Preventive dentistry means just that: preventing problems with your teeth and gums by practicing good oral health.

That means making sure you get the comprehensive checkups, cleanings, and products that will help you and your family smile long and strong for a lifetime.   An ounce of prevention is worth hours in the dentist’s chair!

The top 10 best foods for your teeth

According to World Dental*, these are the top ten beneficial foods for teeth.

  1. Green tea contains polyphenol antioxidant plant compounds that reduce plaque and help reduce cavities and gum disease.  Tea may help reduce bad breath.  Tooth enamel is strengthened because green tea contains fluoride which promotes healthy teeth.
  2. Milk and yogurt are good for teeth because they contain low acidity, which means that wearing of teeth is less.  They are also low in decay-inducing sugar. Milk is a good source of calcium, the main component of teeth and bones.
  3. Cheese contains calcium and phosphate, which helps balance pH in the mouth, preserves (and rebuilds) tooth enamel, produces saliva, and kills bacteria that cause cavities and disease.
  4. Fruits such as apples, strawberries and kiwis contain Vitamin C.  This vitamin is considered the element that holds cells together.  If this vitamin is neglected, gum cells can break down, making gums tender and susceptible to disease.
  5. Vegetables: Vitamin A, found in pumpkins, carrots, sweet potatoes and broccoli, is necessary for the formation of tooth enamel.  Crunchy vegetables may also help clean gums.
  6. Onions contain antibacterial sulfur compounds.  Tests show that onions kill various types of bacteria, especially when eaten raw.
  7. Celery protects teeth by producing saliva which neutralizes bacteria that cause cavities.  It also massages the teeth and gums.
  8. Sesame seeds reduce plaque and help build tooth enamel.  They are also very high in calcium.
  9. Animal food: beef, chicken, turkey, and eggs contain phosphorus which, with calcium, is one of the two most vital minerals of teeth and bone.
  10. Water cleans the mouth and produces saliva that deposits essential minerals into the teeth.  It keeps teeth hydrated and washes away particles from the teeth.

What are the “bad” foods for my teeth?

Sugars are commonly associated with dental cavities.  Other carbohydrates, especially cooked starches, e.g. crisps/potato chips, may also damage teeth, although to a lesser degree since starch has to be converted by enzymes in saliva first.

Sucrose (table sugar) is most commonly associated with cavities.  The amount of sugar consumed at any one time is less important than how often food and drinks that contain sugar are consumed.  The more frequently sugars are consumed, the greater the time during which the tooth is exposed to low pH levels, at which point de-mineralization occurs (below 5.5 for most people).  It is important therefore to try to encourage infrequent consumption of food and drinks containing sugar so that teeth have a chance to be repaired by re-mineralization and fluoride.  Limiting sugar-containing foods and drinks to meal times is one way to reduce the incidence of cavities.  Sugars from fruit and fruit juices, e.g., glucose, fructose, and maltose seem equally likely to cause cavities.

Acids contained in fruit juice, vinegar and soft drinks lower the pH level of the oral cavity which causes the enamel to de-mineralize.  Drinking drinks such as orange juice or cola throughout the day raises the risk of dental cavities tremendously.

Another factor which affects the risk of developing cavities is the stickiness of foods.  Some foods or sweets may stick to the teeth and so reduce the pH in the mouth for an extended time, particularly if they are sugary.  It is important that teeth be cleaned at least twice a day, preferably with a toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste, to remove any food sticking to the teeth.  Regular brushing and the use of dental floss also remove the dental plaque coating the tooth surface.

Chewing gum assists oral irrigation between and around the teeth, cleaning and removing particles, but for teeth in poor condition it may damage or remove loose fillings as well.

*source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oral_hygiene