You might be surprised to learn that tooth enamel (the outer coating on the teeth) is the strongest substance in the body. And yet, acids and bacteria manage to do a fine job of breaking down that enamel, exposing the inner pulp of the teeth and leading to cavities. Good oral hygiene (brushing and flossing) help keep your teeth healthy, but it’s not always enough to strengthen the enamel enough to fend off cavities.
The good news is, there’s more you can do than just brushing and flossing. Turns out, the foods you eat can play a significant role in your enamel health. Plus, strengthening tooth enamel through food choices rather than toothpaste and mouthwash means you not only promote the health of your entire mouth but also avoid all of the chemicals and artificial sweeteners in many commercial toothpastes. Try incorporating these five enamel-friendly foods into your diet, and you’re likely to get a gold star on your next trip to the dentist!
1. Cheese: Cheese is the ultimate cavity fighter. It boosts your saliva production, which helps neutralize the acids that break down enamel, and it also increases the calcium in your saliva, which helps to actually build and strengthen tooth enamel. Harder cheeses like gouda, Parmesan, and aged cheddar are most effective for cavity-fighting.
2. Green and Black Tea: Green and black tea tackle cavities from multiple angles. They contain a natural source of the mineral fluoride, which strengthens tooth enamel, and they contain flavanols, such as epigallocatechin, which help reduce cavity-causing bacteria. Green and black tea also contain chemicals that inhibit the production of glucosyltransferase, an enzyme that helps plaque stick to the teeth. Drink green and black tea, or add the brewed tea in place of water, juice, or milk to your favorite smoothie or baked good recipes to make sure you get plenty of this tooth-friendly ingredient in your diet. You can also add matcha green tea powder to yogurt!
3. Apples: Apples are rich in fiber, which stimulates saliva production and helps wash away plaque from the teeth. It’s best to eat apples raw, since the crunchy texture helps remove plaque and tartar from the teeth.
4. Cacao: Despite the bad rap candy gets for being damaging to teeth, cacao, the main ingredient in chocolate, is actually a great cavity fighter. Cacao contains polyphenols, which kill the streptococci bacteria that cause cavities. Pure cacao powder isn’t sweet, but instead has a nutty flavor that works well in a variety of foods, so it’s great to add to tomato sauces, yogurts, smoothies, even meat dishes.
5. Brown Rice: Brown rice is rich in B vitamins, iron, and magnesium, all of which help keep your gums and teeth healthy and strong to reduce the chances of gum disease and cavities.
Adding the above foods to your diet, in combination with brushing and flossing twice a day, can greatly reduce your chances of getting cavities. How do you make sure to take care of your teeth? Share in the comments below.