Foods for Good Teeth & Gums

Good oral health can protect you from decay.

Good oral health can protect you from decay.

A healthy smile gives you confidence and improves your appearance. The foods you eat play a role in how healthy your teeth and gums are. Adding certain foods to your diet is one way to improve the appearance of your mouth. Good oral health might also reduce your risk of gum disease as well.

Foods With Vitamin C

Vitamin C supports the formation of collagen, which helps make connective tissues. Getting enough vitamin C can help keep the connective tissues in your gums healthy. The nutrient keeps your teeth strong as well. Add citrus fruits, strawberries, kiwis, red bell peppers, Brussels sprouts, broccoli, cantaloupe and potatoes to your diet to increase your intake of vitamin C. Citrus juice, such as orange and grapefruit, and tomato juice are good sources of vitamin C as well.

Calcium-Rich Foods

You've probably heard that calcium is essential for your bones, but it's equally as important for your teeth. Your teeth are made primarily of calcium, so getting enough of the mineral in your diet can keep them strong and help prevent decay. A 2008 article from the American Academy of Periodontology reports that regularly eating dairy foods, which are high in calcium, can help prevent gum disease as well. Preventing gum disease might also lower your risk of heart disease and stroke. Drink two or three glasses of low-fat milk each day and add low-fat cheese and yogurt to your diet to increase your intake of calcium.

Raw Vegetables

Eat crisp, raw vegetables to whisk plaque off your teeth. When plaque builds up on the surfaces of your teeth, it can contribute to cavities and dental decay. Plaque also allows bacteria to grow in your mouth, which increases your risk of decay as well. Chomp on raw carrots, celery, bell peppers, broccoli and cauliflower to help get rid of plaque. As an added bonus, fresh vegetables can also freshen your breath.

Additional Foods

Choose whole grains instead of refined grains because they contain less added sugar. The sugar in foods sticks to your teeth and encourages cavity-causing bacteria to grow. Eat leafy green vegetables, such as spinach, romaine lettuce and kale, because they contain folate, a B vitamin essential for the health of your mouth. Look for foods fortified with vitamin D, such as juice and cereal, and add them to your diet as well. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium.

Foods to Avoid

Restrict your intake of sugary foods such as candy, cake, ice cream and brownies. Bacteria convert the sugars in these foods to acid, which wears the enamel on your teeth. Enamel helps keep your teeth strong and less prone to decay. If you eat too much sugar, your teeth become more susceptible to cavities. Limit how many acidic foods you eat as well. The acids in soda, fruit juice, honey, wine and pickles can also cause damage to the enamel on your teeth.

 

About the Author

Sara Ipatenco has taught writing, health and nutrition. She started writing in 2007 and has been published in Teaching Tolerance magazine. Ipatenco holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in education, both from the University of Denver.

Photo Credits

  • Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images