family sitting at a table eating dinner

Food Swap: Healthy Teeth Edition

We know you always hear about all the foods to avoid to keep your teeth healthy, but do you ever find yourself wondering what foods you and your child should be eating more of instead? Here at Kids’ Healthy Teeth, we put our heads together to help you brainstorm some alternatives and easy food swaps to keep your teeth (and bellies) happy and healthy!

Swap Out: Blackberries, Blueberries, Citrus

Darker berries contain pigments that can stain your teeth, especially when you don’t have the chance to rinse or brush soon after eating them. Extremely acidic fruits, like citrus, can eat away at the enamel on your teeth.

Swap In: Strawberries and Fibrous Fruits

Strawberries actually contain a compound called malic acid, which is a natural enamel whitener! Some experts even suggest that an occasional DIY treatment with strawberries and baking soda can help whiten teeth. You can also try orange juice fortified with Vitamin D and no added sugars, so you can get the benefits of citrus (like Vitamin C and other healthy compounds) with less of the damaging effects. Fibrous fruits, such as apples, are great for your teeth because their texture helps scrub your teeth and gums, removing plaque and surface stains.

Of course, it is important for your overall health to eat a variety of fruits. Just try to be conscious about consuming too many fruits that can damage your teeth at once. As always, everything is better in moderation!

Swap Out: Coffee

Coffee is notorious for staining our teeth (and leaving us with bad breath!). If coffee can stain your ceramic mugs, imagine what it’s doing to your teeth!

Swap In: Tea

Black tea and green tea can actually fight bacteria that causes cavities and other oral health problems. One of our friends in La Habra, California, Dr. James Park, always recommends that his patients choose tea when possible. Herbal teas like mint tea have the additional benefit of freshening your breath. You can even add milk to your tea for a little calcium boost! It is important to keep in mind that tea can still stain your teeth, so be sure to still brush your teeth after drinking it whenever possible, or at least try to rinse with water when you’re on the go.

Swap Out: Tomato Sauce

Tomato sauce is extremely acidic, which can be rough on your stomach as well as your teeth. Additionally, a lot of the ingredients in red sauces can stain your teeth!

Swap In: Cheese Sauce

Studies have shown that cheese may help prevent cavities by maintaining higher a pH balance in your mouth, which is maintained even after you’ve eaten it. Cheese also contains calcium and phosphates, which promote strong, healthy teeth. Of course, you’ll want to consume cheese in moderation depending on you and your family’s personal dietary and health concerns. Another alternative is adding foods like spinach to your tomato sauce to counteract some of the negative effects.

Swap Out: Sports Drinks

Sports drinks like Gatorade may help keep you hydrated, but they often contain just as much (or even more!) sugar as soda.

Swap In: Coconut Water

Coconut water is a more natural option that contains less processed sugars and artificial dyes that can damage your teeth and aren’t great for your body. Coconut water still contains electrolytes to help you or your child recover from a workout and replenish your body, and it even has a similar sweet taste! For an extra boost, try adding strawberry to your coconut water for even more benefits!

Swap Out: Processed Sugars

It should be pretty common knowledge that sugar is the top culprit when it comes to cavity-causers, but many types of processed sugars can be even worse because of the corrosive chemicals they contain.

Swap In: Xylitol

Xylitol is an alternative artificial sweetener that many dentists recommend because it is so much better for your teeth than other sweeteners. Xylitol can help maintain a proper ratio of good and bad bacteria in your mouth, and may even help whiten your teeth. Xylitol can be found in a lot of sugarless gum, and chewing sugarless gum can also increase saliva flow, which also promotes oral health.

A great way to encourage everyone in your family to eat more tooth-friendly meals is by cooking in bulk for everyone! Microwavable meals and snack foods may be convenient, but they’re not always the best option. Of course, you can (and should) enjoy the occasional treat! Remember that most things are better in moderation, and variety in your diet is very important for your overall health. Happy eating!

For more bad snacks and healthy food for your teeth check out our Kids Healthy Teeth blog where Dr. Elizabeth Chen and her pediatric staff provide all the latest information.