In this day and age it can be very difficult to have a good grasp on what you are eating on a daily basis. With so many packaged and processed foods dominating the food industry, we lost touch with the natural diets that our ancestors had become accustomed to. This makes it difficult to know if what we are eating is derived from natural products or packed full of preservatives and additives to give it a longer shelf life and satisfy our palates.
Instead of having highly nutritional foods to choose from we have become accustomed to diets high in sugars, carbohydrates and starches, all of which are major contributors to oral health issues such as gum disease and tooth decay. As these products are metabolized by bacteria in our mouth, acids are produced, triggering the tooth decay process.
During the early stages of tooth decay, essential minerals on our tooth enamel begin to break down. If, however, our body can replenish these minerals at a greater rate than they are breaking down, tooth decay will not be able to advance into more severe stages that will require some sort of dental procedure to correct.
In order to achieve good oral health, we need to maintain a non-acidic pH in our mouth and have a re-mineralization process that is faster than the breakdown of tooth enamel. The best way to do this is to eat foods that:
- have essential minerals such as calcium and phosphorous
- promote saliva secretion
- are abrasive, helping clean our teeth as we eat
- have antibacterial properties
- are rich in fat soluble vitamins
Keep reading below to learn about some of the foods that have these properties to help in the battle against tooth decay.
Raw Dairy Products
One of the best food groups for strengthening tooth enamel and over all oral health are raw dairy products. These products are packed full of all the good stuff we need to not only prevent, but even reverse tooth decay by introducing valuable byproducts into our mouth such as:
- fat soluble vitamins K2 and D3
- essential minerals including calcium, magnesium and phosphorous
On top of giving us these essential vitamins and minerals for strengthening enamel, dairy products also increase secretion of saliva which helps wash away tooth decaying acids in the mouth and balance our mouths pH level.
Some dairy products that are rich in these byproducts include milk, cheese, yogurt and kefir. For those of you that are lactose intolerant, a great alternative to dairy products is enriched soymilk or almond milk which are high in calcium.
Protein Rich Animal Products
According to the American Dental Association, animal products such as chicken, meat, eggs and fish are great for strengthening teeth. These food products are full of essential minerals such as phosphorous which helps strengthen tooth enamel.
If your are a vegetarian or a vegan and do not consume any of these products, a great alternative is tofu which is not only rich in protein but usually contains high levels of magnesium and calcium.
Two great examples of this are carrots and celery. They are both abrasive vegetables very high in fiber, which is not only good for your overall health, but also acts kind of like a tooth brush by scrubbing away at plaque on your teeth as you chew. They are also high in vitamin A which further help your oral health by giving a boost to the strength of your gums.
Aside from being abrasive and full of essential vitamins, carrots and celery have another benefit to oral health. Since they are full of water content and require a lot of time to chew, these types of vegetables increase saliva secretion giving your mouth a more balanced pH.
Make it a habit to eat a few carrots or celery after your meals to help clean the teeth and balance pH levels in your mouth.
Although it may seem counter intuitive due to their high sugar content, apples are a great snack for helping reduce tooth decay. Similar to the vegetables mentioned above, apples are high in fiber and water content. The fiber gives apples an abrasive feel giving a brushing effect as you chew, while the high water content washes away detrimental acids that may build-up on your teeth.
Almonds and Other Nuts
Nuts are a great source of food for reducing tooth decay because they usually contain essential minerals for healthy teeth and are low in acid causing carbohydrates. One of the best choices in this category are almonds due to their high calcium content and low amount of sugar. Similar to the fibrous vegetables mentioned above, almonds take some time to chew increasing saliva secretion, once again helping to balance the pH inside the mouth.
We’ve all seen leafy green before on more than one healthy food list. That’s because they really are that good for your overall health, and your oral health is no exception to this rule. Leafy greens are full of essential vitamins and minerals, such as calcium, needed for healthy tooth enamel.
One that’s definitely worth mention here is Parsley. Parsley not only has essential vitamins and minerals, it also has anti-bacterial properties that can help fight bacteria in your mouth. It has also long been used as a breath freshener so next time you are thinking of chewing on gum or breath mints full of sugar, help your teeth and chew on some parsley instead.
Drink Water and Tea
Last but not least, water and tea are great drinks for your oral health. Most of us are accustomed to drinking sugary juices and sodas from an early age but these are some of the worst drinks you can consume if you are trying to battle tooth decay.
Water is an obvious choice for good oral health since it gives your mouth a balanced pH level and helps wash away some of the food debris stuck on your teeth after a meal. Fluoridated water, which can be found in tap water all across Canada, is an even better choice as the fluoride will help rebuild diminished tooth enamel.
Tea, although it may contribute to staining your teeth, is also a great way to protect tooth enamel. Most tea leaves are high in fluoride which gets extracted during the brewing process. As long as you can stay away from using damaging sweeteners in your tea, this is a great tasty drink that will help strengthen your teeth.