From our earliest training in dentistry, we learned about the connection between nutrition and oral health. Now more than ever, eating healthfully and mindfully has entered our universal consciousness, and most of us are paying greater attention to what we put in our mouths, and where our food comes from.
In Southwest Florida alone, the number of farmers’ markets has tripled over the past couple of years, and many of our area’s best chefs have cultivated an interest in the “farm to table” movement, purchasing what is local, seasonal and fresh.
Here’s how some of that fresh, local food is helping maintain your smile:
If you love cheese, you will be happy to know that a study published in the May/June 2013 issue of General Dentistry, the journal of the American Academy of General Dentistry, reported that eating cheese raised the pH in the subjects’ mouths and lowered their risk of tooth decay. It’s thought that the chewing required to eat cheese increases saliva in the mouth. Cheese also contains calcium and protein, nutrients that strengthen tooth enamel.
You’ve heard it before, but leafy greens are chock full of vitamins and minerals while being low in calories. Leafy greens such as kale and spinach also promote oral health. They’re high in calcium, which builds your teeth’s enamel. They also contain folic acid, a type of B vitamin that has numerous health benefits, including possibly treating gum disease in pregnant women.
While the ADA recommends steering clear of most sweet foods, there are some exceptions. Fruits, such as apples, might be sweet, but they’re also high in fiber and water. The action of eating an apple produces saliva in your mouth, which rinses away bacteria and food particles. The fibrous texture of the fruit also stimulates the gums.
Like apples, carrots are crunchy and full of fiber. Eating a handful of raw carrots at the end of the meal increases saliva production in your mouth, which reduces your risk of cavities. Along with being high in fiber, carrots are a great source of vitamin A.
Celery acts like a natural “toothbrush,” scraping food particles and bacteria away from your teeth. It’s also a good source of vitamins A and C, two antioxidants that give the health of your gums a boost.
This is just a sampling of what you can discover at our local farmer’s markets or in your grocery’s fresh produce section. I recently saw a helpful link from SWFL Sustainability to a map and directory of SWFL Farmers Markets: http://www.swflsustainability.com/swfl-farmers-markets/
So remember to eat your fresh fruits and veggies, enjoy the bounty of our community, and smile!
All the best,