While there’s no substitute for good oral hygiene, here are some food items that can boost your oral health:
Calcium is essential for healthy and strong teeth. And dairy products are the best sources of dietary calcium. Dairy products like cheese and yoghurt not only contain minerals like calcium and phosphorus but also protein casein that can keep your teeth free from cavity by remineralisation of tooth enamel.
Tank up on veggies
High fibre vegetables like spinach, carrots, celery, etc. have abrasive quality which helps clean stains from your teeth. They also stimulate saliva production which not only neutralises harmful acids in the mouth but also provide calcium and phosphates for remineralisation. Onions can help fight tooth decay causing bacteria. Green leafy vegetables are also rich in calcium. (Also read: 10 ways you can prevent dental cavities)
Fruit ‘em up
Fruits, like crunchy vegetables, are fibrous and help stimulate production of saliva. They are also good sources of various vitamins and minerals that are good for your teeth. Apple is a fibrous, crunchy fruit with natural cleansing and astringent properties. Pear fruit has been found to have good acid neutralizing effect on surfaces of the tooth.
Drink to your oral health
Drink plenty of water. It can help wash off sugars and acid from your teeth. Better still if the water is fluoridated! Fluoride has been proven to strengthen the enamel and prevent cavities. It is especially effective when used early on in childhood.
Whole is better
Research has shown that whole grains are great for your teeth along with being better for preventing diseases like diabetes and heart ailments. A study from McMaster University, Canada found that men who ate at least three servings of whole grains were 23% less likely to suffer from periodontitis than those who ate more wholegrain breads. It also stabilised blood sugar levels in diabetics which reduces periodontitis.
Sesame seeds and sesame oil are extremely good for your teeth as them remove dental plaque helping boost oral healthy. In fact, one Ayurvedic practice involves oil pulling – swishing oil around in your mouth which actually whitens your teeth. It also helps remove streptococcus bacteria from both teeth plaque and mouth saliva. Sesame seeds, which are rich in calcium, have been found to reduce plaque and also help re-mineralise tooth enamel.
Not only is green tea great for your overall health thanks to its high antioxidant value but it’s also great for your mouth! It prevents the formation of cavity by lowering the acidity of saliva and dental plaque. It also has anti-inflammatory powers to prevent periodontal gum disease, prevents tooth loss and keeps bad breath away! In fact, it’s better for preventing bad breath than more commonly used items like mints and chewing gums!
Chocolate – friend, not foe
Yes for chocolate has long been linked to ruining teeth in children but that’s mostly due to improper cleaning practices after eating the said-chocolate. When taken in moderation, chocolate especially dark chocolate can benefit your teeth thanks to its antioxidants but the major benefit comes from the cocoa extract called theobromine. Theobromine is an alkaloid of the cocoa plant and is found in chocolate along with teas and other foods. It helps harden tooth enamel which prevents teeth from decaying. In fact, in 2-4 years we could actually have cocoa-enhanced toothpaste!
In many parts of rural India, it’s the norm to use neem twigs to brush one’s teeth instead of toothpaste and brushes. The plant itself has immense antimicrobial and antifungal properties. A study tested whether neem could be used to treat gum disease and they found that it was actually better than regular mouthwash! Other than neem, ginger is known to help maintain healthy teeth and gums and prevent plaque. The highly valued holy basil (tulsi), a natural antibiotic, is known to protect against bleeding gums and also increase the whiteness of the teeth. The antibacterial property of basil can prevent dental plaque build-up and eliminate bad odour too.
Like sesame oil, coconut oil is also used for oil pulling – swishing it in the mouth like a mouthwash. Used for thousands of years as a traditional remedy, coconut oil is particularly effective in battling oral bacteria. It works similar to digestion as the enzymes break down the fat from the oil into acid, which wipes out the germs from your mouth!
While all of the aforementioned foods are no replacement for good oral hygiene practices like brushing, flossing, using mouthwash and visiting your dentist regularly they can help your overall oral health.