Foods rich in vitamins A, D, C, K, fiber, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, and iron promote tooth remineralization. They can prevent and even reverse tooth decay!
Can food prevent tooth decay?
Diet is vital for keeping your teeth healthy. Teeth rebuild themselves every day. But, teeth need minerals to be healthy. Minerals are important for the remineralization process (1). Food should provide these minerals in adequate amounts.
As teeth lose minerals every day, it’s important to replenish them. The external layer of the tooth, called enamel, is particularly vulnerable to the demineralization process (2). It’s the part of the tooth that it’s exposed to food, saliva, and acids of bacteria.
What causes tooth decay?
Sugar damages your teeth. Any form is bad for your teeth. “Bad” bacteria in the mouth metabolizes it, producing acids. These acids cause tooth demineralization. So, we should eat certain foods to replenish minerals as soon as possible.
Certainly, brushing, flossing, and the use of mouthwash delays the demineralization process!
Once tooth enamel is damaged, it cannot be reserved. But, weakened enamel can be restored naturally. Enamel can repair itself. Mainly, by using minerals from saliva.
Which food is bad for your teeth?
Every sugar type is bad for your teeth.
Even sugar from fruits, or lactose from dairy, are types of sugar that are bad for tooth enamel. Bacteria eat sugars, causing acid formation. Acids strip away calcium and other minerals.
Therefore, avoid sweets, sodas, juices, and everything else with added sugar in it.
Furthermore, you should always brush your teeth after eating starchy foods. Starches can also multiply the harmful acid-forming bacteria.
Foods rich in calcium significantly increase the remineralization process!
Our teeth are made up mostly out of calcium. Thus, consuming foods high in calcium is essential for healthy teeth and for preventing tooth cavities.
Actually, there are so many foods rich in calcium. Even plant-based foods, such leafy greens, beans, nuts, and seeds are high in calcium.
You can boost calcium intake, consuming certain foods. For instance, moringa powder is particularly high in calcium. Just 2 teaspoons of moringa powder contain more calcium than a glass of cow’s milk.
Vitamin D is vital for healthy teeth
One of the most important vitamins for the human body is vitamin D. Vitamin D is good for healthy teeth as well.
First, vitamin D helps the human body to absorb calcium (5).
Furthermore, vitamin D protects you from tooth decay. It helps on bone remineralization.
Also, vitamin D has powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties (6).
On the contrary, vitamin D deficiency has been linked to increased risk of low mineral bone density and osteoporosis.
But, we can’t get enough vitamin D from food. Vitamin D supplements and exposure to sun are the best ways to boost vitamin D intake.
Vitamin C is good for healthy teeth & gums
Vitamin C is important for healthy teeth and gums.
First, vitamin C can speed healing after tooth extraction. Additionally, vitamin C can reduce the likelihood of complications after oral surgical procedures, as it promotes dental healing (7).
Moreover, vitamin C prevents gums from bleeding and promotes wound healing.
Furthermore, vitamin C and vitamin D promotes calcium absorption!
So, vitamin C supplementation seems a good idea. Prefer pills if you want to take vitamin C supplements. Avoid chewable vitamin C tablets. They may lead to erosion of dental enamel, due to their high acidity (pH of 2.8) (8).
Furthermore, vitamin C is vital for the synthesis of collagen. Collagen keeps teeth in the gums. Inadequate amounts of collagen may cause loss of teeth. Moreover, collagen is the major protein found in dentin, the part of the tooth that is beneath enamel. Collagen is about 90% of the organic compounds of dentin (9).
Phosphorus-rich foods for dental health
Although the enamel is made mostly of calcium, phosphorus and fluoride are necessary for the remineralization process.
We need only about 700 mg of phosphorus a day. Seeds are the best plant-based sources of phosphorus. See the whole list of phosphorus-rich foods here.
Additionally, chewing seed and nuts is good for your teeth, as it increases salivary flow. Saliva cleans away any remaining sugar from your teeth. Moreover, seeds and nuts are mainly fat and protein. They don’t contain any starches or sugars.
Vitamin A is good for healthy teeth & gums
Tooth enamel contains keratin which needs vitamin A for its formation (10).
Furthermore, vitamin A plays an important role in growth promotion, immunity, and wound healing in the oral cavity (11).
See the whole list of plant-based foods high in vitamin A here.
Eating foods high in vitamin K is good for your teeth & gums
Teeth are constantly renewed. Vitamin K is important for this process. It has a key role in tooth metabolism, as it activates proteins responsible for calcium and phosphorous deposition in teeth. That’s part of the strengthening process.
On the contrary, vitamin K deficiency may cause bleeding gums.
Magnesium-rich foods are good for healthy & strong teeth
Another mineral for healthy teeth and gums is magnesium (13).
Magnesium is present in enamel and promotes calcium absorption (14).
Additionally, vitamin D can promote magnesium absorption.
However, high calcium intake may inhibit magnesium absorption. Therefore, consuming only foods high in calcium, such as dairy, may not be the best option for tooth remineralization.
Foods high in magnesium are whole grains, legumes, seeds, nuts, avocado, or even dark chocolate.
Zinc is another important mineral for preventing tooth decay
Zinc is a key mineral for the human body. It’s naturally present in saliva and in tooth enamel.
Zinc seems to have many oral health benefits. It is even present into oral health products to control plaque, reduce oral malodour and inhibit dental calculus formation (15).
Great plant-based sources of zinc are whole grains, legumes, seeds, and nuts.
As many people are deficient in zinc, you may benefit from taking zinc supplements.
Iron promotes dental health
Another mineral good for dental health is iron. Iron may protect against dental caries (16).
Moreover, iron deficiency may cause tooth decay (17).
For best results, eat foods high in iron with foods containing vitamin C. Vitamin C promotes iron absorption.
All foods high in fiber are good for healthy teeth and gums
Foods high in dietary fiber are good for your teeth and gums. Foods high in fiber demand a lot of chewing, just to break the fiber down. Chewing generates saliva.
Saliva is beneficial for your dental health. Among others, saliva rinses your teeth from food remains, neutralizes acids, and transfers minerals, especially calcium and phosphate. Important minerals for the remineralization process of tooth.
Only plants are good sources of dietary fiber.
Does collagen help teeth?
Eating foods that boost collagen production seems good for preventing tooth decay.
Furthermore, collagen helps keep teeth firmly placed in the gums. Low levels of collagen may cause tooth loss.
Are omega-3s good for your teeth?
Omega-3s are particularly beneficial against periodontitis (20).
Periodontitis is a chronic inflammatory disease. It is caused by the presence of bacteria at gums. In periodontitis, the gum tissue is separated from the tooth. It can lead to bone and tooth loss.
Omega-3 fatty acids could help in treating periodontitis, mainly due to their powerful anti-inflammatory properties.
Foods that require a lot of chewing prevent tooth decay
Chewing causes saliva production. Therefore, foods that demand a lot of chewing are good for healthy teeth and gums.
Saliva has cleansing and antibacterial action. Furthermore, saliva transfers calcium and phosphate to teeth, promoting their remineralization (21).
Therefore, eating crunchy fibrous raw fruits and veggies can prevent tooth decay. Carrots, apples, pears, cucumbers, seeds, and nuts can strengthen your teeth.
Also, the chewing disrupts bacteria-filled plaque and cleanses the teeth and gums.
Are fruits bad for your teeth?
But, aren’t fruits high in sugars?
According to the American Dental Association, the dental benefits of fruits are so great that they do more good than harm. For instance, fruits stimulates saliva production, which washes out acid-producing bacteria. The bad guys that cause tooth decay (22).
Other tips for keeping your teeth healthy and strong
If you want to prevent tooth decay and keep your teeth and gums healthy:
- Brush your teeth 2 times a day. Avoid regular mouthwash use. It may have side effects.
- Floss at least once a day.
- Don’t snack. If you snack, at least don’t eat starchy or sugary food.
- Chewing sugar-free gum is good for preventing tooth cavities. Gum removes food remains and stimulates saliva production.
- If brushing or chewing a gum isn’t an option, rinse your mouth with water. Water can remove some food remains. Drinking water promotes saliva production as well.
- Don’t drink soft drinks. If you do, at least use a straw. Soft drinks are pretty high in sugar.
- Try to use essential oils. Oregano, clove, peppermint, thyme and cinnamon essential oils are promising natural remedies for healthy teeth and gums. Mainly due to their antiseptic properties.
- Above all, visit your dentist regularly. Not only when you’re in pain. Your dentist can detect early signs of weak teeth, preventing further damage.