Food for Strong Teeth and Gums
Parachute pants, the underwhelming Yugo, popped collars, the amazing Flowbee—they are all infamous symbols of the 80s. But perhaps an underrated, unsung hero of the 1980s is this little gem right here …
Chopper is singing to your heart. Don’t try to stop. You will find yourself singing this lyrical masterpiece at random times, when you grab a carrot, munch on celery, bite into an apple, or while standing in that 25-foot-socially-distanced line at the grocery store. It’s deep. It’s magical. It’s food for the soul.
Alright, alright. So, it may not be food for the soul. Admittedly, that is a bit of a stretch. But, that little Danny Zuko lookalike, along with his buddies resembling a cross between Fat Albert and the cast of Grease, sings to make a valid point about our choppers. What we choose to exercise our choppers with is important!
Our teeth need to chew on healthy food because it’s good for them. Unlike push-ups and lifting weights, chewing on good, hard food isn’t just about building up svelte jaw muscles. It’s about teeth and gums. The simple act of chewing healthy food has multiple benefits.
The key being healthy food.
If you are hoping that Chester Cheetah will back you up and say that munching on DoritosⓇ or a late night liaison with a bag of Lay’sⓇ will have the same effect in your mouth as something grown in a garden, well honey, grab your boo-hoo tissues. Snacking on processed chips has the same benefit for your jaw muscles, but absolutely not for your teeth and gums.
Deep down, you know it’s true. That’s why our mamas always told us to eat our veggies and brush our teeth.
Just in case you need some visual inspiration …
Heeeey … Nothing says eat your fruits and veggies like a banana hat and a root vegetable recorder. #gardenofgoofy (image source)
Your Mom Was Right. You Need to Eat Veggies.
We really are what we eat. Some of us are spinach, kale, and fish … And some of us are a pint of Ben & Jerry’s. The foods we consistently choose to eat have a direct effect on our bodies.
Our nutrition isn’t merely about being fit and lean. Nutrition has an effect on the whole body from the inside out—brain, heart, muscles, bones, skin, and our teeth and gums.
We know that continually eating fast food, fried foods, cakes, pastries, candy, or any other junk is not very wise. We notice it in our waistlines, our disappearing cheekbones and jawlines, and our decreasing energy. Junk food intake comes with a price … even if that price slowly adds up over time, it’s going to be paid.
If you’re not eating and drinking what is good for you on a consistent basis, then you put yourself at a higher risk for disease and dental issues. Guess who can prevent that from happening? You.
Yep. You are the only one who can make a conscious decision to change your regular diet and oral hygiene habits. Making these changes will improve your long term health and well-being, including healthier teeth and gums.
Fresh fruits and veggies are packed full of goodness to fuel and strengthen our bodies with their nutrients. The water and fiber within them help balance out the presence of natural sugar. Munching on raw vegetables and fruits helps to increase salivary flow and rinse out excess food and acids. Even healthy foods can have a negative effect on the teeth if it remains on the teeth for too long.
Not all fruits and veggies are created equal. Some of them are better choices than others. Just remember to eat a rainbow of colors on a regular basis, and you should be good to go. (And no, that does not include tasting the rainbow via a bag of Skittles.)
Spinach and kale are the perfect choice, being high in calcium and vitamin C which help to fight gum disease and decrease inflammation. Calcium has the added benefit of strengthening our tooth enamel, as well as our bones.
Broccoli, sweet potatoes, butternut squash, and shiitake mushrooms are smart choices. And holy Shiitake! These babies are one of the super foods that happen to contain an antibacterial compound which prevents the growth of oral bacteria and fights plaque buildup. It’s known as lentinan. You can eat a good shiitake raw or cooked, and can probably find them used in Asian food.
Lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruits, as well as various berries have a decent amount of vitamin C and calcium, too. Even though it’s tempting to eat a rainbow of fruits and call it a day, remember natural sugars are still sugar. Too much sugar in any form is not good for your teeth or your body. Period.
Lower Your Sugar Consumption For Strong Teeth & Gums
Ok. So, this is coming from the chic who loves sugar in many of its glorious forms. Hand on heart, upon pain of death, it is an absolute fact that sugar is one of the main culprits of dental problems.
Sugar is the feast upon which bacteria in your mouth feed and in turn cause tooth decay and pesky cavities. For the sake of your choppers, limit your sugar. Keep an eye on labels with added sugars.
Drink Water For Oral Health — a lot of water!
Think before you drink. For a healthy mouth and body, choose water as your drink of choice. Put down that Diet CokeⓇ or Red Bull and grab water. If you must drink something else, opt for low-sugar drinks and chew sugar-free gum afterwards to help flush the acids and sugars from your teeth.
Consistent brushing and flossing is always a must. It is also a great idea to drink fluoridated water because it helps to make your teeth more resistant to acids that cause cavities. Drinking water throughout the day and especially after eating will help wash away sugars, acids, food particles, and bacteria that cause tooth decay and bad breath.
Eat Your Dairy and Protein To Keep Gums & Teeth Healthy
Phosphorus is another mineral vital to strengthening teeth. Eggs, milk, fish, poultry, and fish are all considered good proteins to consume. Yogurt, cheese, and cottage cheese are rich in calcium. They contain casein which is a protein that aids in the neutralization of acids that come from bacteria sitting in your mouth.
Beans, raw nuts, and seeds are additional protein choices containing minerals and healthy fiber.
When do we start making these changes?
Well, we preferably need to make the changes sooner rather than later. Start ‘em young! Kiddos need to eat balanced diets consisting of the four food groups in order to maintain regular growth and healthy bodies. That includes their little mouths! Once those baby teeth are gone, permanent teeth will be with them throughout adulthood.
As adults in America, most of us are well-versed in carbs. Love them, or hate them, carbs are a regular top of discussion among adults riding the weight loss train. We know that too many carbs often leads to “puffiness.”
Okay, if you’re not a marathon runner or one of those lucky people whose body processes carbs like a champ, then you know “puffiness” is code for FAT. But that is not the only way too many carbs causes problems.
Excess carbohydrates in both sweet and savory foods can lead to tooth decay. The length of time that those carbs hang around on our teeth is the main culprit in the development of nasty cavities. Here is why: many of those carbs are fermentable and they turn into sugar. Sugar sitting on teeth is no bueno!!
How can adults and kids make better choices for strong teeth and gums?
Check out these great tips:
- Keep plenty of fruits and veggies in your house to choose as healthy snacks instead of carbohydrates. Select produce that contains a lot of water, like melons, celery, pears, and cucumbers. Limit bananas and dried fruit because these have a higher concentration of sugar.
- Offer cheese as a snack or with a meal. Cheese helps to increase salivary flow—especially Swiss, cheddar, Monterey Jack, and other aged cheeses. Saliva works to wash food particles off of teeth.
- Avoid chewy, sticky foods. Caramel, raisins, honey, syrup, cookies, jelly beans, gummies, dried figs, granola bars, and molasses all adhere to teeth making it nearly impossible for saliva to do its job. If you eat these types of food, grab a toothbrush and scrub away those potential cavity-makers.
- Don’t serve sugary treats as snacks, serve them with meals. If you’re going to have sweets, eat them as desserts right after your meal. Typically, we have an increased amount of saliva in our mouths around mealtime, so it makes it easier to rinse food particles off of our teeth. Your drink also helps to rinse food from your teeth. Finishing with water is the healthiest choice!
- Avoid frequent snacking. It’s not the amount of food eaten during snacking that matters to your teeth and gums, it’s the frequency. Saliva has time to wash away food particles when there is a gap between eating, otherwise destructive bacteria is constantly present.
Unless you brush your teeth repeatedly throughout the day to remove acids, sugars, and food particles, continual snacking gives constant fuel to grow bacteria. (Keep in mind that constant brushing is hard on gums.) In turn, plaque forms and tooth decay follows. Keep snacks healthy and limited, then follow with brushing.
- Sugary sweets should be avoided. Hard candy, mints, suckers, and even cough drops can all cause tooth decay because they coat our teeth with sugar. Most dental hygienists will tell you that suckers are the worst! They are cavities on a stick.
- Buy foods that are sugar-free or unsweetened. Foods that have the sugar substitute xylitol may actually help prevent tooth decay.
- For Caregivers: DO NOT put your child to bed with bottles containing anything other than water. If your child absolutely needs a bottle to sleep, make it simple water.
- Make drinking water a habit. Most drinks include sugar—100% juice, soda, sports drinks, and even milk. Water is your best bet because it has multiple health benefits, as well as aiding the saliva in washing away pieces of food hanging around in our mouths.
- Be sure to eat calcium-rich foods to build strong teeth. Milk, yogurt, cheese, leafy greens, and seafood are all high in calcium.
The bottom line is that food for strong teeth and gums comes in the form of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, and calcium-rich dairy items.
Speaking of calcium-rich dairy, let’s briefly chat about cheese. Munching on a piece of hard cheese has the benefit of promoting more saliva production. In addition, cheese is also high in minerals like calcium and phosphorus, which help to strengthen and protect your enamel.
Calcium can strengthen your teeth the same way it strengthens your bones, so cheese is a great choice for extra enamel protection. Cheese is also loaded with lactic acid, which can also help fight tooth decay.
So eat hard cheeses and drink plenty of water if you want healthier teeth and gums. This little trick also gives your teeth their best chance at appearing white and bright. If your teeth and gums are healthy but not so much white, then read on!
Eating all the healthy food in the world may not whiten your teeth. So, try more modern methods of cleaning your teeth, like Snow’s teeth whitening system. Snow is the most technologically-advanced system for teeth whitening on the market, so you know you’re getting the best possible solution for your teeth whitening needs.
Whiter teeth are within your reach, so whether you’re eating cheese, drinking a gallon of water, brushing with baking soda, or whitening with Snow, now is the best time to get started on your teeth whitening journey.
And remember, “Exercise is great, but exercise those choppers, too.”