The Foods that Keep Your Teeth in Shape
You are what you eat” may be an adage geared toward teaching children healthy eating habits—but it’s also true. Now more than ever, studies are being released that show a definitive link between our gut health and whole-body health. And if there is a connection between what we eat and how we feel, wouldn’t the same ring true for the more granular aspects of our health?
As it turns out, there are plenty of ways to improve your dental health—one bite at a time.
Top 10 Foods for Teeth and Gum Health
You aren’t the only one who craves starchy or sugary foods (we’re looking at you, plate of loaded fries). The bacteria in your mouth craves it too. In fact, the more starch and sugars that are present in your mouth, the more active your mouth bacteria can be, which ultimately can lead to an increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease.
Alternatively, foods that are nutrient rich—like fruits, vegetables, and protein—as well as foods that are calcium rich—like milk, yogurt, almonds, and leafy greens—can do wonders for keeping your smile at its best.
You hereby have permission to eat cheese! Low in sugar, but high in calcium, cheese contains a protein called casein which is particularly useful for fortifying your tooth enamel. Not only that, but cheese is high in calcium, which helps maintain bone density, and it’s high in phosphate which helps keep your mouth’s pH levels balanced.
Carrots aren’t just great for your eyes, they’re great for your teeth as well.
For that matter, any crunchy, firm food that has high water content (i.e., celery) acts as a natural tooth cleaner because it stimulates the flow of saliva, which helps scrub away food particles and bacteria.
Walnuts are the ultimate superfood because they contain everything from fiber and folic acid to iron, potassium, and vitamin B6. Potassium and magnesium work hand-in-hand to regulate your body’s acidity. When you have too much acidity, the acids can remove calcium from your teeth and jawbone, which weakens them.
Most meats and fatty fish contain a ton of important nutrients for your dental and whole-body health. Salmon in particular is loaded with phosphorus, which helps your body absorb calcium and strengthens your teeth by protecting and rebuilding tooth enamel. Who knew food could do all of that?
Fresh fruit is great for you in general, but kiwis specifically offer a very high concentration of vitamin C. Vitamin C works to boost immunity by increasing the production of blood cells that destroy harmful microorganisms. With adequate vitamin C intake, your body will have better resistance against infections throughout the body, which include tooth decay.
Sweet potatoes are packed with a healthy dose of vitamin A, which works to maintain the mucus membranes and soft tissue in the gums. Vitamin A is also vital in maintaining keratin, which is a protein that promotes the formation of tooth enamel.
It may not be the best ally for keeping your breath fresh, but garlic works wonders at fighting tooth decay and periodontal disease. That’s because garlic contains allicin, which has incredibly strong antimicrobial properties.
Routine cleanings will help remove any stains that come with routinely drinking tea, so you can enjoy the teeth-strengthening benefits of this hot or cold beverage. A chemical called polyphenol naturally occurs in tea (and coffee, for all of you coffee lovers!), which combats cell damage, reduces inflammation, and is high in antioxidants.
Your parents weren’t wrong when they encouraged you to eat your greens as a kid. Whether they realized it or not, they were also encouraging better oral health! Leafy greens like spinach, lettuce, and kale are rich in calcium, folic acid, and minerals that your teeth and gums love. Crunchier greens like romaine lettuce or crisp kale also help keep your teeth clean!
Okay, maybe it’s not a food that will fill you up, but the single most important thing for your teeth (and your well-being in general) is hydration, hydration, hydration. Our bodies are made of 60% water, and staying hydrated helps our system distribute nutrients, eliminate waste, keeps muscles moving, and keeps saliva levels high so bacteria can be easily kept at bay.