Many snacks are loaded with sugar and fermentable carbohydrates that are terrible for your teeth, but snacking doesn’t have to be bad for you. In fact, there are some snacks that are actually good for your smile! The following foods have qualities and nutrients that boost oral health and are perfect for summer.
String Cheese and Cheese Sticks
You probably know that milk makes for strong teeth and bones. That’s due to the calcium, which you also find in snackable string cheese and cheese sticks. Calcium helps strengthen the outer enamel layer of the tooth which protects the sensitive layers underneath. You’ll find about 200 mg of calcium in a typical 1-ounce cheese stick, which is 20% of the daily 1,000 mg recommended daily allowance (RDA) for most adults.
Did you know many nuts make a great alternative when you’re looking for a dairy-free source of calcium? Almonds (technically not a true nut, but a seed) have the most, with 80 mg per ounce, about 22 almonds. Brazil nuts are also a good source, with 45 mg per ounce, about 8 nuts. Other nuts like macadamias, hazelnuts, pistachios, and walnuts each pack about 20-30 mg of calcium per ounce. Just remember that nuts are energy dense foods, meaning that calories add up quickly, so don’t overdo it.
Another protein-rich, dairy-free alternative source of calcium, sardines often come in a convenient tin that’s perfect for portable snacking. One 3.75 ounce can provides around 350 mg of calcium, which is more than in a cup of skim milk at 300 mg. In addition to calcium, sardines are also high in vitamin D – with approximately 180 IU in a can – which is necessary for calcium to be absorbed by the body.
Sliced Bell Pepper
Crispy bell pepper slices are delicious alone or with dips and make a refreshing summer snack. Red, yellow, or green bell peppers are an excellent source of vitamin C, an antioxidant that supports oral health. Vitamin C is necessary for the production of collagen that helps keep teeth stay firmly attached in the gums.
Celery and other crunchy fruits and vegetables with a high water content are known as “detergent foods” since they help clean the surface of the teeth with gentle abrasion. Their texture can scrub away food particles that can serve as the starting point for plaque. Other detergent foods like carrots, cucumbers, and apples make great portable snacks, too. (But keep in mind that apples have a relatively high sugar content, so if you reach for apple slices, follow them up with water or another detergent food to help clear away the sugar from the surface of the teeth.)
Taking Care of Your Smile All Summer
Along with regular brushing and flossing, choosing the right foods goes a long way towards maintaining healthy teeth and gums. So whether you’re hanging out at home or relaxing by the pool this summer, make it a habit to reach for these smile-friendly snacks when you want something to nosh on.