Don’t neglect your teeth when you plan your eating habits.
“Eating right for dental health is a key step people should take to prevent tooth decay — and to help their teeth last a lifetime,” said Vernon Beamon, D.M.D. The veteran dentist owns Beamon Dental clinic in Gulfport. “It’s often overlooked.”
Best foods for long-lasting teeth includes many you might not expect. We’ve tried to compile a comprehensive list of great foods for your “grinders.”
Calcium always is essential. As a child, you probably learned to drink milk for its calcium and protein, which strengthen tooth enamel. Drinking periodic glasses of milk still is an elixir for your teeth. But there are other excellent options as well.
“Tooth enamel which covers your teeth is stronger than all the bones in your body.” Dr. Beamon noted. “Enamel is harder than steel, but much more brittle.” Teeth are composed of calcium, phosphorus and other minerals, so need certain minerals and other elements in your diet to stay strong.
If you don’t drink milk, most other dairy products also are excellent calcium and protein sources. Leafy greens – such as spinach, lettuce, kale and broccoli – also are top sources of calcium for strong, healthy teeth.
Besides packing calcium and protein, real cheese raises the pH level in your mouth, which lowers your risk of tooth decay. Another dairy source, yogurt, has cultures with helpful bacteria that helps teeth and gums by replacing harmful bacteria, which may cause cavities and infection.
Of course, yogurts and dairy foods contain sugar and fat, so for your broader health, it’s not recommended to rely solely on them for good oral health, Dr. Beamon pointed out.
Fish, meat and eggs have protein and phosphorous, which help strengthen enamel.
Some crunchy foods may help clean your teeth with the action of chewing. Some also offer calcium. These include celery, carrots, apples, almonds, radishes, cucumbers and other firm vegetables. Chewing ice, sticky foods, hard or chewy candy, or sugared gum can be harmful to your teeth. But raisins, which naturally do not have harmful sugars, are an excellent source of phytochemicals which can kill cavity-causing bacteria. Chewing sugarless gum (with an ADA Seal) also helps clean your teeth and promotes healthy saliva flow.
Too many citrus drinks can erode enamel from their acid. Cranberries or cranberry juice however, are good, if added sugars are not high. Avoid soda pop, carbonated beverages and sugary drinks, even some sports drinks. Limit alcohol, which can cause dry mouth, gum disease and cavities.
Drinking and even rinsing your mouth with black tea is excellent to limit plaque and reduce cavity-causing bacteria. Green tea also is recommended. Both contain phosphorous, which works with calcium to remineralize enamel. Don’t add sugar.
Drink lots of water for your teeth as well. It is quite cleansing!
Sources: American Dental Association, several nutritional and dental studies and organizations, and Dr. Beamon.For an exam, or to treat dental problems and periodontal disease, call us at (228) 896-3600. We welcome new patients.
For an appointment with Dr. Beamon, call (228) 896-3600. We serve patients from across the Mississippi Gulf Coast in our Gulfport clinic.