Our gnashers are one part of our physical health. Problems in the mouth can lead to other health problems elsewhere, and they can impact our self-confidence. This collaborative post takes a look at a few foods and drinks for a healthy smile.
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Food & Drink Tips & Suggestions For A Healthy Smile
We are what we eat, according to the old adage, and it’s true that diet plays an absolutely crucial role in our physical health and mental wellbeing. The mouth is no exception – among other factors, our pearly whites and our gums are reliant on a quality diet to stay healthy and good-looking.
Many of us think that the perfect smile is a simple question of regular brushing and flossing (and perhaps some orthodontic work), but maintaining a well-balanced and health-conscious diet is a major factor as well.
The foods that benefit our teeth are usually rich in vitamins and minerals, and they come in all shapes and sizes.
As you’ll see, there is no need to dramatically change your diet. In some cases you might want to add in a little more calcium-rich dairy in your diet, or cut out some sugar from your tea.
Keeping hydrated is a vital part of a healthy life. It’s about getting the balance right for you, because while dehydration has known consequences, overdoing the fluids can also be incredibly dangerous. Obviously, avoiding fizzy drinks is the best option for maintaining healthy teeth and gums, and too much fruit juice can be detrimental to your mouth too as sugar is more concentrated in juice than in fruit itself. Here are some other ideas for mouth-healthy drinks.
Tea & Coffee
In moderation, coffee can be great as it’s full of antioxidants, but it’s best taken without cream or sugar to protect your teeth. Unsweetened green or black tea is good to hydrate as well as refresh and cleanse. Try camomile tea in the evenings to promote restful sleep, another important factor in overall health.
Tanins in tea and coffee can lead to staining on the teeth, and black tea/coffee are the worst offenders here. However, that doesn’t mean you have to give up what you love.
Adding milk might help offset some of the impact, as can using a straw, though many will agree that it’s not the same to sip your cuppa through a straw. Rising your mouth with water afterwards might help, and ensuring to brush twice a day is important. Your dental hygienist may be able to remove staining and there are products you can buy to help with this at home.
H2O does much more than keeping us refreshed. Water regulates our system, cleanses it, and distributes nutrients. Drinking water that contains fluoride is even better – a naturally occurring mineral that protects teeth from cavity-causing bacteria by making tooth enamel more resistant to bacterial acidity. Fluoride has sometimes been linked with tooth whitening – this is sadly a myth, so if you want gleaming teeth you should seek out professional whitening services.
Milk is full of calcium, which is important for healthy teeth and bones. It also regulates the acidity of the mouth, leading to healthier gums and better breath, getting you on your way to a healthy smile. While regular milk is seen as standard, flavoured milk will also get you the goodness of calcium for your teeth, as well as protein and B12.
There are some pretty obvious basics when it comes to adjusting a diet – the same foods that are good for the rest of your body are also good for your teeth, more or less. The general suggestion is usually to avoid sugary foods, processed food and too much acidity, with everything in moderation. Here are some things to eat that proactively help your teeth and gums.
Many dairy products are chock full of calcium, a mineral essential to life, and one that enables our blood to clot, our muscles to contract, and our heart to beat. As well as those vital functions, it also helps strengthen bones and teeth, which contain 99% of our calcium.
Yogurt is one example that’s rich in calcium as well as probiotics, which help protect against tooth decay, gum disease and bad breath.
Cheese is also very good for teeth. It’s low sugar, high in calcium and also rich in casein, a protein that helps to produce tooth enamel. All in all, dairy is an essential part of your mouth-healthy diet.
If you’re lactose intolerant or have other problems with tolerating or digesting dairy, look for calcium-enhanced lactose-free products.
Calcium can also be found in the likes of fortified cereals, fortified almond or rice milk, tofu, bread, bony fish, seeds like sesame seeds, dried fruit, and oranges. You can also get dairy-free calcium supplements, so speak to your doctor if you have concerns about your calcium intake so they can check your levels and see whether additional intake is required from alternative sources.
Meat & Fatty Fish
Meat is full of vitamins, iron and other minerals that are part of a diet that is healthy for the whole body, teeth included. The act of chewing meat generates saliva, which naturally washes bacteria out of the mouth, as well as helping to combat that major factor in decay – acidity.
Offal and red meat (though not cooked to charcoal) are packed with vitamins. Fatty fish such as salmon are full of vitamin D and omega 3, which both work in conjunction with the calcium you’re getting from dairy. Vitamin D actually helps to prevent tooth decay, and if you suffer from bleeding or irritated gums, upping the omega 3 intake is essential.
Sugar-free chewing gum can be beneficial for increasing saliva, neutralising acids and encouraging dental mineralisation. You can read more about the benefits of chewing gum here.
Nuts & Snacks
Snacking moderately between meals can be healthy, but not so much if your go-to snacks are high in sugar and salt. It’s just about making healthier choices at least some of the time if you want to look at supporting your health and your gnashers.
Nuts are an excellent alternative to chips, cookies and chocolate. Not only do they alleviate the craving for nibbles, but chewing is also beneficial for saliva rotation which prevents bacterial buildup. Many nuts contain high levels of calcium and phosphorus which help fight bacteria and tooth decay, brazil nuts and cashews especially. Peanuts are full of vitamin D and walnuts are rich in vitamins and minerals.
If you can’t go without a chocolate fix then cacao nibs should fill the void without the sugar, and according to studies, polyphenols in cocoa helps protect against plaque buildup on teeth.
Other tooth friendly snacks might include things like cheese, which you could pair with an apple or peanut butter. Cooked or raw veggies. Pita bread, hummus, fruit (fresh or dried), hard boiled eggs and yoghurt.
There are plenty of other great, healthy foods that can help your mouth look and feel great – the internet is full of ideas. The key to healthy eating and drinking is moderation – remember to enjoy what you eat as well as its health benefits. While you can’t control everything when it comes to your teeth, you can make some difference in getting and maintaining healthier smile. Your diet is just one part of maintaining good oral health, alongside regular brushing and flossing, use of a good toothpaste & toothbrush, and regular dental check-ups.
[ This is a collaborative post ]
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