Keep the Dentist Away!
Give your pearly whites a workout to avoid the dentist. Food that’s tough to chomp on could strengthen your teeth, according to a new German study.
In fact, a lack of tooth wear (caused by eating soft foods too often) could actually deteriorate your teeth’s enamel, the researchers say.
According to the scientists, when you munch on foods that require a bit more work, you’re actually minimizing the load on your teeth. Tougher grub works like sandpaper, smoothing out the ridges of each tooth. The reason: Worn surfaces are flatter, so the chewing force is distributed more evenly, meaning it doesn’t directly irritate the cusps, says lead study author Stefano Benazzi, Ph.D.
But not every tough-textured food is good for your teeth. Here’s a guide of what’s worth chewing—and where to be careful.
The verdict: Go for it. Eating carrots, celery, and even lettuce gives your teeth a chance to grind without the danger of splitting a molar. Unlike harder nuts, chewing on these fibrous textures provides resistance, but in a gentler way, says George C. Williams, D.D.S., associate professor at the University of Maryland School of Dentistry.
The verdict: Go for it. According to the American Dental Association, the phosphorus in red meat helps protect tooth enamel and bone. Unless you channel a hungry caveman at the dinner table, each slice of your sirloin deserves a good chew. “When you’re opening and closing your mouth, your teeth and gums are getting exercise,” says Dr. Williams. “If you don’t eat challenging foods your mouth won’t be strong.”
The verdict: Chew with caution. This relatively healthy snack can be devastating to enamel because you’re subjecting your teeth to sticky sugar. Plus, the bacteria responsible for breaking down the sugar emit an acidic byproduct that causes decay. “Post-snack, try to rinse with Listerine to reduce the amount of bacteria in your mouth,” Dr. Williams says. “At the very least, swish with water.”
The verdict: Chew with caution. Enamel may be the hardest substance in the body, but ironically it’s quite brittle. Coincidentally, your tooth enamel has similar structure to an ice cube. When you drop the ice on the floor, it might not crack, but it will acquire micro fractures. “Chewing something very hard, such as an almond, can eventually turn these fissures into problems that can lead to a root canal,” adds Williams.