Note: This blog is for informational purposes only and should not substitute for advice from a trained professional.
We’ve all heard the saying: “You are what you eat.” Turns out the same is true for our teeth.
When we aren’t eating a healthy diet, the health of our teeth and gums is at serious risk. That’s the bad news.
Now here’s the good news: Eating certain foods may actually improve your oral health. Here’s what may support healthier teeth and gums.
Gnawing on a whole apple or chewing on some apple slices stimulates saliva production in the mouth. This saliva has a mouthwash-like effect: It rinses bacteria and food particles off the teeth so they don’t stick around in your mouth and contribute to plaque development and tooth decay.
Okay, so tea isn’t technically a food. But it is something you can consume for better oral health. Drinking green and black tea could help fend off harmful bacteria in the mouth and can even reduce the production of glucosyltransferase, an enzyme that helps plaque stick to the teeth. This provides a major defense against dental cavities. Drinking multiple cups of green or black tea every day may reduce inflammation in the mouth, which helps protect against gum disease.
Bugs Bunny’s favorite snack functions in much the same way as apples: Chewing on carrots increases saliva production in the mouth, which may defend against plaque production and decreases cavity risk. Carrots are also high in Vitamin A, which may help promote gum health.
Cheese, milk, and yogurt aren’t just delicious—they’re may also be good for your teeth. The calcium and phosphorous found in dairy products can help strengthen tooth enamel, which could decrease the risk of tooth decay. Yogurt also boasts additional benefits in the form of probiotics, or healthy bacteria, which help keep the gums healthy. Just be sure to choose low-sugar varieties to optimize the mouth-happy effects.
Dark, leafy greens such as kale and spinach are packed with vitamins and minerals that may improve oral health. These include calcium (which can strengthen tooth enamel) and folic acid (which can help defend against gum disease). As with apples and carrots, chewing leafy greens can also stimulate helpful saliva production.
A variety of protein sources can benefit your teeth, including eggs, fatty fish (such as salmon), lean meats, legumes, and tofu. These protein sources contain a variety of minerals that are good for oral health, most notably: magnesium, phosphorous and zinc, all of which help strengthen teeth. Many lean proteins also contain vitamin D, which helps the body better absorb tooth-strengthening calcium and may facilitate tooth remineralization. Meat is also a source of phosphorous, which helps protect tooth enamel.
This type of mushroom contains an antibacterial compound that may help defend against gingivitis. There’s also some evidence (limited at this point) this compound can kill the bacteria that contribute to tooth decay without compromising the healthy bacteria in your mouth.
Kiwis, strawberries, red peppers, and other fruits and vegetables with high vitamin C content promise serious oral health benefits. Consuming vitamin C can help maintain gum health, protect against periodontal disease, and stave off bacterial infections in the mouth.
What’s great about each of these foods is they’re not just good for your teeth—they’re beneficial to the rest of your body, too. To improve your oral and overall health, make a point of incorporating these foods into your diet every day.