Summer is here and yummy treats are all around! But how do these beachside snacks affect your teeth? Your Community Dental, in Wilmington, North Carolina has some tips and tricks to enjoying summer treats that will help you keep your smile shining with your pearly whites!
We brush and floss and even visit the dentist regularly, but cavities and oral problems still seem to make a way in! That’s because, often times, we are putting the enemies right on our healthy teeth. These enemies hide right in our fridge! We all know that sugary foods are delicious, but unfortunately aren’t very good for our health. This includes our oral health! But we want a pretty smile and healthy teeth! The first step is eating foods that strengthen our tooth enamel and avoiding foods that cause plaque! That’s right, PLAQUE, the great enemy of healthy teeth!
Nutrients That Support Your Teeth
It’s time to hit the beach, saddle up for family vacays, and prepare for summer trips! But with these trips come lots of sugary temptations! No need to worry, there are still tasty treats and snacks that won’t harm your teeth! In fact, there are actually foods that can help improve your oral care and brighten your smile! That’s right, some pretty tasty treats can help you and even freshen your breath! Our teeth require certain vitamins, minerals, and nutrients to function well, and healthy snacks have just what is needed.
As a kid you probably heard, “Drink your milk so you can grow tall and strong!” This is because milk is an excellent source of calcium! Calcium helps support strong muscles and bones. And also our tooth enamel! Sugar and acidic food break down our enamel so it is important to build it back up with calcium and phosphorous. To absorb calcium, it is essential to have vitamin D! But that shouldn’t be a problem for anyone enjoying the outdoors this summer! The best natural source of vitamin D is sunlight! But of course, you can’t eat sunlight, so just smile a lot while you are outdoors. Just kidding! It doesn’t work exactly like that! But absorbing vitamin D from sunlight is still very healthy and you can eat food that is high in vitamin D! To keep your teeth from becoming too sensitive and susceptible to bacteria it is important to have Vitamin C, antioxidants, and probiotics!
Best Natural Food Sources
In the busy rush of summertime, it can be difficult to think about what you are eating, and making healthy choices can be a struggle! But there are foods that will aid your overall health and help increase your oral health as well! Look for these foods when you go for a snack or grab a meal:
- Yogurt, milk, and cheese- These foods are very healthy and promote strong teeth. They contain good bacteria that supports oral health. These foods contain calcium and probiotics! Tip: When buying yogurt, check the label to make sure there is no added sugar.
- Fish, eggs, nuts, and red meat– These foods help your body absorb healthy vitamins and promote strong and healthy enamel. Fish is one of the best options. It contains calcium, phosphorous, and vitamin D. Eggs are also high in phosphorous and vitamin D. And nuts are a great source of calcium, phosphorus, and antioxidants. Tip: Many people avoid these food because of the fat contained, and low fat isn’t always the best option. But, these foods contain a good source of fat with fatty acids and omega-3s. Don’t fear the fat!
- Veggies and fruits- Vegetables and fruits often help keep your gums from becoming overly sensitive (no one likes bloody gums after brushing or flossing.) These foods also help prevent bacteria that causes periodontal disease. Many fruits and veggies are a good source of vitamin C and antioxidants. Tip: Eating water based fruits and veggies like apples, celery, watermelon, and cucumbers actually help clean your teeth and remove plaque!
Super Treat Summer Treats
In the summer, it always feels like sugary treats and unhealthy meals are everywhere! With friends and family constantly providing sodas and sugary beverages or salty and sweet snacks, it seems impossible to find nutrient dense foods! But don’t give up, there are some healthy treats that are super yummy and good for your teeth. Try replacing a classic unhealthy snack with one of these for your next vacation. Your friends and family won’t even notice they are loving something so healthy:
Swap those sugar-filled icy pops for these nutrient dense fruit pops! They are quick and easy and very refreshing on hot days!
- Grab a few Popsicle trays.
- Fill them with your favorite fruit (strawberries, kiwi, berries).
- Pour coconut water into the mold.
- Freeze overnight.
Yogurt Parfait Cups
Skip the ice cream and enjoy this is a super yummy snack that has lots of healthy value, with calcium, probiotics, vitamin C, antioxidants, and more.
- Grab a few 9oz clear plastic cups.
- Fill them with a ½ cup of Greek yogurt.
- Top with strawberries and blueberries.
- Add some granola for a little crunch and extra protein.
Replace the ice cream pops with these banana pops. Bananas are a great source of vitamin C, and are a good source of healthy This makes them an excellent refueling option for beach, lake, or even hiking trips. The nuts also add healthy nutrition like phosphorous, antioxidants, and good fatty acids.
- Lay out a cookie sheet with wax paper.
- Cut bananas in half place Popsicle sticks in them.
- Roll or dip them in coca.
- Sprinkle crushed nuts on them.
Skip the milkshakes and try a trendy smoothie! When smoothies are made right they can be mighty yummy and very healthy. Grab a blender and toss in some almond milk and yogurt with some of your favorite fruit! The possibilities are endless. Try this cranberry-orange-banana smoothie:
- ¾ cup of Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup of frozen cranberries
- 1 banana
- 1 orange
- 1 ½ Tbs. pure honey
Skip the soda and sugary beverages and try some flavorful drinks. Fruit-infused water is a new trend that is great for staying hydrated in the hot sun and wonderful for your smile. Grab some water and toss in some fruit, water based veggies, spices, or all of it! Berries are always tasty and spices like cinnamon, basil, or mint add some great flavor and nutrients. Try this summer drink:
- 2 cups water
- ½ cup strawberries
- ¼ tbsp. cinnamon
- ½ squeezed lime
Foods to Avoid
Now that we know the healthiest options for our teeth, lets go over the foods that are most harmful. SUGAR! Yes, we all know that sugar isn’t great for our overall health. But why is it so bad for our teeth? Sugar fuels the fire to the bad bacteria that lives in our mouth. When these bacteria grow, they create acids that cause cavities. Sugar is the worst, the greatest enemy of our teeth is the most deceiving of them all. This sweet little thing is only sweet in taste and hides in foods all over. Most are aware of the basic sugary treats and drinks like soda that contain an outrageously high amount of the ingredient. But sugar is a tricky thing, it hides in lots of foods that might not be so obvious. Next time you go grocery shopping, make sure these foods do not have any added sugar:
- Fruit juice
- Dried fruit
- Granola bars
Foods high in acid are also very bad for the teeth. Acidic foods cause erosion of the enamel, cause cavities, and often tooth decay. These foods can also cause the enamel to weaken, resulting in discoloration and sensitivity. Even foods that are proven to have a great deal of nutrimental value can be harmful for the teeth. Foods like lemons, pickles, tomatoes, coffee, and alcohol are very acidic.
Finally, chewy, sticky, and hard foods are dangerous to our teeth. This is a pretty obvious one but it is often overlooked. Chewy and sticky foods often leave behind a lot of residue in-between and on your teeth. This causes bacteria and puts stress on your teeth. Hard foods like ice and hardy candy are very dangerous because they can cause cracks and splits in your teeth.
Ways To Help Your Teeth
We are only human, and we can’t eat clean a hundred percent of the time or avoid sugar all the time. So, eat and enjoy these foods, but do so in moderation. Be aware of the foods you eat and take extra care while enjoying sugary and acidic ones. When it is possible switch foods you are craving for a healthier alternative. But here are a few things to do to keep your smile fresh:
- Brush immediately after consuming sugar- This will get rid of the sugary residue left on your teeth.
- Drink lots of water- Drinking water throughout the day and rinse your mouth with water after meals to help clean your teeth and get rid of excess left on the teeth.
- Always drink from a straw- This may seem tedious, but drinking from a straw can really make a difference. It reduces the contact of acidic and sugary drinks on the teeth.
- Remember to rest- Your jaws and teeth need a break too! Try to leave a little time in between meals and snacks for rest. Not chewing gum, mints, etc. This can help.
- The basics- We all know it, but rarely do we all do it! It is absolutely essential to brush at least twice a day, floss once daily, and visit the dentist every six months.
Have a wonderful summer and lots of healthy treats! Eating foods high in calcium, phosphorous, vitamin D, vitamin C, probiotics, and antioxidants are the best way to provide nutrients to your teeth, keeping them strong and healthy. It is also important to minimize your sugary and acidic food intake. To make a semi-annual dental appointment or to make an appointment for whitening, cleaning, etc. call Your Community Dental at 910-342-9210.