The Top Best and Worst Foods for Your Oral Health

foods for oral health

Taking too many trips to the dentist office? Can’t find a way to stop getting cavities, despite constant brushing and flossing? Although you might have great oral hygiene habits, there are other factors that can lead to the deterioration of your oral health. Sometimes, it doesn’t have anything to do with brushing and flossing — but actually what you eat and drink! Here are the top best and worst foods for oral health.

1. Alcohol

Before you book your next winery tour, consider this: alcohol can actually cause some pretty nasty consequences for your teeth. Alcohols of any kind — such as beer, liquor, or wine — are not the best foods for oral health. Alcohol is ultimately full of sugars, which can eat away at the enamel on your teeth. Most of the liquids mixed with alcohol also contain excess sugar. Mixed drinks and other forms of alcohol can also increase the level of acid in your mouth, leading to erosion of the teeth.

Have you ever noticed having a dry mouth after a night of drinking? Nope, it’s not just in your head. Alcohol dries out your mouth and reduces the production of saliva, which is actually very important in promoting your oral health. Saliva keeps food particles from sticking to your teeth and causing damage. Without it, the sugars found in alcohol (as well as anything else you may consume) will stick to the surface of your teeth and increase your risk for cavities, gum disease, and oral infections. Dentists advise you to continuously drink water during a night of drinking to help increase saliva production and wash our all of the food particles.

Besides oral health, alcohol can cause a lot of damage to the rest of your body. Your liver health, for example, is greatly affected by alcohol consumption. Your liver is an incredibly vital organ and any damage to the liver can cause incredibly adverse effects on your overall health. Heavy and regular alcohol consumption can also cause negative neurological effects and cardiovascular effects. Overall, it’s best to watch how much alcohol you drink in a day — for more reasons than one!

2. Ice

Many people don’t know that ice cubes can actually cause damage to your teeth. Chewing ice is an incredibly common habit among the population, but it’s not without some negative effects. Ice is a hard substance; chewing on it can create cracks or chips in the enamel of your teeth. These cracks and chips can be breeding grounds for bacteria, resulting in increased cavities or oral infection. Despite knowing this, many people still have a hard time quitting ice crunching. Why is this?

If you’re having a hard time quitting ice, there may be a couple of things to consider. Ice cravings may be a sign of pica, which is an eating disorder that involves eating things of little to no nutritional value, such as dirt, clay, and ice. Sometimes there is no rhyme or reason for pica — but in the case of ice, it can sometimes hint at an iron deficiency. Your dentist may offer the advice of replacing ice crunching with crunching on other foods for oral health, such as cucumbers or carrots. In addition, you could let the ice melt in your mouth instead of crunching it. Finally, they may recommend switching to slushes with finer pieces of ice that will do less damage to your teeth.

3. Candy

Candy may seem like an obvious detriment to your oral health, yet it is incredibly common to consume among kids and adults alike. Although candy is generally not good for your oral health, sour candy can have particularly negative consequences. This is due to the high levels of acid that can destroy enamel, as well as the sticky consistency that allows the acid to stick onto the surface of your teeth. Experts suggest that other candy that is lower in acid and less sticky, such as chocolate, can be better if you’re craving candy. In addition, consuming candy in moderation and always brushing your teeth afterward is a great way to protect your teeth.

Many people may not realize that oral health is actually an incredibly strong indicator of your overall physical health. Habitual consumption of foods high in sugar like candy is in fact not good for your oral health, but it also isn’t good for your overall health. America, in particular, has this issue, with obesity rates more than doubling for adults and children within the past 30 years. In order to emphasize weight control, all eating habits should be considered — even if it’s just snacking on candy.

Another thing to consider when researching foods for oral health is that children are far more at risk of developing cavities and gum infections because of their often poor eating habits. Children are most commonly seen in the offices of their pediatric dentist due to a combination of poor oral hygiene habits and their affinity for candy. Unfortunately, children can’t choose all of the correct nutritional options on their own, so parents must help them select an appropriate diet to keep them out of those metal braces.

4. Carbonated Drinks

This one may seem a little obvious, but there are plenty of reasons that carbonated drinks don’t rank among the best foods for oral health. To start, most carbonated drinks are full of processed sugars and syrups. These can be extremely damaging to the enamel on your teeth. If your teeth aren’t properly cared for in between drinking sugary carbonated drinks, cavities and gum disease can start causing irreversible damage. You can help clear away the sugar left behind by carbonated drinks by brushing and flossing after you drink them. However, it does help to wait a little bit before brushing your teeth, as this might make the enamel wear down faster.

Darker carbonated drinks such as colas can also stain your teeth, sending you through hours of painful teeth whitening. Because the sugars can wear away at the enamel, this leaves your tooth enamel more exposed to the dyes in drinks that will stain. Tooth staining is not only unsightly, but it is very difficult to reverse. Home teeth whitening kits often do not completely whiten stains caused by carbonated drinks. It may take multiple rounds of home teeth whitening or a costly trip to the dentist to remove the stains. Overall, it is best to enjoy carbonated drinks in moderation or maybe swap in water in between your carbonated drinks.

5. Bread

It may be surprising to some, but bread can actually cause major problems for your teeth! The sugars in bread can be even more destructive than the sugars in candies. This is because bread, when combined with saliva, can form a paste that sticks in the crevices between your teeth. Because the sugar is broken down into such a thin paste, it can be difficult to completely cleanse your teeth of the sugars. If not completely cleaned with tooth brushing and flossing, those sugars can become embedded into the enamel of your teeth and cause cavities.

People with food allergies can also experience trouble with oral health and bread. Celiac disease is becoming more and more prevalent as more people become aware of the symptoms. People with celiac disease experience a variety of symptoms when they eat products with gluten, such as bread. This is because gluten causes damage to the small intestine. The damage to the small intestine can present many symptoms such as heartburn, acid reflux, stomach pain, and indigestion. Constant acid reflux can lead to sores in your mouth and damage to your teeth that causes bad oral health.

Although eating bread and other bread products isn’t always a bad choice, it might be best to try to avoid eating bread often. If you are experiencing issues with cavities and cannot determine the root of the cause, consider brushing your teeth and flossing after eating bread. If toothpaste and floss aren’t available, mouthwash might help. Finally, trying gluten-free options to replace bread could be a good idea.

6. Water

Although water isn’t necessarily a food for oral health, but rather a drink, it still deserves a mention. This is because drinking water can be one of the best things you can do for your oral health. Drinking water naturally flushes out bacteria and other bits of food in between brushing and flossing. Although brushing and flossing is the best way to make sure your teeth are clean, a constant flow of water is extremely important as an intermediate way of cleaning your mouth.

When considering foods for oral health, a constant flow and circulation of saliva is completely necessary. Water helps saliva remain thin and abundant in the mouth. With saliva being so abundant, bacteria and food particles are not given the opportunity to settle in cracks and crevices in the teeth.

There are plenty of minerals, such as calcium and iron, in water that help keep teeth strong. Certain bottled waters contain stronger concentrations of minerals that make teeth even stronger. In the United States, much of the population is given tap water with fluoride added. Fluoride strengthens teeth enamel and helps prevent tooth decay from acid found in the foods we eat or drinks we drink. Therefore, fluoride can make water even more helpful to promote oral health.

foods for oral health

7. Dairy

Dairy is one of the wonder foods for oral health. There are many dairy products that contain sugar, such as ice cream or chocolate. These sugars can, of course, have negative consequences for your teeth. But many dairy products actually contain less sugar and can have a positive impact on your oral health. Milk and yogurt, for example, are healthier options that can contain less sugar and provide important vitamins that can help strengthen your teeth.

Dairy is rich in calcium, which promotes strong bones and teeth. In eating the appropriate amount of calcium, your teeth can build a strong enamel that prevents the development of cavities and disease. It is important to provide your body with the correct vitamins to promote strong bones and teeth.

8. Sugarless Gum

Thankfully, there are some sweet substances that can help your teeth be clean and strong. Sugarless gum is helpful in that it helps promote the production of saliva, which keeps teeth and gums clean. It also doesn’t contain the sugar that can work its way into the cracks and crevices of your teeth. Sugarless gum can also actually help to remove harmful food particles from your mouth so it doesn’t get stuck to the enamel of your teeth.

Although sugarless gum can be one of the great foods for oral health, it is important to remember that moderation is key. Habitual gum chewers can sometimes wear out the muscles in the jaw, causing TMJ. TMJ is a painful muscle condition that can cause the muscles in the jaw to lock and tighten. Repetitive motions of the jaw such as teeth grinding or gum chewing can cause TMJ. Therefore, keep in mind that the amount of gum you chew can affect your oral health both positively and negatively.

9. Teas

Many different types of teas can be extremely helpful foods for oral health. Green teas, black teas, and fruit teas contain a variety of antioxidants that can fight bacteria in the mouth. This can prevent tooth decay and gum disease and inflammation in the mouth. Teas can also increase the production of saliva as well, which helps keep bacteria flushed out of small spaces in the mouth.

Both green teas and black teas also contain polyphenols, which can fight plaque bacterias and help slow the growth of plaque. In addition, the antioxidants can promote healthy stomach pHs that reduce acid that can flow into the mouth through reflux. Therefore, green and black teas can be incredibly beneficial foods for oral health.

Now that you have a better idea of the foods that can support or jeopardize your oral health, you can make smarter nutritional decisions for a healthy life.

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