We’re all aware of the importance of keeping our mouth and teeth clean to prevent the build-up of dental plaque, which leads to tooth cavities and gum disease. Brushing twice a day – in the morning and last thing at night – along with flossing, are the cornerstones of a good oral hygiene regime. For additional protection from plaque bacteria, mouthwashes, or products for cleaning dental appliances, such as clear aligners or dentures (if you wear them) are also helpful. However, what we eat and drink can also play a big role in our oral health. Improve yours with these 7 nutritional tips.
Nuts offer health benefits to your teeth because they are packed with essential elements, like calcium and phosphorus which are the building blocks of tooth enamel. Almonds, brazil nuts and cashews may be especially interesting as they have been suggested to fight bacteria responsible for tooth decay. Chewing them also helps stimulate saliva which has a protective effect in respect of tooth decay.
Nuts are also high in protein, Protein helps to repair tissue and is an important component in bone mineral density. Low levels of bone density are associated with osteoporosis. Leading scientists believe there may be a link between osteoporosis and bone loss in the jaw – a leading cause of tooth loss. Nuts can also increase your intake of vitamin D to support your bone health. However, hard foods, such as nuts, can damage your teeth, and can even fracture them, as well as damage dental appliances, such as braces. So, always chew hard foods with care to prevent emergency dental treatment in the event of harm to your teeth or braces.
2. Cheese and Dairy Produce
As mentioned above, calcium and phosphorus are important to bone health and to the health of your tooth enamel. They are found in cheese, milk, yogurt, and other dairy produce. The body doesn’t produce calcium, so it is crucial you provide it from dietary sources. Research also shows that cheese may stimulate saliva production, which helps to wash away harmful bacteria, as well as buffer the pH in the mouth – helping to protect teeth from acid attack. .
As dairy products contain calcium and phosphate, which are important in remineralizing teeth and they can help rebuilding tooth enamel to keep them strong.
Fresh fruits and vegetables play a big role in maintaining good oral health
3. Fiber-Rich Fruit and Vegetables
The American Dental Association states that fiber-rich foods can help to keep the gums and teeth clean. If you cannot clean your teeth following a meal, eating fruit and vegetables can increase saliva in the mouth, which is the body’s natural defense against tooth cavities. Saliva begins to reduce the effects of the acid that attacks teeth and gums after around 20 minutes
Black and green teas are high in polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that can reduce the risk of chronic disease. These micronutrients can have benefits in the body, including reducing inflammation. Inflammation is one of the symptoms of gum disease. Studies have also shown that polyphenols may protect against oral cancer and dental caries as well.
5. Pulses and Legumes
Common legumes include lentils, beans, chickpeas, peanuts, soybeans, and peas. They all contain magnesium and zinc, both of which are good for oral health. Magnesium helps to remineralize tooth enamel and protect teeth from decay.
Zinc is a mineral with antioxidant properties. Researchers found that zinc starved streptococcus pneumonia bacteria by preventing its uptake of an essential metal. There is also evidence that zinc may inhibit inflammation, which is a symptom of gum disease.
6. Fatty Fish
Fatty fish is an important food in many healthy diets, as it’s high in vitamin D. This nutrient has so many benefits, and one of them includes reducing your risk for tooth decay! Vitamin D works with vitamins A and K2 to deliver calcium to the teeth, which strengthens them. If you have a deficiency of any one of these nutrients then this could lead to weakened enamel, which can ultimately cause more serious dental problems – such as cavities.
Fatty fish are excellent sources for both omega-3 fatty acids (which reduce inflammation) and essential minerals such as magnesium that work together with DHA (a type of Omega 3 fat found naturally occurring only in animal products). Omega-3 fats support gum health and may even help prevent and reduce inflammation of the periodontal tissue (gum disease), which affects nearly half of adults in the United States. So, if your gums bleed regularly when you are brushing your teeth or flossing, consider increasing your intake of these healthy fatty acids for a reduced risk! Some examples of fatty fish include tuna, mackerel, and salmon.
7. Chewing Gum
Chewing sugar free gum is a great way to freshen your breath and increase saliva production. The act of chewing stimulates the muscles in our jaw, which causes us to produce more saliva than usual. If we chew this after meals, the increased salivary flow can help neutralize the acids from food and bacteria on our teeth, before they cause cavities or irritate the gums. The act of chewing also stimulates the jawbone – which can help to keep the bone healthy and prevent tooth loss.
Follow these tips to help improve your oral health, by adding these foods to your diet, replacing bad choices that damage your oral and general health. Remember to drink plenty of water throughout the day to help prevent a dry mouth, and prevent the buildup of bacteria that can cause cavities, gum disease, and bad breath.
Amanda at Rockwest Dental is contributing to this blog. She has worked in the healthcare sector for over 20 years, including a decade in the United Kingdom’s National Health Service. With considerable knowledge of the fields of dentistry and oral health, she has many years of experience writing high-quality, informative dental content.