Your teeth are very hard but very much alive. They need to be well-nourished like other parts of your body, like your skin and muscles. The choice of good nutritious food is also important as well as staying away from foods that can cause cavities.
Although there is no substitute for brushing and flossing your teeth regularly, choosing the right foods that provide plenty of calcium, vitamin A, C and D will help you to keep your teeth strong.
Researchers in Japan analyzed the diets of 57 seventy-four-year-old people and counted their teeth. The scientists found that people who had eaten the least vegetables, fish, and shellfish also had the least teeth.
While you are eating nutritious foods, you should stay away from sugary, sticky snacks, which make it easy for bacteria to cause cavities.
Eating to keep your teeth strong Like your bones, your teeth also need calcium as an essential mineral, especially when you are young. “Calcium-rich foods are extremely important,” says William Kuttler, DDS, a dentist in private practice in Dubuque, Iowa. “Without calcium, teeth won’t form,” he explains. In adults, calcium fortifies the bone that supports the teeth to avoid that they loosen over time.
By consuming more dairy products in your diet you are giving your teeth the best protection they can get. A glass of low-fat milk, for example, contains about 300 milligrams of calcium, which is about 30% of the daily value (DV) for this mineral. Eight ounces of low-fat and fat-free plain yogurt contains 448 milligrams and 488 milligrams respectively. You can get somewhat smaller amounts from reduced-fat cheeses and some leafy green vegetables, including turnip greens, bok choy, and curly endive.
However, you need more than just calcium for good healthy teeth. You also need a variety of vitamins, including vitamins D, C, and A. Vitamin D is important for your pearly whites because a shortage can cause bone loss as well as increased inflammation, which is a symptom of gum disease, according to researchers at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. The best way to get your vitamin D right along with calcium is to drink milk that is fortified with vitamin D
Your body uses vitamin C to make collagen which is a tough protein fiber that keeps your gums strong. It’s easy to get enough vitamin C in your diet. A half-cup of cooked broccoli, for example, has 58 milligrams of vitamin C, which is almost 90% of the Daily Value (DV). A medium-sized orange has 80 milligrams or 133 % of the DV.
Vitamin A is used to form dentin, a layer of bonelike material just beneath the surface of your teeth. The best way to get vitamin A is by eating foods high in beta-carotene, which is converted to vitamin A in the body. Sweet potatoes are a great source. A half-cup provides over 21,000 IU of vitamin A, or more than four times the DV. Other good sources of beta-carotene are kale and carrots.
Sticky problems As you can conclude from the above, some foods are good for the inside of your teeth, but others, like sweets, are not so good for the outside as they can cause bacteria to flourish in your mouth. Over time, the bacteria and the acids they produce act almost like little dental drills, wearing away the surface of the teeth and allowing cavities to form, says DR. Kuttler.
Sticky foods are even worse. The reason is that these foods stick to the teeth and make it easy for bacteria to remain in the mouth for a long time. However, there is one food that is known for its stickiness which might actually be good for your teeth. Researchers at the University of Chicago discovered that oleanolic acid, a compound found in raisins, prevents plaque-causing bacteria from sticking to surfaces.
The best way to deal with sticky snacks is to brush your teeth after you have eaten them or after a sweet drink. Even if you can’t brush, just rinsing your mouth with water will help to remove sugars before bacteria can do any damage.
It’s not only what you eat but also how you eat that helps to keep your teeth strong. Your mouth naturally produces saliva every time you chew. So the more you chew, the more saliva there is to wash away sugars from the teeth. As a bonus, saliva also contains calcium and phosphorus, which help to neutralize tooth-damaging acids that form in the mouth after eating.
While you’re having dinner, consider having a piece of cheese. Researchers don’t know why but eating cheese appears to play a role in preventing tooth decay. It may be that cheese contains compounds that neutralize acids in the mouth before they can cause damage.
In other words, while eating sweets causes the pH level of your saliva to drop, transforming plaque into tooth-dissolving acid, eating cheese can help to keep the pH to stay healthy. Researchers found that after having reviewed a number of studies among 12 kinds of cheese, cheddar offers the best tooth protection.
Rinse your mouth with black tea. Researchers at the University of Chicago College of Dentistry found that people who rinsed their mouths with black tea several times a day had less plaque built up than people who rinsed with water. Experts think it is the polyphenols in tea that cause it.