Chances are, there’s a whitening toothpaste in your bathroom. And perhaps you stop and check your teeth in a mirror after meals to make sure no food was unintentionally left behind. We women want our smiles to look good, after all.
Brushing, flossing, and seeing your dentist regularly can help keep your pearly whites in tip-top shape. But the foods we eat also affect our smile’s appearance. As if you needed to hear another reason to have good nutrition, eating healthy foods can keep your mouth looking fresh and can even help ward off gum disease.
Nutritious foods for healthy teeth
Certain vitamins and nutrients help keep gum tissue healthy, strengthen teeth, and protect tooth enamel. Eat plenty of the following to keep give your oral health a boost:
- Protein: Opt for lean sources like fish, chicken, tofu, and beans.
- Iron: Dark, leafy greens, and red meat and egg yolks in moderation.
- Calcium and vitamin D: Choose low-fat or nonfat dairy products..
- Vitamin A: Orange fruits and vegetables, such as carrots and sweet potatoes.
- Vitamin B: Whole grain breads and cereals and green, leafy veggies.
- Vitamin C: Citrus fruits, like oranges and grapefruit.
- Vitamin K: Dark leafy greens, broccoli, and brussels sprouts.
- Fluoride: Tap water and most toothpastes contain fluoride.
Munching on crunchy fruits and vegetables- like apples, pears, carrots, and celery- is good for you because it makes your mouth produce more saliva, which helps wash away food debris from your teeth. Chewing gum also has the same effect. Just make sure you chew the sugarless variety.
Foods that harm your smile
Eating certain foods can put your healthy smile in jeopardy. Avoid:
- Sweets. Sugar releases acids that harm your teeth and can lead to cavities and gum disease. If you must indulge your sweet tooth, do so only once per day. The more often you eat sugary foods, the more frequently acid forms that can harm your teeth.
- Anything chewy, sticky, gooey, or that dissolves slowly. These items tend to be high in sugar and they stay in the mouth longer, which causes even more damage.
- Foods that stain teeth. Experts say anything that can stain a white, cotton t-shirt can also stain your teeth. Limit the amount of coffee, tea, dark sodas, wine, and juice you drink. Stains on teeth become more visible with age.
- Caffeinated, carbonated, and acidic drinks (like sports drinks) can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.