Some foods are healthy, some foods are unhealthy.
Some foods are great for your teeth, and others not so great.
Now, the two categories don’t always merge perfectly. Some foods can be great for health, but have some negative impact on dental health, if we’re not careful. And some foods can be great for teeth but still controversial in health circles.
Let’s cover those health foods that you’re likely to find at your produce or health food store that are either good or bad for your teeth.
Remember it’s often a question of context: the right amount of some food can be great, while too much can have other negative impacts.
7 Health Foods That Are Great for Your Teeth
We don’t think of water as a food, and less as a substance that fights cavities. But staying hydrated is important to keep your teeth healthy. Bacteria proliferate and form plague more readily when the flow of saliva dries up. That’s one reason that, during the night, we are more prone to cavities. Water washes away acidity and sugar residues left by food. Swish water in your mouth often, and stay hydrated throughout the day!
Some apples are very acidic, which can be bad for your teeth. But if you get an apple that is fairly neutral, with just enough acidity to give it good taste, it can be a tremendous food to fight off cavities. Apples are so fibrous that they help wash away stains left by other foods, and their high water content keeps your saliva flowing. Although just chewing apples isn’t enough to keep your teeth in perfect health, it can help counteract the effect of eating drier foods, like dried fruit or crackers.
Some proponents of the raw vegan diet have claimed that nuts are bad for teeth because they stick to teeth and are food for the bacteria. However, all the clinical research that’s been done shows the exact opposite. Nuts are low in sugar, and because of their polyunsaturated fat content, they may help prevent gum disease. Many nuts contain decent amounts of calcium and phosphorus, which can help strengthen your teeth. The only thing that can be bad about nuts is trying to open a shelled one with your teeth!
Celery is a green, but one that lacks the teeth-staining pigments found in more colorful greens, like spinach. Celery is loaded with water, which again, helps with saliva flow. The fiber in celery also cleans your teeth naturally.
There’s controversy around cheese, but one thing is for sure: it’s a friend for your teeth. My dentist once gave me the advice of eating a small piece of cheese after a meal. It soaks up acidity and restores the natural PH of the mouth to an alkaline state. Cheese also has other cavity-fighting properties. For some reason, chewing cheese apparently reduces the amount of cariogenic bacteria in the mouth. Cheese is extremely high in calcium and phosphorus, which are critical for healthy teeth. Now, most Americans don’t need to start eating more cheese. What I’m talking about here is the European cheese habit of having a small piece of cheese as a desert, after a meal. I personally stay clear from cheese most of the time, but I will occasionally eat a piece of cheese after a meal for taste, and to restore alkalinity to my mouth (and of course because it tastes awesome!).
Wild salmon is loaded with vitamin D, which can be critical if you don’t take a supplement. It will help your body assimilate the calcium it needs. Also, a little extra protein helps balance out the sugar in a mainly raw or vegan diet. I noticed that once I introduced a little animal protein in my diet, mainly with wild sustainable fish, my teeth got healthier.
Xylitol is a type of sugar that’s actually good for your teeth (technically a nonfermentable sugar alcohol, and cannot be used by the body as an energy source). It’s found in minute quantities in some natural foods, but is made artificially for products that contain it. It’s safe and some studies have found it effective in preventing cavities. You can now find gums sweetened by xylitol at your health food store. Chew them instead of regular gum, especially when you don’t have time to brush your teeth after a meal on the go.
The 7 Top Worst Health Foods for Your Teeth
1) Dried Fruits
This one is obvious. Dried fruits are full of sugar, and stick to your teeth. You can enjoy some, but try to include dried fruit with watery and fibrous foods, like apples. Or brush your teeth immediately after eating some!
Although blueberries are great for health, and are not particularly cariogenic, they have a propensity to stain your teeth. If you eat a lot of blueberries, make sure you also use a toothpaste that contains an abrasive element, like calcium carbonate, to wash away those stains.
3) Fruit Juice
Fruit juice, even when natural and organic, is horrible for your teeth. It’s loaded with (natural) sugar, there’s no fiber, and it’s often very acidic. To counteract some of those problems, make sure you keep a glass of water handy if you drink fruit juice, to swish some in your mouth and wash away some of that acid and sugar.
We know that red wine, because of its pigments, can stain the teeth. But here I want to talk about alcohol in general. Alcohol is generally bad for teeth because it causes saliva production to decrease. As we’ve seen, a healthy saliva flow is very important for healthy teeth. In higher and more regular amounts, alcohol can also cause gum disease because it irritates the tissues of the mouth. A glass of wine or a beer or two is not likely to ruin your teeth, if you’re careful. Just make sure you keep drinking water!
People I’ve seen on healthy diets with the worst teeth tend to eat a lot of citrus, especially oranges. The high acidity content of those fruits, combined with the sugar, can spell dental disaster if you’re not careful. People who eat a regular load of citrus fruit, along with acidic fruits like pineapple, will often erode a lot of their enamel. Teeth will have a shiny, glossy surface from the constant acid bath they take. Sucking on lemon or limes is probably the worst thing you can do, in that regard. Reduce your consumption of acidic fruits to a minimum, and swish water in your mouth when you eat them, to wash away the acids. Note that neutral fruits, like melons, do not cause these problems.
6) Dry, Starchy Foods
Starchy foods are generally not acidic, but they do turn into sugar because of the presence of amylase in the mouth, an enzyme we produce in our saliva that breaks down starch into sugar. When dried pieces of crackers get stuck on the teeth, it’s essentially a party for the bacteria, and everyone’s invited! Make sure you brush your teeth after eating those foods. Just rinsing your mouth with water is not enough.
Coffee, even when fair-trade and organic, does stain teeth. Just use a toothpaste once a day that contains calcium carbonate (they all do usually), and those stains should not get too crazy. The worst part about coffee is that people generally add sugar and sweeteners to it, which turns it into a bacteria-feeding, cavity-causing drink. Also, caffeine interferes with natural saliva production, and can lead to a dry mouth after drinking coffee. Keep that saliva flow going by chewing xilitol gum and drinking water throughout the day!
Last Comments From Kevin Gianni
Now that we’re covering Dental Health topics this week, I wanted to remind you about the program we are promoting this week and the Renegade Health special that accompanies it.
It’s on sale for one more day.
The program is called “How To Heal & Prevent Dental Disasters In 21 Days Or Less” and is published by our friend Frederic Patenaude. It includes the book “Money By the Mouthful” By Dr. Nara. This program has been created by OraMedia and is the only course I have discovered that tells you exactly how to avoid dental problems for the rest of your life.
It’s normally $37 or so, but he’s going to offer all Renegade Health readers a $17.05 discount, so you can get it for just under $20 — at $19.95.
If you want to get this program all you have to do is head on over to this site and use this coupon code: RENEGADE
Here’s the site…
NOTE: Make sure to use the coupon, which expires in about a day.
Question of the day: what have you found to be the best and worst foods for your teeth?
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