Your diet is one of the most significant factors contributing to the health of your smile. As a result, the foods you eat are essential, and it’s a good idea to keep track of your diet choices on an ongoing basis.
Explore our guide to learn about the best and worst foods for your teeth, in addition to a few dieting tips that are specific to dental implants.
5 Foods That Can Help Your Teeth
While most people know that certain foods are bad for your teeth, did you know that some foods can actually improve your dental health? Medical studies have shown that several foods fall into this category, but we’ve compiled five of the best ones for your convenience:
- Yogurt — Yogurt is high in calcium and protein, both of which strengthen your tooth enamel. It’s also filled with probiotics, a type of beneficial bacteria that eliminates harmful bacteria and decreases your risk for gum disease. Dr. Dan McAllister, a dentist in Kalispell, MT, recommends choosing plain yogurt with no added sugar for a healthy snack.
- Leafy Greens — Leafy greens, such as spinach, kale, and arugula, are packed with essential vitamins and minerals. They also include folic acid, a type of B vitamin that has been shown to reduce symptoms of gum disease. If you don’t like any leafy greens, try mixing them into a sandwich or salad so you can reap the health benefits.
- Carrots — Raw carrots are high in fiber and a great source of vitamin A, which helps to maintain the structure of your teeth. Since they’re crunchy, chewing carrots also increases your saliva production and reduces your chance of developing cavities. For the best effects, try eating some raw carrots after or in between meals.
- Celery — Celery is an excellent source of vitamins A and C, both of which help to maintain strong, healthy teeth and gums. It also acts like a toothbrush, scraping excess bacteria and food crumbs off your teeth to protect you from oral infection.
- Almonds — Almonds are a great choice for your teeth because they’re a rare snack that’s packed with protein and calcium while containing very little sugar. The next time you want to snack on potato chips or candy, consider trying almonds as a healthy alternative.
5 Foods That Can Hurt Your Teeth
Now that we’ve covered some foods that can improve your dental health, it’s also important to be aware of foods that you should avoid. Ultimately, there are too many unhealthy foods available to cover in a short list, but some of the most important to be aware of include:
- Candy — Any food that’s high in sugar can harm your teeth, and candy is among the very worst. While not all candies are the same, most contain lots of sugar and little to no protein or vitamins. You should especially try to avoid sour candies, as they’re coated in citric acid that can irreversibly damage your tooth enamel.
- Chips — Chips are filled with starch that can get trapped between your teeth and increase the buildup of plaque and other bacteria. To make matters worse, chips are addictive and often eaten in large amounts, causing the acid to linger on your teeth after you finish eating.
- White Bread — Sliced white bread gets stuck in the crevices of your teeth, allowing bacteria to build up in your mouth. Additionally, when you chew white bread, the enzymes are broken down into sugar that coats your teeth. If you’re craving carbs, Dr. Elaine Chow, a dental implant specialist in Thunder Bay, ON, suggests trying a whole grain bread with no added sugar.
- Dried Fruits — Most dried fruits are very high in sugar, increasing the level of harmful bacteria in your mouth. Not to mention, they can easily get stuck in your teeth. As much as possible, try to stick with real fruit.
- Pickles — Pickles are coated in vinegar, which results in a very high acidic content. Just as with citric acid in sour candies, vinegar can wear down the enamel of your teeth, leaving you vulnerable to pain and potential tooth loss. A study of over 2,000 kids conducted in the U.K. found pickles to cause tooth erosion more than any other food.
Best Foods for Dental Implants
If you choose to restore your smile with dental implants, there are a few important dieting tips that you need to keep in mind after the procedure. Once your implants are placed, your mouth will need some time to heal before you can resume your typical diet. The first 24 hours are especially important, as this is the time when damage to your implant site is most likely to occur.
Dr. Brock Barras, an implant provider in Lafayette, LA, recommends sticking to liquids and very soft foods for the first day. Examples of this include smoothies, applesauce, and chilled soups.
As your mouth heals, you can slowly reintroduce solid foods. After your dental implants have fully integrated with your jawbone, you’ll be able to enjoy all your favorite foods without any difficulty.
Take Control of Your Diet for a Healthy Smile
Research has clearly shown that the foods you eat have a significant impact on your dental health. If you overindulge in sugary or acidic foods, you’re increasing your risk for significant oral health issues, including cavities, gum disease, and tooth loss.
To preserve the health of your teeth, stick to a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while keeping sugars and white flour to a minimum. Also, make sure to brush and floss your teeth twice a day in addition to visiting your dentist at least twice a year. If you follow these simple steps, you’ll have all the tools you need to maintain a healthy smile for life.