Best Foods for Your Teeth: Fruits and Vegetables Edition
The foods that we eat have a direct impact on their overall health and more surprisingly, the health of our teeth and gums.
If you or your children are in the habit of eating junk food daily, it's not fair to expect healthy teeth. Remember, tooth decay is the single most common chronic childhood disease in the US, and researchers have traced it to the increased consumption of junk foods, sugary snacks, carbonated drinks, and sodas among children.
The good news is that tooth decay is nearly 100% preventable. All you have to do is maintain a healthy, balanced diet and follow a good daily dental care routine. So, what are the best foods for our teeth? Here are a few:
Encourage your children to eat a lot of fruits, especially those with high water content, such as apples, pears, melons, and cucumbers. Like apples, pears are an excellent alternative to sugary and starchy snacks. They’re high in water content, which dilutes their sugars. Their water content and crunchy texture stimulates saliva, which allows bacteria and food particles to be rinsed away.
Unlike many other vitamin C-rich fruits, such as lemons and limes, pears can be up to 100 times less acidic. This means they’re less likely to damage tooth enamel. It also means they can help reduce the acidity of plaque, which helps prevent tooth decay.
Remember that dried fruits don’t have equal nutrition value to fresh fruits. Dried fruits provide lots of fiber and antioxidants. But, it’s also high in sugar and calories. They consistency is also sticky and soft, perfect for sticking to the grooves in our teeth. If we don’t properly brush and floss after eating them, they can lead to tooth decay and cavities.
Additionally, whole fruits are much better for us than fruit juice. Fruit juice is a concentrated source of sugar, and the juicing process can remove the beneficial fiber found in whole fruit. If you do drink fruit juice, swish with water immediately after.
Blueberries are one of nature’s superfoods – they provide Vitamin C, K, manganese, fiber, and antioxidants. Their vibrant color is a good indicator of their nutritional content. But their violet coloring can leave super stains on your tooth enamel. Other delicious berries such as strawberries, raspberries and blackberries can also stain your teeth. Be sure to brush your teeth (or rinse with water if your toothbrush isn’t handy) right after enjoying berries.
Leafy greens provide us with special nutrients like folate, zinc, calcium, iron, magnesium, vitamin C and fiber. These help us build strong bodies that fight disease and lowers our risks of heart disease and inflammation. Dark green leafy vegetables like kale, chard, collard greens, and spinach can sometimes taste bitter, so spicing things up with pepper, garlic, and your favorite spices is recommended.
Colorful veggies are so good for healthy mouths and bodies. Experts recommend eating at least 5 servings of vegetables a day. But, unfortunately, most Americans only consume 1.5 servings. Corn, squash, bell peppers, and golden beets are all bright, flavorful options with diverse flavors and benefits. Try one, try them all, and find out which are your favorite!
For more foods that benefit our smiles, check out: