The Tooth-Friendly Diet

Dr. Ezra Friedman

The Tooth-Friendly Diet

What you eat affects your mouth not only by building healthier teeth and gums, but also by helping prevent tooth decay and gum disease. While a healthy diet rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and unsaturated fats will benefit your overall oral health, there are a few standout foods and nutrients that can really boost it.

Try these foods to help build strong teeth and healthy gums

Teeth and Calcium

Mom was right when she said, drinking milk builds strong bones.  Also, a diet with adequate calcium may prevent against tooth decay.  When a diet is low in calcium, the body leeches the mineral from teeth/bones, which can increase your risk of tooth decay and the incidence of cavities. A study from the Journal of Periodontology found that those who have a calcium intake of less than 500 mg were almost twice as likely to have periodontitis, (gum disease), than those who had the recommended intake.

The FDA recommends 1,000-1200 mg of calcium daily. Calcium is found in dairy foods like milk, cheese, and yogurt; in fish, including sardines and salmon; and in vegetables, including kale and broccoli. Eating 2-4 servings daily will help you meet the RDA for calcium.

Teeth and Vitamin C

The body needs vitamin C to repair connective tissue and help the body fight off infection.  Those who eat less than the recommended 75-90 mg per day are 25 % more likely to have gingivitis than those who eat 3 times the recommended daily allowance. Gingivitis (milder form of periodontal disease) causes the gums to become red from inflammation, swelling and bleeding.

Eating one piece of citrus fruit (oranges, grapefruits, tangerines) or a kiwi daily will help you meet the RDA for vitamin C.

Teeth and Fruits and Vegetables

Crunchy fruits/veggies like apples, pears, celery, and carrots are excellent in 2 ways. The crisp texture acts as a detergent on teeth, wiping away bacteria that can cause plaque. Plus with a lot of chewing increases the production of bacteria-neutralizing saliva.

Teeth and Tea

While tea may stain teeth, studies have shown that compounds in black tea can destroy or suppress the growth of cavity-causing bacteria in dental plaque, and help prevent both cavities and gum disease.

Teeth and Water

Drinking plenty of water benefits teeth as it helps rinse away both bacteria and the remnants of food that bacteria turns into plaque. Tap water is better for teeth than bottled because it contains fluoride, which prevents tooth decay.

Foods to Avoid

Sugary snacks, gummy and hard candies that stick in your teeth, are at the top of every dentist’s list of foods to avoid. Soda provides a double hit to teeth, combining sugar with acids.

No matter what you eat, it’s important to brush and floss afterward — or at least to rinse your mouth with water. Brush twice a day using either a manual or power toothbrush, and remember to visit a dentist at least twice a year for checkups.