The autumn harvest is just around the corner and right on time to celebrate National Fruits and Veggies Month. Many fruits and veggies are in abundance as local growers reap their harvest from the growing season. Some of the best foods for healthy teeth are fresh fruits and veggies because of their nutritional and oral health benefits. Research has shown that a healthy diet can benefit both our oral and general health.
Fresh Fruits and Veggies Help Keep Teeth Healthy in a Myriad of Ways
Some of the best foods for healthy teeth are fresh fruits and veggies because of their nutritional and mouth health benefits. Did you know that crisp fruits and raw vegetables, like apples, carrots and celery, help clean plaque from teeth and freshen breath? Celery is probably the closest vegetable there is to being nature’s dental floss. The crunchy and fibrous texture makes for a very effective natural teeth cleaner.
Chewing on these crunchy, firm foods that contain lots of water also increases saliva production, which can neutralize the citric acids left behind in your mouth and helps to scrub away food particles and bacteria. Carrots and celery are also good sources of beta carotene, which your body needs to create Vitamin A; a nutrient essential for building strong teeth.
Citrus and Other Fresh Fruits
Apples, pears, strawberries, pineapples, tomatoes and cucumbers are all rich in vitamin C, which contains lots of antioxidant vitamins. Unlike many acidic fruits, raw pears are good at neutralizing acids in your mouth that cause decay. Vitamin C especially benefits your gums and other tissues from cell damage and bacterial infection.
It’s important to get vitamin C from the actual fruits and vegetables, instead of fruit and vegetable juices. Juices are usually high in sugar, and most fruit juices are acidic, which erodes tooth enamel. Vitamin C is water soluble, which means it cannot be stored and needs to be replenished every day.
Leafy Green and Vegetables
Nutrients found in these dark green foods include vitamin A, vitamin C, beta carotene, phosphorus, calcium and magnesium. Phosphorus is stored in your teeth and bones to help your body balance and absorb calcium and magnesium. Leafy greens also contain lots of folic acid, a member of the B vitamin family, which promotes a healthy mouth and supports cell growth throughout the entire body. They are also packed with a variety of vitamins and minerals necessary to maintain and improve oral health.
Cranberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries are rich in compounds with antioxidant effects. Cranberries, for instance, have compounds that disrupt the enzymes associated with the bacteria forming process that leads to plaque and tooth decay.
How Do I Get More Fruit and Veggies in My Diet?
It might seem impossible to eat enough fruit and veggies every day. The Have a Plant Organization offers the following tips for incorporating more fruits and veggies into your diet.
- Half Your Plate – Fill half of your plate with fruits and veggies at every meal and snack.
- Add More – Add extra fruits and vegetables to the recipe you’re following.
- Stay Stocked – Always stock frozen and canned fruits and veggies for quick meal preparation. Choose canned fruit and vegetables without added sugar, syrup, cream sauces, or other ingredients that will add calories.
- Steam and Flavor – Steamed vegetables make great sides. Add flavor with low-calorie or low-fat dressings along with herbs and spices.
- Grab and Go – Always have fresh fruits and vegetables in easy-to-grab containers; washed and in a fruit bowl, sliced in the fridge in a sandwich bag, etc.
- Add Fruit – Top your cereal with fruit, or add fruit to your pancake batter.
- Sneak it in – Make chili and replace half of the meat with beans and veggies. They will never know.
- Smoothies – Fruit and veggie smoothies are filled with nutrients. Check online for recipes that are sure to add fruit and veggies to your diet.
Timing is Important
A diet that promotes good oral health is not just about the foods you eat or avoid — when and how you eat them is equally important. One way to protect your teeth is by eating raw foods at the end of your meal. Such foods help clean teeth and massage gums, and generate more saliva to wash away extra food particles left after a meal and may help to prevent tooth decay. After a sweet meal or dessert, try eating acid neutralizing foods, such as cheese or milk. This will prevent prolonged acid attacks to your teeth and help prevent cavities.
Although water is neither a fruit or veggie, drinking water with fluoride, is one of the easiest and most beneficial things you can do to help prevent cavities. Water is unlike any other drink, and is by far the healthiest drink available. Our bodies are made of 60 percent water, and staying hydrated helps your system distribute healthy nutrients, gets rid of waste, gives your skin a healthy glow and keeps your muscles moving. And, water helps wash away food particles and keeps your saliva levels high.
Regular Dental Appointments are Crucial to Your Oral Health
Dr. Ashley Niles, of Niles Family Dentistry in Niwot, Colorado, is committed to providing the best and most advanced dentistry the profession has to offer. She is passionate about overall health and wellness and the impact it has on oral health. She strives to be an example by keeping herself healthy, eating a balanced diet and staying physically fit. Dr. Niles enjoys an active lifestyle and finds joy in cooking healthy food for herself and her family.
Located in Niwot, Colorado at 136 2nd Ave. Suite 101, Dr. Niles provides dental care for the whole family and serves patients in Boulder, Longmont and other areas of northern Colorado. To make an appointment, contact us online, or call 720-744-0001.
Join Dr. Niles in celebrating National Fruits and Veggies Month by adding more fruits and veggies into your daily diet, just for the (oral) health of it!