No matter how nice a dentist is, nothing is more nerve-wracking than going to the dentist to find out you have cavities or other dental issues. When a dentist completes an examination and just wants to clean teeth, patients breathe a sigh of relief. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Sometimes patients can be the superheroes behind saving their teeth from damage.
On top of flossing at least once a day, brushing teeth after meals (or at least in the morning and evening), and staying away from foods that have a reputation for chipping or rotting teeth, some foods can help along the way, too.
Skip the ice, drink water
Just because they’re made of the same liquid doesn’t mean they will have the same results. Because ice is already hard, it can more easily damage enamel and lead to a chipped tooth. Fluoride from water, especially fluoridated water, helps to make teeth more resistant to the kind of acid that leads to cavities. While ice may eventually get to the fluoride helper, why not skip past the possible risks?
Another reason water is so important is it also assists other foods that are deemed nutritious, such as dried fruit. While dried fruit may help to avoid cravings and is a good source of fiber, it can also stick to teeth for a lengthier amount of time. Drinking water helps to get rid of remnants of dried fruit on teeth after the last chewy bite.
Dairy on teeth duty
Milk, cheese, and yogurt are already low in sugar. The calcium and protein help to strengthen teeth. But be wary of thinking anything dairy is a good thing. Piling up on the candy on yogurt or low-fat ice cream will take a patient right back to cavity zone.
Phosphorus fights for teeth
If you’re lucky enough to see a science experiment with phosphorus, the chemical element glows in the dark and burns when air touches it. Oddly enough, it’s also present in meat, poultry, fish, milk and eggs. Of course, your mouth doesn’t glow while you eat them, but these phosphorus-rich foods rebuild and protect tooth enamel. Healthy enamel can make your bright, white smile glow in the dark, which is a bigger bonus anyway.
Fiber-rich fruits and veggies
On top of fruits and vegetables being the best friend to a digestive system, both of these meal choices also help to clean teeth and act as a sufficient substitute for the sugary foods that we may crave. Instead of candy on top of yogurt, berries are just as sweet and equally delicious. Chewing on fruits and vegetables — instead of sucking on sugary candy — also helps with saliva production, which gets acidic foods off of teeth when there’s no toothbrush around.
Nutty for Nuts
From cashews to pecans to Peanuts, all types of nuts are an excellent way to avoid risky food cravings and a good source of fiber. They also prevent tooth decay and gum disease. Go easy on the trail mix, though. Just as dried fruit may stick to teeth long after you’ve eaten it, small particles of trail mix can do the same. Whether the trail mix is salty or not, keep water around to avoid remnants of nuts or other goodies getting stuck between your teeth.
Hold the sugar, drink the tea
Tea can be a sly friend for teeth. People may be more apt to add sugar or honey to tea, which defeats the purpose of the natural health perks of the drink. However, drinking plain black and green tea can slow down bacteria growth from cavities and gum disease. In a recent study, people who rinsed their mouths with black tea for 60 seconds had less plaque build-up than those who chose water. The polyphenols in tea are what make the difference.
As with any food, moderation is key. None of the foods above will substitute regular cleaning, flossing and necessary visits to the dentist. But with the help of eating wisely and maintaining a healthy mouth, you may be able to keep the needles right where they belong — on a table and away from your face.