Need to freshen up but have no toothbrush on hand? Or, did you just have a glass of red wine and need to whiten those wine-stained teeth? Luckily, there are some foods that can help.
Usually what we eat and drink can affect our teeth: think coffee, sodas, and sugary foods. Those all can cause stains, increase plaque build up, and erode enamel. So, having a good dental routine in place, such as brushing and flossing twice a day and getting regular check-ups at the dentist, is key to protecting your pearly whites.
However, in the time between, you can easily keep your mouth fresh and clean by being more mindful of what's on your plate. Here are five foods that can act as a personal toothbrush. Plus, they're super good for you, too!
Celery & Carrots
Think "crunchy" foods here. "Celery and carrots are good for removing debris from your teeth during the day due to their fiber content. Celery in particular is usually chewed for much longer, too, which means the fiber will spend more time cleansing the teeth," says Kelly R. Jones MS, RD, CSSD, LDN.
"While yogurt contains probiotics which are good bacteria, dairy products also coat the mouth," says Jones. Dairy can actually be good for your teeth. (More reasons to pair red wine and cheese!) "The calcium and protein in dairy are good for the strength of your enamel," says Jones. However, be wary of sugary yogurts. "If sweetened, it can easily feed acid producing bacteria," says Jones.
"Crunchy greens are good to cleanse your teeth, too, but bok choy in particular provides calcium to strengthen your teeth and enamel while it removes some debris as you chew," says Jones. Try making a stir fry or fish dish for an easy weeknight meal, and pair with a few other leafy greens or another lean protein.
Again, thanks to the crisp texture and crunch, apples can be a total teeth whitener. "Apples are great for cleaning your teeth because of the fiber content, especially when the skin is on and you're biting into it, versus eating it after it has been cut up," says Jones. That fiber will protect your teeth, so be sure to get enough fiber in the day to improve your overall dental hygiene. Plus, it'll also keep you fuller longer!
Here's more reason to eat that parsley on your plate when out at a restaurant. "Herbs like oregano, cilantro and parsley all contain anti-bacterial agents, so they are great to add to any dish," says Jones. These anti-bacterial properties will keep teeth clean and can easily scrape away plaque and debris in a pinch. Add to salads, soups, or pieces of meat, such as a roasted herbed salmon.