Is there more to do than not drink coffee, dark tea or red wine? Yes, there is. You cannot necessarily eat your way to whiter teeth, but you can eat and maintain the brightness you have now with the right foods.
Proper care is always your first step to whiter, healthier teeth. While brushing, flossing and regular visits to your dentist or orthodontist are primary, what you eat is of course helpful. The desire for pearly white teeth is certainly not a modern phenomenon.
While our photo-obsessed culture has no doubt fueled people’s fascination with the perfect, sparkling smile, the origins of this most sought-after look go much further back than our current infatuation with social media and the Hollywood grin. In the 21st century, there are a myriad of products all promising to turn stained teeth back to gleaming white, but thousands of years ago, people were achieving the same look purely by brushing and eating foods with strategic advantages.
After all, there were no whitening gels or bleaches during historic times, how else was a civilization known for worshiping beauty suppose to maintain sparking teeth, with restored natural color, fresh breath, and an overall optimal healthy smile!
The White Teeth Diet is the latest fad to break it’s way into mainstream. Why you ask? All of the benefits of course! (Oh and good news, it even includes cheese!) If patients really do want whiter teeth, but want to keep hold of their enamel, what can they do?
The answer is simpler and more natural than you ever could have anticipated.
EAT YOUR WAY TO WHITER TEETH
There are three key factors that patients need to keep in mind when it comes to the white teeth diet: chewing, saliva production, and staining.
There are many reasons to cut out soda, drinks that are full of sugar and candy that will benefit you and your smile long-term. As for your teeth, sugary drinks and candy eat away at your enamel (literally) which will eventually lead to cavities.
For instance, switching from a candy bar to an apple gives you natural sugar, and an apple contains malic acid, an ingredient found in most toothpaste. Malic acid generates saliva which can help with stains and cleaning. Not to mention, choosing to eat organically will also do wonders for your weight and fitness goals. It truly is all about choices.
Strawberries are an excellent substitute for junk food too. They contain malic acid as well and vitamin C, a helpful combatant of various gum disease.
Cheese has lactic acid, phosphorus and calcium. Calcium makes your teeth whiter and stronger. Chewing hard cheese produces saliva and can remove food that sticks to your teeth. Other hard vegetables can act as a toothbrush when you eat them.
A wide variety of fruits and vegetables need to be chewed in order to act like a toothbrush during meals, scrubbing the surface of the teeth as people chew.Apples, carrots, cauliflower, green beans and celery are all great crunchy choices. Hard cheeses are also effective, because the chewing action removes other food particles, and prevents plaque build-up. These types of food also massage the gums too, stimulating blood flow that keeps them healthy.
SALIVA IS KEY
Increasing saliva flow helps keep teeth whiter, so citrus fruits like grapefruits, lime, lemon and oranges help rinse your teeth naturally as you eat. Strawberries are particularly good in this respect, because they contain malic acid, an enzyme that encourages saliva production. Hard cheese removes food particles and prevent plaque building up on the teeth
DEFENDING GUM INFLAMMATION AND DECAY
Vegetables that are high in fibre such as broccoli are good for keeping down inflammation of the gums, while interestingly, pineapple is the only food that contains bromelain, a naturally occurring compound with cleansing and anti-inflammatory properties.Calcium contributes to keeping teeth white, so dairy products including milk and yogurts are also worth including in a good dental diet. Their lactic acid will help prevent decay, too.
And of course, whatever a patient chooses to eat, there are huge benefits to drinking plenty of water.
Along with being one of the most important things we consume, it’s also effective for washing away all the potentially staining food before it has chance to make a mark.
The diet isn’t just about avoiding red wine and coffee, but most patients consider the promotion of white teeth to be the biggest motivator. Rather than damage the surface of your teeth, choose the kinds of food that actively work to clean and protect your teeth.
This of course means that red wine, coffee, tea, cola and sports drinks are definitely going to stain the teeth and should be avoided where possible. However, the thing to remember is there are plenty of other healthy and natural foods that stain too: fruits like blackberries, pomegranates and blueberries, curry sauces and soy sauce, and inevitably sweets and anything coloured artificially.
To put things in to perspective, chances are if it would stain your shirt, it will do the same to your teeth. We aren’t just talking about encouraging patients to swap out Merlot for Chardonnay, tannins and acids will stain as well. So be mindful.
Keeping It White, Keeping It Real
There will be few patients willing or able to stick completely rigidly to a diet made up purely of these ‘low-stain’ foods, and there’s no reason why they should have to. As with much of the best health advice, everything in moderation, and the occasional glass of red isn’t a problem. What is more important is that a white teeth diet is combined with good overall dental hygiene. Thorough brushing, rinsing after meals and regular check-ups all play a vital part, and diet certainly shouldn’t be seen as the solution on its own.