We’re all familiar with eating whole, nutritious foods for your skin health, gut health, heart health etc. – but what about your dental health? Like your major organs, you’ve got one set of teeth to carry you through your lifetime, so there’s no better time to start taking preventative measures than right now. The best part? On top of maintaining dental health, these foods benefit your entire body’s systems – wins all around.
It’s important to look to your mouth for insights on your overall wellness. For example, mucosal cells in our mouths turn over within three to seven days – this means that nutrient shortfalls or excesses will show up in mouth tissue before they show up anywhere else. Our Dental Hygienist, Tanya, will look at this during your exam.
So let’s dive in – below are our list of top 10 foods to promote healthy teeth and gums.
Kale, broccoli and brussel sprouts contain Vitamin C – These veggies are high in vitamin C, aiding in collagen production which is vital for the supporting structures of the teeth (the gums and periodontal supporting structures). Vitamin C also aids in wound repair. It is rational to hypothesize that a low Vitamin C concentration in serum is a risk factor for periodontal diseases (source).
Atlantic mackerel, chia seeds, flax seeds and walnuts – These contain Omega 3 Fatty Acids. Omegas will help decrease inflammation, which contributes to periodontal disease and gingivitis.
Green tea – It contains the highest concentration of powerful antioxidants called polyphenols. There are proven studies that show it inhibits bacteria directly associated with gingivitis and periodontitis and reduces inflammation, so drink up! (source).
Xylitol – Think almond butter, chocolate, chewing gum, candies, and toothpaste. Your goal should be to consume 1-20 grams of xylitol per day as it can significantly reduce the rate of cavity formation in both adults and children.
Raw veggies – They clean your teeth to a degree (think apples, carrots, bell peppers, etc). Eating an apple as dessert after lunch will help to remove material that has adhered to the surface of your teeth. Plus, apples contain naturally occurring Xylitol.
Leafy greens, spirulina, and chia seeds are great sources of Calcium – A recent study found that those who took calcium supplements reduced the likelihood of losing one or more teeth was 40% less, even two years later (source).
Fish, eggs, organ meat, mushrooms, tofu, fish liver oil, and egg yolks are high in Vitamin D – Vitamin D is crucial for calcium absorption. If inadequate, the body will break down bone to get the needed minerals. Vitamin D can be also be obtained by adequate sunlight (source).
Fermented foods like natto, sauerkraut, kimchi as well as grass fed beef contain Vitamin K2 –K2 is manufactured in intestinal flora and is vital for bone health. It also helps calcium get where it needs to go. (Source: Holistic Dental Care, Nadine Artemis)
Healthy protein – Think organic, grass fed, wild caught fish and organic produce – though too much protein can result in an acidic mouth, while too little can inhibit immune function (Source: Dental Herbalism, Natural Therapies for the Mouth, Leslie M. Alexander, Linda A. Straub-Bruce). An insufficient supply of protein can lead to: malocclusion (crooked teeth), atrophy of lingual papillae (tender/painful smooth areas on the tongue), and linear defects on enamel (source).
Cauliflower, avocado, kombucha, molasses, and tempeh contain Vitamin B – B vitamins help to prevent oral (tongue/gum/mucosal) inflammation and help to heal tissues (source).
Lastly, drink a lot of pure water – Water promotes salivary production, and is at a neutral or slightly alkaline pH. Hydration helps with tissue tone throughout the body, including the mouth. Dry mouth could lead to an increase risk in dental decay and is related to bad breath, also known as halitosis (source). Here is a fun website to source a natural spring in your area!
So yes, brushing, flossing and regular cleanings are important, but what you expose your teeth to and the foods you choose to eat play a major role in maintaining your dental health. Armed with these nutrients and foods to look out for, we recommend adding a few to your grocery list each week.
Thanks to Tanya, our resident Hygienist and Holistic Nutritionist for sharing her wealth of knowledge! Be sure to check out her website.