While regular brushing and flossing are essential for maintaining healthy teeth and gums, parents who want their children to have the whitest smiles around have a few more options to keep the dental health going strong. As it turns out, your local grocery store has some common foods that actually help keep teeth clean, rather than just getting stuck on those pearly whites.
Certainly, the first food to come to mind is the much loved apple. “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” and as luck would have it, we’re doctors of dentistry! A nice ripe apple helps scrape away plaque and food particles on your teeth, and as an added bonus, they help exercise the gums. Just make sure to get the sugary juice brushed off at your earliest convenience.
If you’re not in the mood for a sweet apple, then maybe a carrot is more your style. It’s just as healthy, and chock-full of Vitamin A for eyesight and healthy childhood growth. Carrots are fiber-rich foods like apples, and besides the digestive help they provide, they also scrape away leftovers between the teeth and gums.
For a change of pace, you could switch from eating to drinking tea for your teeth. Green and black teas have a fresh bitterness to them, and part of that is due to the bacteria-suppressing catechins contained within. They help the teas with fighting off bacteria, and it has the added bonus effect of rinsing out your mouth, further cleaning your child’s teeth and gums. Just watch the sugar content, because rinsing your mouth with sugary liquid is taking one step forward and two steps back.
Chewing gum is not exactly food, and not exactly healthy either, but sugarless gum (sugar’s still the enemy, after all) does have some benefits for your child’s teeth. As your body chews any food at all, it produces saliva, which works so that the food can go down your throat without scraping or feeling bad. It’s a natural reaction, and works even if you don’t intend on eating the food. So, when you have chewing gum that has no sugar and is causing your child’s mouth to salivate, you have a mouth that’s basically doing a rinse cycle for their teeth! Bonus points if it contains the sweetener xylitol, because that helps inhibit the growth of the bacteria responsible for cavities.
Coming back to actual food, another good snack food is a handful of almonds. As your child crunches down on these delicious finger foods, they break down into little abrasive clumps that scrape up against the surface of their teeth and gums and take everything with them down into their hungry bellies. The idea is kind of like how toothpaste works, but on a larger less-microscopic scale. That doesn’t mean that they can eat a clump of almonds and not have to brush their teeth, of course! The high calcium content in almonds that are hard to find in the other nuts are another dental bonus.