There are a lot of things to love about the fall season: cooler weather, beautifully colored foliage, and the kids being back in school! But one of the highlights for most of us is the special foods we look forward to enjoying each autumn. Most of the fall foods aren’t very good for your teeth, but here are some with some toothy benefits.
1) Apples benefit your teeth in two ways by their crunchy texture: When you chew crunchy foods, your mouth naturally produces more saliva, which contains bacteria-neutralizing agents that protect your teeth from decay. Crunchy foods act as nature’s scrubbers on your teeth. They are especially good at getting around and between teeth to clean away plaque and leftover food particles. So throw some apple slices into your work lunch or the kid’s school lunch and reap the healthy rewards of this sweet and yummy snack.
2) Pumpkin often comes to mind first when thinking about fall foods. It’s a nutrient-dense food, and it’s full of vitamins and minerals that are important for your oral health. Here are just a few of its many benefits:
• Pumpkin contains zinc, and a deficiency in zinc is associated with poor dental health, weak bones, and bleeding gums.
• It has magnesium, which works along with calcium to build a hard enamel surface on your teeth necessary to resist decay.
• Pumpkin has 100% of your RDA for Vitamin A for promoting healing, especially important if you have damaged gums.
• It provides 20% of your RDA for Vitamin C, needed to build up your immune system and fight off infections and inflammation.
• It is also a rich source of beta-carotene, which can play an important part in fighting several types of cancers.
3) Pumpkin seeds are packed with nutrients, too – especially fiber (there’s more than 5g in 1oz of pumpkin seeds) and phosphorus, along with protein, calcium, and iron. Tooth enamel is made of calcium and phosphorus, so eating foods rich in these minerals will help to keep your teeth strong. And iron helps to keep your tongue healthy. Most nuts and seeds are high in protein and low in sugar, while also providing great vitamins. So next time you are carving a pumpkin, why not try roasting the seeds and harvest the rich nutrient dividends for you and your family!
4) Cranberries are another seasonal snack good for the health of your teeth. They contain polyphenols that act as a bacteria repellant, blocking the molecules from sugar-causing bacteria from forming a decay-causing sticky layer on your teeth. Cranberries also encourage the good bacteria in your mouth to thrive. Because cranberries are naturally tart, many times cranberry products are loaded with sugar, so use only unprocessed cranberries or 100% juice with no added sugars. A hot mug of cranberry juice spiced with cinnamon, orange zest, and cloves is the very essence of fall!