A healthy diet serves your oral health as an important part of your overall health. Are you doing as much as you can for your mouth and teeth? These delicious foods (non-vegan and vegan), packed with crucial vitamins and minerals, will help you.
Which vitamins and minerals build strong teeth?
Calcium is one of the most important minerals for oral health. It builds strong teeth by strengthening your tooth enamel. Dairy products such as cheese, milk, and yogurt are great sources of calcium. Vegan and non-dairy sources of calcium are also plentiful, and include almonds, beans, black-eyed peas, broccoli, calcium-added orange juice, collard greens, kale, spinach, lentils, and canned salmon and sardines.
Vitamin A (described in detail below) also helps rebuild tooth enamel, and vitamin K (also described below) helps block substances that break down tooth enamel.
Vitamin D helps your body absorb and deposit calcium in your bones to support your teeth. You can find it in dairy products and fortified cereal, fatty fish such as salmon, canned tuna, and portabella mushrooms. As a bonus, spending time outside in the sun helps our bodies naturally make vitamin D—your beach days may actually be good for your teeth! Just be careful not to overdo it, and always wear sunscreen outside.
Phosphorus is another mineral that rebuilds your tooth enamel. Fish and seafood such as cod, salmon, tuna, sardines, scallops, and shrimp are good sources of phosphorus, as are milk, eggs, fish, poultry, beef, and pork. Vegan foods including lentils, pumpkin seeds, and soybeans are also good sources of this mineral.
Potassium, along with magnesium, helps keep your teeth strong by controlling acid levels within the blood. Too much acid in your blood can drain calcium from your bones and teeth. Bananas are a great source of potassium, along with other vegan foods including swiss chard, avocadoes, prunes, tomatoes, potatoes, and sweet potatoes.
Which vitamin fights gum disease and bad breath?
A diet rich in vitamin C strengthens your gums and the soft tissue in your mouth, and helps keep your teeth from loosening. And vitamin C does double duty: it also fights bad breath by creating an environment that does not support bad breath-causing bacteria. You can get this supervitamin from foods such as citrus fruits, red bell pepper, and broccoli.
Which vitamin helps prevent dry mouth?
By keeping your mucous membranes healthy, vitamin A helps prevent dry mouth. Many bright orange foods are good sources of vitamin A, including apricots, cantaloupe, carrots, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes. You can also get vitamin A from collard greens, kale, and spinach, as well as non-vegan options including egg yolks, fish, and liver.
Which vitamin promotes healing?
Vitamin K supports your body’s healing processes. Without sufficient amounts of this vitamin, your healing after an injury or surgery may take longer and you may bleed more easily. Vitamin K is plentiful in leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables such as broccoli, Brussels sprouts, collard greens, kale, parsley, and spinach.
Which compounds help prevent infections?
Research establishes polyphenols as antioxidants that help reduce the risk of infections and inflammation, and lower your risk of developing tumors. Polyphenol supplements are available, but evidence suggests that they may interfere with iron absorption in high doses. Fortunately, many delicious foods are rich in polyphenols, including cocoa powder, dark chocolate, cloves, berries, cherries, hazelnuts, pecans, and—for adults—red wine. As always, moderation is key!
Want to know more about food and oral health?
Read about the best food choices for your children’s oral health in this article.
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