Whether you crave a rich cup of java, sweet pastries, or a fine dining experience, what you put in your mouth can hurt or help your smile.
Tucson’s coffee shop scene is dripping with great local and independent options like Yellow Brick Coffee, Presta, Exo Roast, Coffee Times, and many others. But, whether you crave a rich cup of java, sweet pastries, or a fine dining experience, what you put in your mouth can hurt your teeth if you don’t take care of them.
When you had an impressionable young mind, parents and teachers probably told you: sweet candy and soda cause cavities. While that’s common knowledge, the impact of other foods and beverages aren’t as clear.
Learning about the health benefits or possible dangers of certain foods doesn’t have to take the fun out of your foodie adventures. The truth is, no single food or beverage will lead to irreversible change in your oral health, but knowing five specific things, listed below by Advanced Family Dentistry general and cosmetic dentist Payam Asadi can help you keep your teeth shiny and strong.
1. Rinse & Repeat
Sorry, coffee is not on this list. It does cause dental stains. Wines, dark teas, and dark sauces can leave enamel looking dingy, as well. Often, stain-causing foods and drinks contain tannins that leach into enamel.
Foods on the brighter side of that equation are fruits and veggies that actually scrub teeth clean. Fresh broccoli, celery, cauliflower, and white carrots clean teeth and stimulate gum tissue, both of which are extremely good for oral health. Cheeses leave an oil on teeth, so they’re a great option for snacking before drinking wine and other dark beverages.
“I’m not saying you must avoid these foods and drinks altogether,” says Dr. Asadi. “But when you indulge in wines, teas, coffees, or dark foods, it’s a good idea to rinse your mouth with water or soda water right afterward. This helps reduce the risk of staining.”
2. Say CHEESE
Most of us don’t know a lot about enamel health. While teeth contain living tissue deep inside, the outer layer of enamel does not regenerate. Once our teeth fully form, whatever enamel Mother Nature bestows on us has to last a lifetime – or else we’ll need dental work.
To get the most mileage out of your natural enamel, eat foods and drinks that reduce plaque and promote enamel remineralization. Polyphenols found in tea are known to slow the growth of bacteria. Milk and cheddar cheese lower the acidity level in saliva, which can slow tooth decay. Finally, anything that contains calcium (almonds, cheese, and leafy greens) is wonderful for oral health. Our teeth need phosphorus and calcium for strength.
Chewing raw vegetables also promotes the release of saliva, which cleans the mouth and reduces acids that cause enamel erosion.
“Of course, incorporating these foods into your diet is not a substitute for proper oral health,” says Dr. Asadi. “You should still be brushing at least twice a day and flossing once daily. But foods that are rich in phosphorus and calcium can help strengthen your teeth and reduce the risk of damage.”
3. Healthy Gums = Health Body
Like enamel, gum tissue isn’t something we think much about. Gums, along with connective tissues and jawbone tissue, are imperative to keeping teeth solidly anchored. The Listerine website states that several foods promote healthy gums. Ginger naturally lowers tissue inflammation, while apples can dislodge plaque near the gum line.
Uncooked veggies that are high in fiber require lots of chewing, so they clean the surface of teeth and stimulate gum tissue. When gums are stimulated, blood flow increases. This helps gums remain strong and healthy.
“Remember that gum health is directly linked to overall health,” says Dr. Asadi. “So when you fight gum disease, you’re also actively reducing the risk for heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and more.”
Dr. Asadi continues, “If you’re prone to gum disease, it’s a good idea to get a periodontal checkup every three to four months, or as often as your dentist recommends. When detected in the early stages, gum disease is easily treatable. This is something we handle frequently at Advanced Family Dentistry.”
4. Get yo’ breath checked
Foul breath can sabotage your dating life or any relationship for that matter. Known bad breath fighters include raw veggies, yogurt, green tea, citrus, ginger, mint, parsley, and water. Garlic and onions really are top offenders — so you’ve been warned.
“We all know that certain foods can have a negative impact on our breath,” says Dr. Asadi. “But when bad breath is chronic, it could be caused by another underlying factor. It’s important to schedule a dental checkup if you have persistent bad breath.”
5. Ditch the Listerine
Volatile sulfur compounds, or VSCs, are often the cause of bad breath. Any steps that lower the presence of bad bacteria in your mouth will benefit your oral health. You can eat foods that include raw honey (not processed), turmeric, coconut oil, lemon, and ginger to reduce your potential for foul breath.
Mouthwashes with alcohol can dry out the mouth, creating an environment where bad bacteria rapidly reproduce. The best way to keep your breath fresh? Drink plenty of water, brush and floss regularly, and use a tongue scraper to remove bacteria from the tongue.
“If you’re the kind of person who loves using a daily mouthwash, be sure to choose an alcohol-free formula to help prevent chronic dry mouth,” says Dr. Asadi. “Antibacterial mouthwashes that have the ADA Seal of Acceptance are going to be your best bet. These formulas fight cavity-causing bacteria without drying out your mouth.”
For more great tips from your Tucson Smile Expert, visit the Advanced Family Dentistry dental office blog at tucsonazdentistry.com. Dr. Payam K. Asadi is an advanced trained general and cosmetic dentist who is dedicated to providing excellent care for his patients.
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