New York Dental Astoria - Blog

Tips, tricks and suggestions about oral health.

Greek Yogurt: A Super Food for Your Oral Health

We all know that the way to maintain one's oral health is through a steady routine of brushing and flossing, at least twice a day. You should also see your dentist for regular check-ups and, it wouldn't be a bad idea to schedule an annual visit with your hygienist to have your teeth professionally cleaned.

Hey, got to keep those pearly whites looking as gleaming and shiny as possible, right?

But, in addition to the above, there is another, very delicious way to keep your mouth fresh and healthy. The "secret" recipe to achieving strong teeth and healthy gums is in what you eat. Sure, we associate having a good diet with looking great at the gym or beach. But, eating right is about so much more than just our appearance. Knowing which foods to eat can actually help us to live a longer, healthier, more fulfilling life.

And, as any medical professional will tell you, great health starts with your teeth. After all, the mouth is the door to your body.

Milk and other dairy products such as cheese and yogurt are extremely beneficial to keeping up your oral health. Dairy products are rich in both calcium and phosphates which are the foundation to keeping your teeth and gums feeling their best. How do these foods help? Let us count the ways! A glass of milk a day or a portion of cheese or yogurt helps to replace minerals in your teeth, rebuild enamel and neutralize harmful acids from other foods.

Calcium strengthens the tooth's hard outer shell, commonly known as enamel. It plays a major role in helping your teeth fight off erosion and cavities. The most abundant mineral in the human body, calcium also does its part in strengthening your skeletal bones and in fighting off the onset of osteoporosis. This dreaded condition can even affect a person's jawbone, loosening one's teeth over time and causing some of them to fall out.

All cheeses contain SOME calcium. However, the highest ratio of calcium content can be found, according to select studies, in Goat cheese, Romano, and Parmesan. So, don't be shy about liberally sprinkling grated Parm on your pasta dish. Here's an interesting fact that many people are unaware of: besides dairy products, calcium-rich foods include tofu, (made from soybeans), edamame, and dark, leafy greens such as spinach, collards, and kale. 

That creamy, delectable treat that we cannot get enough of, yogurt, is also home to that superstar of health, calcium. Yes, yogurt tantalizes those taste buds. But it also works closely with phosphorus to increase the flow of saliva. Saliva is how acidic-laden plaque on your teeth is neutralized.

Yogurt, by the way, is a great source of casein, which is a type of protein that research studies show helps to prevent decay-causing bacteria from sticking to the teeth. Here's a helpful tip when shopping for yogurt. As you probably already know, there are dozens of varieties out there in the dairy cases of your local supermarket or natural health and foods shop. Greek Yogurt has been on-trend for a few years now and is an excellent choice for reasons we'll go into a little bit later in this article.

But, whichever brand you choose, whether it's Dannon, Oikos, Chobani, Fage, or Yoplait; keep in mind that some yogurts have a higher sugar content than others. Check the ingredients label and look for brands that contain 10 grams or less of sugar.

Fage, for example, is an excellent choice as they have an unsweetened option that tastes really good and their products are non-GMO and do not contain any artificial flavors or preservatives. Fage, in fact, was one of the first companies to produce and market Greek-style yogurt. Fage introduced Greek yogurt to the United Kingdom and Italy in the 1980s. A decade later, Fage took a huge leap of faith and exported their delicious products to America, kicking off the Greek yogurt craze!

The folks over at Chobani are right up there in terms of product innovation and fantastic taste.

Chobani proudly has non-fat, low-fat, and whole milk options available for their yogurt. One of their newest products is Chobani Zero Sugar Yogurt. It's made with milk that's been specially filtered to reduce naturally occurring sugar. Then, cutting-edge, natural fermentation methods come into play that allows yogurt cultures to consume any remaining sugar.

Did you know that yogurt actually improves the health of gum tissue? It's all in the probiotics! The probiotics that are found in yogurt are considered to be "good " bacteria that help slow the growth of germs and nasty bacteria that can lead to gum disease.

Yogurt also balances the PH levels in your mouth, which lowers the acidity that can otherwise stick to one's teeth and gums.

In addition, the yogurt that you already love to snack on does wonder for keeping your breath fresh, clean, and odor-free. Greek yogurt, as do all other varieties of this creamy snack, reduces hydrogen sulfide, which is a compound that contributes to bad breath.

So, it might be a good idea to have a few spoonfuls of yogurt prior to an important business meeting or a hot date, instead of popping a sugar-laden breath mint into your mouth.

It might surprise you, but the dental community has singled out one type of yogurt as being the best in terms of oral health benefits. Drum roll please and the winner is GREEK YOGURT.

Dental professionals LOVE Greek Yogurt because this particular variety contains the highest amount of PROBIOTICS. And, it is lower in sugar than most other yogurts and it contains Vitamin B-12. What's NOT to get excited about?

Besides being great for your oral health, Greek yogurt's probiotics are considered to be "good" bacteria, so they will go a long way to helping you achieve a healthy bacterial balance in your gut. Some research has also shown that eating fermented milk with probiotics, (yogurt), MAY assist in reducing BLOOD PRESSURE.

You might be curious as to just what goes into producing Greek-style yogurt as opposed to the usual yogurt that you're used to spooning up.

Well, turning out Greek yogurt is a relatively simple process albeit with a couple of VERY important steps. It's made by fermenting yogurt in tanks or other types of containers and then straining whey and any excess liquid during the final step in the process. The milk may also be concentrated by ultrafiltration, which removes a portion of the water BEFORE the addition of yogurt cultures.

The result is a thicker yogurt with higher protein content. This process gives Greek yogurt a distinctive tart taste, which people seem to love... and not just here in the USA, but all over the world.

Plain Greek Yogurt is usually best for your oral health. You can always top it with some berries, peach slices, or granola. Make up a filling parfait or spoon a dollop of Greek yogurt into your mixer to create one heck of a smoothie.

Look to see if XYLITOL is on the yogurt cups' ingredient label. With a very pleasing sweet taste, Xylitol is a natural sugar alcohol, (no, not THAT kind of buzz-inducing alcohol), that can be found in plants as well as certain fruits and vegetables. Xylitol is utilized as a sugar substitute in a multitude of products.

As with most things in life, MODERATION is the key. Don't be going hog wild and start consuming ten or twelve cups of Greek yogurt a day. You've got to maintain a balanced diet. But, if you are not already a fan of yogurt, there has never been a better time to try it out. Your body and, especially your teeth, will love you for it.

Next time you are at the dentist's office or are seeing your primary care physician, talk to the doctor about the many benefits of eating yogurt and learn how yogurt fits into YOUR lifestyle. 

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