content that can dilute the effect of sugar and acids and stimulate saliva to wash away food particles. If you’re not on board with the idea of giving up citrus fruits and tomatoes, try eating them with foods that reduce the effect of the acids they contain.
Beware of Harmful Snacks
Consuming sugar slowly, both liquid and solids, does the most harm to teeth. Sipping a sugary beverage over a lengthy period, for instance, continuously coats the teeth with sugar, similar to sucking candies or even cough drops, which are also high in sugar content.
Some foods can stick to the teeth and allow bacteria to multiply in the mouth. Candies, sugary desserts and pastries, dried fruits and starchy foods such as potato chips, pretzels and french fries are among the culprits.
For snacking between meals, cheese, plain yogurt and firm fruit are the best bets. Because they aren’t digested in the same way, sugar substitutes added to food and beverages won’t increase bacteria in the mouth as sugar does. Another healthy alternative is a handful of nuts. Peanuts and almonds contain calcium, and walnuts have a host of minerals as well as fiber. Cashews even stimulate saliva to help clean teeth.
What foods do you eat regularly to keep your teeth healthy? Leave us your healthy swaps below!