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6 Foods to Eat for Healthy Teeth and Gums

Chew on this. What you eat can create a healthy smile. Eating high fiber, nutrient-rich foods with calcium, phosphorus and magnesium helps build strong teeth and healthy gums. Check out our top 6 favorite foods to indulge in for improved oral health.

1. Cacao

Although chocolate is a preferred candy to fruit chews since it melts in the mouth instead of sticking to teeth, the polyphenols in cacao, the main ingredient in cacao nibs or dark chocolate, prove this a better option for keeping teeth healthy. According to a 2009 Study posted to the National Library of Medicine, polyphenols in cocoa successfully kill cavity-causing bacteria and create a barrier between teeth and plaque. Cacao beans are one of the best dietary sources of magnesium and are high in antioxidants, iron and fiber. Even better, cacao and dark chocolate contain very little to no sugar, allowing you to indulge in a treat while strengthening teeth.

2. Dairy Foods

Calcium rich dairy foods are great for strong teeth and bones. Milk, cheese and yogurt contain casein, a protein known to help fortify tooth enamel. Even better, drinking milk can help prevent tooth decay. Studies to date on dairy nutrition have demonstrated milk and milk products play an important role in preventing adverse dental issues including dental caries and periodontitis (inflammation of gum tissue around the teeth). Cheese inhibits the formation of dental caries by increasing the concentration of calcium in saliva and plaque. Several studies have demonstrated cheese, especially aged cheese, consumed prior to or following sugary foods, prevents a drop in plaque pH while offering enamel protection. Yogurt consumption can also decrease the amount of bacteria often found in dental plaque and can even fight bad breath. This is good news for people who enjoy a yogurt dip for crunchy vegetables and a variety of cheeses on their charcuterie board.

3. Vitamin C Rich Fruits

Eating antioxidant rich kiwis, strawberries, apples, pears and pineapples, as well as other produce high in vitamin C, aids in the growth and repair of tissues throughout the body. Vitamin C boosts immunity, increasing blood cell production to destroy toxins or enzymes in body tissue, while improving resistance against infection, including gum disease and tooth decay. Vitamin C plays an important role in the synthesis of collagen in dentin to strengthen the structure of teeth. Better yet, a study conducted by researchers at Ohio State University’s department of food science and technology, discovered apples can effectively banish bad breath and the malic acid naturally found in strawberries acts as an astringent to remove surface discoloration to naturally whiten teeth.

4. Crunchy Nuts and Vegetables

Food texture can also impact oral health. Chewing ice or biting down on hard foods including candies, sunflower seeds and popcorn kernels can increase the risk of tooth fracture. Crunchy nuts like almonds and raw vegetables including broccoli, bok choy, jicama, leafy greens and red bell peppers help cleanse teeth as they are chewed to reduce plaque build-up.

5. Whole Grains

While simple carbohydrates found in breakfast cereals, baked treats and packaged cookies can stick to teeth, the whole grains used in wheat bread, wheat pasta, brown rice and oatmeal contain complex carbohydrates giving bacteria less digestible food to grow and may offer protection against gum disease. Whole grains also offer plenty of nutrients for healthy teeth and gums.

6. Fatty Fish

Tuna, mackerel, salmon and trout are just a selection of fish high in both vitamin D and omega-3s. Vitamin D strengthens tooth enamel from the inside out by delivering calcium to teeth. Studies have found Omega-3 fats in fact support gum health and may even help prevent or reduce inflammation and bleeding of gums while brushing teeth, common symptoms of periodontitis.

Experts say to avoid sugary, processed, acidic and high carbohydrate foods without significant nutritional value. Healthline reports acidic, sweet or simple carbohydrate foods can increase the risk of tooth wear and decay, while nutrient-rich foods remineralize and strengthen teeth. Maintaining a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, proteins, calcium-rich foods and whole grains are good for both a healthy smile and body. This good for you news is just what mouths need for healthy teeth and gums.

At Three Rivers Dental Group we’re here to help every patient improve their overall dental health. Contact us today to schedule a checkup and examination of your teeth and gums. We are conveniently located throughout the Pittsburgh area in Greentree, Cranberry, Greensburg, and Jennerstown.