You Are What You Eat
When it comes to the health of your teeth, you really are what you eat. Sugary foods, such as candy and soda, contribute to tooth decay. According to the Canadian Dental Association, nutrition is a key component for good oral health.
“A balanced and nutritious diet is good for your general health and your dental health. Without the right nutrients, your teeth and gums can become more susceptible to decay and gum disease” says the CDA.
These foods listed below can, in some ways, improve your dental health. Please keep in mind all individuals are different. If you’re feeling any discomfort or other symptoms when eating any food please consult your physician.
Kids love snacks – in fact, cheese is a quick & easy snack for the whole family. The CDA lists cheese cubes as “a healthy snack for teeth”. A study found that eating cheese in many cases raised pH levels in the mouths of subjects – thus lowering their risk of tooth decay. It has also been argued that chewing cheese can increase saliva in the mouth, again, healthy for teeth. Look twice before buying a packaged cheese. If it says processed cheese product, it’s not really the healthiest option and can be full of sugar and chemicals.
Yogurt is high in calcium and protein…and is a great on the go snack. But beware! Many varieties targeting kids can be full of sugar. Look for a “no sugar added” brand and one with a probiotic to promote good gut bacteria.
Leafy greens are always a fan favourite when discussing healthy diets. Greens are chock full of vitamins and minerals and low in calories. Most leafy greens also promote good oral health as they can be high in calcium, which will strengthen tooth enamel. Greens such as Kale and Spinach contain folic acid, a type of B vitamin that has numerous health benefits. Adding greens to your diet is so simple and quick – try adding a handful of spinach to your next salad or throw some kale on an omelette. You can also add greens to any smoothie.
Fruits, such as apples, might be categorized as a sweet snack, but fruit can also be high in fiber, and most fruit contains a lot of water. The key here is to actually eat the FRUIT as mother nature intended…not in the form of a sticky bar snack that is marketed as a healthy alternative to eating an actual fruit. Did you know that many fruit snacks can contain less than 5% of the same vitamins that are contained in the whole fruit. Not to mention that fruit snacks act just like candy getting stuck in you teeth and increasing your chance of getting cavities.
Eating an apple also stimulates your gums. Eating this fibrous fruit provides a form of gum massage while you eat. Pack an apple for lunch and give your mouth a good scrub and gum massage after your meal. Keep in mind, this does not replace flossing or brushing.
Carrots are a great snack. They’re full of fiber and we love the crunch. A fun way to get your kids to eat carrots is to buy the mature version with the leafy greens still attached, show them a youtube video of bugs bunny, and call them “What’s up doc?” carrots. Carrots are also a great source of vitamin A. You can add raw carrots to any salad, or smoothie. Or simply toss a few into the lunch box, larger or baby carrots are easy and very healthy on-the-go snacks.
Celery gets a bad rap sometimes – not as exciting, some could argue somewhat bland. The pesky strings turn some people off. But celery also acts a bit like a toothbrush, scraping food particles away, including washing away bacteria. Celery contains a lot of water, facilitating this washing process. Celery is also a great source of vitamins A and C, two antioxidants that promote healthy gums. Put some peanut or WOW non-nut butter in the inside of a cleaned stock and place 5-6 raisins in the peanut butter for a cute “ants on a log” snack. Too many raisins on their own can be a cavity causing snack, so use them sparingly!
Almonds are great for your teeth. A snack of raw almonds is a good source of calcium and protein while low in sugar. Enjoy a small handful of almonds with your mid-day meal. Again, very easy and quick. You can also add almonds to any salad, in a stir-fry, or just throw 5 or 6 into any smoothie.
Along with all the great snacks & foods above, please pay attention to what you’re drinking. My top choice for a beverage is always water. It has no calories or sugar, and water quenches your thirst.
Overall, your diet does make a big difference when it comes to a healthy smile.