When it comes to good oral hygiene, I’m sure you know to brush your teeth twice a day, floss twice a day, and visit your dentist every six months, but there are other ways to help maintain good oral health. Have you ever considered that what you eat can also have an effect on your oral health? Nutrition is important to every part of your body, including your teeth.

Here is a list of seven foods to help you maintain a healthy smile and avoid oral health problems:

1. Cheese. Cheese is low in sugar and acid but high in calcium. Not only does it help strengthen teeth, but It also contains casein, a protein found in milk, which helps fortify tooth enamel.

2. Sugar-Free Gum. Sugar-free gum contains a sugar replacement called Xylitol. Xylitol helps prevent harmful bacteria from metabolizing sugar. When bacteria metabolizes sugar, it creates harmful acids that eat away at your tooth enamel, which could ultimately lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Another advantage of chewing sugar-free gum is that it increases saliva which washes away food and other bacteria in your teeth.

3. Vegetables. Most raw vegetables are beneficial to oral health. One reason is because they require a lot of chewing, which creates an increased amount of saliva. Another is that the texture of most raw veggies allows them to scrub away at your teeth, acting as a natural exfoliant. Celery, in particular, is extra beneficial because it breaks down into fibrous strands that naturally clean teeth.

4. Water. Most tap water contains fluoride, which helps prevent tooth decay. Fluoride remineralizes teeth, reversing damage caused by harmful acids.

5. Pears. Just like vegetables, fresh fruits’ fibrous nature produces saliva. A study done in 2004 found that pears are particularly beneficial because they have a larger acid neutralizing effect on teeth than other types of fruit. Fresh fruit is beneficial to oral health, however, dried fruit is not. When fruit is dried, it becomes saturated in sugars which can increase bacteria and eat away at enamel.

6. Yogurt. Yogurt is beneficial to oral health in the same way that cheese is. It also contains casein, as well as calcium and phosphates that remineralize teeth.

7. Sesame Oil. Sesame seeds help reduce plaque and remineralize tooth enamel. Gargling sesame oil, also known as “oil pulling” has been proven to be just as effective as using mouthwash.

While these foods are beneficial to oral health, there are a number of foods that can damage your oral health. Some of these foods include:

  • Citrus Fruit - Citrus fruit is rich in vitamin C and good for you in many ways, but it isn’t good for your teeth. The acid in citrus fruit eats away at tooth enamel.
  • Chewy Candy - Chew candy sticks to your teeth for an extended period of time, allowing bacteria in your mouth to feed on the sugary deposits.
  • Soda - Not only does the sugar in soda harm teeth, but the acids in carbonated drinks can be harmful to teeth as well.
  • Wine - Wine contains pigments that can stain your teeth.

The moral of the story here is, next time you eat, eat with your oral health in mind.

About the author:

Trisha Banks is a blogger for Lakeway Center for Cosmetic & Family Dentistry in Lakeway, Texas. Trisha wants a healthier smile, so she wants to know what foods are beneficial to oral health.