The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics designates each March as National Nutrition Month to help encourage people to make better food choices. Eating healthier food gives our bodies the energy and nutrients they need to keep us strong and flourishing. It may seem obvious that healthy food makes for healthy bodies, but many people don't realize this goes for your teeth, too!
Today we're focusing on all the ways different foods can serve two purposes, making both our teeth and bodies stronger!
Foods that keep teeth in top-shape:
1. High-fiber, raw fruits and vegetables like apples, carrots, and celery.1
Why do they help? These crisp snacks can act like a toothbrush by “scrubbing” our teeth as we chew.1
2. Leafy greens like spinach and kale, almonds, and seeds.1
Why do they help? These foods are low in sugar and filled with vitamins and minerals.1
Foods that can damage teeth:
1. Sticky, high-sugar foods like candy, ice-cream, chips, and mints.2
Why are they harmful? When food sticks to our teeth it attracts the bacteria that make the plaque acids responsible for eroding enamel.2
2. Acidic or high-sugar drinks like soda, energy drinks, and juices.2
Why are they harmful? Similar to foods, the sugar and acidic ingredients for these drinks tend to stay on our teeth long after we consume them. The longer these compounds stay on our chompers, the more time they have to cause damage. This is why sipping sugary drinks throughout the day is even worse than having them in one sitting. Sipping refreshes the layers of sugar and acid our mouths are fighting.2
Can foods be healthy and harmful?
In short, yes! Some foods that are good for our bodies can be risky for our teeth without proper oral hygiene. These foods can include dried fruit and citrus, which can contribute to enamel erosion.1 The good news is we don't have to give them up! As long as we drink water and brush after enjoying these snacks, the food won't be on our teeth long enough to attract any bad bacteria.
1. Touger-Decker, R., & Van, C. (2003, October). Sugars and dental caries. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14522753
2. Moynihan, P., & Petersen, P. E. (2004, February). Diet, nutrition and the prevention of dental diseases. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14972061