What are the best foods and drinks for a healthy mouth? In general, what’s good for your body is also good for your teeth. For example, foods that are high in nutrients, vitamins, fiber and water content all tend to be great for both general and oral health. And the reverse is true, too – foods that are bad for your body, such as sugary and starchy foods with little nutritional value, are bad for oral health as well. Let’s take a look at some of the very best food and drink choices for a healthy mouth!
Best Foods For Oral Health
Low fat milk, cheeses, and plain yogurt are all fantastic sources of calcium, which is an essential mineral for our teeth to stay strong. Many cheeses also decrease the amount of acid in the mouth and on teeth while increasing saliva production, and some even contain compounds that form a protective barrier on teeth. If you are lactose intolerant or simply don’t like dairy, you can still get plenty of calcium with non-dairy foods and drinks, such as: calcium-fortified nut milks, tofu, beans and nuts, canned sardines and salmon, and dark leafy greens.
Fruits & Veggies
Virtually every health professional in the world will recommend more fresh fruits and vegetables in your diet! Fruits and veggies provide an extraordinary amount of essential nutrients, vitamins and minerals for maintaining good health, and are fantastic building blocks for a diet that benefits the entire body. For dental health in particular, we love crunchy, fiber-rich choices like apples, carrots and celery. Crunching on these fruits and veggies is a great way to instantly “scrub” your teeth while stimulating your gums and increasing saliva production.
While leafy greens fall under the “vegetables” category, they deserve to be featured in their own right for their fantastic oral health benefits! Leafy greens like kale, spinach, collard greens and swiss chard are incredibly nutrient-dense while being very low in calories. They are high in fiber, calcium, magnesium, folic acid, and B vitamins, and help to: fortify tooth enamel, reduce inflammation in the gums, and reduce the risk of gum disease, tooth decay and bad breath. Enjoy all the leafy greens you want! There are endless applications for leafy greens in food, such as lightly steamed or sauteed with garlic, in salads, smoothies, juices, side dishes, soups, sauces, and so much more.
Lean Proteins & Nuts
In addition to essential minerals and vitamins like calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins C and D, dietary protein is important for healthy teeth and jaws. Protein helps repair tissue and build bone and is an important component in bone mineral density (BMD), which is believed to be linked to dental health issues like weakened periodontal ligaments and bone loss in the jaw. Good choices for lean proteins include a moderate amount of lean meat, fish, poultry, tofu, and nuts. Nuts have the added bonus of being high in calcium and low in sugar, and chewing on them has the added bonus of increasing saliva production, which helps lower acidity levels in the mouth and rinse away sugars and food debris.
Chewing gum can be fantastic for your teeth, as long as it’s sugarless gum! The act of chewing gum increases the production of saliva, which is vitally important for neutralizing acids in the mouth and preventing bad breath and tooth decay. Chewing on gum with sugar negates any positive effects, since the sugar would only provide a feast for the bacteria in your mouth and increase your risk of cavities. We especially recommend gum sweetened with xylitol – a plant-derived sweetener that neutralizes the pH balance of your mouth and is indigestible by bacteria. This means that bacteria cannot stick to teeth as well, plus the growth and acid-production of bacteria in the mouth is greatly reduced. Choose gum sweetened with xylitol!
Best Drinks For Oral Health
Water is the healthiest drink on earth, and many of those health benefits begin right in the mouth! Drinking fluoridated water in particular helps remineralize and strengthen teeth, protecting them from cavities. Staying well hydrated also helps maintain healthy saliva production – which in turn is incredibly important for keeping the mouth clean, combating dry mouth, staving off bad breath, neutralizing acids in the mouth and preventing tooth decay. In addition, drinking water during and after meals helps flush out bacteria and food debris from your mouth, while also helping to prevent staining and increasing saliva production.
Unsweetened Black & Green Teas
Both green and black teas naturally contain fluoride (which we already know helps strengthen teeth) and natural plant compounds called polyphenols. Polyphenols help suppress bacteria in the mouth, which means decreased acid-production and reduced risk of tooth decay. Studies on green tea in particular have shown that its potent antibacterial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties can help: lower the acidity of saliva and dental plaque, prevent and protect against cavities, reduce gingivitis (the earliest stage of gum disease), help bad breath (even out performing mints and gum!), and reduce the risk of oral cancers.
As the saying goes, “you are what you eat” – and what we eat begins, quite literally, in the mouth! Eat healthy for a healthy mouth and body!
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