Having the best possible oral health is not just about cleaning your teeth and using mouthwash/floss. While these are important ways to improve the appearance of your teeth and to reduce bacteria in your mouth, they are still only one part of the equation. Just as important, or even more important, is that you strengthen your health generally in order to make your teeth stronger and to help your body to keep your mouth clean and healthy in the long term.
In other words then, you need to ensure that you get the right nutrients that will help your body to look after your mouth itself. There are plenty of great foods that you can add to your diet that will do this job, so let's look at nine of the best.
Cheese is high in phosphate and calcium as a dairy product, and that means that your body can use it to strengthen the bones and the teeth. Meanwhile, cheese is also good for balancing PH levels which is useful for protecting you from gum disease.
Apples are acidic and also high in sugar, neither of which is great for your teeth. Nevertheless though, they still tend to score very highly on countdowns of foods that are good for your teeth. One reason for this is the high fibre content which means they strengthen and clean your teeth as you grind them down. The other is the malic acid content – a good acid which actually increases your production of saliva and thereby helps to kill bacteria and whiten your teeth. Malic acid is actually an ingredient used in some whitening toothpastes – who'd have thought that apples and whitening toothpastes would share ingredients?
Pineapple contains a substance called bromelain which is good for us for all kinds of reasons. Bromelain is a natural anti-inflammatory as well as a cleansing substance. This once again makes it ideal for whitening teeth and as an ingredient found in many whitening toothpastes.
Coconut oil is great for all kinds of things, and you can include oral health among those. Only surprisingly, the best way to use coconut oil for your teeth is not simply to eat it, but may in fact be to 'swill' it around your mouth. This is according to people who practice what is known as 'oil pulling' – a technique that involves doing just that with oil in the hopes that it will clean the inside of the mouth and 'suffocate' bacteria. While oil pulling is purported to have many health benefits that aren't backed up by the science, research does nevertheless tell us that you can see some benefits in terms of plaque and bacteria by using the strange technique (1). The downside is that you're supposed to use oil pulling for stints of ten minutes at a time, which is a bit soul destroying and not something you'd want to do every day. Maybe one for special occasions then!
Celery is crunchy and full of water which makes it brilliant for stimulating the production of saliva and for massaging and brushing the gums and teeth while you eat.
Green tea has a myriad of different benefits which is probably why it's so popular at the moment. Among those benefits are improved oral health – as it contains catechins which kill plaque-causing bacteria.
Raisins can also inhibit certain types of bacteria in the mouth. Specifically they contain phytochemicals such as oleanolic acid which does the job.
Carrots, as well as sweet potatoes and several other vegetables, are high in vitamin A. This is useful for the formation of tooth enamel and also for strengthening the gums.
Garlic is another food that is generally a 'super food' for a whole range of reasons. As far as the mouth is concerned, garlic is a natural antibacterial and this means it can be used to kill off bacteria in the mouth. Ironically, in the long term, garlic may actually be good for your breath!