It makes sense that as dentists, we at Shoreline Dental Studio are all about the importance of excellent oral hygiene habits. But what’s also vital for your oral health is considering what you eat. In other words, there’s a connection between good oral health and diet. Yes, it’s safe to say we all know the negative effects of sugar on teeth, but we also want to talk about a few other things to keep in mind when it comes to nutrition for healthy teeth.

Below are eight secrets from your Orange County dentists Dr. Ritzau, Dr. Livingston, Dr. Saad, and Dr. Winters, about maintaining oral health through good nutrition.

1. Crunch Time: Chew On This For Cavity Prevention

Apples, carrots, and celery aren’t just tasty and full of teeth-healthy vitamins — they’re also like nature’s toothbrushes. Munching on these crunchy foods stimulates saliva production which contributes to cavity prevention. Saliva washes away food debris and neutralizes the acids produced by bacteria in your mouth. Plus, the fiber in these foods scrubs your teeth like mini toothbrushes.

2. Dairy: Not Just for Strong Bones

Dairy products like cheese, milk, and yogurt are nutrition superstars for your teeth. First, they’re packed with calcium and phosphorus, which strengthen teeth and bones and help repair your enamel when acids start weakening it. Second, dairy also contains casein proteins that form a protective layer over your tooth enamel. Third, dairy neutralizes acidic or sugary foods and drinks that can cause tooth decay. A helpful tip? Eat some dairy after a meal to help counteract the effects of sugar on your teeth. Lastly, dairy products stimulate saliva, and as we mentioned previously, saliva is important for teeth health.

But what if you’re lactose intolerant? Thankfully, many dairy alternatives naturally contain or are fortified with calcium, as well as vitamins A and D. Fortified soy milk has the most similar nutritional makeup as cow’s milk and can be a suitable substitute when thinking about nutrition for teeth and gums.

3. Lean Protein: A Powerhouse for Your Gums

Nutrition for healthy teeth and gums should include protein. The lean protein in foods like poultry, fish, and tofu contribute to building bone and gum tissue, and, as this study shows, also helps with tissue healing. Protein-rich foods also have phosphorus, which assists the body in absorbing calcium and helps remineralize tooth enamel.

4. Tea Time for Teeth

Tea to boost nutrition and oral health? Yes! Sip away. Black and green teas contain compounds called polyphenols which slow the growth of bacteria associated with cavities and gum disease. Just remember to go easy on the sugar!

A Quick Reminder About the Effects of Sugar That’s Left on Teeth

Speaking of sugar, what does sugar do to your teeth again? Well, when you eat, your oral bacteria metabolizes the sugars from your food, resulting in the production of acid in your mouth. This acid demineralizes your enamel and dentine, temporarily weakening your teeth. If you eat too much sugar, the cumulative effects of sugar left on your teeth soften them, making them more susceptible to tooth decay.

5. Nutrition for Healthy Teeth and Gums? Can’t Forget Vitamins C and D

Good nutrition for healthy teeth and gums must include Vitamins C and D. Both help your body absorb and retain calcium. Without them, all the calcium-rich dairy (and dark leafy greens and almonds!) you’ve been eating for healthy teeth won’t be as effective.

Vitamin C is essential for healthy gums. It strengthens the soft tissue in your mouth and protects against gingivitis. A nutrition plan for healthy teeth includes eating citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers, or spinach — all great sources of Vitamin C. And Vitamin D? You can get your Vitamin D from the sun, fortified food like cereal, foods like fatty fish and egg yolks, or supplements.

6. Go Nuts For Good Oral Health

Nuts like walnuts, pistachios, and cashews are great for protein and are packed with all-important nutrients like calcium and phosphorus. If you’re wondering how to prevent cavities, include nuts in your diet — the phosphorus in them activates the saliva that neutralizes an acidic oral environment that weakens teeth.

7. Water: The Ultimate Drink for Oral Health

A conversation about good oral health isn’t complete without including good old H2O. Drinking water keeps your mouth clean by washing away leftover food and sticky plaque and often contains fluoride. As of 2020, about 62% of the US population receive fluoridated water. Fluoride is a major contributor to remineralized and strengthening tooth enamel.

8. Foods to Avoid For Cavity Prevention

Let’s cover some food no-nos. Number one food to avoid? Sugar! As we’ve said, the effects of sugar on teeth aren’t positive. And are carbs bad for teeth? Simply put, carbs are a form of sugar so moderating your carbs can only help your oral health.

Be mindful of acidic foods too, which can erode tooth enamel — think too much citrus, tomatoes, vinegar, even jam and sauerkraut. And sticky foods? Sweets like hard candy and caramels really make the plaque stick. However, if you really have a sweet tooth, indulging in a bit of chocolate is better; chocolate washes off teeth more quickly.

When in doubt (or indulging in the foods you should avoid), your San Clemente and Mission Viejo dentists suggest following with a good rinse of water.

Thinking Ahead For Even More Cavity Prevention

Now that you know a little about how nutrition and oral health are linked, let’s top that with another key step in cavity prevention — regular visits to your dentist. If you haven’t made your next check-up and cleaning appointment, give us a shout at Shoreline Dental Studio. We practice exceptional cosmetic and general dentistry in San Clemente and Mission Viejo, putting your comfort and results first for a healthy, beautiful smile.

cropped shoreline mini
Shoreline Dental Studio