A guide to food that’s good for your teeth
By now you probably know the cornerstones of a healthy smile: daily brushing, flossing, and dental visits twice a year. Did you know that a nutritious diet also impacts the health of your teeth?
According to the Canadian Dental Association, a balanced diet helps maintain oral health. Thankfully, choosing food that’s good for your teeth doesn’t have to be complicated.
You can start by focusing on foods that are nutritious, high in fibre and low in refined sugar. Also reach for foods that are high in important nutrients, like calcium, phosphorus, and vitamin C.
How to choose food that’s good for your teeth
We want to make it as easy as possible for you to choose foods that are good for your teeth and gums. That’s why we’ve put together this guide to eating for a healthy smile.
Calcium-rich foods for a glowing smile
Calcium strengthens your enamel, which is the hard outer shell of your teeth. This is important because enamel serves as the front line of defense against cavities.
You may have already heard that dairy products, such as milk and cheese, contain a lot of calcium. But these aren’t the only sources of calcium. There are many other non-dairy options that will give you the calcium you need for a healthy smile.
Leafy greens are a superfood that keep your body and teeth strong and healthy. Darker leafy greens, like kale, spinach, and collard greens, pack the most tooth-strengthening calcium. They also contain other superstar nutrients, such as folic acid and B vitamins, which help keep your gums healthy.
If you’re not into salads, sneak some spinach into your favourite soup or smoothie. You can also toss some greens into a salad, or top a pizza with a handful of arugula.
Most plant milks, such as almond, soy, and oat milk, are fortified with calcium. Check the label to find out how much calcium is in each serving. Also be sure to watch out for added sugar, which can cause issues with your teeth and gums.
You can use plant milk in your coffee, cereal, smoothie, or almost any recipe that calls for milk. Or you can channel your inner kid and drink it on its own—milk mustache optional!
Chia, poppy, and sesame seeds are great sources of calcium. They’re also high in protein, which helps repair gum tissue and keep teeth strong.
If you’re worried about getting seeds stuck between your teeth, try making a tahini (sesame seed paste) salad dressing. Or blend chia seeds into your smoothie.
Eating phosphorus for strong teeth
If you’re looking for satisfying food that’s good for your teeth, go for phosphorus-rich options. Phosphorus is one of the main minerals in tooth enamel. It works together with calcium and vitamin D to help strengthen teeth. It also helps keep your jawbone healthy.
The good news is that plenty of foods contain phosphorus. We’ve listed some healthy options below.
Not only is salmon delicious, it’s also packed with nutrients that help maintain a healthy smile. Salmon contains phosphorus, calcium, and vitamin D—three nutrients that work together to strengthen teeth and gums.
If you have weakened enamel, the phosphorus in salmon can help to remineralize it to make it strong again.
Salmon is also wonderfully versatile for cooking. You can grill it on the barbecue with simple seasonings, bake it with veggies, or chop it up and throw it in a stir fry. It’s that simple to get the nutrients you need for healthy teeth.
Tofu is another phosphorus-rich food that’s good for your teeth. Like salmon, it also has plenty of calcium and protein for a healthy smile.
If you’ve dismissed tofu as bland and boring, maybe it’s time to give it another chance. Marinated tofu tastes great in a stir fry or sushi. You can also do a tofu scramble with veggies and seasonings. If you’re in a hurry, simply toss some chopped tofu into a salad or pasta.
Looking for a delicious snack that’s also good for your teeth? Grab a handful of nuts. Walnuts, almonds, cashews, and peanuts are all high in phosphorus, magnesium, and calcium—three essential minerals for keeping teeth strong.
There are plenty of ways to add nuts to your diet. Spread almond or peanut butter on your toast, throw some walnuts into a salad, or top your favourite Asian noodles with cashews.
Preventing tooth decay with antimicrobial foods
Certain foods have antimicrobial properties, which means they fight bacteria in the mouth. This is good for your teeth, because the acid produced by bacteria is what causes cavities.
To help keep harmful mouth bacteria at bay, simply add some antimicrobial foods to your diet. We’ve listed a few easy options below.
You may think that eating garlic is a surefire way to have bad breath. However, garlic can actually help keep your mouth healthy and fresh. The reason is that garlic has antimicrobial properties that prevent the growth of bacteria that cause bad breath, gum disease, and tooth decay.
There are endless ways to add garlic to your diet. Put it in sauces or sauté it with veggies. If you really want to keep the bacteria (and the vampires) away, blend raw garlic into homemade dips and dressings.
Onions are another popular food that’s good for your teeth. Thanks to their antimicrobial juices, red, green, and white onions have all been shown to inhibit bacterial growth.
The less you cook the onions, the stronger their antimicrobial properties. So, why not thinly slice some red onion and add it to a salad? Or throw some onions in your sandwich or burger.
Want a food that’s good for your teeth, gums, and breath? Look no further than the humble mushroom. Studies have shown that mushrooms have strong antimicrobial properties. They’re also packed with plenty of minerals and vitamins that keep your body and mouth healthy.
So, go ahead and toss some portobellos on the barbecue. Or fry them up with onions and peppers as a filling for fajitas.
Drinks that are good for your teeth
Eating the right foods isn’t the only way to keep your teeth healthy. What you drink also matters. You might already know that sugary juices and sodas can cause issues with your teeth. Here’s what to drink instead to maintain a healthy smile.
Drinking lots of water is essential for your overall oral health. Water washes away bacteria and food debris that would otherwise stick to your teeth and cause plaque. Drinking water with fluoride, which is a powerful cavity fighter, is an easy way to prevent tooth decay.
Staying hydrated keeps the systems in your body running smoothly. This helps your gum tissues to get the oxygen and nutrients they need to stay healthy. So, be sure to drink water during and after meals to maintain tooth health.
Green and white tea
If you love to enjoy a hot cup of tea in the morning, you’re already well on your way to a healthy smile. Green and white teas are rich in antioxidants that fight bacteria and reduce gum inflammation. All that is to say that a cup of tea a day helps keep the cavities away.
If you’re wondering whether black tea has the same antioxidant benefits, it absolutely does, but there’s a catch. Over time, black tea will stain your teeth. However, if you’re coming to the dentist for regular dental cleanings [Link to Dental Cleaning Page], this may not be an issue.
Small changes can keep your teeth healthy
Adding the above foods and drinks to your diet can help improve your oral health. Other small changes, such as choosing healthier snacks and eating less sugar will also contribute to healthy teeth and gums. When in doubt, reach for whole foods that are high in fibre, protein, and nutrients. Your teeth will thank you for it!
If you have concerns about your teeth, a dentist can recommend the right solution for you. Book a dental visit to find out how we can help you keep your teeth strong and healthy.