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Did you know certain foods such as some fruits, vegetables, and grains can defend against bacteria that can damage teeth and gums, help protect enamel, and even gently cleanse your teeth as you eat them? “What you consume influences the health of your smile,” says Shawn Frawley, DDS, American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry member and cosmetic dentist practicing in Beverly Hills, Calif. “The teeth and gums mirror what’s going on in the rest of your body. That’s why it’s important to think carefully about making the right food choices.”
Here are just a few healthy ingredients recommended as part of a smile-friendly diet:
Broccoli: Forms an acid-resistant film on teeth that can help prevent enamel erosion.
Celery: Activates saliva production, which assists in cleansing food particles from the teeth and dilutes sugars or acids in the mouth. Chewing celery also massages the gums.
Cheese: Offers the benefit of lactic acid to help prevent tooth decay.
Green tea: Contains catechins, antioxidants that reduce bacterial growth that causes gingivitis.
Kale or chard: High in minerals that support tooth structure.
Pineapple: Helps you produce extra saliva. Combine that with citric acid and you have an all-natural bacterial fighting “mouthwash.” It also contains vitamin C and the enzyme bromelain, promoting a healing alkaline response in the mouth.
Sea salt: Offers a blend of minerals needed to mineralize and strengthen teeth. Try Himalayan or Celtic.
Shiitake mushrooms: Contain a sugar called lentinan that prevents mouth bacteria from growing.
Sesame seeds: These “little scrubbers” reduce plaque and provide calcium, a necessary mineral for teeth. Nuts and seeds in general have a high pH, thus are protective for teeth by helping to manage pH balance in the mouth.
Stevia: A natural sweetener that does not have an “acid effect” on your teeth like sugar.
Wasabi: A sushi staple, this Japanese version of horseradish contains compounds called isothiocyanates to arrest bacteria growth.
Xylitol: A sugar substitute that studies show prevents tooth decay. It’s very beneficial in gum and mint form.
Yogurt: The probiotics in yogurt can balance flora in the gut as well as odor-causing compounds such as hydrogen sulfide in the mouth for fresher breath. Probiotic supplements work the same way
A lab-based study showed that tooth enamel erodes half as quickly after an acid drink such as cola when the teeth have been exposed to broccoli beforehand. Researchers suggest that the iron in broccoli may set up a protective barrier and protect teeth from acid.
XLEAR Spry Green Tea Gum You’ll feel great about chewing this gum. It’s sweetened xylitol, which studies show can help reduce the risk of tooth decay, plus gives you the healthy benefits of green tea.
WELEDA Salt Toothpaste features sea salt, which not only helps remineralize your teeth, but is also a powerful natural cleanser and whitener. Meanwhile, myrrh and blackthorn flower extract stimulate and soothe gums.
NATREN Healthy Trinity Probiotic works from the inside out to balance gut bacteria and promote fresh breath with three super strains
of guaranteed-potency probitoics in one easy-to-take capsule.