9 Surprising Foods That Are Good for Teeth | Bracken Ridge Dental

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9 Surprising Foods That Are Good for Teeth

Most people know that foods high in sugar and acidity are bad for their teeth and can contribute to problems such as tooth decay and gum disease. But what about foods that actually help your teeth?

Calcium-rich foods such as dairy products and fortified cereals help to protect and rebuild teeth enamel, while key vitamins in many fruit and vegetables help to support teeth and gum health. However, other foods may be more surprising in their benefits.

Here are nine teeth-friendly food options that could help to strengthen your teeth and avoid cavities and fillings.

1. Crunchy fruit and veg

You might think that hard and crunchy foods such as apples, carrots and celery are bad for your teeth, but as long as your teeth are strong – and not likely to chip or crack under pressure – the action of biting and chewing high-fibre foods can help to keep your teeth clean and lower your risk of tooth decay.

As well as scrubbing your teeth, fibrous foods can also stimulate saliva production, which helps to rinse bacteria and leftover food from your teeth and neutralise plaque acids. Carrots also contain vitamin A and keratin, which help to build strong enamel and fight plaque.

2. Citrus fruits

You might be wary of oranges, lemons, grapefruit and other citrus fruits due to their acidic content, which can wear down tooth enamel over time. However, the high water content in fresh citrus fruits reduces the impact of acids and sugars on your teeth, so you can look forward to the benefits.

This includes their high vitamin C content, which strengthens blood vessels and reduces inflammation, so can help to delay the progress of gum disease.

As acids from citrus fruits can still weaken the teeth and make them more vulnerable to damage temporarily, you should rinse your mouth with water and make sure you wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth.

3. Strawberries

If you've ever had to remove strawberry stains from clothes, you'll understandably be wary about what they could do to your teeth. But unlike some other berries, strawberries don't tend to stain enamel – in fact, they can even provide natural teeth whitening, thanks to the presence of malic acid.

A downside of strawberries is that their seeds can get stuck between teeth or braces. If this happens, remove the seeds gently using floss rather than anything sharp that could scratch your teeth or cause injuries.

4. Leafy greens

The health benefits of leafy green vegetables are widely praised, but less well-known are their benefits for oral health. Greens such as kale and spinach are rich in vital vitamins and minerals, including calcium – which helps to strengthen and rebuild tooth enamel – and folic acid, which supports gum health.

5. Garlic and onions

While they may have bad effects on your breath, garlic and raw onion help to reduce bacteria in your mouth that can cause tooth decay and infections. Drinking plenty of water and keeping up a good oral hygiene routine can reduce the effects of pungent foods on your breath.

6. Fatty fish

Calcium isn't only present in dairy goods. Fatty fish such as salmon are also good sources of calcium, which helps to remineralise tooth enamel and prevent decay.

Salmon is also high in vitamin D, which helps the body to absorb calcium and enjoy its benefits. Omega-3 fatty acids in fish and fish oils can also help to lower gum disease risk.

7. Nuts and seeds

They may be hard and prone to getting stuck between your teeth, but nuts and seeds such as almonds, Brazil nuts, cashews and sesame seeds contribute to good oral health and a healthy diet generally.

Like fibrous fruit and vegetables, nuts and seeds help to scrub plaque off teeth as you chew, and because they're low in carbohydrates, they're a healthier substitute for sugary snacks. Many are also high in calcium and phosphorus, which helps calcium to work effectively.

However, nuts and seeds should generally be avoided if you have braces or prosthetics such as composite veneers that may be prone to cracking.

8. Dark chocolate

Perhaps the most surprising food that benefits teeth is chocolate – specifically dark varieties containing over 70% cacao, as opposed to more sugary milk chocolate. This is because cacao beans contain the compound CBH, which has been found to strengthen enamel, protecting teeth against decay and wear.

Chocolate is also friendlier to teeth than stickier snacks, as it's easier to remove from teeth surfaces when rinsing and brushing, but it should still only be consumed in moderation.

9. Chewing gum

Not technically a food, as it shouldn't be swallowed, but chewing gum can be helpful for more than freshening breath – as long as it's sugar free.

The action of chewing stimulates the salivary glands to produce more saliva, which is important for cleansing your mouth and neutralising acids. Your dentist may recommend chewing sugar-free gum between meals if you suffer from dry mouth, a condition that affects the function of the salivary glands.

How can I protect my teeth while eating?

Even some healthy foods can cause harm if you have them too often or they get stuck on your teeth. To lower your risks:

  • sip water alongside snacks or other drinks to rinse your mouth as you go
  • choose tap water or bottled water containing fluoride
  • have snacks or drinks with meals so your mouth will already be producing saliva to remove sugars and acids
  • avoid 'grazing' throughout the day so you won't expose your teeth to acids so often
  • wait at least 30 minutes after exposing your teeth to sugar or acids before brushing
  • brush your teeth twice a day, floss daily and keep up with your regular dental visits

Talk to a dentist in Bracken Ridge

Has it been longer than 6 months since your last dental check-up and clean, or are you concerned about your teeth or gums?

Call us at Bracken Ridge Dental on (07) 3261 2405 to make an appointment with our team. You can also book online and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.