Practicing good dental hygiene, flossing and brushing regularly, seeing your dentist for check-ups and cleanings, go a long way toward keeping your teeth and gums in good health. But, hygiene is not the only factor in your dental health. What you eat and drink can also deteriorate or fortify your teeth.
Everything you put in your mouth has to get past your teeth and gums, and therefore impacts their health. If you know which ingredients harm, and which ones help, you can craft smoothie recipes that will not only not harm your teeth, but can even heal and strengthen both your teeth and gums.
Smoothies and Sugar and Teeth
Not all smoothies are created equally. It is very easy to make a smoothie that is loaded with sugar, and while it may taste good, can contribute to tooth decay, cavities, gum disease, and an array of other health problems.
The plaque that forms on your teeth is a colony of bacteria. Regular brushing and flossing, as well as professional cleanings, help keep that plaque at a minimum level, but what you eat is important too. What you put in your mouth can either feed the bacteria or slow and prevent the growth of the plaque. Bacteria eat sugar, which is why sugary foods are a major culprit in tooth decay. When the bacteria eat the sugar in mouth, they produce acid that erodes the enamel of your teeth. Over time this action leads to decay. Acidic foods have a similar effect.
Understand, however, that white, refined sugar is not the only source of sugar that you might be putting into your smoothies. Fruit juices are high in sugar, as are some whole fruits, although less so. Honey and maple syrup, although natural and with other health benefits, is a sugar. Yogurts can also be very high in sugar, so read the labels before you choose one to put in your next smoothie recipe. Not only do these sugary ingredients promote tooth decay, they add extra calories that you probably don’t need.
Smoothie Ingredients to Promote Tooth Health
If you keep sugars and acids to a minimum in your diet, and include some ingredients that are good for mouth health, you can keep your teeth and gums in good shape for years to come. Just remember that a healthy mouth also requires regular dental care along with daily brushing and flossing.
Yogurt: As long as you stay away from the high-sugar yogurts, this common smoothie ingredient can help your teeth. Teeth are essentially minerals and the calcium and phosphates in yogurt help rebuild your teeth and strengthen them.
Low Sugar Fruits: While fruits do contain sugar, they are a good compromise for adding some sweetness to a smoothie without going overboard. If your teeth are in really bad shape, stick to berries only, otherwise fresh fruits with lower amounts of sugar and acid like apples, pears, and bananas are a good option.
Tea: Both green and black teas are good smoothie ingredients for a number of reasons. Tea is rich in antioxidants and other nutrients that have a number of positive effects on your health. For your teeth, the polyphenols found in tea are good at controlling the plaque bacteria. Although the mechanism is not fully understood, these compounds have been shown to either kill bacteria on teeth, or keep them from growing and producing acid that damages teeth.
Cranberries: Fresh cranberries and unsweetened cranberry juice contain compounds that stop bacteria from bonding to your teeth. Any sugar added to this tart fruit, however, can neutralize that benefit. If you can handle the sour flavor, consider adding an ounce of pure cranberry juice, or a handful of fresh or frozen berries, to a fruity smoothie.
Coconut oil: Coconut oil is a bona fide superfood and there are numerous reasons to put it in your smoothies. Just one of those reasons is related to your teeth and gums. Coconut oil has potent antibacterial properties, and has been shown in research to stop the growth of bacteria in the mouth. As a result of this, it can prevent cavities and other infections in the mouth. Coconut oil is also the best option for oil pulling therapy.
Fermented Cod liver oil: It may not sound very appetizing, but cod liver oil is highly nutritious. As the name suggests, it comes from the liver of the cod fish, and it is rich in healthy fatty acids, as well as vitamins A and D. Cod liver oil was once a popular supplement for children because the high amounts of vitamin D prevent rickets. It is this potent combination of A and D that help prevent cavities, and even remineralize teeth already affected by cavities. The flavor of cod liver oil can be strong and fishy, but you can find varieties with minimal flavor, or even those with other flavors added in to make it more palatable. There’s actually a new product combining coconut oil and fermented cod liver oil by Green Pasture, the company I purchase both of these from.
Ghee: Butter that is high in vitamins can have a similar effect on teeth as cod liver oil. Both vitamin D and vitamin K2 levels in certain types of butter help to strengthen and remineralize teeth. Ghee, which is clarified butter, is one good source of these vitamins. To make ghee, butter is heated to separate out the solids. The clear, yellow liquid, sometimes called butter oil, is the ghee. It is used commonly in Indian cooking.
Other Natural Substances
A few other natural remedies for healthy teeth and gums, and for tooth pain, are notable, but not necessarily anything you would want to put in your smoothie recipes. Clove oil is great for relieving tooth pain, but is very strong and you don’t want to actually eat it. You can apply a small amount to the part of your mouth that hurts, or even bite down on a whole clove. Just don’t swallow it! Some people find that the oil irritates their gums, so try mixing a few drops of clove oil with olive oil before using it.
Oil of oregano is another potent oil that can help improve your mouth by reducing the severity of infections. Oregano has antibacterial properties, and by rubbing some of the oil on your gums, you can treat mild infections. Like clove oil, oil of oregano is strong and can irritate, so try mixing with olive oil first, and increase the amount of oregano if you can tolerate it. Garlic can also treat gum and tooth infections. You can apply a clove of garlic right to the affected area to relieve pain and reduce inflammation. You can also make a paste out of garlic and olive oil to apply inside your mouth.
Your Healthy Mouth Smoothie
Experiment with adding some of these ingredients to your smoothies and find what works for your palate. You will find that some work well together, and that certain ingredients have especially potent effects on tooth health. If you are working on strengthening or remineralizing teeth that have become weakened by cavities, focus on using ghee and cod liver oil in particular. If you have a problem with infections, use more coconut oil, cranberry, and tea. Here is a good general recipe to get you started:
- 1/2 cup green tea
- 1/2 cup plain yogurt
- 1 banana
- 1 tablespoon (or other recommended dosage) fermented cod liver oil
- 1 teaspoon ghee
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
The above ingredients will have you well on your way to a healthy mouth smoothie, but it is pretty basic. Add in other ingredients such as berries, chia seeds, or cacao to create your own unique masterpiece. If you need to sweeten it up, use a little honey, maple syrup, or stevia. Experiment until you come up with the best smoothie that will keep you taking your healthy teeth and gums supplements.
Remineralizing Your Teeth
While doing research for this blog post I came across two cavity healing or tooth remineralization stories worth sharing. Drinking smoothies with the aforementioned ingredients is very helpful, but an overall dietary approach yields the best results.
Your dentist probably won’t tell you about these strategies to healing your teeth, but it can be done! If you have any experience with these tooth healing foods and supplements, or a personal cavity reversal story I’d love to hear it – please leave a comment below.
Sources for this blog post include: