We often eat for our body's health — which is a great thing — but how often do your teeth and gums weigh in on your nutritional decisions? Many of us forget that the food we eat can help us keep our teeth clean.
Just about anybody can tell you that sweets aren't good for your teeth. Those pesky sugars in candy, soft drinks and even sticky, dried fruits can wreak havoc in the form of cavities. But enough with this negativity! Rather than living a life of avoidance to protect your teeth, start reaching for foods that have a lot to offer your pearly whites (and the pink flesh that cradles them).
There are a lot of great foods out there that help keep your teeth clean and your smile healthy! Here are six toothsome choices that can keep your teeth clean:
1. Dairy. No, it doesn't make your teeth whiter. It does something far better: the calcium in milk, yogurt, cheese and other dairy products keeps the enamel strong. Plus, a lot of dairy products are fortified with vitamin D, which is linked to lower rates of tooth decay in children. Even better, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that kids eat certain cheeses as a snack or after a meal. “Cheeses such as aged cheddar, swiss, mozzarella and Monterey jack stimulate the flow of saliva, clearing the mouth of food debris and acting as a buffer to neutralize the acids that attack teeth. The calcium and phosphorous found in cheese also reduce or prevent decreases in pH levels of saliva and promote remineralization of tooth enamel.” Huzzah. Pass the cheese board!
2. Get your crunch on. No, silly, not with chips. Crisp veggies and fruits — like celery and apples — are packed with water and fiber and do a great job cleaning as you chomp. According to the American Dental Association, chewing stimulates saliva, which can wash away acids and food bits and keep your teeth clean.
3. Leafy greens. Crunchy and fibrous greens like chard, kale and spinach help strengthen our gums and teeth. These leafy greens offer the boost of vitamin C many of us are missing in our oral care regimen. Even if you're not a salad person, it's easy to slip leafy greens into your soups and stews. You can even add our Greens Blend to your morning smoothie for a delicious shot of plant power and vitamin C.
4. Green tea. Yes it's trendy and delicious. But did you know that green tea is super healthy for your mouth? Green tea is loaded with flavonoids, which contain compounds called catechins that fight cancer and act as antioxidants. “Catechins should be considered right alongside the better-known antioxidants like vitamins E and C as potent free radical scavengers and health supportive for this reason,” says a study from the Journal of Indian Society of Periodontology. “It has been suggested that green tea also promotes periodontal health by reducing inflammation, preventing bone resorption and limiting the growth of certain bacteria associated with periodontal diseases.” Drink up!
5. Raw onion. Phew! Really? Yes, it's true that raw onions might stink up your breath but some dentists have called them a “superfood for super teeth.” They contain antibacterial sulfur compounds that kill dreaded bacteria that lurk in the mouth and cause tooth decay.
6. Shiitake mushrooms. These mushrooms are currently being explored for their potential for oral health benefits. Recent studies have shown that shiitake mouthwash can improve good bacteria and destroy bad oral bacteria. But are you brave enough to rinse your mouth twice a day with a pungent shiitake mushroom mouthwash? If the idea of eating mushrooms instead is easier to swallow, try our Greens Blend drink mix. Fortunately, it's delicious and comes complete with a 5-mushroom blend, including shiitake.
Keep in mind just one thing. Although tasty, one should never replace brushing, flossing and gargling with chewing a mushroom or a piece of raw onion. Your significant others will thank you!