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Let’s start with the positive things: still water and milk are both good choices for your teeth. Milk not only contains calcium, but is also low in acidity, while water is always a healthy choice (but avoid sparkling bottled water – it’s too acidic).
Reports suggest that green and black tea can also be good for your teeth – they contain polyphenols, which are antioxidants that help stop plaque from adhering to your teeth and as a result possibly reduces your chances of developing cavities and gum disease. By inhibiting the growth of bacteria, tea is also great for bad breath. Some green teas also contain fluoride, which helps protect your tooth enamel.
On the negative side of things, it’s not surprising that coffee will stain your teeth, turning your pearly whites into a much less desirable shade of yellow. Adding sugar to your coffee can also cause tooth decay.
Fruit juices should only be enjoyed at mealtimes, because of their high levels of acidity and sugar content. Although fructose sugar has a low glycaemic index and is not a severe danger to your teeth , other sweetened drinks contain sucrose, which is particularly associated with tooth decay.
There is a link between carbonated drinks and enamel erosion – even if the drinks are ‘diet’ variants and do not contain sugar. The same applies to other acidic drinks such as citrus beverages. Recently, sports and energy drinks such as Gatorade and Red Bull have also been named as culprits that can erode enamel, so it would be good to steer clear of them as well if possible.
Erosion can cause hypersensitivity, discolour your teeth and result in significant tooth surface wear.
If you are going to consume acidic, sugary, or carbonated drinks, however, try to use a straw. This will limit the exposure of your teeth to the potentially harmful effects. You should consume the drink all at once, and not sip it throughout the day, so your teeth are not constantly exposed to acids and sugars. Finally, after consuming an acidic drink, wait at least an hour before brushing, as this can cause more harm than good, by brushing away the softened surface of the enamel.
Just as teeth are important in the consumption of most foods, certain foods should be viewed as important in the health of teeth. To supplement the care you’re providing with regular brushing and flossing, we’ve provided a list of the best – and worst – foods to watch out for when you’re thinking about dental health.
In addition to containing calcium, an important ingredient in healthy teeth and bones, unsweetened yoghurt is also low in acidity and sugar. Similarly, cheese has high calcium and phosphate contents, which balance pH levels, preserve enamel, produce saliva, and kill bacteria.
Sesame seeds are also high in calcium.
Orange vegetables – such as pumpkins, carrots, and sweet potato, as well as other vegetables such as broccoli, contain vitamin A, which, during tooth development, aids in the building of enamel. Crunchy vegetables also help to mechanically clean the surface of your teeth. Celery is particularly effective for this, and also helps the mouth generate saliva. Any food that requires at lot of chewing – from vegetables, to fruits, to whole grains, is beneficial to your teeth and gums.
Despite their reputation as contributors to bad breath, onions contain antibacterial sulphur compounds that kill numerous types of bacteria. They are particularly effective when eaten freshly peeled and raw. Parsley or mint are great choices to follow-up the onions, as they will help to remove the unmistakable odour.
Shiitake mushrooms contain lentinan, which studies have shown may prevent bacteria from forming plaque. Similarly, studies have indicated that wasabi is also effective in preventing the growth of bacteria.
Finally, chewing sugar-free gum can help prevent decay, as it encourages your mouth to produce saliva.
On the less positive side, most of us know that sweets are harmful to teeth. Sugary foods cause tooth decay, whether you’re consuming artificial or natural sugars. The sugar reacts with the bacteria in plaque, which creates harmful acids that attack your teeth. The most important thing with sugar is to limit it to mealtimes, so your teeth are not under attack all throughout the day. That being said, the total amount of sugar consumed should be limited as well.
Acidic foods are also an issue, as the acid can erode the enamel on your teeth.
In general, it is better for your teeth if you limit eating to a few times a day, as opposed to snacking frequently. If you do need to snack, it is best to opt for foods that do not contain excessive sugars. Preferable snacks include cheese, raw vegetables, and nuts.