With the new year comes a fresh resolve to boost your health. And although you’ve already taken a big step in healthy teeth — getting braces — take it one step further by eating foods that strengthen your teeth, too.
So what foods strengthen teeth that you can eat while wearing braces? To help you figure that out, the teeth experts at Richard Chan Orthodontics have created a list of 4 braces-friendly super foods:
1. Brightly Colored Fruits and Veggies
Brightly-colored fruits and vegetables are a good place to start when it comes to good nutrition for oral health. Dr. Chan recommends taking small bites, or cutting up your fruits and vegetables into bite-sized pieces. This helps avoid bits getting stuck in your braces.
Vivid-hued fruits and veg contain vitamins C and A, both of which contribute to a healthy oral environment. Let’s talk about each here:
Vitamin C: Vitamin C helps build and maintain healthy oral tissue and gums. Strong connective tissue in your gums keeps teeth firmly in place and helps prevent gingivitis and gum disease. Foods to eat with braces that are rich in vitamin C include:
- Broccoli (feel free to steam or cook to soften)
- Bell Peppers
As a bonus, many braces-friendly foods with vitamin C can also whiten teeth. Strawberries contain a stain-fighting enzyme called malic acid. And the tartness in citrus fruits causes extra saliva production that helps wash away sticky, stain-causing bacteria and sugars.
Vitamin A: Vitamin A strengthens your teeth by helping maintain a healthy amount of saliva. Saliva lowers the acidity in your mouth after you’ve eaten to a more neutral or alkaline pH, helping prevent tooth enamel erosion and making your teeth less susceptible to tooth decay.
Fruits and vegetables with lots of vitamin A include leafy greens like spinach and kale, and “orange” fruits and vegetables like:
- Carrots (steam or cook to prevent the risk of braces damage)
- Sweet potatoes
Say, “Cheese, please!” when you want braces-friendly food that also strengthens your teeth. Cheese has both naturally occurring health benefits and is fortified with several powerhouse vitamins and minerals. Your oral health is boosted with cheese’s calcium, potassium, phosphorus, vitamin D, and protein. And we can’t forget to mention that the calcium in cheese helps protect your teeth and gums.
When reaching for cheese, opt for soft cheeses to avoid damaging your braces. Braces-friendly cheeses include:
- Cottage cheese
- Thinly-sliced or cubed Cheddar, Swiss or American cheese
Eating cheese also helps neutralize the pH balance in your mouth, reducing the acids that can damage your tooth enamel, cause stains, and contribute to tooth decay. Cheese helps clear out mouth sugars and bacteria that trigger acids after you eat, making it a great food for maintaining healthy teeth.
Pro tip: Make the most out of the calcium in cheese by also eating foods with lots of vitamin D. Vitamin D helps your body better absorb calcium.
3. Lean Protein
Poultry, fish, eggs, and lean beef are all protein foods that are good for teeth. Lean proteins have lots of phosphorus, a mineral that helps strengthen teeth by protecting and rebuilding tooth enamel. Protein also helps heal gum tissue and the mucosal lining of your mouth faster.
When eating lean proteins with braces, Dr. Chan suggests cutting your protein in small, bite-size pieces, then chewing with your molars. Don’t tear chunks with your front teeth.
Though not a food, water is Nutrition 101 for supporting good oral health over any other beverages when you have braces. Why? First, no sugar.
Second, your saliva is about 99% water and 1% protein and salts, so ensuring you drink plenty of water keeps your saliva at optimal levels. As we mentioned previously, saliva’s job is to wash away sugars and bacteria, and bring down the acidity in your mouth.
Third, saliva helps you avoid dry mouth, an issue that causes bad breath.
Lastly, drinking or rinsing your mouth with water helps wash away plaque and food debris from your teeth and braces if you’re not able to brush and floss right away.
Tap water or bottled?
Which is better for nutrition and oral health? Typically, clean tap water is preferable over bottled water because most tap water contains added fluoride — while bottled water does not. Fluoride is a mineral that helps rebuild and strengthen tooth enamel.
A Straight, Healthy Smile From Richard Chan Orthodontics
Now that you know more about braces-friendly foods that strengthen teeth, we hope you enjoy good teeth health while waiting for your fantastic, new smile.
But if you haven’t started braces treatment yet, now’s the time! At Richard Chan Orthodontics, we’ll help you get a beautiful, functional smile that suits your needs, lifestyle, and budget.
Schedule an appointment today with Dr. Chan, your orthodontic specialist in Bothell, Monroe, and Mill Creek, WA, and Juneau, AK.