Are you aware of the strong connection between oral health and overall health? Although you may visit us seeking a path to perfect teeth, it may interest you to learn that this road is paved with everyday practices that will also cut down on your risk for many diseases, and help you to look and feel better all around. One of the key ways to maintain healthy teeth is to pay attention to the foods you eat, and how you prepare them. Let’s have a look at some best cooking practices for your teeth that will also improve your overall health.
Choosing the Right Foods
It’s important to choose the right foods to help maintain healthy teeth. Foods rich in calcium and phosphorous are essential to keeping teeth strong and replacing minerals lost to erosion of enamel. Calcium can be found in dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheeses. There are also a number of great calcium-rich vegetables, including dark leafy greens like kale, spinach and collards. Meats, seafood and tofu are all good sources of phosphorous. Broth made from meat bones is an especially good source of this important mineral.
Another important dietary supplement is vitamin D. It is essential to oral health, as it helps teeth to absorb the calcium they need to stay strong. Without Vitamin D, the calcium can’t properly do its job to help the body. Foods such as eggs (the yolks in particular), mushrooms, fatty fish such as salmon, canned tuna, sardines, beef liver and fortified foods including certain milks, cereals and orange juice are a great source of vitamin D.
To Cook or Not to Cook
Foods with high water content are another great element to include when designing a diet for tooth protection. Raw, uncooked fruits and vegetables like apples, carrots and celery contain plenty of water. They are also crunchy, and help to clean teeth by rubbing away and helping to rinse out bits of stuck food from teeth. They also help to produce more enzyme containing saliva – great for neutralizing acids in the mouth. Pears are especially helpful in neutralizing excess oral acidity.
Limiting acidity in the mouth is important, as it is the acids that can wear away that all important protective layer of enamel that covers your teeth. Don’t forget that it’s the enamel that stands between the sensitive nerves inside the roots of your teeth and all of the hot, cold or crunchy things you put inside your mouth. Without it, you experience a wide range of tooth pains in response to these stimuli. This is why, when your enamel becomes damaged, you become more sensitive to certain extreme temperatures, sweets and excessively crunchy things that can jar the delicate insides of your teeth.
Acidic foods include anything with vinegar, citrus, tomato, or wine. Coffee is also very acidic. If you are cooking or serving foods with any of these ingredients, you may be raising the risk of damage to your tooth enamel. Adding milk or cream to your coffee, serving cheese with your tomato sauce or fruit – these are good ways to offset the corrosive impact of these substances on your teeth. Also, drinking water to help rinse out the food residue and neutralize the remaining acids in your mouth will help you to enjoy these foods more safely, and lessen the negative side effects.
Cutting Down on Certain Sauces
It’s been shown that certain condiments like tomato sauce, soy sauce and barbecue sauce can work against your goal of teeth whitening. Indeed, they show a great potential for gradually staining teeth and eroding the protective layer of enamel that, once damaged, can never grow back. Again, if you want to indulge in these tasty food additions, use restraint, try and include some sort of neutralizing agent to your meal, such as sour cream or yogurt, drink plenty of water after you eat to rinse away residue, and brush your teeth no sooner than a half hour after your meal is completed. That will help offset any negative effects of these tasty sauces.
It always gets back to the sugar, doesn’t it? It’s true, sugar is not a friend to teeth, as it is a chief contributor to the development of cavities. But then, it’s not exactly doing the rest of your body any good, either. Excess sugar intake has been linked to obesity, as well as an increased risk of developing diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. Do yourself a favor and avoid sugars whenever you can. If you do indulge in an occasional sweet treat, remember the usual wisdom of neutralizing, rinsing, brushing and flossing, as described above.
With a little diligence, we can all enjoy cooking and eating delicious foods that don’t damage our teeth. What are some of your favorite tooth friendly foods?