The outer surface of your teeth is covered by a protected coat, called enamel. Over time, chewing and habits such as grinding or clenching can cause some wear to this layer. The good news is, there are many simple ways you can make your teeth stronger every day.
(1) Limit sugar intake:
Oral bacteria feed on sugars from both foods and drinks we consume. Candies and dried fruits that are sticky can linger on tooth surfaces causing further damage and decay. Sodas and juices have extra acid than lead to more enamel damage (for more information on this, see blog on How Harmful is Soda For Your Teeth).
Believe it or not, there are foods that actually can protect enamel.
- Foods high in calcium and phosphorous such as dairy products strengthen enamel through remineralization. In addition, they neutralize salivary acidity to further protect enamel structure. If you are lactose-intolerant, don’t worry. There are plenty of foods and juices with added calcium such as certain orange juices.
- Other foods that help strengthen enamel are high in fluoride, like tea. Black tea is actually one of the highest natural sources of fluoride.
- Water helps to wash away any debris left on teeth after eating.
- Parsley is known as a natural breath-freshener for its anti-bacterial properties.
- Foods high in vitamin K, like broccoli, kale, or egg yolk, help with bone and mineral absorption in the presence of vitamin D. They also are known immune-boosters that will contribute to healthier teeth and gums.
- Animal protein has phosphorus, which is fundamental for creating healthy bone.
- If you are a vegetarian, tofu also has a great deal of protein and may even have added calcium and magnesium.
- Anything high in vitamin C, such as strawberries, help maintain overall oral health due to their antioxidant properties. Strawberries in particular can also help whiten teeth and remove harmful plaque due to their malic acid content.
(3) Do not over-brush
Brushing too often, or with a hard-bristled brush can actually wear down tooth enamel. It is also important to wait at least one hour to brush after eating sugary or acidic foods. These foods tend to soften enamel and brushing too vigorously immediately after consuming them may cause more damage than good.
(3) Use fluoride daily
Fluoride is considered a natural cavity fighter. It not only strengthens enamel, but also reverses early stages of decay. Furthermore, it helps teeth resist acid that is present in many foods and oral bacteria. The American Dental Association recommends fluoride toothpaste as early as the appearance of first teeth in a child. Fluoride toothpaste and rinsing with fluoride mouthwash are recommended throughout life to maintain strong healthy teeth.
(4) Treat dry mouth
Be sure to stay appropriately hydrated throughout the day. Saliva helps clear debris around teeth and reduces oral acidity. Many medications cause less salivary production. Dry mouth lozenges and mouthwashes are easily attainable over the counter for people who may experience difficulty with dry mouth.
(5) Night guard
Many people grind and clench their teeth without even knowing it at night. This consistent pressure on enamel against enamel can really damage or even crack teeth. If you suspect you may be one of these people, talk to your dentist to see if a night guard will help.
(6) Regular dental checkups
Visit your dentist every six months (or less, as recommended) to make sure you are keeping your teeth healthy and maintaining your smile! 🙂
American Dental Association: “Diet and Tooth Decay” and “Cleaning Your Teeth and Gums,” “Fluoride.”
American Dental Hygienists’ Association: “Fluoride Facts.”
Jan Wade, Gilbert. “Nutrition and Dental Caries.” The Journal of the American Dental Association. 130:2; 157–158, 1999.
McBean, L.D.; Speckmann, E.W. “A review: the importance of nutrition in oral health.” The Journal of the American Dental Association. 89:1; 109–114, 1974.
McBeath, E.C.; Verlin, W.A. “Further Studies on the Role of Vitamin D in the Nutritional Control of Dental Caries in Children.” The Journal of the American Dental Association. 29:11; 1393–1397, 1942.
Shank, S.E.; Guthrie, H.A. “Nutritional counseling for prevention of dental caries in adolescents.”The Journal of the American Dental Association. 92:2; 378–382, 1976.