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Healthy Eating for Healthy Teeth

Diet plays a major role in preventing cavities and maintaining good oral health. Not only does what you eat matter, when you eat is equally important.

How Diet Affects Teeth

Changes in your mouth start the minute you eat or drink certain foods. Sugars and carbohydrates in the foods you eat, and drink are converted to acids by bacteria in your mouth.

Acids are the enemy of your teeth’s enamel, the hard, outer surface that protects against decay. The more often you eat and snack, the more frequently you’re exposing your teeth to the cycle of decay.

Bacteria thrive in your mouth, fed by a lot of sugars. They can build up to form plaque on your teeth, leading to an inflammatory response that causes the breakdown of the gums, bone, and other supporting structures of your teeth.

Strong teeth and healthy gums also depend on nutrients— calcium, phosphorous, and Vitamin C—provided by a varied diet. You should eat a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, protein, calcium-rich foods, and whole grains.

What to Eat for Healthy Teeth and Gums

For good oral health, keep these diet tips in mind and look for:

Foods rich in calcium and phosphorous: These elements are the building blocks of enamel, and consuming foods rich in calcium and phosphorous are needed to keep your teeth strong and healthy.

  • Best sources of calcium: yogurt, cheese (hard, aged), seafood, milk (low-fat), tofu, almonds, canned salmon, almonds, and dark green leafy vegetables
  • Best sources of phosphorous: pumpkin seeds, fish, Brazil nuts, red meat, eggs, tofu, fish, lean meat, dairy, and beans

Firm, crunchy foods high in water: Chewing these foods produces more saliva, which is the best natural neutralizer of the bacteria that cause cavities. Also, the texture of these foods helps gently scrub and clean teeth surfaces, removing plaque and food particles.

  • Best options: celery, apples, cucumbers, and carrots

Foods rich in Vitamin D: The main reason Vitamin D is crucial for your overall health, is because it helps your body absorb calcium better.

  • Best sources: sunlight, fish, egg yolks, and cod liver oil

Foods rich in Vitamin C: It can strengthen blood vessels and reduce inflammation, which may help your gums stay healthier. Vitamin C is also required to produce collagen, a key protein that helps you fight periodontal disease.

  • Best sources: bell peppers, oranges, kiwi, strawberries, broccoli, kale, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and spinach

Foods rich in antioxidants: They help protect gums and other tissues by fighting the bacteria that cause inflammation and periodontal disease.

  • Best sources: apples, berries, grapes, raisins, nuts, and beans

Foods containing probiotics: Some research shows these good bacteria may help decrease plaque and promote healthy gums.

  • Best sources: yogurt, kombucha, sauerkraut, miso, and other fermented foods