There are lots of things to smile about over the holidays, such as the quality time you can spend with family and friends, the exchange of gifts which say “I am thinking of you”, and of course it’s also a time to share and enjoy festive foods and drinks. For this reason, our staff at Christensen Dental would like to share some tips on how to enjoy Christmas parties and dinners while keeping your smile bright. For instance, some foods can stain your teeth more than others. You’ll want to avoid them or keep them in moderation to keep your smile bright. On the other hand, there are lots of foods that are not only tasty but that will help promote the health of your teeth as well.
Foods to keep in moderation
It is common knowledge that sugar fuels bacterial growth. But who wants to spoil all the fun? Another option would be to consider replacing sugar with substitutes such as xylitol, erythritol or stevia. (But please be sure to keep treats with xylitol or erythritol away from pets as they are very toxic for them). If you do eat candy, dark chocolate is a good choice. Dark chocolate contains a compound that helps harden tooth enamel. Also, the compounds in cocoa beans have an antibacterial effect that fights plaque. We also suggest you avoid soda drinks that are loaded with sugar. Sparkling flavored waters are a great substitute.
Coffee and Tea
Both coffee and tea contain tannins which will stain teeth. However, teas such as green tea have antioxidants that are good for you. Therefore, to prevent staining, keep them in moderation to protect your teeth from staining. A tea you can drink as an alternative is Rooibos. For example, some brands of tea make Chai Rooibos. It doesn’t contain tannins that can stain your teeth.
Fruits (that stain teeth)
Blueberries, blackberries, cranberries, and pomegranates. These fruits can heavily stain your teeth. On the other hand, they also have healthy qualities such as antioxidants and vitamin C. So I won’t say avoid them. But do keep them in moderation.
Like tea, wine also contains tannins which can stain your teeth. So we recommend you have some water or soda water after your wine.
Foods that promote your dental health
Foods Rich in Calcium and Phosphorus
Enamel is the hardest substance in the human body and contains the highest percentage of minerals. It is made up mostly of minerals, primarily hydroxyapatite, which is a crystalline calcium phosphate. Calcium helps strengthen tooth enamel. Calcium needs phosphorus to maximize bone strengthening. Here are some suggestions for calcium and phosphorus:
Calcium: Green leafy vegetables, yogurt, cheese (hard, aged), seafood, milk (low-fat), tofu, almonds.
Phosphorus: Sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, Brazil nuts, fish, red meat, eggs, tofu
Foods rich in Vitamin D: Vitamin D is vital for your overall health. It helps your body absorb calcium which is vital for strong teeth. Foods high in Vitamin D: fish, egg yolks, cod liver oil, spinach, kale, okra, collards, soybeans and white beans.
Fibrous fruits and vegetables: Foods with fiber stimulate saliva flow, which is a natural defense against cavities. Saliva helps wash away food particles. Also about 20 minutes after you eat something, saliva begins to neutralize the acids attacking your teeth. Here are some examples of high fiber fruits and vegetables:
Fruits: Apples, bananas, oranges, raspberries, strawberries, mangos, persimmons.
Vegetables: Carrots, celery, broccoli, collard greens and swiss chard
To sum up, there are lots of great foods you can have during the holidays. Enjoy treats from cheese, nut and fruit platters. Eat in moderation the foods that can stain your teeth. And rinse with clear water after eating or drinking any highly staining food.
Happy Holidays from all of us at Christensen Dental!
Dr. Ashley Anderson, DDS
Christensen Dental, Henderson