Maintaining optimal dental health involves more than simply avoiding cavities. It also includes caring for the tissues, fibers, surfaces, and bones that protect your teeth and keep them secured in your jaw. Like any other structure in your body, your mouth requires a variety of nutrients and minerals to stay strong and healthy, including calcium, vitamins A, C, and D, protein, and phosphorus. Vitamin and protein deficiencies can lead to complications like periodontal disease and dental erosion. Incorporating the following foods into your diet can lower your risk of cavities, gum disease, and other oral health issues.
Leafy greens like kale, spinach, arugula, and turnip greens promote prebiotics within the mouth that healthy oral bacteria feed on. As opposed to high carbohydrate foods, leafy greens help your mouth to produce more nitrite-reducing bacteria. Not only will leafy greens leave your mouth feeling cleaner, they’ll also actively support a healthier oral microbiome. Darker leafy greens are best for your teeth, since they’re particularly high in minerals your teeth absorb during remineralization to strengthen their structure.
Grapefruit and Oranges
Grapefruit and oranges contain high levels of vitamin C, which fortifies blood vessels and connective tissues within your mouth. Vitamin C and other antioxidants found in these fruits help neutralize the bacteria that clings to the surface of your teeth. Vitamin C also helps to slow the progression of gum inflammation that could lead to gum disease. A 2005 study found that after just two weeks of daily grapefruit consumption, participants had optimized their vitamin C levels and reduced bleeding gums. It’s important to note, however, that highly citrus acidic fruits like grapefruit and oranges can erode enamel when eaten just by themselves, so it’s best to eat them as part of a meal to remove some of the acidity. Fresh fruits are always a better option than dried fruits, which can be sticky and often contain a significant amount of sugar and preservatives.
Grass-Fed Dairy Products
Grass-fed dairy products like cheese and butter provide high amounts of vitamin K2, a nutrient which is vital for healthy teeth. Many of these foods are also high in phosphorus, another nutrient that teeth crave. Studies have shown that the majority of the world’s population is likely vitamin K2 deficient. Other foods that are high in dental health-supporting vitamin K2 include beef, eggs, chicken liver, and natto.
Fatty fish is an important component of oral health due to high amounts in vitamin D, a nutrient which is necessary for nearly every system of the body. One of vitamin D’s lesser-known benefits is its ability to reduce the risk of tooth decay. Vitamin D works synergistically with vitamins A and K2 to deliver calcium to your teeth, strengthening enamel from the inside out. Oily fish are also high in omega-3s; these fatty acids support gum health and may even help prevent and reduce symptoms of periodontitis (gum disease), a condition which affects nearly half of all adults in the United States. Examples of fish that are high in both vitamin D and omega-3s include tuna, mackerel, salmon, and trout.
Eating celery after a meal can help keep your teeth clean between regular brushing sessions. Foods like celery that are high in water content and fiber stimulate saliva production, which helps wash away food particles, neutralize acids, and prevent decay. Celery also contains high levels of vitamins A and C, which are important for gum health.
Dr. Michael E. Sullivan and our friendly Elmhurst dental team are happy to answer any questions you may have about improving or repairing your oral health!