Healthy foods for teeth

Do we get healthy foods for teeth? Foods containing sugar are bad for our teeth and gums. True or false? If true, then what foods are good for healthy teeth and if false, well then enjoy anything you want.  Fact is however that there are certain foods and substances that will do your teeth’s health good.

Let’s look at a few.

TEA (prevent plaque growth)

Tea, specifically black tea, has been shown to interfere with the bacteria that cause plaque. The tea limits the ability of the enzyme which converts sugars into the sticky matrix which allows plaque to build up on the teeth. Healthy foods for teeth are essential in preventing plague growth. And other bacteria become unable to clump together, which reduces the total amount of plaque buildup on the teeth. Dr. Christina Wu of the University of Illinois School of Dentristry where this study was conducted says, “Drinking tea may have added oral health benefits by controlling through ‘prevention’ the most prevalent diseases of mankind, mainly caries and periodontal disease.” 1

RAISINS (suppress oral bacteria growth)
Dr Wu, who also conducted the study on tea, announced in 2005 that “Raisins are perceived as sweet and sticky, and any food that contains sugar and is sticky is assumed to cause cavities. But our study suggests the contrary. Our laboratory analyses showed that phytochemicals in this popular snack food suppress the growth of several species of oral bacteria associated with caries and gum disease” 2 Oleanolic acid in the raisins inhibited the growth of two species of oral bacteria, and it also blocked the adherence to the teeth of the bacteria which form the sticky biofilm known as plaque.

CINNAMON (kills germs)

An essential oil from cinnamon can kill germs. Peppermint, rosemary, sage and cloves are all popular spices for covering breath odor, but cinnamon actually kills the oral bacteria which produce hydrogen sulfide (rotten egg smell). Surprisingly this result can be obtained by chewing Big Red gum! Tests were performed specifically on this brand and the results showed that the cinnamon flavored gum killed 50% of all oral bacteria, and 40% of those which specifically cause bad breath. Identical gum, except for the cinnamon oil, was prepared by the Wrigley company for the tests, and the unflavored gum did not reduce bacteria counts at all. Although not classified as healthy foods for your teeth, gum can add to maintaining your teeth. The researcher (Dr. Wu who also did the study on tea), says that not enough research has been done to know if other cinnamon flavored gums would have the same effect, but teas flavored with cinnamon might be useful. 3

YOGURT (reduce bacteria)
Sugar-free yogurt also seems to reduce the bacteria which cause bad breath. Volunteers ate a serving of traditional sugar-free yogurt every day for six weeks. The levels of sulfide compounds (hydrogen sulfide- rotten egg smell) decreased in 80% of the yogurt eaters. Also, the level of plaque found in the yogurt eaters was lower than that of the non-yogurt eating group. This study comes from Tsurumi University in Japan. 4

CHEESE, CHICKEN, NUTS (provide minerals)
Cheese, chicken, and nuts all provide calcium and phosphorus. These elements are necessary to redeposit minerals in your tooth enamel that have been removed by acids. We all know that milk is good for the teeth, and this is because milk provides calcium which performs the same remineralization process. 5

Keep your teeth healthy and your breath sparkling fresh.

1. “Tea as a Functional Food for Oral Health” Nutrition, Volume 18, Issue 5, May 2002, Pages 443-444
Christine D. Wu and Guo-Xian Wei Science Direct
2. “Raisins As A Functional Food For Oral Health”, Science Daily, June 13, 2005
3. “Cinnamon Cleans the Breath” Week of May 22, 2004; Vol. 165, No. 21 Science News Online
4. International & American Association For Dental Research (2005, April 6). “Put Culture In Your Life AND Reduce Bad Breath: Eat Yoghurt!” Reported in Science Daily
5. “Dental Health: Diet and Oral Health”, Web MD

Not so healthy foods for teeth

Our teeth comprises of the enamel layer which is further covered by a clear and colorless protein layer called the pellicle. The food that we eat often sticks to this particular protein pellicle, thus staining our white teeth and our smiles as well.

The following are not healthy foods for teeth:

Acidic Foods: Foods having acidic properties, such as citrus fruits can contribute significantly to the discoloration of our tooth enamel in the long run. Such foods must be avoided before going to bed at night. If you take such foods, by any chance, you must brush and rinse your teeth very well.

Extremely Cold/Hot Liquids or fluids: When you consume liquids which are either too hot or too cold, your teeth’s temperature changes dramatically. This change in temperature causes the expansion and contraction of your teeth thus allowing the penetration of stains.

Dark Beverages: Remember, any substance, be it liquid or solid, that can stain your white T-shirt can as well satin your teeth; this is the rule that implies here. So dark beverages, such as , tea, coffee, cola, soy sauce, wine (red wine) must be strictly avoided as these can discolor your teeth to a great extent. You need not give up these beverages totally; a bit of consciousness from your end to wash off your mouth after taking such beverages can prevent the after effects.

Chocolates and Sweets: Sweet foods and similar other food groups can be harmful for your teeth. Chocolates are usually sticky and can be very harmful for your teeth. If not cleaned and rinsed after eating, bacteria would develop inside the mouth and would not only discolor your teeth but would also cause damage to your teeth enamel.

As there are damaging foods, there are certain teeth whitening foods as well. You can try these foods to lighten the spots and prevent them:

Strawberries: You can swear by strawberries when it concerns your teeth; these are the best natural teeth whiteners. Rub mashes strawberries on the teeth and you’ll notice the shine. You can also make a paste out of baking soda and crushed strawberries and use it for brushing your teeth twice every week. But you must leave the paste in your teeth for a few minutes before rinsing it off. Also make sure that you rinse your mouth thoroughly as strawberries contain sugar and have acidic properties as well that can cause tooth decay.

Lemon Juice: We know that lemon juice is a good bleaching agent for hair, but do you know that it can whiten your teeth also? Well, it can. But be careful while using lemon juice as it has acidic properties and might as well cause damage to the enamel of your teeth. A bit of lemon juice can be used with baking soda or salt for teeth whitening.

Orange Peel: The inside part of orange peel is a great teeth whitener. You can also use dried form of orange peel in combination with ground bay leaves to form a paste and this can be used for brushing.

Vegetables and Crunchy fruits: Carrots, apples, pears, cauliflower, celery and several crunchy fruits as well as veggies can help you in getting rid of teeth stains. When all these natural food fibers come in contact with the saliva in your mouth, it helps in washing away the food particles and bacteria that causes stains.