When thinking of your oral health routine, you may focus on how many times a day you should brush or floss, which toothpaste to use, or the benefits of mouthwash. It may not cross your mind to think about how your diet can affect the health of your teeth.
In between your major meals of the day, you may want to add some healthy and delicious snacks or drinks. Snacking can actually be beneficial for your oral health. You can select a variety of different snacking options that are healthy for your teeth and your overall health.
Choose Foods That Are Low in Sugar
Foods that are high in sugar are not great for your teeth. There are natural bacteria that live in your mouth and feed on sugar. When the bacteria consume sugar, it leaves behind harmful acid that can erode the enamel on your teeth.
Enamel is the white protective layer on the outside of your teeth. Once the enamel is gone, it cannot be reproduced, so you are susceptible to developing cavities or further tooth decay.
Advanced tooth decay can lead to tooth loss or gum disease. If you eat more foods that contain high levels of sugar, you give the bacteria more fuel to eat away at your teeth.
Sugar also decreases saliva production, which is vital for keeping your mouth healthy. Saliva protects your mouth by keeping all of your teeth and soft tissues wet and creates a buffer from infections and decay. It contains antimicrobial properties that destroy harmful bacteria from eroding your teeth.
Increase Your Water Intake
Water is crucial to your body and to your oral health. It is not just important to hydrate but to take care of your teeth as well. While water does increase your saliva production, which protects your teeth, it also acts as a flush for food particles and sugar that are left behind after eating.
Eat Foods that Contain Calcium
If you are able to ingest dairy products, foods like cheese, milk, and yogurt are rich in calcium that are beneficial for your teeth. Calcium can strengthen bones as well as teeth. Dairy products also naturally increase your saliva production.
If you are unable to consume dairy, you can choose other options like nuts or lean proteins, such as tofu or almonds. There are many different types of nut milks that will be just as beneficial.
Add Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are known to be good sources of important nutrients for your body, but they are also great for your teeth. Leafy green vegetables contain folic acid, vitamin B, and calcium, which keep your body and teeth strong.
Some foods, like celery, are high in fiber and water content. It can help to remove some plaque build-up as you eat. And it is also good for increasing the amount of saliva in your mouth.
Avoid Sugary or Acidic Beverages
Keep your beverage selections in mind when you are thinking about your oral health and snacking habits. Try to avoid drinks that are high in sugar—juices or sodas—or drinks that are highly acidic—wine, coffee, etc. These drinks leave sugar and harmful acids in your mouth that can lead to tooth decay or gum disease without proper dental care.