There are so many fad diets and lifestyle trends floating around these days, but what’s truly healthy? While these diets lead to a slimmer waistline, and in some cases very dramatic weight loss, they can negatively affect your oral health. Regardless of what diet or lifestyle you choose to follow, there are some foods and beverages you should be drinking more of and others you should try and avoid.
The Good List
Fruits and vegetables, especially apples, celery and carrots, are great ways to help clean your teeth and keep the doctor out of sight! You can look at these three foods as “nature’s toothbrushes”. They help remove plaque that lingers on your teeth after eating and promote gum health by aiding in the removal of food particles from your teeth. Juicing diets, while they can be beneficial for one’s health, can negatively affect your oral health. Your teeth need to be cleaned throughout the day and many fruits and vegetables also help whiten teeth but only if you’re chewing on them.
Whole grains are rich in vitamin B and iron, which help maintain the health of your mouth and gums. Those who have a diet that includes the recommended doses of vitamin B and iron notice fewer instances of swelling and irritation in their mouths. Low carb diets have lead more people to avoid healthy carbohydrates, whole grains being one of them. Instead of cutting out healthy carbs from your diet, try limiting them to the earlier part of the day and your body will burn off the calories from those two slices of whole grain bread (yes, two slices is all you need)!
Green tea is not only a healthier alternative to coffee, but it helps reduce your risk of developing oral cancers. Antioxidants, substances that protect cells from free radicals, along with other properties in green tea help lessen the risk of developing cancers, including oral cancers. According to the National Cancer Institute, “Antioxidants interact with and stabilize free radicals…they neutralize the electrical charge and prevent the free radical from taking electrons from other molecules.” In other words, they sweep free radicals under the rug!
The Bad List
Sugar is one of the leading contributing factors to poor oral health. Foods and beverages that contain sugar attack your teeth and tend to stick around and cling to your teeth, causing harmful plaque that can lead to erosion in your tooth enamel (cavities). Another cavity-contributor is refined carbohydrates, which attack the teeth like sugary foods. By eliminating, or at least limiting, candy, sweet baked goods and soda from your diet you can do your teeth a huge justice!
Acidic foods are healthy for your body, but they can deteriorate the enamel on your teeth. Lemons, pickles, oranges and tomatoes are some examples of acidic foods that have shown to be healthy for your body but can cause some issues with your teeth. Instead of cutting these foods out follow up with a glass of water to help promote saliva production to get rid of the acidity in your mouth.
When deciding to follow a healthy lifestyle remember that everything in moderation is fine, including sugar. Rather than choosing to follow a diet, choose to include healthier options into your diet or limit foods instead of eliminating them.
Rory Mycek is a guest contributor for Top Dentists, a dental health site in the Everyday Health portfolio. On her free time she can be found doing yoga, dancing, making up healthy recipes to satisfy her sweet tooth, or veganizing popular dinner dishes.