Foods for healthy teeth

What should you eat for strong, healthy teeth… read this to find out!

Foods for healthy teeth

What to eat for healthy teeth

Along with a good dental hygiene programme, comprising of brushing twice daily, flossing and rinsing your mouth after meals, it is important to choose the right foods — which can prevent tooth decay and contribute to overall oral hygiene.

Foods that act as natural cleansers:

  • Crunchy fruits like apples and pears have high water content and fibrous texture. Chewing these fruits dislodges food particles, which if left that way could potentially cause tooth decay. Apple is called nature’s toothbrush thanks to this quality.
  • Strawberries are said to have natural teeth cleansing properties.
  • Cheese is beneficial as it contains calcium. Also the casein and whey (proteins in the cheese) strengthen tooth enamel (the outer covering of the tooth) from wear and tear, thus protecting it.
  • Sugar-free chewing gum helps dislodge food particles, but must not be taken in case of jaw problems like frequent dislocation of the jaw.
  • Choose foods high in calcium like almonds, green leafy vegetables, soy milk, milk and milk products, and also foods high in vitamin-D like fish, egg yolks, milk and exposure to the sun. Vitamin D is essential for absorption of calcium.
  • Fruits, although sweet have to be chewed; this produces saliva which has digestive enzymes to aid digestion.
  • Sugar-free foods containing products like aspartame, saccharin, sorbitol, mannitol and sucralose do not cause decay and are safe for the teeth.

Foods to avoid or at least minimise:

  • Beverages like sweetened tea, coffee and cigarettes are bad for your teeth. Nicotine in cigarettes stains the teeth. Even unsweetened juice contains simple sugars, which turn acidic in the mouth. This acid corrodes the enamel and causes tooth decay.
  • Processed foods like cakes, cereals, bread, hard candy, mints, regular chewing gum, French fries and soft drinks containing soda. Starchy foods are just as bad as sugar.
  • Minimise all soft drinks, juices and aerated drinks. Colas are the worst offenders as they stain the teeth and erode tooth enamel.
  • Dry fruits have high sugar content and tend to stick to your teeth. After eating dry fruits, eat a piece of apple, pear, carrot or celery as these foods enhance saliva production, which neutralise the acidity from the sugar.
  • Beware of the ‘sugar free’ label seen on many packaged foods. Rice syrup, evaporated cane  sugar, honey, fructose  and molasses are equivalent to sugar and cause similar damage.
  • Stay away from blueberries, as they stain your teeth.

 General tips for healthy teeth!

  • Set an example for children by choosing nutritious food over junk and processed food.
  • Avoid frequent snacking between meals. The more you snack, the more you expose your teeth to harmful effects of foods and drinks, ultimately causing decay.
  • Never put babies or toddlers to bed with a bottle of milk, juice or anything other than water.
  • Never dip pacifiers in honey or syrup.
  • Rinse the mouth thoroughly after every meal. If that is not possible sip water after eating and swirl it around before swallowing.

Written by Dr Nisreen Nakhoda, General Physician

Photograph via sxc.hu

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