You can think you’re doing everything right — brushing morning and night, flossing daily, and visiting us at Edgewood Dental Care every six months — but if you’re making poor food choices for yourself and your family, all of your best efforts may be for naught.

Indeed, diet is a vital component of preventive dental care, or the practice of preventing tooth decay and gum disease from occuring. Not too surprisingly, foods that are good for your mouth tend to be good for your body overall.

Read on to learn about a few foods you should eat often and with gusto — and a few to avoid, or at least keep to a minimum.

And don’t forget to book your next checkups with Edgewood Dental Care. Call our office in Edgewood, KY at 859-474-7830.

Go Ahead and Chow Down

If you want a healthy smile, eat lots of the following foods. They are packed with nutrients and other benefits.

Dairy Products
You’ve probably heard of calcium. It’s a mineral that your bones and teeth rely on for their strength and structure. And it’s found in spades in milk, yogurt, cheese, and other dairy products. Dairy is also an excellent source of phosphorus and magnesium. Milk is often fortified with vitamin d. All of these minerals assist your body in absorbing calcium.

But the benefits don’t end there. Dairy products contain proteins called caseins. These bond together and create a coating over your teeth that helps protect them from destructive bacterial acids.

Recent research has suggested that cheese goes one step further in preventing tooth decay. When participants in a study chewed on cheese, the pH level inside their mouths actually went up. This creates an unwelcoming environment for the bacteria that create enamel-destroying acids.

Leafy Green Vegetables
It’s always a good idea to eat your greens. For the good of your body and your mouth specifically. And you can eat a lot of them, as they are so versatile and low in calories. Greens such as kale, spinach, Swiss chard, and watercress are loaded with calcium, that building block for your teeth. So they are an especially important food for vegans and other people who can’t or won’t eat dairy. They also contain folic acid. This essential B vitamin promotes gum health, including in pregnant women, who are at risk for a hormone-induced condition called pregnancy gingivitis.

Crunchy Fruits and Vegetables
When you’re jonesing for a snack, pass up the pretzels and reach for a handful of carrot sticks or an apple instead. Raw, crunchy fruits and vegetables boast a high water content, and chewing on them stimulates the production of saliva in your mouth. This helps rinse away food particles and bacteria and neutralize damaging acids.

Their fibrous texture stimulates the gums. Eating raw produce — even fruits, like apples, that contain some sugar — is a great way to keep your mouth clean during the day when you don’t have access to a toothbrush.

Proceed with Caution

Here are some of the worst things you can eat (and drink) in terms of your dental health.

Sticky Sweets
Gummy fruit snacks. Fruit roll-ups. Chewy granola bars. Even dried fruit. Yup, if you care about your teeth, go easy on the raisins. Sweets with a chewy or sticky texture tend to get lodged in the grooves of the teeth, creating a sugar feast for bacteria. The bacteria multiply and generate acids that wear down the tooth enamel, a process that eventually leads to decay.

Crunchy and Carb-Heavy Snacks
Like a lot of people, bacteria just love their carbs. Munching on chips, pretzels, crackers, and other high-carb snacks causes these harmful microbes to proliferate. If you tend to nibble on junk food throughout the day, your teeth are under nearly constant attack from harmful acids. So swap out the chips for a healthier option, like a handful of nuts or a piece of fruit.

Sugary Beverages
If you are thirsty, drink water. Or milk. Soda, juices, and sports drinks are basically sugar-delivery systems for your teeth and body. They settle into the grooves of your enamel and feed an ever-growing hoard of bacteria. You get bonus points for tap water, which is not only better for the environment than bottled (no plastic waste), but is usually fortified with tooth-strengthening fluoride.

Sticking to a tooth-friendly diet and practicing other aspects of good preventive dental care will pay off with healthier teeth, fewer restorative procedures, and time and money saved. Call Edgewood Dental Care of Edgewood, KY for a cleaning and exam at 859-474-7830. Or get in touch through our online form.