October 3, 2022 - Parul Saini, Webmedy Team
Updated Version - July 17, 2023
Despite following a good oral hygiene routine, such as twice a day brushing and flossing, it can be difficult to keep teeth healthy in the long run. The health of your teeth and gums has a lot to do with your diet. Bacteria in the mouth thrive on starchy or sugary foods and can cause tooth decay and gum disease.
What is the cause of tooth decay?
A thin sticky film of bacteria that forms on the teeth is known as plaque. When the sugars or carbohydrates in your food mix with plaque, your mouth produces acid.
These acids can damage your teeth and destroy the hard enamel that covers your teeth. The acid can cause cavities and gingivitis (gum disease). This causes your teeth to rot. If plaque is allowed to build up, it can lead to cavities, gum disease, or pus in the teeth and gums.
Which Foods are Good for Teeth and Gums?
Fresh Fruits and Vegetables
Vegetables and fresh fruits that are crunchy and full of fiber can help keep teeth clean and healthy, and reduce the buildup of plaque. Chewing on delicious crunchy vegetables keeps your teeth clean and gums healthy.
Cheese, milk, plain yogurt, and other dairy products
Cheese is a saliva maker. The calcium and phosphate in milk, cheese and other dairy products also help rebuild tooth enamel.
Green and Black Teas
Rich in polyphenols, tea helps inhibit plaque-causing bacteria, reduce the chances of developing cavities, and reduce the risk of inflammation of the soft tissues of the mouth.
Sugar-Free Chewing Gum
Sugar-Free Chewing Gum is a great way to freshen your breath and keep your teeth clean. Be sure it is indeed sugar-free.
Whole grains are one food that can promote gum health and reduce the risk of periodontal disease.
Useful Tips for Teeth and Gum Care
The following tips can help you keep your teeth and gums healthy:
Brush your Teeth Regularly
Brush at least twice a day and preferably 30-60 minutes after every meal and snack. If brushing between meals is not possible, at least rinse the mouth with water several times.
Use a Fluoride-containing Toothpaste
Fluoride seeps inside the tooth and can prevent tooth decay.
Floss your Teeth Daily
Floss at least once a day to help remove particles between teeth and below the gum line.
Use a mouth wash Daily
Mouthwash can help kill harmful bacteria that can cause plaque and gum diseases.
Rinsing the Mouth with water after Meals
Rinsing the mouth with water after a meal helps to keep the teeth clean and healthy. This washes away the food particles. This is an important way to prevent plaque buildup and support gum health.
Visit your Dentist Regularly
Getting regular dental checkups will help in catching any developing dental problems early.
What are the top foods for healthy teeth and gums?
Eating a balanced diet that includes fruits, vegetables, lean protein, and dairy products can support healthy teeth and gums. Key foods include apples, which can clean your teeth and gums, leafy greens high in vitamins and minerals, dairy products rich in calcium and protein, and lean proteins packed with phosphorous.
How does a healthy diet impact oral health?
A healthy diet provides essential nutrients to support the health and strength of your teeth and gums. Foods rich in calcium and phosphorous, such as milk and cheese, strengthen the enamel of your teeth, while fruits and vegetables stimulate saliva production to clean your mouth and neutralize harmful acids.
What foods should I avoid for healthier teeth and gums?
Avoid foods high in sugars and acids like candies, sodas, and fruit juices. These foods and drinks can erode tooth enamel and contribute to tooth decay and gum disease. Also, limit sticky foods as they can cling to teeth and lead to plaque build-up.
Why are crunchy fruits and vegetables beneficial for oral health?
Crunchy fruits and vegetables like apples, celery, and carrots act as natural toothbrushes. Chewing these foods helps stimulate saliva production, which is your body's natural way of washing away food particles and neutralizing bacteria.
How can dairy products improve dental health?
Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt are high in calcium and phosphorus, key nutrients for strengthening tooth enamel. They also contain a protein called casein, which aids in stabilizing and repairing enamel.
What role does water play in promoting oral health?
Water helps maintain oral health by keeping your mouth hydrated, stimulating saliva production, and washing away food particles. It's also a healthier alternative to sugary or acidic drinks.
Are sugar-free products beneficial for teeth and gums?
Yes, sugar-free products are generally better for your oral health compared to their sugar-filled counterparts. They do not feed the bacteria in your mouth, reducing the risk of tooth decay. However, some sugar-free products may contain other harmful ingredients, so always check the label.
Can eating fish benefit your oral health?
Yes, fish like salmon and tuna are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which are known for their anti-inflammatory properties. These can help protect against gum disease. Fish is also a good source of vitamin D, which helps your body absorb and use calcium effectively.
Why are whole grains good for oral health?
Whole grains are beneficial for oral health as they contain complex carbohydrates, which bacteria in your mouth find harder to break down. They're also rich in B vitamins and iron, which support overall gum health.
Is tea good for oral health?
While tea can stain teeth over time, it also contains antioxidants and compounds that can combat inflammation and bacteria, potentially protecting against gum disease and tooth decay.
Why should I limit acidic foods for better oral health?
Acidic foods and drinks, like citrus fruits and soda, can erode tooth enamel over time, making your teeth more susceptible to decay.
Are probiotics beneficial for oral health?
Probiotics, often found in yogurt and fermented foods, can improve oral health by balancing the bacteria in your mouth, which may help prevent plaque and gum disease.
Does vitamin C support oral health?
Yes, vitamin C supports healthy gums by strengthening the soft tissue and blood vessels, and reducing inflammation. It can also help increase the rate of healing.
Why is fiber important for dental health?
Fiber-rich foods require more chewing, which stimulates saliva production. Saliva is essential for neutralizing acids and washing away food particles, helping to protect against tooth decay.
How do antioxidants contribute to oral health?
Antioxidants fight against the oxidative stress and inflammation that can lead to gum disease. You can find them in a wide variety of foods, including berries, nuts, beans, and certain types of meat.
Why is snacking bad for oral health?
Frequent snacking can increase the chance of tooth decay, as it provides a constant food source for bacteria in your mouth. If you do snack, opt for healthier choices and try to brush your teeth afterwards.
Can green leafy vegetables improve oral health?
Yes, green leafy vegetables like spinach and kale are packed with vitamins and minerals such as calcium and folic acid, which can support oral health and protect against gum disease.
How does red wine affect oral health?
While red wine contains antioxidants that can be beneficial for heart health, it can stain teeth and the acidity can damage tooth enamel. It's best to moderate your intake and rinse your mouth with water after drinking.
Are nuts and seeds good for oral health?
Yes, nuts and seeds are high in fiber, require a lot of chewing, and are packed with vitamins and minerals, all of which can help maintain good oral health.
Is coffee bad for your teeth and gums?
While coffee can stain your teeth over time, it's the added sugar and cream that can contribute to decay. If you choose to drink coffee, consider having it without added sweeteners, and rinse your mouth with water afterwards.