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10 Best and Worst Foods for Your Teeth

Your teeth were created to last your lifetime. But in today’s world of sugary treats and processed foods, tooth decay is all too common. In fact, according to a recent survey from the American College of Prosthodontics, 120 million Americans are missing at least one tooth. 

At Legacy Dental Care in Ballwin, Missouri, Amanda Darling, DDS, and our team want to help you keep your teeth healthy for a long time. We offer a full line of comprehensive dental services to help you keep your best smile. 

We also know that the foods and beverages you put in your mouth have a big impact on the health of your teeth. Read on to learn about the 10 best and worst foods for your teeth!

Worst food choices for dental health

Our teeth were designed to eat foods that came from the earth, so in today’s world of processed and packaged goodies, there’s no shortage of foods and beverages that wreak havoc on your teeth. The following are among the worst offenders of oral health: 

1. Carbonated drinks

Carbonated drinks, like soda and flavored water, increase the amount of acid in your mouth. As a result, the enamel that is supposed to protect your teeth is weakened, making it easier for cavities and decay to develop. Plus your teeth will stain more easily, and you’ll feel more thirsty, since the acid dries out your mouth. Bottom line? Avoid carbonated drinks to keep teeth healthy.

2. Sour candies

Everyone knows candy is bad for your teeth. But did you know sour candy is especially bad for your oral health? The types of acids in sour candy are among the worst kinds when it comes to dental health. And because sour candies tend to stick to your teeth, their enamel-busting properties have staying power. If you have a sweet tooth, try fruits or chocolate instead and brush your teeth after snacking on sweets.

3. Bread

Humans have been breaking bread for thousands of years. But today’s refined, processed bread isn’t good for your teeth or your health. The saliva in your mouth turns the starches in bread into sugars that stick to your teeth and the gaps and crevices between them. When these sugars stick around, it increases your chance of developing cavities. Reach for whole-grain alternatives that don’t have added sugars. These types of bread don’t break down as easily, helping you keep your teeth in tip-top shape. 

4. Citrus 

Citrus fruits, like oranges, lemons, and grapefruits, are packed with vitamin C, which is good for your health. But they also come with high acid content. These acids break down your dental enamel, making it easier for cavities to form. And it doesn’t take much citrus to cause problems. Even a small amount of lemon or lime in your water can cause damage. Be sure to use moderation when it comes to citrus foods and drinks, and rinse your mouth or brush teeth after consumption. 

5. Potato chips

Like bread, potato chips are starchy. When the starch is broken down, it becomes sugar that gets trapped in your teeth and feeds the bacteria that foster cavities and decay. And because it’s hard to eat just one chip, the increased acid in your mouth accumulates. To avoid problems from potato chips, be sure to brush and floss after eating. 

Foods that promote dental health 

Some foods can be bad news for your teeth, but there are foods that are good for dental health. Here are our top picks for the best foods for your teeth:  

1. Dark, leafy greens

It shouldn’t be a surprise that dark, leafy greens, like kale and spinach, are good for your teeth. They’ve earned their place on every healthy food list because these low-cal nutritious items are chock full of vitamins and minerals and calcium, which builds your teeth's enamel. They also contain folic acid which can help prevent gum disease.

2. Apples

Even though apples have natural sugar, they’re also high in water and fiber. Plus, eating apples increases saliva production in your mouth, which helps rinse away leftover food particles and bacteria. Apples have a fibrous texture that stimulates the gums and can act as a surrogate brushing when you’re away from home.

3. Carrots

Carrots are another healthy treat full of fiber and water. They’re also a fantastic source of vitamin A. Try adding some carrots to your salad or eating a small number of raw carrots at the end of each meal to promote saliva production. Extra saliva helps reduce your risk of developing cavities and experiencing oral decay.

4. Celery

Like carrots and apples, celery acts a little like a toothbrush. The fiber in the vegetable scrapes away food particles and bacteria, helping keep your teeth clean. Celery is also a good source of antioxidants, which is great for the health of your gums. 

5. Almonds

The high calcium and protein content of almonds coupled with a low sugar count make almonds one of the healthiest foods for your teeth. Try having a small handful of almonds as a healthy snack or add them to a salad or cooked meal for an added dental health boost.  

Ready to learn more about what affects oral health?

There’s more to optimal oral health than which foods you eat. Our team at Legacy Dental Care in Ballwin, Missouri, provides personalized dental care for every patient. During regular dental exams, we strive to develop strong one-on-one relationships with our patients. This helps us become a trusted partner, able to offer customized recommendations for your specific oral health needs.

If you want to learn more about what affects oral health or to schedule an exam, contact our Ballwin office at 636-203-7519 today! 

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