Good oral hygiene starts with an effective tooth brushing technique. You should spend at least two minutes brushing your teeth, at least twice a day. But brushing isn’t your only ally for keeping your smile cavity-free. Did you know that certain foods can help prevent cavities by strengthening tooth enamel?
Milk and cheese
Milk contains a number of nutrients that are essential for bone and tooth health, including calcium, phosphorus, vitamin D and lactose (a natural sugar).
Hard cheese contains both calcium and phosphorus, which help keep teeth and enamel strong, as well as proteins that help prevent the bacteria from accumulating on the surface of teeth. Hard cheese also stimulates saliva flow, which helps neutralize pH levels in the oral cavity.
While dairy products are great for protecting your oral health, go easy on soft cheeses, flavoured yogurts, and sweetened milk, which offer fewer tooth-friendly benefits.
Nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds contain fat, protein and fiber. Like milk and cheese, they contain significant amounts of phosphorus and calcium, as well as vitamins and minerals that help maintain good dental health. The dietary fiber in nuts and seeds stimulates saliva flow during chewing, which is an excellent way to protect tooth enamel. Be careful to avoid nuts covered in sweeteners like honey, agave nectar or maple syrup, as these ingredients can offset the benefits of eating nuts. If you enjoy eating fruits and nuts together, save the nuts for last because they can help neutralize the acidity produced by the sugar in the fruit.
Fruits are more acidic than other types of food, but they aren’t as damaging to teeth as juice or water with lots of lemons. Instead of fruit juice, choose fresh fruit with the peel on. As we’ve already seen, chewing stimulates saliva production. If you have a weakness for dried or stewed fruit or fruit bars, it’s a wise idea to brush your teeth immediately after consuming these foods.
Did you know?
Cranberries are rich in bacteria-fighting antioxidants (thanks to flavonoids), but they’re also effective cavity fighters. Like cheese, cranberries help prevent bacteria from sticking to the surface of teeth.
Chocolate contains polyphenols, molecules that play a key role in cavity prevention. It also contains bacteria-inhibiting tannins as well as fluorine and phosphates. But in order to be beneficial for teeth, chocolate must contain at least 70% pure cacao. Consume in moderation and brush immediately after eating.
Tea leaves, especially in the form of green tea, are chock-full of nutrients including polyphenols and fluorine. Together, they reduce plaque and strengthen tooth enamel. To get the most nutritional benefit from this antioxidant-rich beverage, let the tea steep for 20 minutes in water with a temperature of 90°C. Naturally, you’ll get the most cavity-fighting benefits from your tea if you enjoy it without sugar or sweetener.
Here are some other foods that are great for preventing cavities:
- Wild salmon
- Dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao)
- Raw carrots
If you have questions about how your diet affects your dental health, talk to your dentist. Your bright smile is worth it!
There are more cavity-fighting foods than you may realize. For example, did you know that even chocolate has tooth-friendly properties? To learn about the many foods that can help prevent cavities, check out our blog.