You know that the foods you eat impact the health and appearance of your teeth. However, most of the connections you know about between your diet and oral health focus on the negative. For instance, you probably know that sugar and soda cause cavities, and wine, strawberries, tea, and coffee can all cause stains.
Luckily for you, there are also many foods that will help you keep your smile pristine. To preserve and improve your teeth’s health, maintain adequate levels of the following 11 nutrients.
When it comes to healthy eating, foods rich in antioxidants top most lists. This high rate of inclusion stems from the fact that antioxidants help combat bacteria and cell damage.
In your mouth, antioxidants decrease inflammation and can reduce your risk of gum disease. Find your daily dose of antioxidants in nuts, beans, berries, and apples.
In recent years, scientists have begun to study the relationship between anthocyanins—or a certain type of pigment—and oral health, and the results are promising. Early results from a study funded by the Center for Advanced Functional Foods Research and Entrepreneurship (CAFFRE) suggest that anthocyanins decrease the formation of plaque and may even reduce the risk of oral cancer.
Anthocyanins are found in certain stone fruit, like plums and cherries, and in eggplant.
The amino acid arginine hasn’t been studied as much as antioxidants, but studies show a possible correlation between arginine and healthier mouths. According to a study published in PLOS One, arginine could prevent tooth decay by disrupting plaque buildup.
Red meats and nuts both contain arginine.
Calcium is a major contributor to both healthy bones and strong teeth. This nutrient supports jawbone and tooth health by encouraging remineralization that builds enamel back up after it becomes damaged.
Calcium is present in most dairy products, as well as in seafood. If you don’t consume dairy or meat, you can get your calcium from tofu, leafy greens, and calcium-fortified foods.
5. Folic Acid
Folic acid aids in cell growth and regeneration, which helps oral tissues stay healthy and teeth stay stable. However, folic acid is only stored in the body for short periods of time before it’s processed, which means you must consume it regularly for it to positively affect oral health.
The best dietary source of folic acid is cruciferous vegetables, which are vegetables that have a deep green color and a leafy structure. Some cruciferous vegetables include cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, kale, and cabbage.
The right amount of magnesium helps protect bones and teeth from damage. Like calcium, magnesium is an essential component of building and maintaining a strong jawbone and enamel.
Whole grains, from oats to wheat, contain magnesium. You can also get magnesium from bananas, leafy greens, and avocados.
Calcium and phosphorus are the two main components of tooth enamel, so increasing your intake of these nutrients can fortify your teeth against erosion, staining, and other damage.
Along with consuming enough calcium, make sure you get your needed phosphorous from nuts, seeds, eggs, and red meats.
The relationship between polyphenols and improved oral health still needs some research. However, a study published in in the Journal of Dentistry reports that polyphenols may stop plaque-causing bacteria from growing.
You can find polyphenols in in green and black tea, flaxseed, and cocoa.
Probiotics are a type of beneficial bacteria already found in the body. You can also consume dietary probiotics to balance out detrimental bacteria in your mouth, which improves your gum health and reduces your risk of tooth decay.
Find probiotics in low-fat yogurts, as well as in certain other fermented foods like miso paste or sauerkraut.
10. Vitamin C
When it comes to healthy eating, vitamin C gets almost as much attention as antioxidants—and for good reason. Vitamin C aids in multiple essential bodily processes that improve oral health. For instance, it helps your body produce collagen proteins and reduce inflammation, both of which contribute to healthier gum tissue.
Most fruits and vegetables contain some amount of vitamin C, but you can add kale, oranges, or bell peppers to your diet for an extra boost.
11. Vitamin D
When you think of vitamin D, you may think of its impact on your skin first. But vitamin D also helps your body absorb calcium more effectively. Without vitamin D, the calcium and phosphorous you consume are less helpful.
Sunlight is the best source of vitamin D, but you can bolster the amount of vitamin D in your body by eating eggs and cold-water fish.
Keep Your Teeth Healthy
You may have different dietary needs based on your activity level, current oral and overall health, and medical history. Remember to consult with your dentist and your primary care physician when deciding to make changes to your diet. These professionals may recommend adding specific foods to your diet or using supplements so you can have the right nutrient levels.
Use these guidelines and advice from your care providers to eat your way to a brighter, healthier smile.