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Best Foods for a Healthy Smile and Gums

Best Foods for a Healthy Smile and Gums

Most of us spend time carefully flossing, regularly brushing, and using mouthwash to ensure our teeth remain clean and healthy. Despite this care, the CDC reports that 26% of the US population has untreated tooth decay, and 47.2% suffer from gum diseases. How is that possible? The answer to this could be hidden in your fridge!

Just like the rest of your body needs optimum nutrition to stay healthy and functional, so do your teeth. This blog highlights 17 of the best foods that can give you a healthy smile and gums. 

1. Cheese

Cheese is high in calcium and low in sugar, ensuring bone density. It's packed with casein — a protein beneficial for strengthening tooth enamel. Cheese's high phosphate content aids in balancing your mouth's pH level — preserving tooth enamel. Chewing cheese produces saliva that helps in washing down bacteria in your mouth.

2. Milk and Yogurt

Milk's calcium-rich properties make it ideal for strengthening your teeth. It also helps in combating tooth decay by lowering the levels of acid in your mouth. Yogurt contains probiotics and calcium, shielding you against bad breath, periodontal diseases, and cavities. 

3. Water

Water is the best drink that you'll ever get. 60% of our bodies are made of water. Therefore, it’s regular intake helps our body distribute nutrients to our organs and muscles. We recommend that you drink fluoridated water. Fluoridated water contains a cavity fighter — fluoride. Its regular intake can reduce cavities and tooth decay.

4. Crunchy Vegetables — Carrots, Celery, etc.

Crunchy vegetables contain a lot of water. As they require you to chew, they act like natural teeth cleaners stimulating saliva production and scrubbing away the food particles. Celery is a natural dental floss. Its fibrous and crunchy texture helps clean your teeth. Similarly, carrots are packed with keratins, calcium, and vitamin C, offering a range of dental benefits. Eating carrots can remove stain-causing bacteria, and its crunchy texture helps with interdental cleaning.

Whole and chopped carrots on a plate

5. Greens — Lettuce, Kale, Spinach

Leafy greens are superfoods. They're rich in folic acid and calcium and are packed with minerals and vitamins loved by your gums and teeth. 

6. Pears and Apples

Eating apples and pears can help in cleaning your teeth as they increase salivation. The saliva neutralizes the malic and citric acids of these fruits. Chewing their fibrous textures can stimulate your gums, and an increased saliva flow can reduce the cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth.

7. Nuts

Nuts are a powerhouse of essential elements that can benefit your teeth. Almonds, cashews, and Brazil nuts help combat decay-causing bacteria. Peanuts are a fantastic source of vitamin D and calcium. Almonds offer calcium, which strengthens the gums and teeth. Cashews stimulate the production of saliva. And walnuts offer everything from iron, folic acid, thiamine, fiber, magnesium, niacin, vitamin B6, vitamin E, zinc, and potassium. 

8. Meat and Fish

Meat offers all of the nutrients, as mentioned earlier. Chewing and breaking down meat fibers produces a fair amount of saliva ideal for washing away bacteria and food particles, leading to potential tooth decay. The best kind of meat for a bright smile is red and organ meat. Fish and tofu are full of phosphorus — a vital mineral for enamel protection. 

a plate full of beef steak and garnished with herbs

9. Coffee and Tea

Tea and coffee contain polyphenols. According to the National Center of Biotechnology Information, polyphenols can fight against cell damage and reduce inflammation. Their intake can help in protecting you against oral cancer, periodontal diseases, and cavities.

10. Raisins and Cranberries

Just like tea, cranberries too also loaded with polyphenols. Fresh cranberries are best at disrupting plaque formation on your teeth. While consuming dried cranberries, ensure that they don't have added sugars, which is not beneficial for your teeth.

Raisins are perceived to cause cavities. However, that's not true. Research by the National Institutes of Health shows that chemical compounds (phytochemicals) in raisins prevent tooth decay. In that study, one of the phytochemicals — Oleanolic acid — stopped the growth of 2 different kinds of bacteria: Porphyromonasgingivalis, whichcauses periodontal diseases and Streptococcus Mutans, which causes cavities.

11. Vitamin C Rich Berries — Strawberries

Vitamin C is excellent for your body; it's an antioxidant that promotes damaged tissues' repair and growth. The collagen in your teeth's dentin also relies on vitamin C to maintain its structure and strength. Vitamin C and malic acid from the strawberries can whiten your teeth by regenerating the dentin.

whole and sliced strawberries on a chopping board

12. Broccoli

Not everyone's a fan of this vegetable, but it offers a ton of vitamins K and C. Along with being a natural tooth cleaner, broccoli is vital for blood clotting and overall bone health.

13. Kiwis

Kiwis contain a high concentration of immunity-boosting vitamin C. They help our body resist infection and foreign micro-organisms and defend our teeth from developing cavities and tooth decay.

14. Sweet Potatoes

A good amount of vitamin A present in sweet potatoes helps keep the mucous membrane of your gums in place. Vitamin A also adds keratin to your diet, a protein that generates and strengthens tooth enamel.

15. Onions and Garlic

This may come as a surprise because these are a no-go zone if you want fresh breath. However, they contain allicin, which has antimicrobial properties. Allicin can combat tooth decay and periodontal diseases.

oatmeal, whole wheat flour, brown bread

16. Whole Grains

Carbs stick to your teeth, and their sugars can form cavities, but if you consume whole grains, that won't happen. Whole wheat loaves, brown rice, whole-wheat pasta, and oatmeal are healthier diet choices with complex carbohydrates. They provide less digestible food to the bacteria in your mouth, preventing their growth. 

17. Shiitake Mushrooms

Shiitake mushrooms are packed with rich flavors and antimicrobial properties. Research by the Pediatric Caries Research Program — School of Dentistry discovered that a poly-saccharide found in shiitake mushrooms, called lentinan, prevents bacteria growth in your mouth. 

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