A diet rich in fruits and vegetables can help keep your teeth smooth and white, and your gums pink and strong. Sugary snacks can create plaque, encouraging bacterial growth and dental decay, while crisp vegetable sticks and high-fiber fruits can satisfy snack attacks while protecting dental health. Healthy eating, along with regular brushing, flossing, and visits to the dentist, will keep your teeth at their best.
Tooth Decay Prevention
Plaque is a naturally-occurring thin layer of bacteria and other components which coats your teeth. Sugars and starches in your food mix with the plaque naturally found in your mouth to form acids which erode your teeth, causing tooth decay, according to Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts' Lifestyle and Wellness specialists. Raw vegetables like carrot sticks, as well as fresh, fiber-rich fruits like grapes, apples, oranges and bananas, make excellent low-sugar snacks that will not contribute to tooth decay.
Gum Disease Prevention
High fiber fruits and vegetables not only help prevent tooth decay, but also stimulates saliva flow which, according to the Wyoming Valley Health Care System Wellness Library, is the best natural defense against gum disease. The British Dental Health Foundation concurs that a diet containing vitamins, minerals, and fresh fruits and vegetables can help prevent gum disease, a condition which leads to tooth decay and halitosis. However, fresh fruit does contain sugar, so the British Dental Health Foundation recommends following a fruit snack with an alkaline food like cheese, and drinking plenty of water.
Oral Cancer Prevention
The Northwestern Health Sciences University reports that a diet high in fruit and vegetable consumption helps prevent oral cancer. Over 29,000 new cases of oral cancer are reported in the U.S. every year, and this type of cancer has a high mortality rate. Increased intakes of both fruits and vegetables were shown to have significant oral cancer prevention value, Northwestern reports, with citrus fruits having the most dramatic impact.