Your mouth, teeth, and gums are all essential for chewing and swallowing, and they are also the first point of contact for nutrient intake. What you eat and drink impacts general health AND your teeth and gums. If your nutrition is poor, the first red flags often show up in your mouth.
Familia Dental has compiled a list of the best food (and drinks) for your dental and bodily health, and also a list of poor choices. We hope that this helps guide our readers in making healthier choices!
Best Foods for Dental Health
- Fruits and vegetables
- Strawberries - actually whiten teeth
- Pineapple - good for bad breath and it's a less acidic source of vitamin C
- Other crunchy and water-filled fruits
- All vegetables, especially carrots and leafy greens!
- Protein and dairy
- Cheese - helps clean teeth after a meal!
- Plain yogurt - fruit or candy filled yogurts contain a lot more sugar
- Nuts, especially cashews and almonds!
- Sugarless gum - good to chew after a meal
- Tap water!
Many fruits and vegetables that contain Vitamin C are also acidic (think citrus). Vitamin C is vital for mouth and gum health and healing, so we recommend eating acidic fruit and veggies as part of a larger meal, to limit the effects of acid on teeth.
Worst Foods for Dental Health
- Bread, especially white bread, and PB&J sandwiches, which are sticky and sugary!
- Potato chips, popcorn and other starchy, crunchy snacks get stuck in teeth and form a paste that turns into sugar.
- All sour, chewy, or hard candy
- Alcohol: white wine is especially sugary and acidic. Alcohol causes dry mouth.
- Sports drinks, soda, lemonade
- Bottled water - there's no regulation over purification or sourcing
- Caffeinated tea and coffee cause dry mouth.
- Items that seem healthy
- Ice - causes cracks and breakage
- Dried fruit is like candy, sticky and sugary
- Canned fruit sits in syrup and has more sugar than fresh fruit
- Beets and berries because they stain teeth
- Curries because they stain teeth
- Pasta sauce stains teeth and contains a lot of acid from tomatoes
- Corn on the cob - can cause breakage and get stuck easily; cut it off the cob first!
- Cough drops often contain as much sugar as candy; try tea or soup instead!
The Question of Snacking
For dental health, it’s recommended that people limit food and beverage intake between meals. Of course, sometimes eating between meals must happen. Many people choose foods like soda, candy and chips for snacks; foods that harm teeth by promoting tooth decay. If you do snack, make it a nutritious choice—such as cheese, yogurt, fruits, vegetables or nuts—for your overall health and the health of your teeth. Additionally, drinking fluoridated water in between meals will help you feel more full, will freshen and clean your mouth, and improve the appearance of your skin. That's what we call a win-win-win!
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