Today’s post is from Jennifer McCarrick, who works for a holistic dental practice in Miami, FL. I've written about oil pulling, so I thought this would be a great follow up topic that everyone can benefit from.
You’re probably aware of the most dangerous foods for your oral health – most notably, sugar-laden candies and acidic beverages like soda. But what are the foods that can actually restore tooth enamel, prevent decay, and keep bacteria at bay?
Here are 10 natural foods to incorporate into your diet if you would like to start a holistic approach to good oral health.
Carrots are low-acidic veggies that contain high amounts of fiber. Any fruit or vegetable with a similar makeup is commonly referred to as a “dental detergent.” As you chew, these super foods actually scrub away leftover debris, leaving your teeth and gums clean without having to brush after every meal. Carrots are also a good source of beta-carotene, the red orange pigment that the body converts to retinol, or Vitamin A. Vitamin A is a nutrient necessary for making and maintaining healthy teeth.
2. Raw Onion
Red onions are known to do a number on your breath, but the antibacterial properties found in their makeup are great for keeping mouths clean. Fighting bacteria is the best way to prevent cavities and other oral infections. Just make sure to eat them in small amounts and only when you aren’t planning for a big meeting or date. If you absolutely can’t stand raw onions, cooking them is better than eliminating altogether. Be aware that high heat breaks down nutrient density, so the overall effect of cooked onions on oral health is diminished.
Fresh ginger root is known for being an anti-inflammatory digestive aid, but it can also be used to treat common mouth ailments. To heal a toothache naturally, scrub the outer skin of ginger root with a vegetable brush. Then, cut a ½ inch thick piece from the main root with a pairing knife. Peel the skin and place the ginger directly underneath the aching tooth. Bite down and allow the ginger juice to surround the affected area. Swish the juice with your tongue and chew once the piece has softened. After chewing for five minutes, either swallow or spit the remaining pulp. Repeat multiple times a day as needed.
These tart berries contain high amounts of polyphenols, which prevent plaque from sticking to teeth. The number one cause of cavities is plaque buildup, so chewing on fresh cranberries can help with this issue. Be careful about buying big brand cranberry juice as most contain added sugar, a beverage commonly referred to as “cranberry juice cocktail.”
Spinach has both calcium and phosphorous, two highly important minerals for a healthy mouth. Spinach also raises the pH levels in the human body to fight the bad bacteria most commonly associated with high-protein diets.
A study cited in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, shows that the omega-3s fish oils (specifically DHA) found in salmon reduce the risk of periodontitis. Periodontitis damages both gums and the bones that support your teeth; so preventing this disease is crucial to keeping your mouth healthy. Salmon is also rich in Vitamin D, which has been shown to minimize the risk of tooth decay by 50 percent.
Water isn’t necessarily a food, but it does make up over half of both men’s and women’s bodies. Drinking plenty of water – at least 8 cups a day – flushes bacteria out of your mouth and reduces your risk of gum disease and plaque-related disorders. Plus, regular rinsing and flushing promotes fresh breath.
Much like carrots, apples are considered a dental detergent. But be careful to limit your intake of acidic fruits since they can erode tooth enamel and leave you susceptible to advanced oral complications.
The outer shell of cashews contains oils that have been proven to fight bacteria in the mouth. As previously mentioned, bacteria is one of the major causes of tooth decay. Although high in fat, cashews contain a lower percentage than other popular nuts, including almonds, walnuts, peanuts, and pecans.
10. Dark Chocolate
According to an Osaka University research study, the husk of the cocoa bean has anti-bacterial properties that might significantly reduce the incidence of plaque, bacteria, and tooth decay. However, these benefits are only associated with raw cocoa and not the processed milk chocolate typically seen in grocery store candy bars. Additionally, dark chocolate still contains sugar, so you must keep up a brushing and flossing regimen so leftover sugar doesn’t rot your smile.
While all of these foods are considered “raw,” make sure to incorporate other types of nutrient-dense substances in your diet. Eating an entirely raw diet might be too powerful on the enamel and subsequently cause it to wear down overtime. Without strong enamel, you risk tooth decay and gum disease.
Jennifer McCarrick is a Media Coordinator at Assure A Smile. She holds a Bachelor’s of Journalism from the University of Wisconsin and enjoys writing about everything from holistic practices to general healthcare. Follow Assure A Smile on Twitter.