We’ve all heard the phrase “you are what you eat”, and it’s as true for your oral health as it is for the rest of your body! Most of us are aware that sugary treats, starches, carbonated soft drinks and other foods can lead to unhealthy teeth and gums, but did you know that there are also certain foods that actually help keep your mouth healthy and happy?
We’ve rounded up five of the top foods to promote healthy teeth and gums… and you might be surprised at what tops the list! Fall in love with these five foods today to promote healthy teeth and gums.
- SURPRISE… DARK CHOCOLATE!
Go ahead, do your happy dance!
As Valentine’s Day approaches, so does that ubiquitous heart-shaped box of chocolate. And it’s okay—you’re not the only one that demolishes it within 48 hours! (Not that we’re admitting to it.)
Now, if that shiny red box is filled with chewy, gooey milk chocolate caramels, try to go easy and brush, rinse and floss afterward. After all, most milk chocolate is loaded with sugar, and sticky sweets tend to adhere all too easily to teeth, creating a breeding ground for plaque build up and cavities.
Dark chocolate, however, is your superhero—as long as it’s at least 70% cacao. Studies carried out by researchers at Osaka University in Japan, as well as at the University of New Orleans and the Louisiana University School of Dentistry, have shown that the compounds in cocoa bean husks actually counteract the damaging effects of sugary foods, fighting off bacteria that would typically feed on the sugars and produce plaque. In fact, these studies suggest that dark chocolate may even be more effective at fighting tooth decay than fluoride!
- GREEN TEA
According to a study conducted by Dr. Yoshihiro Shimazaki of Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan, regular consumption of green tea may help promote healthy teeth and gums.
For the study, researchers examined three indicators of periodontal disease: periodontal pocket depth, attachment loss of gum tissue and bleeding on probing of the gum tissues. They found that for each cup of green tea consumed per day, there was a decrease in all three areas, suggesting a lower incidence of periodontal disease in the subjects who regularly drank green tea.
The study, which was published in the Journal of Periodontology, indicated that the presence of the antioxidant catechin in green tea might be responsible for its beneficial effect on oral health, due to its ability to reduce the body’s inflammatory response to periodontal bacteria.
- FIBER-RICH FRUITS AND VEGGIES
According to the American Dental Association (ADA), fiber-rich foods have a cleansing effect on your teeth and gums. This is because chewing fibrous foods “scrubs” the teeth and stimulates saliva production, which helps neutralize acids that can damage tooth enamel while restoring minerals.
You can get this awesome cleansing action by eating plenty of fresh, leafy greens (think spinach and kale) as well as foods like carrots, apples and celery.
- ALMONDS… AND YOGURT
Raw almonds not only pack a protein punch, but they also provide calcium and crunch to help keep your teeth strong and clean. They’re great as a snack, sprinkled over oatmeal, tossed into stir-fry or used as a salad topper.
Almonds are also delicious mixed into yogurt, which is high in calcium, protein and probiotics, which are beneficial to your gums by fighting unhealthy bacteria.
- GINGER ROOT
Used medicinally for centuries because of its many health benefits, ginger root is powerful at fighting gum disease. According to recent studies, including one from Korea University, ginger extract contains anti-microbial properties that kill bacteria in the mouth, reducing tooth decay. It’s also a natural anti-inflammatory, protecting against periodontal diseases that can lead to the loss of tissues and bone in the mouth.
Sliced or minced ginger is wonderful in carrot soups, hot tea and stir-fry and well as paired with fish.