Smile Bright, Eat Right: The Ultimate Guide to Foods That Nourish Your Teeth

Daily brushing and flossing are essential to preventing tooth decay and gum disease, but did you know that diet also affects oral health? The foods you consume and avoid can help you maintain shinier, healthier, cavity-free pearly whites. Here are several nutrient-rich foods that promote healthy teeth and gums.

Choose cheese for a simple, nourishing snack. Calcium and vitamin D are two vital nutrients for supporting tooth health. Nearly all dairy products, including cheese, are excellent sources of these nutrients. Cheese can also contribute to the remineralization of tooth structures.

Fatty fish are also rich sources of vitamin D, particularly wild salmon, which promotes strong teeth and jaw bones. It’s also loaded with phosphorus, an important mineral for protecting tooth enamel. Moreover, omega-3 fish oils — DHA and EPA — in fatty fish have been shown to reduce the risk of periodontitis. Omega-3 fats help break down the inflammation that occurs when bacteria irritates gums.

Nuts, such as almonds and cashews, support tooth and gum health. They are crunchy and high in protein, heart-healthy fats and nutrient content — making them a satisfying and effective way to fuel your body. The extra amount of chewing required to work your way through a handful of almonds helps stimulate saliva production. This flushes harmful bacteria and trapped food particles to create the proper condition for overall mouth health. The vitamins and minerals contained in nuts also support the natural tooth structures and surrounding soft tissues.

Looking for a natural way to whiten your teeth? Strawberries are packed with vitamin C, antioxidants and malic acid — a natural enamel whitener. The vitamin C in strawberries strengthens blood vessels and reduces inflammation, which promotes healthy gums. Vitamin C is also required for the production of collagen, a key protein that helps fight periodontal disease. Without this essential vitamin, your gums could become sensitive and more susceptible to bacteria.

While raisins may seem detrimental to oral health, due to their sticky appearance and sweet taste, the opposite may in fact, be true. Researchers found that oleanolic acid — a phytochemical in raisins — prevented cavity-causing bacteria from sticking to surfaces. This ability enables it to fight bacteria in the mouth that causes cavities and gum disease. For a guilt-free snack, aim for raisins with no added sugar.

To learn more about which foods are best for optimum oral health, take a look at the accompanying infographic.

Infographic created by McLean DDS, dentists in McLean