Food and diet are foundational to all aspects of health, but especially dental health. Many of us grew up being told that “sugar rots your teeth” and that junk food causes cavities. While those pieces of advice are true for the most part, there’s a bit more to diet and healthy teeth than that. By eating the right foods to help maintain your dental health while also avoiding unhealthy foods, you’ll be practicing a diet that keeps your teeth and gums healthy for years to come. So what foods are most beneficial for your dental health? Let’s take a look.
It’s helpful to start by looking at what makes a given food beneficial for your teeth. There are a number of nutritional or structural factors that can make food nutritious for your teeth, and these work in different ways to benefit your oral health:
Foods rich in calcium can be healthy for your teeth. Calcium is the mineral building block of teeth and bones, and a diet rich in calcium helps keep teeth strong. Dietary calcium is found in a number of foods, including dairy products, fortified soy milk, spinach, and other dark leafy greens, nuts, tofu, and salmon.
Phosphorus also helps promote strong teeth. Found in many of the same foods that contain calcium, it is also present in beans and lean red meat.
Vitamin C-rich foods are very valuable for many aspects of our health, including our gums. Citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers, potatoes, and spinach are all examples of Vitamin C-rich foods that can help keep your gums healthy.
- Fiber and roughage are found in many foods–apples, celery, raw carrots, lentils, and leafy greens. While fiber is helpful for digestive health, it’s also extremely beneficial for our teeth. Crunchy fibrous foods can help keep teeth clean by removing particles and debris from the teeth as we brush them.
So with those criteria in mind, and a few examples of teeth-friendly foods already listed–what are some foods that help maintain dental health? While there are too many to list them all here, we can suggest some common (and tasty!) foods that promote oral health:
- Lean Red Meat
- Black Beans
- Red Beans
- Sweet Potatoes
- Brown Rice
Again, this is not a comprehensive list, but it’s a pretty diverse one and there should be foods and combinations of foods to work with nearly any dietary requirement. If you need more information or some additional help, make an appointment to see your dentist and ask them which teeth-friendly foods might be right for you.
Let’s take a moment to talk about some other “best practices” to keep your teeth and gums healthy. In addition to eating the right foods, we should all avoid or limit some problematic ones. Sugary foods–particularly sticky ones like caramels–can cause all sorts of problems for your teeth if consumed in excess. Likewise, too many starchy foods can also fuel bacteria and cause cavities. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is the right way to use food to help maintain oral health. This works best in conjunction with an effective daily brushing and flossing routine and regular trips to your dentist for exams and cleanings. By giving your teeth the right daily care and the right diet, you’ll help ensure that your smile lasts a lifetime.
We hope this blog helps you choose the right foods to maintain your dental health while avoiding some that can cause problems. The right diet and the right dental care can go a long way toward helping your smile look and feel its best. If you have further questions or are just in need of a checkup, get in touch today. We’re always happy to meet new patients or see established ones!