What are the best foods for healthy teeth? Choosing the right ones can prevent tooth decay and keep your teeth strong.
You probably know that brushing and flossing your teeth is essential to having a healthy mouth. However, did you also know that nutrition plays an equally important role in keeping your teeth strong and healthy? In addition to affecting our overall health, the foods we eat are vital to the health and appearance of our teeth, gums, and mouth.
Choosing Foods for Healthy Teeth
There are so many options when it comes to deciding on the best foods. The American Dental Association lists several nutrients to look for when choosing foods for healthy teeth:
- Calcium — A mineral that plays a crucial role in the development of healthy teeth and strong enamel
- Phosphorus — Plays an important role in the body’s absorption of calcium, as well as protecting and repairing the enamel of the teeth
- Vitamin D — A fat-soluble vitamin that is essential for bone and tooth formation and calcium absorption.
- Protein — A vital component for maintaining the density of your bones and for building new bone tissue
- Vitamin A — A key nutrient that is essential for building tooth enamel
- Vitamin C — Is effective in reducing inflammation around your gums and keeping them healthy
There are some great foods you can eat to benefit your oral health, and we’ve compiled a list of 16 of the best foods for healthy teeth — plus a bonus you may not have thought of. Keep reading to find out which foods you should choose to keep your smile strong.
Drinking raw milk can help to build strong teeth and is one of the best things you can do to keep them healthy, according to experts. Why is “raw” milk better than most brands of conventional milk in the supermarket? Drinking raw milk greatly reduces your exposure to unwanted antibiotics and growth hormones fed to factory-farmed dairy cows.
There are several minerals and nutrients from raw milk that can help keep your teeth healthy and strong, including calcium and phosphorus. In addition, raw milk can be a good source of protein and offers a healthy array of fatty acids, including conjugated linoleic acid and omega-3s. As a final note, any kind of raw cheese from 100% grass-fed cows, goats or sheep will be much healthier for you compared to typical varieties found in the supermarket.
Yogurt is another milk product that is one of the foods for healthy teeth. Yogurt is high in protein and contains probiotics — good bacteria — in it, which help to prevent tooth decay. Researchers have also found that the active bacteria in yogurt can reduce the bacteria that cause bad breath.
Beware of “flavored” yogurt that can contain lots of unwanted processed sugar. Read those labels and avoid high sugar content foods. The best kind of raw yogurt can be found at local farmers’ markets or at your local organic farmer. Generally speaking, a small amount of dairy products from milk, cheese or yogurt is all you need, as part of a healthy organic diet.
Dark leafy greens are truly super foods when it comes to maintaining healthy teeth. Similar to yogurt, they can reduce “bad” bacteria in your mouth because greens are prebiotics – they feed and support the good bacteria to keep a healthy balance.
Leafy greens such as kale, collard greens, Swiss chard, and dandelion greens are fiber-rich and full of important nutrients like calcium, phosphorus, folic acid, and vitamins. Fiber-rich foods require more chewing, which causes you to produce saliva that helps to keep your mouth healthy.
Sprouted Nuts and Seeds
Looking for a low-sugar, high-protein snack? Sprouted almonds, walnuts, pumpkin or sunflower seeds are on the list of foods for healthy teeth as a great choice because they contain lots of calcium and protein. They contain very little sugar, which means they won’t cause plaque to form on your teeth. And the calcium and protein in organic nuts and seeds are essential for keeping tooth enamel strong.
Organic broccoli is another great food for healthy teeth. A crunchy, high-fiber vegetable, broccoli also is a good source of calcium, vitamin C, iron, and other nutrients that keep teeth strong.
Crunchy vegetables like raw broccoli are even thought to clean and whiten teeth. Chewing abrasive vegetables helps to remove plaque from teeth and gums as you chew. You’ll also produce more saliva, which protects against tooth decay and gum disease.
Fish are foods for healthy teeth: Eating wild-caught fish, especially fatty fish like salmon, sardines, and mackerel, can help keep your mouth healthy. These fish are high in both vitamin D and calcium. Vitamin D is a crucial nutrient that helps your body to absorb more calcium.
Fatty fish is also high in omega-3 fatty acids. Harvard researchers have found that omega 3s lower the risk of gum disease by up to 30%.
Crunching on organic carrots can keep your teeth clean and strong. As with broccoli, carrots are a high-fiber abrasive vegetable. They act as a toothbrush as you chew, gently removing plaque from your teeth and gums.
Carrots are also an excellent source of vitamin A, one of the key nutrients for building tooth enamel, and vitamin C, which helps reduce the risk of gum disease. Carrots are a great choice when looking for snacks or foods for healthy teeth.
Organic celery is another crunchy and healthy food good for your teeth. Celery contains lots of vitamin C and antioxidants that can prevent inflammation and keep your gums healthy. Gum disease — or periodontitis — is a serious condition that damages your jawbone and can lead to tooth loss.
Chewing on celery acts as a natural toothbrush. Like carrots and broccoli, it is an abrasive vegetable that helps clean away plaque from your teeth and gums and stimulates saliva. Saliva washes away food from your teeth and helps protect them from decay.
Organic raisins may seem like a surprising addition to this list. Sticky and full of sugar, you might assume that raisins are not a good choice for healthy teeth. A 2009 study showed that raisins can help with fighting cavities and preventing gum disease.
Raisins contain compounds called phytochemicals. These compounds stop the growth of bacteria which cause cavities and gum disease. These tasty little treats are also dense sources of nutrition good for your overall health.
Onions are a favorite vegetable to add to many recipes. However, for the most benefit to your oral health, choose to eat organic onions raw whenever possible.
Raw onions have antibacterial properties that have been shown to improve oral health. The compounds in onions reduce the amounts of bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease. When researchers warmed or steamed the onions, they did not have the same effect against bacteria, so be sure to eat them raw.
Raw or Aged Garlic
Garlic has long been known for its medicinal uses. In addition to the numerous overall health benefits garlic provides, a 2011 study shows that garlic is great for oral health. The tasty cloves contain allicin which is a garlic compound with antibacterial properties. Allicin is effective at reducing the bacteria that cause gum disease and tooth decay.
As with onions, garlic is best consumed raw to retain its amazing health properties. When garlic is heated or cooked, the compound that protects against gum disease and tooth decay is destroyed. While raw garlic may not be great for your breath, it is one of the amazing foods for healthy teeth.
Not only can ginger keep your teeth healthy, but also freshens your breath. A popular addition and flavoring for foods and drinks, ginger is known for its many health benefits. Long used to treat nausea, ginger can also keep your mouth healthy.
Researchers have learned that ginger mouth rinses are an effective way to fight tooth decay. Gingerol, a compound in ginger, significantly reduces levels of bacteria in the mouth that cause cavities. Gingerol also has been shown to reduce bad breath and works with your saliva to break down odor-causing compounds in your mouth.
Many types of mushrooms are a great source of vitamin D and other nutrients like calcium, which are essential for strong teeth and bones. However, shiitake mushrooms go above and to help keep your mouth healthy.
Shiitake mushrooms contain a compound called lentinan, which has been shown to provide significant benefits to oral health. These mushrooms have antibiotic properties that fight gum disease and tooth decay. In addition, shiitake mushrooms are reported to have other beneficial properties, including antioxidants, antiviral effects, and uses in fighting cancer.
Studies show that green tea is an outstanding choice for foods for healthy teeth. Green tea naturally contains fluoride, which prevents cavities. Keep in mind that the amount of fluoride is low, so green tea is not a replacement for regular brushing with fluoride-containing toothpaste.
Green tea also contains antioxidants and other compounds that help control bacteria growth in the mouth. These help to reduce inflammation and prevent disease. Unsweetened green tea lowers the acidity of saliva and plaque, helping to fight cavities.
As a bonus, green tea is very effective at reducing the compounds that cause halitosis, or bad breath. Green tea is one of the best drinks for helping maintain your entire oral health.
Fresh, Clean Water
Water is the ideal drink for your teeth. Drinking water, after you eat, can help rinse away food and bacteria that remain on your teeth. It also helps to keep your mouth moist. Dry mouth is an uncomfortable condition that can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Unfortunately, most people are dehydrated and don’t even know it!
For best results, drink enough water to trigger urination at least every few hours. If your urine is light yellow, you’re probably well hydrated.
Bonus: Natural Chewing gum
You might be surprised to see gum as a choice for keeping your teeth healthy and strong. Chewing natural gum after eating can help when you can’t brush your teeth right away.
When chewing gum, saliva production is increased, which protects against cavities and can help with the remineralization of enamel. In addition, chewing gum helps combat dry mouth, a condition that can contribute to cavities and gum disease.
Including these foods for healthy teeth in your diet can go a long way toward helping with great oral health. In addition to brushing your teeth and flossing, choosing specific foods for healthy teeth will keep you and your smile in stellar shape.
If you have developed periodontal disease, please see the foods to avoid.