Did you know that oral health is linked to longevity? Find out what foods promote healthy teeth and gums.
Taking care of our teeth, for many reasons, is important to our overall health and well being… without teeth it would be difficult to enjoy a variety of foods of different textures as well as obtain nutrients to maintain and promote health. The foods we choose as fuel and how often we eat affect our general health as well as our teeth and gums. Researchers from Harvard Medical School found that one of the most important contributing factors to longevity was daily flossing. Flossing helps remove bacteria from the teeth and gums, preventing periodontal disease and gingivitis.
The amount of sugary sodas, sweetened fruit drinks, and energy dense - nutrient poor snacks that Americans consume is a major concern for dentists and other health professionals. In studying the dental health of people from different cultures (typically those isolated from modernization) with good teeth, researchers found that their diets were much higher in vitamins and minerals - particularly calcium and vitamins A and D. But it's not just sugary junk foods that can cause plaque, which is the real cause of tooth decay. (Does Sugar Really Cause Cavities?)
Vitamins A and C are needed for the absorption of calcium, and calcium is an important element in our teeth. Dark green leafy vegetables have good amounts of chlorophyll, phosphorous, vitamins A and C, all of which are needed for calcium absorption. Chlorophyll is thought to help build enamel and prevent tooth decay, while vitamin C helps reduce plaque from building up.
What are some good foods for your teeth?
Plant foods that require a lot of chewing like apples, celery, and carrots help clean and may even whiten teeth. Chewing increases saliva production which helps restore the pH balance in your mouth, a low pH can cause damage to your teeth. Celery and parsley are also thought to help freshen breath.
Strawberries have gentle cleansing and bleaching properties, and may help remove coffee and tea stains - a remedy commonly used in some European countries. Make sure you rinse or brush after eating strawberries (or using them to whiten) as the acid, if left on the teeth, can be harmful to the enamel.
Cheese, particularly cheddar, is also great for your teeth. The fats in cheese work to counteract acids in foods - by restoring the pH balance and cleaning our teeth. Cheese contains calcium and phosphorus which help protect tooth enamel and prevents the build up of plaque. Cheese also stimulates the production of saliva, which helps clear your mouth of any food particles left on the surface of the tooth.
Teeth whitening remedies that can be found in your supermarket:
Orange peel; rub your teeth with the inside of the peel for a brilliant shine. Lemon juice; can have a whitening effect on your teeth - but use sparingly because the acidic nature of lemon juice can harm tooth enamel. Adding a little lemon juice to baking soda can also helps clean the teeth; the same can be done with apple cider vinegar. Do keep in mind that these home remedies will not work as quickly or effectively as professional - patience is key.
Regularly brushing and flossing your teeth and visiting the dentist for professional cleanings twice a year can go a long way in keeping you healthy! In the mean time, shop smart for good oral health!