Pinch Yourself, You’re Not Dreaming
Studies have revealed that a few of our most favorite dietary vices may actually have cavity-fighting properties and be good for your teeth. Here’s a quick breakdown:
All hail the cocoa bean! This news may have been around awhile, but it’s still good news. Cocoa beans, which are used to make chocolate, contain antioxidants including flavonoids, polyphenols and tannins. Tannins are what cause dark chocolate to have that delightful yet bitter taste, and they also have properties which help to prevent bacteria from sticking to your teeth. Polyphenols have antimicrobial properties, which means they help to reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth.
Bacteria in the mouth are what cause bad breath and gum disease. Research has been conducted by the University of Osaka in Japan, as well as other studies in the US and UK. If you’re planning to run out to get some dark chocolate, aim for 70% cacao or higher.
If you’re one of the many people who profess a love of cheese, you now have another reason to enjoy this tasty food. A recent study found that eating cheese raised the pH in the subjects’ mouths and lowered their risk of tooth decay. It’s thought that the chewing required to eat cheese increases saliva in the mouth. Cheese also contains calcium and protein, nutrients that strengthen tooth enamel.
Like cheese, yogurt is high in calcium and protein, which makes it a good pick for the strength and health of your teeth. The probiotics, or beneficial bacteria, found in yogurt also benefit your gums because the good bacteria crowd out bacteria that cause cavities. If you decide to add more yogurt to your diet, choose a plain variety with no added sugar.
Almonds are great for your teeth because they are a good source of calcium and protein while being low in sugar. Enjoy a quarter cup of almonds with your lunch. You can also add a handful to a salad or to a stir-fry dinner.
Yes, you heard right. Red wine, like dark chocolate, also contains tannins and other antioxidants. A study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry recently concluded that red wine, whether or not it contained alcohol, inhibited the growth of bacteria and oral biofilms, which become plaque. The same study also found properties in grape seed extract to have similar antimicrobial properties.
Results of a recent study released by Rio de Janeiro’s Federal University in Brazil have revealed that black coffee may also have properties that inhibit the growth of bacteria. The study found that an extract called Coffee Canephora, which is present in about 30% of the world’s coffee, helped to break down the biofilms. Coffee also contains tannins, the same antioxidants found in red wine and dark chocolate. The coffee bean cited in this study is called Robusta. Robusta is often found in darker, stronger roasts. The key is to drink coffee without cream or sugar, as both will counteract the potential benefits from the coffee beans.
Along with adding leafy greens, dairy products and fibrous vegetables to your diet, pay attention to what you’re drinking. Since it has no calories or sugar, water is always the best pick, especially compared to juice or soda. Your diet makes a big difference when it comes to a healthy smile.
Enjoy, In Moderation
Is this all too good to be true? Well, a little bit. Coffee, chocolate and red wine all have dark pigments that can stain teeth, which is why many dentists may encourage people to avoid them. Dental restorations such as crowns and veneers, as well as recently whitened teeth, may be more susceptible to staining, so it is important to follow the recommendations of your dentist.
If you plan to enjoy any of these treats, remember to do so in moderation. We also recommend you follow up with a good swish of water reduce the staining potential until you can find time to brush. Brushing for 2 minutes twice a day, and flossing, are a critical part of your oral health routine. It is also important to see your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings. The good news is that you can reward yourself after your dental visit with some delightful treats!
Source: Colgate.com, MouthHealthy.org (American Dental Association)