Many of us choose to block our braces-wearing years from our memory, and for good reason. The braces years are typically nobody’s fondest memories—having metal wires strapped to your teeth doesn't do too much to make the pre-teen or teen years any less awkward. And braces or not, your dentist probably instilled a deep-rooted fear of crunchy or sticky foods that could get stuck in or wear down your teeth.
If you still carry a lingering distrust for mixing food and teeth, there’s good news. In addition to maintaining good teeth brushing and flossing habits, eating certain foods can actually do wonderful things for your dental health—and some of them are even crunchy! The following are categories of food that can help keep your pearly whites clean and disease-free:
Foods with Fluoride
You’re probably used to getting a fluoride treatment at the dentist’s office, but eating certain foods can provide you with high levels of fluoride as well. Powdered cereals and soups, fluoridated water, green tea and prepared chicken products from the grocery store can all give you large doses of fluoride, and eating them is much more enjoyable than sitting in the dentist’s chair. Foods with fluoride help replace the minerals your teeth lose from eating other foods and are excellent at preventing tooth decay.
Foods rich in fiber keep the saliva flowing in your mouth, which sounds gross but is important for creating barriers in your mouth that prevent tooth decay. Most dried or fresh fruits are high in fiber, as are vegetables, bran and almonds. Fruit is also good for gum health and is highly effective in preventing plaque build-up.
Don’t have time to brush your teeth after lunch or dinner? Snack on foods that are natural tooth-cleaners like apples, raw celery and raw carrots. Eating these crunchy mouth-cleaners is the best way to freshen up your mouth if you don’t have a toothbrush or mouthwash handy.
Not only do whole grains reduce your risk of heart disease, cancer, diabetes and high blood pressure, they can also do good things for your dental health. This super-ingredient contains high levels of Vitamin B, a vitamin that prevents gum disease and reduces your risk of tooth loss. Plus, whole grains also fit into the fiber-rich category, adding some extra benefits to your dental health.
Now you can add “snacking” to your dental care to-do list, along with brushing, flossing and rinsing. Eating your way to healthy teeth and gums sounds much better than a trip to the dentist, so start snacking!