What is good for our bodies is also good for our teeth. The essential vitamins A, C, D and K, and minerals calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, all of which support healthy muscles, hair, bones and our immune systems, are also very good for keeping teeth and gums in top form. Here are 11 foods that we recommend working into your diet, always in moderation, to keep teeth and gums healthy and even fight cavities.
Cheese, like milk, is supercharged with calcium and phosphorus, which supports the absorption of calcium, and vitamins D and K. Cheese has been found to be extra good at preventing cavities. In a peer-reviewed study published in 2013 in the Journal of General Dentistry researchers found that after consuming cheddar cheese the pH level increased inside the mouth, creating a hostile environment for cavity causing bacteria.
Yogurt, because it is also a dairy product, contains the same minerals and vitamins as cheese and milk, but studies have shown that its probiotic properties actually battle cavity-causing bacteria. Yogurt commonly contains lactobacillus or bifidus, good bacteria, which are believed to reduce the numbers of bad bacteria in saliva, as well as support digestion.
Beef and eggs
Beef often gets a bad rap, but like everything in life, if done in moderation there are benefits for gums and teeth. Beef provides vitamins B3 and B12 as well as phosphorous, calcium and Coenzyme Q10, an antioxidant that is believed to reduce plaque and tartar build-up. However, it is essential to remember to floss after eating beef to make sure that no meat is stuck between the teeth.
Eggs are surprisingly good for teeth as they contain vitamins D and K, and phosphorus. That said, using crushed eggshells to repair teeth, is an old wives tale. If you believe that you may have a cavity, or that your teeth are damaged in any way, see a dentist. Tooth repair is not a DIY home project.
Salmon, and other fatty fish, are well known to be a great source of vitamin D and calcium. In 2010, the Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health published a study which found that polyunsaturated fatty acids (Omega 3s) found in fatty fish were effective in the treatment of periodontitis. This disease causes inflammation of the gums, causing them to separate from the tooth, leading to a severe bacterial infection that may result in tooth and bone loss. The fatty acids found in these fish act as an anti-inflammatory, diminishing the severity of the original condition.
Sardines compete with salmon for being packed with Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D. Sardines also deliver calcium and fluoride, and are considered Paleo for those on a strict diet.
Anchovies are small fish, but they certainly have a strong taste, which is why they are so good in puttanesca sauce or a traditional Caesar salad. They have the same nutritional properties as salmon and sardines, but they also contain a variety of B vitamins and are notably low on mercury.
Leafy Greens and Cruciferous Vegetables
Kale, chard, spinach, collard greens and other leafy greens may look like nothing more than a rabbit’s feast, but they really have it all. These dark greens deliver vitamins A and C, beta carotene, phosphorus, calcium and magnesium, every one of which supports healthy teeth and gums.
Broccoli, cauliflower, brussels sprouts, cabbage, all cruciferous vegetables, like their leafy cousins are also full of vitamin C and K, and phosphorus. Remember to not roast them, but steam them instead. Roasting vegetables has been found to increase their acidity, which will eat away at tooth enamel.
Apples are both good and bad for teeth at the same time. The fleshy fiber and peel scrub tooth surfaces as well as the tongue, which is why eating apples improves bad breath. The low level acidity also impairs cavity-causing bacteria… And then there is the “but.” This very same acid can also weaken enamel. Add the fact that apples contain natural sugar, which feeds the bad bacteria. In order to gain the benefits without the drawbacks, eat an apple in one go. Quickly. Do not graze over a period of time. Once finished have a glass of water to wash the sugars and acid down quickly.
Carrots, radishes and celery, while being very different vegetables, they contain similar properties and also scrub the teeth and tongue, but only when raw. They deliver vitamins A and C. Please remember that if you dip any of these into a sugary dip, the scrubbing benefits will be greatly diminished because the cavity-causing bacteria will have a feast.
Eating healthy coupled with proper oral hygiene habits and regular professional cleanings and check-ups will give you a solid foundation for a long and healthy life. Poor oral health, however, has been linked to cardiovascular disease, dementia, persistent infections and diabetes.
While healthy eating is important for maintaining your oral and overall health, good daily dental care is important for keeping your teeth and gums healthy. For more dental care tips visit www.givingsmiles.com
Jefferson Dental Clinics has been giving smiles to patients since 1967. Jefferson Dental is the choice dental provider and educator, providing quality, affordable general, cosmetic, orthodontic and endodontic dental care to patients at more than 50 dental offices. Visit www.jeffersondentalclinics.com for more resources and dental care tips.