The Best and Worst Foods for a Healthy Smile

by Dr. Yasaman Garakani on January 14, 2017

We all know that brushing and flossing are important for oral health, but did you know that the foods we eat are just as important?

Here are some foods to keep your smile bright:

Cheese: This calcium-rich dairy product contains fermentation that makes your mouth alkaline. This greatly reduces the acids your teeth are exposed to, which leads to a decline in tooth decay. Aged cheese also promotes saliva, which helps to move food particles off your teeth.

Pumpkins: Don’t just think of pumpkins as delightful jack-o-lanterns at Halloween or something to put in a pie at Christmas. The flesh of the pumpkin and the seeds, which make a great snack once roasted, are full of magnesium, vitamin A and vitamin C. Magnesium helps make strong enamel and vitamins A and C promote healthy gum tissue.

Cucumbers: Crunchy foods with a high water content, like cucumbers, promote saliva and do not stick to your teeth like softer, sugary foods (for example, raisins and white bread).

Green tea: Polyphenols in green tea are good for your overall health, but also suppress and destroy harmful bacteria in your mouth, which helps to reduce acid and decay.

Walnuts: A handful of walnuts makes a great, satiating snack that, like pumpkin, has lost of magnesium. Walnuts are also fibrous, which helps to “scrub” your teeth as you eat. As a crunchy food, they won’t stick to your teeth, but you should be careful not to get pieces stuck between your teeth. Floss out any little flecks of nuts so they do not irritate your gums.

Celery: Just like cucumbers, celery has a high water content. The long fibrous strands act as natural “flossers”, helping to clean away sticky foods you may be eating at the same time, like peanut butter.

Here are some foods that you should avoid or just eat on special occasions, thanks to their enamel-destroying properties:

Regular and sour gummy candy: These chewy candies stick to your teeth and are full of sugar. Since sugar promotes the growth of harmful bacteria in your mouth, you should avoid gummy candies of any sort. If you eat gummy candies, rinse or brush your teeth as soon possible.

Alcohol: Alcohol dries out your mouth. When you don’t have enough salvia, food sticks to your teeth and the longer you have food in between your teeth and on your gums, the faster bacteria will grow. A drink or two is fine in moderation, but stay hydrated at parties and events by also drinking plenty of water and snacking on the veggie tray instead of the bowl of potato chips.

Ice: Hey, isn’t this a double standard? First it’s “eat lots of food with a high water content” now it’s “don’t eat ice, the thing with the highest water content of all?” Sucking on ice is a good way to soothe a dry mouth, but crunching ice can chip your teeth or dislodge a crown.

Many of the same rules that apply for healthy living (lots of fruits and vegetables, water, high-fibre foods, limited foods with added sugar and refined flour) apply to oral health. When in doubt about whether something is good for your teeth or not, ask yourself, is this good for my body? If so, bon appétite!

The Smile Dental Centre offers a full range of dental services backed by outstanding patient care for children and adults. The Smile Dental Centre won the Consumer Choice Award five years in a row (2013 – 2017) for general and cosmetic dentistry in the London, ON region. Now that’s something to smile about!

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