Maintain great oral and overall health through your diet.

Have you ever heard the phrase, “You are what you eat”? In a sense, there’s a lot of truth to it. Your body is designed to pull energy and nutrients from food and send it where it’s needed, and it’s very good at it! Committing to a healthy diet is about making sure that your body gets all the nutrients it needs to function at its best and keep you healthy. Eating healthy foods can even have a positive impact on your oral health, helping to prevent cavities and gum disease. As a result, knowing which foods are great for your oral health is just as important as knowing which foods aren’t good for it. When you have the whole picture, you’re able to make informed choices about your diet that will keep you healthier and more energetic for years to come. Here are 10 foods that are good for your teeth and gums.

Cheese

We have good news for cheese lovers—cheese is actually really good for your teeth. The high levels of calcium and phosphorus found in cheese help remineralize the protective layer of enamel on your teeth. Eating cheese also stimulates saliva production and helps balance the pH level of your mouth, lowering the acidity and protecting against cavities. There’s even some evidence that cheese forms a film over your teeth, offering them a little short-term protection against acidic foods and drinks. So as it turns out, cheese and wine go together well for more reasons than just taste!

Celery

Celery is a good source of vitamins A, C, and K, all of which are great for your oral health. Vitamins A and C are both good for your gum health, with vitamin C being particularly useful at helping to strengthen your gum tissue and boost your immune system to protect against gum disease. On the other hand, vitamin K helps your body produce a protein that supports bone and tooth strength. It’s not just the vitamins in celery that make it so good for your teeth, though! Since the vegetable has a high water content and requires a lot of chewing, it stimulates saliva production. Saliva is your mouth’s natural defense against bacteria, actively fighting them, flushing food debris from your mouth, and balancing its pH. The fibrous texture of celery also acts as a natural toothbrush, scraping plaque and bacteria from your teeth as you chew.

Spinach and Other Leafy Greens

Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and broccoli are famously great for your overall health because they contain high levels of essential vitamins and minerals. These same vitamins and minerals make them incredibly healthy for your teeth as well, making a spinach or kale salad a great choice for your oral and overall health.

They’re so good for your teeth and gums because they contain high levels of calcium—a particularly essential quality if you’re on a vegan or dairy-free diet—as well as vitamins A, C, and K. They also contain magnesium, which helps your body absorb calcium and builds strong teeth and bones. Since they’re high in fiber and require a good bit of chewing, they also do a good job of cleaning your teeth and stimulating saliva production while you eat. These qualities help leafy greens protect your teeth while providing a whole host of nutrients that keep your teeth and gums healthy in the long run.

Apples

When you’re looking for a delicious, healthy, and quick snack on the go, apples are one of your best bets. They taste sweet, but they’re great for your teeth and take next to zero prep time. All you need to do is wash your apple and toss it in your bag! Their high water content and crunchy texture cleans your teeth and stimulates saliva production, helping your body naturally protect against the bacteria that cause tooth decay. Apples also contain vitamin C, vitamin K, and potassium, making them great for the health of both your teeth and your gums.

Nuts

Nuts make tasty, easily portable snacks that are incredibly healthy for your overall and oral health. They’re high in protein and are full of healthy vitamins and minerals like calcium and phosphorus, though the exact amounts and type of vitamins and minerals they contain depend upon the type of nut. For example, almonds also contain vitamin E, which is good for gum health, and magnesium. Since there are a lot of different kinds of nuts out there, you’re sure to be able to find a few that you enjoy enough to snack on happily.

Lean Proteins

Protein and phosphorus are both incredibly important to many bodily processes, including building, protecting, and maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Lean meats like chicken, beef, and eggs are great sources of protein, but they’re also some of the best natural sources of phosphorus. This makes them an essential element of most diets. That said, you can reach the daily recommended amount of protein and phosphorus on a vegan or vegetarian diet! You simply have to meal plan a little more carefully to make sure that you’re getting enough of these essential nutrients.

Tofu

Whether or not you eat meat, tofu is another good source of protein and phosphorus that you can add to your diet for a bit of variety. Tofu naturally contains some calcium, but you can buy tofu that’s fortified with calcium for a significant boost in its calcium content. This is especially helpful if your diet requires you to find non-dairy sources of calcium. Tofu also contains potassium and magnesium, rounding out its list of tooth-healthy ingredients. It’s also surprisingly versatile, so you can include tofu in a range of dishes, from soups to salads and even standalone dishes.

Carrots

Carrots are another snack that’s delicious and easy to eat on the go—and they contain a host of incredibly healthy vitamins and minerals. Carrots contain a huge dose of vitamin A as well as sizeable amounts of vitamin K, vitamin C, potassium, and calcium. When paired with the crunchy texture that cleans your teeth as you eat, these nutrients help your body maintain healthy teeth and gums, fighting bacteria, preventing enamel erosion, supporting remineralization of enamel, and keeping gum tissue and mucous membranes healthy.

Salmon and Other Fatty Fish

Fish are another great natural source of protein and phosphorus, which is essential for tooth and bone health. Salmon in particular is also full of potassium and vitamin D, the latter of which plays a role in strengthening your teeth by aiding your body’s absorption of calcium.

Sweet Potatoes

Sweet potatoes are a delicious vegetable that are traditionally used in sweet recipes, but they’re incredibly versatile. They taste just as great when they’re used in savory recipes as they do in sweet ones. Since sweet recipes tend to have a lot of added sugars, using a savory recipe helps you make the most of sweet potatoes’ many benefits, including maximizing their positive effects on your oral health. Sweet potatoes themselves, though, are bursting with nutrients. In fact, just a single sweet potato contains 400% of the recommended daily intake of vitamin A! Sweet potatoes are also full of antioxidants and contain vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorus, so they’re great for your tooth and gum health. They’re even great for your immune system, which actually plays a role in preventing tooth decay and gum disease. These factors make sweet potatoes an all-around powerhouse when it comes to fueling your body and protecting your overall and oral health.

Thankfully, many tooth-healthy foods are just as delicious as they are good for you, so committing to a diet that’s great for your oral health doesn’t mean giving up food that tastes amazing. Quite the opposite, you’ll likely discover a huge range of new snacks and recipes that you absolutely love. Plus, many foods that are healthy for your oral health are also good for your overall health, so you may end up feeling healthier and more energetic overall. That makes it a win-win! Even the best diet needs to be supplemented with regular dental care, however, so don’t forget to schedule a consultation with your Greenville, SC dentist every six months to make sure your teeth and gums are healthy. If it’s time for your regular evaluation, you can schedule an appointment with Dr. Monroe at any time.