The Best and Worst Foods for Your Teeth

dental health, The Best and Worst Foods for Your Teeth,

Tooth decay is one of the most common oral health problems, affecting kids, teens, and adults alike. In fact, the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research reports about 92 percent of adults have had at least one cavity during their lifetimes. Among kids, the news is a bit better: The CDC says about 46 percent of kids and teens have had one or more cavities — and about 20 percent of those cavities are untreated.

Of course, practicing good oral hygiene is one of the best ways to prevent cavities. That means brushing and flossing at least twice a day using the right techniques and seeing the dentist every six months for checkups and cleanings. But that’s not all you can do to keep tooth decay at bay. You know that old saying, “You are what you eat”? Well, as it turns out, when it comes to your teeth, it’s especially true. While some foods can be good for your oral health, other foods can significantly increase your risk for developing cavities. Knowing which foods to avoid and which ones to indulge in is one more way to stay cavity-free. Use this quick guide before your next grocery shopping trip so you can load up on the "good guys" and leave the "bad guys" on the shelves.

5 foods to eat

Put these "good guys" at the top of your shopping list:

Cheese, yogurt, and other dairy products

Calcium and phosphates in cheese and other dairy products help keep your teeth strong by replacing lost minerals and maintaining your enamel, the hard outer layer that keeps bacteria from causing decay.

Apples, carrots, and other fiber-rich foods

Foods full of fiber help keep sticky plaque from forming on your tooth surfaces, plus they help you produce more saliva, which helps wash away tiny food particles.

Sugar-free gum

Sugar-free gum is a great between-meal snack because it helps your mouth produce more saliva. Your saliva contains minerals necessary for strong tooth enamel, and it also helps prevent dry mouth, which can cause bad breath and increase the risk of decay.

Almonds

Almonds are full of calcium, which is necessary for maintaining strong, healthy teeth. Their crunch also helps prevent plaque from sticking to your tooth surfaces.

Tea

Both green and black varieties contain compounds called polyphenols, which help control bacterial populations and prevent bacteria from causing decay. Hot and iced versions are both good for promoting oral health.

5 foods to avoid

Those are the good guys; now for the bad guys:

Chewy candies

It’s no surprise that candy makes the “bad guys” list. But chewy candy is especially bad because it tends to get stuck between your teeth, giving sugar extra time to eat away at your enamel. Sour candy is even worse since it also contains tooth-destroying acids.

White bread

White bread and similar soft breads made of refined flours tend to turn into a pasty starch when you chew them. Your saliva turns that starch into sugars that can stick to your teeth and in the spaces between your teeth. To avoid those problems, choose whole-grain varieties and rinse your mouth after eating.

Potato chips

It’s true — no one can eat just one. It’s also true these starchy snacks break down into sugars, just like bread. And the tiny pieces can get trapped between teeth, where they wind up feeding decay-causing bacteria. If you must indulge, floss afterward.

Ice

You might think chewing on ice is OK since it’s just made of water. But ice is hard — hard enough to damage your enamel and make you more prone to decay, chips, and fractures. Use ice to chill your drinks, but don’t chew it.

Dried fruit

Dried fruits do have health benefits, but sticky varieties like prunes, dates, figs, and raisins, all tend to get caught between your teeth, where the sugars they contain provide a ready meal for bacteria. If you eat dried fruit, remember to floss and rinse afterward — or better still, opt for the fresh versions.

Eating the right foods — and avoiding the wrong ones — is important for good oral health, and so are regular dental checkups. If it’s been a while since your last checkup at byte Dental, don’t put off your care. Take the next step toward better oral health, and book an appointment online today.

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