German researchers have found that vegetarians have better gum health, compared with meat eaters. They showed less inflammation, less gum damage and better dental home care. However, their dental status was worse off (when compared to the non-vegetarians.) Although very few investigations have been conducted on this possible correlation, and the sample sizes in these studies are small, it is something for us to think about.
While it may be common for us to think about foods as being ‘healthy’, ‘unhealthy’, or even íf they fall into the ‘sinful’ category, not many of us think of foods as being good for our teeth or not.
Here’s a list to help you out:
- Fruits and vegetables
Fruits and veggies, especially the high-fiber & crunchy juicy ones. These work like detergent in the mouth, physically giving your teeth a good scrub and because of the longer chewing time, stimulates saliva flow. Saliva neutralizes acids (which damage teeth), and contains calcium and phosphates that help rebuild minerals leached away by acids. The high water content in crunchy, juicy fruits and vegetables also help to offset their sugar content.
Water is valuable as the final rinsing agent for foods and sugary drinks, and, if fluoridated, works to prevent tooth decay by strengthening tooth enamel.
- Dairy products
Cheese helps stimulate saliva; calcium helps replace minerals. Milk, yogurt and similar products work similarly and also provide calcium and phosphates. Choose products with no added sugar.
- Green and black tea, and (surprise!) coffee
These contain polyphenols that interact with the bacteria that causes plaque, which can kill or suppress bacteria, preventing them from growing or producing acid. In coffee, the polyphenols also have cavity-fighting properties.
Many nuts provide vitamins and minerals that help your teeth. Incorporate peanuts (calcium and vitamin D), almonds (calcium), cashews (stimulates saliva and helps clean teeth) and walnuts (fiber, folic acid, iron, thiamine, magnesium, iron, niacin, vitamin E, vitamin B6, potassium and zinc) into your daily diet.
You (and your teeth) are what you eat. So bear the above in mind when going through the menu at your next meal.