Healthy teeth start with a healthy diet. When you have a healthy diet, your teeth get the vitamins and minerals they need to stay strong. Too many unhealthy foods, however, and you’re setting yourself up for cavities and other health issues down the line.
Our Grand Rapids family dentist wants you to have all the tools you need to keep your teeth healthy, so we’re passionate about educating our patients on healthy eating.
Here’s what you need to know about the foods that can help, or hurt, your teeth.
Best Foods for Your Teeth
Did you know that your oral hygiene affects the rest of your body? Our bodies are made of interconnected systems, which is why it’s important to think about what foods make up your regular diet.
Eating the foods listed below can help you maintain a healthy smile and promote better overall well-being.
- Dairy: Dairy is high in calcium as well as protein, which both help to strengthen your teeth. While you can’t get back any enamel that you’ve already lost, you can help protect your teeth against future damage.
- Vegetables: Vegetables contain vitamins and minerals that are good for your teeth. Certain veggies, like carrots and celery, have the added benefit of scraping plaque off of your teeth when you chew them.
- Leafy Greens: While all vegetables contain vitamins, leafy greens also have the advantage of being high in calcium and folic acid, which can help prevent gum disease.
- Fish: Many types of fish contain omega-3 fatty acids that can help combat periodontal disease. Incorporating fish into your diet in moderation can be great for your gums!
- Water: Staying hydrated is so important for maintaining healthy teeth. Water is necessary for your body to create saliva, which naturally flushes bacteria away from your teeth and gums.
Worst Foods for Your Teeth
It should come as no surprise that foods that are bad for your teeth are also bad for the rest of your body. But that doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in the occasional cup of coffee or slice of cake. Instead, it means that you should eat these foods in moderation.
Here are some of the worst foods for your teeth.
- Coffee and Tea: While coffee and tea are fine in moderation, both of these common beverages can stain your teeth. If you do drink coffee or tea in the mornings, the best thing to do is either rinse your mouth out or brush your teeth once you’re finished so the stains don’t have time to set. Our dentist can always advise you about teeth whitening if you’re concerned about staining.
- Candy and Other Sugary Foods: Since childhood, we’re told that eating too much candy will give you a cavity. That’s partly true! Harmful bacteria feed on sugar, so eating sweet foods means more of these bacteria find their way into your mouth. If you like to eat sugary foods, be sure you practice good oral hygiene to make up for it.
- Starchy Carbs: Similar to sugar, the starches in foods like bread, pasta, and potatoes tend to stick to the teeth and accelerate tooth decay.
- Alcohol: Not only do many alcoholic beverages contain sugars that can lead to cavities, but they can also dehydrate you and dry out your mouth. This prevents bacteria from being rinsed away by saliva and can lead to tooth decay. Alcohol has also been linked to a higher risk of developing oral cancer.
- Hard, Chewy, or Sticky Foods: You don’t have to give up your favorite snacks, but you should be aware that you have a greater chance of cracking, breaking, or injuring your teeth when you eat foods that are too hard or that pull at your existing dental work. You might be in for an emergency dental appointment if you indulge in these treats too often.
Request an Appointment with Dr. Yun
Our family dentist in Grand Rapids, MI, knows that healthy teeth are a result of consistent healthy habits. We’re always happy to answer any questions you might have about how to take care of your pearly whites.
This blog post has been updated.