Food: An onion a day to keep the dentist away.
An onion a day will certainly keep more than your dentist away if you don’t brush afterwards, but just like an apple a day is good for your body, and your teeth, so is a little onion. Scientist are constantly uncovering little bits of magic that food we eat does inside our mouth and body.
Crunchy food like apples and celery clean the mouth when we chew them, a few special foods, do more than scrub and induce extra salivation. Some foods like onions have near superpowers to protect our teeth.
The onions chemical compounds distinctly target, and destroy, six of the types of bacteria that are specifically connected to tooth decay and gum disease. As with the onion there are number of other foods that can help keep your teeth healthy.
When social engagements and festive food related encounters become more frequent, during the Holiday season or vacations, follow these easy tips to choose foods that will protect teeth in the midst of all those sweets and starches (that break down to feed sugar fueled bacteria in the mouth).
Foods that aid in remineralizing teeth naturally
Cheese, salmon, eggs, meat, almonds, and leafy greens all provide nutrients like calcium or phosphorus that strengthen and keep tooth enamel healthy and strong. Calcium and phosphorus are naturally occurring minerals that replenish the enamel on your teeth after eating or drinking. Imagine that the minerals from these healthy foods are actually filling in microscopic holes and scratches left behind from the normal wear and tear teeth are exposed to.
When we eat, the food in our mouth may have high sugar or even high acid levels as in the case of citrus, tomatoes, wine, cider, and blueberries. Foods high in acid leave microscopic abrasions on our teeth as we eat. Those tiny scratches become more and more vulnerable to decay over time. Besides having mineral properties to strengthen enamel, cheese has the added benefit of being able to lower pH levels in the mouth after acidic food has been consumed.
Not only can eating foods, like cheese, help lower the pH in your mouth from acidic foods, but they can also help replace minerals leached from the enamel.
Many types of fish, particularly ocean fish, offer a great source of vitamin D. Vitamin D found in salmon and other fish is critical for your body to be able to utilize calcium properly. Natural sources of Vitamin D are found in some types of fish like salmon and mackerel, and in dark green leafy vegetables like kale, chard and the tops of beets. These sources of vitamin D are just as natural and beneficial as getting your vitamin D from the sun.
Lots of other foods offer vitamins, like vitamin A for example, and those vitamins are also needed in healthy tooth enamel. The short list includes; carrot, butternut squash, kale, cantaloupe, mango, red sweet pepper, sweet potatoes, and tuna (just be careful of mercury levels). Eating a regular diet full of foods like these create a synergistic effect making the most of your teeth’s ability to maintain enamel and stay strong
Foods that whiten and protect teeth
The good news keeps getting better: not only are there foods that aid in maintaining the protective enamel of your chompers but there are foods that help to whiten your smile as well. Just about any fruit or vegetable that crunches while you chew is a great choice for your teeth. Apples and Pears, in particular, are high in water content, the natural sugars in them stimulate saliva production the combination ensures that while you’re chewing the abrasiveness of the crunchy fruit and all that juicy goodness will scrub and rinse away stains along with pockets of bacteria.
That same benefit — and a better option — can also be had from not so sweet crunchy foods: carrots, celery, raw broccoli, and raw cauliflower are great examples. While these foods may not stimulate healthy saliva production the same way a juicy apple does, some of them, like broccoli and cauliflower, boast unique characteristics for protecting your teeth. They still do all that whitening scrubbing action that other crunchy stuff does but they leave behind a slippery coating on teeth that forms a barrier for sticky plaque causing bacteria.
A few other foods have the ability to create something of a protective shield on your teeth: sesame seeds, shitaki mushrooms, and onions are among them. Sounds funny but these last three should be considered secret weapons in the quest for a brighter, whiter smile. Sesame seeds can be sprinkled on just about any salad, stir fry, or baked goods and actually have enzymes that soften and dissolve plaque in addition to the calcium they have that replenishes the enamel of your teeth. Shitaki mushrooms tout an enzyme that acts like a seek-and-destroy missile to eradicate specific bacteria in the mouth responsible for cavities.
While raw onions probably won’t make the cut on date night, they actually have antibacterial properties proven to eradicate six specific types of bacteria in the mouth that cause decay and gingivitis. So slice up some onions for your sandwich (and brush your teeth when your done).
Water. It’s the single easiest thing you can do, after brushing and flossing, to keep your teeth healthy and strong. Drinking a minimum of 6-8 glasses of water and adding water to compensate for hot days, caffeine intake, and activities like exercise that leave you perspiring. Adequate water consumption ensures your mouth stays moist and rinses away bacteria after eating, reducing the acid and decreasing the chance for decay. Saliva is the best thing for your teeth, it dilutes down acids, washes away food particles, fights germs, and carries nutrients to the enamel.