Vegetables and fruits are praised for their heart-healthy properties, but they have benefits for more than just your heart. Fresh produce, along with water, help prevent cavities. Here's how eating your daily dose of greens and fruits, and drinking a few glasses of water, could help reduce your risk of developing cavities.
Crunchy vegetables act like natural toothbrushes when you chew them. While eating veggies is no substitute for properly brushing and flossing your teeth, their crisp texture helps scrub away other bits of food. According to Prevention, carrots and celery can even remove stains over time. Prevention also groups apples with these vegetables, claiming they have similar properties.
Saliva production fights against cavities. The more saliva your mouth produces, the harder it will be for malignant bacteria to create cavities. The European Food Information Council explains how saliva fights against bacteria.
First, saliva kills some harmful bacteria that would otherwise grow in your mouth.
Second, saliva continually washes away bacteria that is only loosely attached to teeth, before the microorganisms can firmly affix themselves. When you swallow, your saliva removes bacteria from your teeth and flushes it down your throat. The bacteria end up in your stomach, where acids kill them.
Third, the proteins in your teeth that bacteria cling onto are also found in saliva. Since bacteria cannot tell whether a protein is part of a tooth or floating in your saliva, it will attach to either. The bacteria that attach to proteins in your saliva will eventually go down to your stomach, as explained above.
Eating sour fruits is one way to increase saliva production. Cranberries, lemons, limes and cherries will all get your salivary glands going. Some of these fruits may be too acidic to eat on their own, so try incorporating them into other dishes. For instance, lime juice keeps guacamole from going brown, and cherries are great in a fruit salad.
Drinking water helps prevent cavities in multiple ways. To start with, it helps transport sugars from your mouth down to your stomach, similar to how saliva does this with bacteria.
Furthermore, drinking water also increases saliva production. To entice your salivary glands even more, add a slice of lemon to your glass of water.
Finally, the tap water in much of Canada has fluoride in it. Fluoride forms a thin film that covers your teeth, protecting them from harmful bacteria. Most toothpastes and mouthwashes have fluoride in them, but the fluoride on your teeth wears down throughout the day. Drinking water between brushing your teeth replenishes the fluoride in your mouth.
In 2014, the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI), a department of the National Institute of Health (NIH), published a study that examined the antibacterial properties of red wine, non-alcoholic red wine and grape seed extract. The study focused on five strains of bacteria that are commonly found in oral cavities. It found that all three of the beverages--including the two non-alcoholic options--killed these bacterial strains.
The study did not look at grapes themselves. Fresh grapes, however, likely also have chemical properties that fight against cavity-causing bacteria, since all three of the substances studied were derived from the fruit.
Eating your fruits and vegetables, and drinking water is no substitute for proper oral hygiene and regular visits to the dentist. Even if you brush, floss, eat healthy foods and drink water, you should still see your dentist twice a year. Eating healthy and drinking water could help reduce your chances of having cavities when you go to the dentist, though. So, call and make and schedule a cleaning--but in the mean time grab a glass of water and some fresh produce.