Virtually all adults (99.7%, in fact) believe a healthy smile is socially important. But when it comes to maintaining that healthy smile, many of us think that brushing and flossing is all it takes to keep a positive bill of dental health. And while traditional oral hygiene habits are absolutely necessary, the foods we include in our diets every day also play a major role in the condition of our teeth and gums.
Fortunately, you can eat your way towards better dental health. Here are just a few surprising foods that you may not have realized are great for your dental health.
Many people think that the acidity of citrus fruits like oranges aren’t all that great for your teeth, and while that does have some truth, oranges are considered to be the least acidic member of the citrus family. Oranges are also full of vitamin C, which reduces inflammation and helps to slow the progression of gingivitis.
Strawberries are sometimes perceived as a sugary sweet that’s not great for your teeth. But just like oranges, strawberries have oral health benefits. Strawberries, in addition to vitamin C, contain antioxidants and malic acid, naturally giving your teeth a whitening boost. In addition to eating them fresh or blending them into a smoothie, you can also get creative and make the most of the malic acid they contain by creating a special DIY whitening treatment.
“Here’s how to make your own at-home whitening treatment: Crush a strawberry to a pulp, mix it with baking soda, and spread it on your teeth using a soft toothbrush. Five minutes later, brush it off, rinse and voila: a whiter smile. Be sure to floss, though, as tiny strawberry seeds can easily get trapped between your teeth,” writes Amanda Gardner on Health.
About 54% of Americans over age 18 drink coffee every day. If you’re one of them, you’ll be glad to know that science is on your side. Recent studies have shown that coffee can actually help protect against tooth decay. It can also fight plaque. But a super sweet latte from Starbucks won’t cut it — the coffee must be black and unsweetened to provide these oral health benefits. Of course, you’ll have to balance the health benefits of coffee against the yellow teeth that can result from the excessive consumption of black coffee.
Tooth decay is 20 times more common than diabetes and five times more common than childhood asthma. That being said, if you love garlic, you’re in luck. Garlic contains various antimicrobial properties, and as a result, it fights the good fight against tooth decay as well as periodontal disease.
We’re constantly having to make decisions about our diets. Next time you go to a restaurant to enjoy a meal, or grocery shopping to buy food for the week, think about the way your choices are likely to affect your dental health in the long run.
“Prevention is the best medicine for your smile,” writes Gardner. “Although fillings, crowns, and professional whitening can make your teeth stronger and brighter, it’s better (and cheaper!) to avoid cavities and stains in the first place, by brushing, flossing, and — last but not least — eating right.”