Eat Your Way to a Whiter Smile

white smileHealth professionals agree that maintaining healthy teeth and gums is an important part of overall health. Why? Firstly, because dental problems (such as tooth decay and gingivitis) have been linked to heart and kidney troubles, and secondly because having healthy teeth boosts a person’s self-image and self esteem.

Plus, a white smile can make a person look as much as 10 years younger, estimate some dentists. Here’s a primer on what you should eat and avoid to keep your pearly whites looking their best.

Food Choices to Keep Your Teeth Strong

The good news is that foods that are good for your teeth are also good for the rest of your body, so you won’t have to rehash your entire diet to help improve your smile. Keep these dos and don’ts in mind as you shop for your next meal.

  • DO choose crunchy fruits and vegetables. Chewing these foods promotes the production of saliva, which helps flush decay-causing bacteria from your mouth. Apples, carrots, celery, and cauliflower are especially potent grime-busters.
  • DO include dairy products in your daily diet. Dairy foods (including milk, yogurt, and cheese) contain lactic acid, which helps protect your teeth from decay. Hard cheeses are especially powerful in the fight against tooth decay, as they polish the teeth.
  • DO try a natural tooth buffer. Orange peels rubbed against the teeth, followed by a water rinse, can help improve whiteness over a period of months.
  • DO brush and floss after meals. Food left in the teeth provides a constant source of energy for smile-damaging bacteria. Brushing or flossing the food away will keep bacteria from flourishing.
  • DON’T consume foods that could stain your clothes. The same dyes can discolor your teeth over time. To stain inducers include coffee, tea, blueberries, soy sauce, and red wine. If you consume these foods, be sure to rinse and brush your teeth to minimize the damage.
  • DON’T use tobacco products, which stain.
  • DON’T consume refined sugars. Soda, candy, and other foods that contain refined sugar are especially hard on your teeth, as they provide a ready source of energy to decay-inducing bacteria. Even foods with natural sugars (including fruit) feed bacteria, and should be rinsed from teeth shortly after consumption.
  • DON’T consume very hot or very cold foods. The temperature fluctuations cause tooth enamel to expand and contract, which allows stains to penetrate.

Whether you’re adopting healthy habits as part of your breast cancer recovery or simply hoping to improve your overall wellness, taking care of your teeth should be a top priority