Your teeth should be strong enough to bite and chew your whole life without breaking. If you experience tooth breakage during normal eating, you might have nutritional deficiencies that make your teeth soft and prone to cavities. Broken teeth can cause pain and make it difficult to chew your food. Avoiding simple sugars and getting adequate amounts of minerals such as calcium and fluoride and vitamins such as vitamin D will help build strong teeth that won't break. See your doctor and dentist if you have problems with your teeth breaking.
Calcium gives teeth their hardness; around 99 percent of the calcium in your body is stored in the bones and teeth, according to the Office of Dietary Supplements. Getting enough calcium from dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese helps build strong teeth. Leafy green vegetables, fortified orange juice and tofu also contain calcium, if you don't eat dairy. Women and men between the ages of 19 and 50 and children aged 4 to 8 need 1,000 milligrams of calcium per day; after age 50 for women and 70 for men, the daily requirement increases to 1,200 milligrams. Children between the ages of 9 and 13 need 1,300 milligrams per day.
The calcium you eat won't get to your teeth and bones unless you also get enough vitamin D in your diet. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium in the intestines. Your body can synthesize vitamin D in the skin if you spend time in the sunlight; fatty fish, egg yolks, fortified milk and orange juice and cod liver oil also supply vitamin D. Everyone between the ages of 1 and 70 needs 600 international units of vitamin D per day. After age 70, men and women need 800 international units daily.
Avoid Simple Sugars
The biggest culprit in causing cavities and soft teeth prone to breakage is sugar in your diet. When sugar combines with plaque, a coating of bacteria on your teeth, it produces acids, which attack the surface of the tooth, causing erosion. Soft drinks and fruit juices, which contain both sugar and acid, are especially bad for your teeth. Whenever you drink soda or juice or eat foods high in simple sugars, rinse your mouth with water. Don't brush your teeth for at least 30 minutes; the acids attack the enamel within minutes and soften the teeth. Brushing immediately can cause more erosion, according to Dr. Peter Alldritt of the Australian Dental Association's oral health committee.
Eat Your Vegetables
Fibrous fruits and vegetables such as apples, carrots and celery, stimulate the gums, especially when eaten raw. Vegetables also contain vitamins such as vitamins A and C and minerals necessary to promote healthy teeth and gums. Fruits and vegetables are also high in fiber, which stimulates saliva production. Saliva helps neutralize the acids that form on your teeth.
Few foods contain fluoride, a mineral that helps prevent tooth decay and breakage by strengthening the enamel on your teeth. While all water contains some fluoride, many cities add supplemental fluoride to the drinking water. Foods that supply fluoride to your diet include tea; grape juice; fish, especially if canned with bones, such as sardines; and canned meats such as chicken. If you don't get enough fluoride in your water or diet, fluoride supplements can help keep your teeth strong.
- Office of Dietary Supplements: Calcium
- Office of Dietary Supplements:Vitamin D
- American Dental Association: Diet and Tooth Decay
- The Diet Channel: Oral Health & Nutrition: Dietary Tips For Preventing Cavities
- American Dental Hygienists Association: Fluoride Facts
- Linus Pauling Institute: Fluoride
- Delta Dental: Food Friends and Foes for your Teeth
- ABC Health and Wellbeing: Should You Brush Your Teeth Straight after Eating or Drinking?
A registered nurse with more than 25 years of experience in oncology, labor/delivery, neonatal intensive care, infertility and ophthalmology, Sharon Perkins has also coauthored and edited numerous health books for the Wiley "Dummies" series. Perkins also has extensive experience working in home health with medically fragile pediatric patients.