What you eat can have a significant impact on the health of your teeth and gums. By choosing smart snacks, you can help keep problems such as tooth decay and gum disease at bay.
When most people get peckish and reach for a snack, they often choose foods full of sugars and starches, such as chocolates, candies, and chips. Sugars and starches provide fuel for plaque bacteria to grow, proliferate, and wear away at your tooth enamel. Pairing these kinds of snacks with sugary and acidic soft drinks further contributes to the development of oral health problems.
So, what kinds of foods should you reach for instead? Here are some ideas to help you snack your way to good oral health.
Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables provide a lot of important nutrients for your whole body, including your teeth and gums. Fresh is always best when it comes to fruits and veggies. Dried fruit might seem like a healthy snack, but it contains a lot of sugar and tends to stick to the teeth. Fibrous fruits and vegetables such as broccoli, celery, apples, pineapples, and strawberries are a particularly good choice because they scrub your teeth while you chew them. The fact that they take a bit longer to chew also encourages saliva production, which helps to rinse the teeth of plaque and food particles. Watery fruits such as watermelon are also good to snack on for this reason.
Calcium and phosphorus are important building blocks of tooth enamel, and they are found in abundance in dairy products such as cheese and yogurt. Like fibrous fruits and veggies, dairy products also stimulate saliva production and help to flush your teeth. Cheese is a fantastic snack because it is low in sugar. You have to be a bit more careful with yogurt as it often comes loaded with sugar, especially the fat-free varieties. Plain, unsweetened yogurt is your best choice for a tooth-friendly snack.
Seeds and Nuts
Not only do seeds and nuts provide a filling, low-sugar snack that can stem your cravings between meals, they also come loaded with the vitamins, minerals, and oils needed for strong teeth and gums. Chewing on seeds and nuts helps to scrub the surfaces of the teeth as well. Pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds, walnuts, cashews, almonds, and peanuts all provide a tasty and healthy snack. Peanuts are a particularly good choice for people with thin dental enamel, as they are soft enough not to cause any damage.
Water isn’t exactly a snack, but it’s the best alternative to the sugary and acidic drinks that often accompany snacks. It’s also a much better choice than fruit juice, which contains copious amounts of sugar. Drinking some water after you eat flushes away food particles and keeps your mouth moist.
As you can see, your snacking habits can help control the amount of plaque bacteria on your teeth and gums. Pair your new snacks with a good oral hygiene routine and regular visits to your dentist, and you’ve got a great formula for good oral health.