We all know that oral care is vital, and complete oral care goes way beyond brushing and flossing. With alternative therapies such as oil pulling, and homemade solutions such as herbal mouthwash, there’s a lot you can do to ensure your smile stays beautiful and bright. But don’t overlook the powerful purification properties of simple, everyday foods.
The following ten are supercharged oral crime fighters, certain to keep your gums safe and pearly whites pretty.
Crunchy foods have their benefits. It takes a lot of mouth work to chew on apples, cucumbers, and carrots, but all that crunching is actually good for your teeth. Research suggests that chewing serves as a mechanism that disturbs dental plaque and cleanses bacteria that cling to your teeth.
For the cheese lovers out there, it’s your lucky day. Cheese has shown to neutralize the plaque acid in the mouth and nourish the teeth with calcium. Chewing also increases saliva production – but make sure you’re chewing on healthy snacks!
Green tea contains complex compounds called “catechins” that can fight inflammation and actually control bacterial infections. It’s true! For example, one Japanese study found that men who drink green tea regularly have less occurrence of periodontal disease, as compared to infrequent tree drinkers. And another Japanese study showed that for both men and women, drinking one or more cups of tea per day was correlated with less tooth loss later in life. The antimicrobial “catechins” may in fact account for the oral health benefits associated with green tea, but as of now further study is needed. What we do know for sure, however, is that green tea consumption is good for oral health, period.
Milk is not just good for the bones; it’s great for the teeth as well. A study conducted by the Journal of the American Dental Association found that milk consumption after eating dry, sweet foods decreased the acidity in the mouth. Next time you snack on something, wash it down with a glass of low-fat milk to balance out some of the acid created by plaque bacteria.
NUTS & SEEDS:
Nuts and seeds are a great source of plant-based protein, and they pack in powerful teeth-healthy micronutrients such as phosphorous, magnesium, potassium, zinc, and most importantly, calcium! Calcium is of course essential for strong bones and teeth, and dietary calcium may actually contribute to tooth demineralization. The nuts highest in calcium are almonds and brazil nuts. Sesame seeds are incredibly high in calcium as well, but make sure you get the unhulled variety
Onions, especially when eaten raw, boast powerful bacteria-busting prowess thanks to their antimicrobial sulfur-containing compounds. Recent research out of a Korean University has confirmed that raw onions were actually able to completely eradicate four strains of bacteria known to cause cavities and periodontal disease. Raw onion slivers can be eaten on sandwiches or in salads. However, if you simply cannot stomach them raw, cooked onion is better than no onion at all.
Pop a sugarless gum in your mouth after a meal. Studies show when you chew, saliva secretion clears away some of the bacteria in the mouth. Once again, the keyword here is sugarless!
Shiitakes contain lentinan, a natural sugar that may help to prevent gingivitis. Gingivitis is gum inflammation, characterized by redness, swelling, and possibly even bleeding, often caused by a build-up of bacterial biofilm. Recent studies show that antibacterial compounds like lentinan specifically target these biofilm-making microbes. In fact, they’re so precise that they kill cavity-causing bacteria while leaving the other, non-harmful bacteria completely unaffected.
STRAWBERRIES AND KIWIS (AND TO A LESSER EXTENT, CITRUS FRUITS):
Berries are brimming with Vitamin C, which is essential for building collagen in your gums. Collagen is a protein necessary for the strength of your teeth. Berries are high in antioxidants, contain polyphenols that help prevent plaque from sticking to teeth, and reduce the risk of cavities. That’s not all; strawberries contain an enzyme called malic acid that is known to whiten teeth.
VITAMIN RICH FOODS:
Calcium is the key to maintaining healthy teeth and mouth. Leafy greens, nuts, and cheese contain high levels of calcium that redeposit minerals back into your mouth. Meat, eggs and fish, are also high in phosphorous, which keep the tooth enamel strong and healthy.