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6 Cavity-Fighting Foods to Include in Your Diet

 Living during a pandemic comes with surprising sacrifices. Mundane things like going to the shopping mall, getting your hair done, and visiting the dentist have become a risky endeavor, and most of us are trying to space out all of these activities as much as possible. If you were forced to skip your scheduled trip to the dentist this year or want to make sure you won’t need one any time soon, there are several things you can do to promote long-term oral health. Apart from the obvious brushing and flossing, you should also be mindful of what to eat.
Firstly, avoiding certain foods that often contribute to cavities and oral health issues is a good idea. To learn what those are, read our previous article titled Foods and Drinks That Can Damage Your Teeth. But it's not just about limiting yourself, as certain delicious foods can also help you fight tooth decay. The foods and drinks we list below will help prevent cavities, bad breath, and tooth decay, so make sure to include plenty of those in your daily diet, though chances are you’re already doing so, as many of these foods are quite common.
 

1. Dairy

Foods That Help Prevent Tooth Decay and Cavities Dairy
Dairy products like milk, cheese, butter, and plain white yogurt are among the best foods to eat for long-term oral health. Rich in calcium and phosphates, dairy products help remineralize teeth. This is extremely important, as we lose these important minerals while we eat, and putting them back in your teeth essentially helps rebuild tooth enamel, which the first line of defense against cavities. 
Apart from that, cheese helps your body produce more saliva, which also helps repair the enamel. Lastly, dairy, especially grass-fed dairy, is rich in vitamin K2, a vitamin in which most of us are deficient that is vital for healthy teeth. Other foods rich in vitamin K2 are eggs, liver, natto, and beef.

2. Tea

Foods That Help Prevent Tooth Decay and Cavities Tea
Certain drinks can help prevent cavities and other oral issues, too. Though wine has been suggested to help promote oral health in some studies, there is still little evidence to support that claim. In addition, drinking alcohol daily isn't a good idea, and red wine specifically is also known to stain teeth, so we cannot recommend it.
A drink that's much better for your teeth is green or black tea (but not herbal tea). The ingredients in tea that will benefit oral health are polyphenols, a type of antioxidant capable of killing plaque bacteria that produce acid that degrades the tooth enamel. Do keep in mind, however, that you should stick to unsweetened tea, as sugar can increase the risk of cavities, as you may already know.

3. Citrus Fruit

Foods That Help Prevent Tooth Decay and Cavities Grapefruit
Most acidic foods, like tomatoes, aren't good for the teeth, as acid degrades the tooth enamel, but citrus fruit like lemons, grapefruit, and oranges, can be enjoyed in moderation and offer some benefits for oral health. These fruits contain a lot of vitamin C, which can reduce gum inflammation that is capable of causing gum disease. This is because vitamin C strengthens the blood capillaries in the mouth and make your gums more resilient.

4. Fatty Fish

Foods That Help Prevent Tooth Decay and Cavities Salmon
Fatty fish like salmon and tuna are known for their multitude of health benefits, but these fish also naturally contain the perfect cocktail for tooth health. Firstly, fatty fish is high in omega-3 fats, which are suggested to benefit brain and cardiovascular health. However, most people aren't aware that omega-3 fatty acids can also support gum health and may even help reduce gum disease, an extremely common health issue. If your gums bleed or hurt when you're flossing or brushing your teeth, increasing your intake of omega-3s may help deal with that issue.
Apart from that, fatty fish is also rich in vitamin D, which also helps prevent cavities, as well as vitamin K2 and A, which can remineralize the teeth and aid in the repair of tooth enamel.

5. Leafy Greens

Foods That Help Prevent Tooth Decay and Cavities Leafy Greens
Here's another reason to eat more leafy greens, especially dark green ones like spinach, kale, Swiss chard, and arugula. Apart from containing many minerals that can help replenish the enamel, leafy greens are also capable of balancing out the microflora in your oral cavity.
This is because leafy greens are rich in prebiotics, which are essentially food for the beneficial bacteria that live in your mouth. By increasing the number of these beneficial bacteria, the number of harmful ones that can cause tooth decay simultaneously decreases, making your teeth cleaner and plaque-free in the short term, and more resilient to tooth decay in the long run.

6. Cacao Nibs

Foods That Help Prevent Tooth Decay and Cavities Cacao Nibs
The last item on this list may be less common than the other ones, but it has a good amount of research backing its effectiveness at reducing the number of harmful bacteria in the mouth. Cacao nibs are essentially crushed up cacao beans. Unlike chocolate, cacao beans don't contain any sugar, but they are naturally rich in polyphenols, the same antioxidants present in tea we discussed earlier.
Research from 2019 has revealed that a mouth rinse based on cocoa beans eradicated cavity-causing bacteria called S. mutans as well as a prescription mouthwash. Unlike the latter, however, the cacao-based mouthwash didn't harm the beneficial bacteria in the mouth. So, munching on some cocoa nibs as a snack or springing some on your morning oatmeal or granola is a good idea.
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