7 Foods and Drinks that Surprisingly Prevent Tooth Decay
We’ve all heard that we’re supposed to brush after every meal, but did you know there are actually certain foods that prevent tooth decay? They aren’t a replacement for brushing, but it’s good to know which foods and drinks can be beneficial to your dental health.
Here’s a list of six foods and beverages that are good for your teeth.
“Research has shown that calcium levels in the mouth increase after eating cheese,” says Dr. Shawn Frawley, a dentist in Beverly Hills. “Teeth are partly made up of calcium, so increased saliva calcium levels helps re-mineralize teeth and prevent cavities from occurring.” Casein, a protein found in cheese, could be responsible—some research has shown that it may have a property that protects and supports the health of your teeth. It could also aid in preventing cavities.
2. Sugar-free Candy and Gum
Dentists agree that sugar-free candy and gum don’t harm your teeth; in fact, if it is sweetened with the natural sugar substitute xylitol, as many sugar-free options are these days, it will actually aid in fighting cavities and tooth decay. “Xylitol is a very effective cavity fighter and prevents decay from occurring,” says Dr. Frawley. “Xylitol helps prevent cavities because bacteria that cause tooth decay cannot utilize it to grow and cannot metabolize it to produce acid.”
Xylitol is at its most effective when it is in gum or mint form. The recommended amount is 5 grams daily – this usually equates to being consumed about 3-5 times a day. Just make sure that it’s the first ingredient listed for the amount to be enough.
3. Whole Grains
Vitamin B and iron are found in whole grains, which are two important ingredients for healthy gums. They are also rich in magnesium and fiber, which are good for bones and teeth. Good sources of whole grains are foods such as brown rice, bran, and whole grain breads and cereals.
4. Crunchy Fruits and Vegetables
The high fiber content stimulates your mouth’s saliva glands, which rinses off sugar or leftover food particles on your teeth before it can eat into your enamel. So even though foods like apples have a relatively high sugar content, the combination of water and fiber in them is high enough to cancel out the effects of the sugar. Essentially, it enables them to do more good than harm. Nuts are also good, because not only are they crunchy, but they are also rich in protein, calcium, and phosphorous, which are good for your teeth’s enamel.
Milk can up your pH levels, which are lowered when you consume sugary foods and drinks. In the Journal of the American Dental Association, there was a study published looking at the effects of whole milk, apple juice, or water on the teeth of 20 adults after they ate Froot Loops. The results showed that milk was the most effective for strengthening their teeth and reducing the acid levels in their mouths after eating the cereal.
6. Green and Black Teas
There are compounds in the teas that suppress bacteria, which inhibits the processes that cause tooth decay and gum disease. And if the water you use to brew your tea is fluoridated, that’s good for your teeth as well. Fluoride essentially strengthens the mineral composition of your teeth. Try to avoid adding sugar to your tea, as it’s counterproductive to dental health.
Cranberries are rich in flavonoids and other organic acids that are known for their antimicrobial properties. They prevent bacteria from adhering to surfaces in the same way that they prevent urinary tract infections by blocking E. coli from sticking to the bladder wall.