You probably know that soda and sugary candy are bad for your teeth. You’ve probably been told to avoid these and other foods that put you at risk for cavities and tooth decay. That is definitely good advice, but saying no to foods and beverages you love is difficult!
Often, you can more easily avoid foods that you know are bad for your health — your dental health, in particular — if you have suitable replacements on hand. So here are some replacement suggestions for foods your dentist has probably told you to avoid.
Replacements for Soda
You might be tempted to reach for juice or a sports drink in lieu of soda. These products often carry health claims on their labels, after all. The problem is that juice and sports drinks typically contain just as much, if not more, sugar than soda, which means they can still be damaging to teeth.
The best replacement for soda is plain water. Add a splash of sugar-free flavoring if you find plain water boring. Milk, in moderation, is also a good choice for dental health since it contains calcium and casein, a protein that helps protect against tooth decay.
And if you just can’t shake the temptation to drink juice, reach for vegetable juice instead. Juices made from spinach, kale, and other veggies are packed with vitamins and minerals and contain far less sugar than fruit juices.
Replacements for Candy and Dried Fruit
Obviously candy is bad for your teeth since it’s mostly sugar, but did you know dried fruit can be just as bad? Not only is it sugary, but it is also sticky — so it forms a film on your teeth that can increase your risk of cavities.
Rather than munching on candy or dried fruit all day, pack some fresh fruit to nibble on. The concentration of sugar in fresh fruit is lower, thanks to its high fiber content. Small fruits like strawberries, grapes, blueberries, and cherries are easy to pack in a take-along bowl, and they are easy to eat a few at a time throughout the day.
Replacements for White Breads and Crackers
These starchy foods gum up around and between your teeth, which provides oral bacteria a perfect opportunity to thrive. Thankfully, you don’t need to avoid bread, crackers, and pasta entirely. You just need to switch to whole grain versions. Whole grain breads, crackers, and pasta contain more complex carbohydrates that oral bacteria can’t break down, so they’re far better for your teeth.
Whole grain foods actually have some other dental benefits, too. In a study conducted by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, researchers found that high-fiber foods, like whole grains, help keep your jaw bone strong and protect your gums — perhaps because they require more chewing. These foods are also a good source of B vitamins, which can help prevent receding gums and other dental
Replacements for Ice
Ice is really only bad for your teeth if you chew on it, which is unfortunately pretty common. Chewing on ice keeps your mouth busy without providing calories, but it can also lead to chipped and cracked teeth and damaged fillings.
If you need to keep your mouth busy, a good alternative to ice is sunflower seeds with the shells left on. They’re not calorie-free, but since they take so long to eat, the calories they provide are pretty negligible unless you’re truly snacking on them all day. Sunflower seed shells take some time to break apart with your teeth, and they provide that crunching sensation, but they’re much softer and easier on your teeth than ice.
What’s more, sunflower seeds are packed with nutrients that may actually improve your dental health — like calcium, zinc, and vitamin E.
Replacing bad-for-you foods with healthier ones is generally easier than simply trying to avoid certain foods. Make the food replacements suggested above, and your teeth will thank you. Make sure you combine healthy eating with regular dental care for a truly healthy smile. Contact Accent Dental to make an appointment for your checkup and cleaning.