Celebrating Nutrition Month – Top 7 Healthy Foods and Top 7 Bad Foods for Teeth
March promotes eating healthy foods because it is a nutrition month! Our body needs key nutrition to keep itself strong and teeth and gums are no exception.
We often think of teeth as not part of our body but they should be really considered as one of our digits or organ.
Certain nutrients are really crucial in keeping our body and mouth for a lifetime, and it’s worth learning about them.
We all know that sugar is the number one enemy for the teeth. But did you also know that pretzels and cereals can cause havoc on your teeth? What about the fruits? Have you ever thought what you may think is healthy is not really healthy for your teeth?
What goes into the stomach will eventually be digested and be used as building blocks and important cofactors of the teeth and surrounding soft tissue. Fruits maybe healthy but may cause erosion and tooth decay depending on which fruit.
Here are Top 7 nutritious foods and Top 7 Worst foods for dental health(your body) as Dr. Stella Oh recommends:
Top 7 Best Food for Teeth
Dark Green Vegetables
Organic meats and wild fish
Nuts and Seeds ( healthy fat and fiber)
Organic Fermented Dairy and Cheese
The Top 7 Worst Food for Teeth
Sticky Sweets such as gummy bears, caramel etc
Juice, Soda and Sugared beverages
Sugared Cereal and granola bars
Baked Goods such as muffins, cakes
Sweeteners and Sweets- Honey, Molasses and candy
Dried Carbohydrates such as bread, pretzels, and chips
The Top 7 Healthy Foods for Teeth and Gums
As ancestors used to do, we used to consume bone broth. Bone broth is one of the most nutritious food that we can have. It’s full of essential amino acids, minerals, vitamins. The amino acids crucial building blocks of teeth and gums.
2.Dark Green Vegetables
Dark Green Leafy vegetables are full of nutrients. They are almost like multivitamin supplements in natural form. They have vitamin C, Beta Carotene, minerals like magnesium, calcium, and potassium. The fiber in them also keep the teeth clean when consumed.
Dark berries are low in sugar and extremely high in fiber and antioxidants. The antioxidants in the berries are known to improve the health of the gums. These are the only fruits that Dr. Oh recommends to consume in large amounts. Fruits like mango or melons are higher in sugar and can promote tooth decay.
4. Organic meats and wild fish
Organic meats and wild fish provides good quality of essential amino acids and fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K2) to keep the teeth and bones strong. These fat-soluble vitamins are crucial for jaw and teeth development in children.
5. Nuts and Seeds ( healthy fat and fiber)
Nuts and seeds provide omega 3’s and omega 6’s. They are also virtually sugar and carbohydrate free by nature – therefore, they do not cause tooth decay. Snacking on moderate amounts of unsweetened raw nuts would be a healthy snack option that keeps you a full long time without causing cavities.
6. Fermented foods
Fermented foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi and natto(fermented beans) are known to improve the immune system. Natto also is a great source of vitamin K2, which helps with teeth and bone health. Fermented foods are probiotic rich and the healthy microbiome in the gut and even in the mouth could help ourselves from dental disease. Our mouths have millions of bacteria and there are numerous species. When the microbiome gets compromised due to eating too much sugar and white flour, we can be more susceptible to have tooth decay and gum disease.
7. Organic Fermented Dairy and Cheese
Organic, raw fermented dairy and cheese are full of fat-soluble vitamins and a great source of minerals. Some people are dairy or lactose sensitive, thus, this food may have to be avoided. Organic fermented dairy and cheese are also a good source of amino acids. Since fermented dairy and cheese are much lower in lactose, they are also likely to cause tooth decay as milk would. Lactase is a form of sugar and is it known to cause tooth decay.
The Top 7 Worst Food for Teeth
1.Sticky Sweets such as gummy bears, caramel etc.
The sweets are already harmful to teeth but sticky sweets are even worse. Perhaps the worst type of food is sweet, acidic treats that are so sticky and cannot be brushed away easily.
2. Dried Fruits
One may think fruits are healthy, but fruits, in general, can cause cavities infrequent consumption. If they are in dried, chewy form, they can be just as bad as sticky candy. They are also high in sugar in a concentrated form.
All sugared beverages should be considered cavity causing. Only healthiest drink for teeth would be good old clean water. Even diet sodas can erode enamel due to their acidity and cause problems with insulin sensitivity. These can also cause teeth sensitivity and stained teeth.
4. Sugared Cereal and granola bars
Sugared cereals and granola bars are such a common form of our modern diet. For some, these are part of their daily meal. The so-called “healthy granola or energy bars” are full of sugar and dried carbohydrates that feed the cavity-causing bacteria.
Additionally, they spike blood sugar, which may likely to contribute to type 2 diabetes. Type 2 diabetes or prediabetic conditions are known to have a high correlation with gum disease.
5. Baked Goods such as muffins, cakes
Baked goods and treats have the same consequences as sugared cereal. That breakfast muffin or scone may not look so harmful as candy, but they are just as detrimental to teeth.
6. Sweeteners and Sweets- Honey, Molasses and natural sugar
Sweetener such as honey, molasses, and even agave syrups are a significant source of tooth decay. Just because they are supposed to be healthier, that does not mean that they would not cause tooth decay. Date and coconut sugar, which are popular these days, are still sugar and still cause tooth decay.
Often we choose pretzels and chips or bread as a part of a snack or meal. These are made of a dried form of carbohydrates derived from grains. Dried carbohydrate-based foods stick to the teeth and stay there until they are brushed away.
We recognize the common theme here about the top bad foods – sugar and processed carbohydrates, which rarely existed 10,000 years ago.
Dr. Stella Oh’s recommendation is to stick to whole, organic food whenever one can.
People who do, have healthier mouths and body and she can often distinguish patients who consume healthy food vs. unhealthy foods. Keep in mind, we are not discussing vegan or paleo or ketogenic diet.