In today’s health-conscious world, people are seeking cleaner dining options and wellness-centered activities. Consumer reports from the past couple of years have noted a rise in vegetable-forward dishes, as well as varied food options for those with dietary restrictions or different dietary preferences.
Since oral health is linked to overall health, seeking out foods that will benefit the smile is a step in the right direction. But the mouth is a unique space, and it serves a myriad of functions for the body, so there may be some mouth-friendly foods that you miss out on. On the flipside, there are also foods people consume frequently that could be causing serious damage.
Below are four unexpected foods that benefit your smile and two foods you may want to avoid or should consume in moderation.
No tears here! Raw onions are able to knock out harmful bacteria that can build up in the mouth. Onions contain helpful antibacterial sulfur compounds which are great for keeping the mouth and gums germ free. Go ahead and follow those raw onions up with some ADA approved mouthwash if you want healthy gums and great smelling breath.
Sesame seeds are like tiny calcium-filled teeth scrubbers. These little wonders can also dissolve plaque and strengthen tooth enamel, making them a good addition to recipes for everyday items like muffins or buns. Just make sure to floss after eating them!
Chocolate lovers rejoice. It turns out that chocolate is better for teeth than other sticky or hard candy because it dissolves quickly, giving sugar less time to touch those pearly whites. Some dentists have observed anti-cavity effects of tannins and flavanols, two natural compounds found in cocoa beans. Dark chocolate is lower in sugar, so in moderation, this sweet treat is okay to indulge in if followed up with water or milk.
Think of celery as a dumbbell for your mouth. This healthy veggie gives your teeth, jaws and gums a good workout and its crunchy texture helps naturally clean your teeth and massage your gums. As it rids harmful bacteria from the mouth, celery also helps freshen breath. That’s a win-win.
Two unexpected foods to avoid:
Some people adore pickles (and even pickle juice!), but those who consume tons of this sour food will risk permanent dental erosion. Sour vegetables and foods such as pickles have a low pH value which can eat away at tooth enamel. It’s best to reserve those pickles for garnishes every now and then, rather than making them the main course.
Ice contains no calories, is made of water and people often feel empowered to chomp away on it on hot summer days. However, according to the ADA, “ice is for chilling, not chewing.” Ice’s hard makeup can damage enamel and even lead to costly dental emergencies. It’s best to pass on the ice and cool off with a big glass of water instead.