Everyone wants a whiter, brighter smile, but not everyone knows some of the foods that can help or harm their efforts to achieve one. Here are a few to consider.
- Celery, carrots, and apples are high in Vitamin C, which prevents gum disease and gingivitis and kills odor-causing bacteria. They also cause your mouth to produce more saliva, which acts like a cleaning agent.
- Citrus and other acidic foods increase saliva production. These foods cause your mouth to produce more saliva, which acts like a cleansing agent, keeping your mouth moist and rinsed out.
- Yogurt, milk, and cheese have lactic acid, which decreases gum disease and maintains development and maintenance of teeth. Plus the dairy products and foods fortified with calcium and vitamin D are important not only for healthy teeth, but your jawbone—the foundation for your teeth! Dentists are often the ones to see the first signs of osteoporosis. Even the milk in coffee counts—and it has the added benefit of decreases coffee’s staining ability.
Water with fluoride washes away food particles and keeps the mouth moist. This type of “flushing” keeps harmful bacteria from sticking to teeth. Another tip: green tea helps prevent bad breath, gum sweetened with Xylitol as it has been shown to combat cavities.
The Bad and The Ugly
- Foods with lots of pigment such as soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, curry, and most varieties of berries and cherries will stain teeth. Of course, red wine and black coffee tends to stain teeth too.
- Acid in foods or liquids, like soda, juice, tart candies, pickles, and jams can cause irreversible erosion of tooth enamel. The results of erosion of tooth enamel can include sensitivity, pain, and a higher likelihood of tooth decay and darker teeth, which can only be fixed by veneers.
Tip: Brush your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste 30 minutes before you consume acidic foods. Then wait a half hour after you eat the food to brush again so that your saliva can mix with the acidity and start to neutralize and dilute it. If you brush right away, you’ll be brushing the acid all over your teeth.
Overall, you just have to expect that your teeth will accumulate stains and that you will occasionally have to redo your tooth whitening procedure. Of course, some habits should be broken, such as smoking or taking excessive quantities of multivitamins, because these can be bad for your health and cause harm to the appearance of your teeth.
If you practice good dental hygiene and are careful to rinse or brush after eating or drinking, you can reduce the problems that your favorite foods might cause.
By Dr. Michael Apa, DDS, Rosenthalapagrp.com for BettyConfidential