The good-cop, bad-cop is a great routine in movies or on TV, so I’m going to go a little Hollywood now that we’re past Labor Day. Unlike the police, who are looking for a confession, I’ll be telling you about foods that are good for your mouth and therefore your teeth, as well as the American Dental Association’s top nine bad foods.
It’s easy for dentists to tell you what’s BAD for your mouth and teeth (sugary food and drinks, obviously), but I’m going to take time today and expand on what’s bad as well as what’s good for your mouth. You can build strength for your teeth and get protection from cavities with the right diet.
The University of Rochester’s Medical Center’s advice is excellent. Here’s what it has to recommend:
- Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables. Foods with fiber have a detergent effect, according to the American Dental Association, and also get saliva flowing. However, remember that citrus is acidic and too much can be a danger to your teeth, too.
- Cheese, milk, plain yogurt, and other dairy products. Directly from the Medical Center’s webpage: “Cheese is another saliva maker. The calcium in cheese, and the calcium and phosphates in milk and other dairy products, help put back minerals your teeth might have lost due to other foods.”
- Green and black teas. Both block acid’s erosion in your mouth and both, especially green tea, has fluoride.
- Foods with fluoride and fluoridated drinking water.
I can’t say dentists are fond of chewing gum (although one of its pioneers was a dentist), but sugarless gums are on occasion cited as a positive for maintaining saliva in the mouth.
As for foods, one of the best is broccoli – it offers both nutrients and some consider eating fresh, raw broccoli as a way to whiten teeth.
Now, on to the bad guys. The ADA has a list of nine bads:
- Hard candies
- Ice (don’t chew it!)
- Too much citrus
- Coffee but not for the coffee (although it can stain your teeth), but for what you put into it – watch the sugar!
- Sticky foods and candies
- Foods that go “crunch”. These have starch that can build up and cause cavities and other problems
- Sports drinks