As we know, brushing and flossing our teeth regularly are vital components of our regular oral hygiene routines. However, there are other factors that play into our dental health, and health in general, too. For example, we know that sugary and starchy foods like soda can increase acid production in our mouths, which can damage your teeth; but we also know that there are foods that function to protect our tooth enamel and promote our overall dental health.
To ensure that you have healthy teeth and gums, let’s take a closer look at how certain vitamins and minerals that we consume affect our dental health:
Calcium is your friend. It helps to build and strengthen our bones, while also providing structural support and protecting our tooth enamel. From calcium-fortified juices and milk to other dairy products, there are a wide range of foods that contain calcium that you can consume in order to promote healthy teeth and bones. Think: cheese, yogurt, broccoli and salmon as well!
Protein-rich foods like meat, poultry, fish and eggs are good sources of phosphorus, a mineral that helps to protect and rebuild tooth enamel. In other words, foods that are high in phosphorus are your dental health friends, especially because they support calcium when it comes to building strong bones and teeth.
Potassium (and magnesium) help the body to regulate its blood acidity. When our blood becomes too acidic, acids can actually remove calcium from our teeth and jawbone, which weakens them. If we maintain a diet rich in potassium, then we can help our teeth and bones to use calcium more efficiently. Foods rich in potassium include: bananas, lima beans, tomatoes, Swiss chard, potatoes, sweet potatoes, avocados and prunes.
Vitamin A helps our bodies to absorb and take in calcium and protein, while also keeping mucous membranes healthy. Mucous membranes are sheets of tissue that line cavities in the mouth and provide added protection to your teeth and gums. Vitamin A also prevents dry mouth, which can reduce bad breath, and helps your mouth to heal quickly. Foods rich in Vitamin A include: fish, egg yolks and liver. You can also find it in leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale and collard greens, or in orange-colored fruits like oranges, apricots, cantaloupe, pumpkin, carrots and sweet potatoes. This list of fruits and veggies contains high levels of beta-carotene, which our bodies convert into Vitamin A.
Vitamin C strengthens our gums as well as the soft tissue in our mouths. It can protect against gingivitis, which is the early stage of gum disease, and it can also prevent our teeth from loosening. One thing to note is that too much Vitamin C can adversely affect our tooth enamel, so be mindful about your levels of consumption. Foods rich in Vitamin C include: citrus fruits, potatoes and leafy greens.
Vitamin D helps our bodies to absorb calcium and also boosts bone mineral density. In fact, Vitamin D is imperative to our dental health as deficiencies can lead to oral health issues, like gingival inflammation, cavities, and gum disease. It’s worth noting that our bodies naturally make Vitamin D when it’s exposed to sunlight; it can also be found in fatty fish, canned tuna and portobello mushrooms as well as foods and drinks that have been fortified with it like: milk, orange juice and cereal.
Vitamin K2 is essential as it helps to block substances that break down bone. It’s actually a type of protein that works along with Vitamin D to move calcium out of soft tissue and your bloodstream, and into your teeth and bones. It stimulates the growth of fresh dentin (calcified tissue that underlies the enamel layer of teeth), and when new dentin grows, cavities are less likely to form. If you have a Vitamin K2 deficiency, then your body’s healing process can be slowed down and this can cause you to bleed more easily. Foods rich in Vitamin K2 include: leafy greens, kale, collards, spinach, parsley, broccoli and Brussels sprouts.
Have questions about the foods you eat regularly? Or about other vitamins and minerals? As always, don’t hesitate to contact us – our goal is to make sure you’re armed with dental health knowledge that can assist you in making healthy choices!