Super Foods for Super Teeth

Caring for your teeth is like caring for your skin—external products are only half the picture. Eating to protect your smile, beyond mere avoidance of excess sugars, makes up the rest. This list is a good start for options that offer the so-called remineralizers, calcium, and phosphorous, which will protect your enamel, and foods that are high in vitamins A, C, and D, all natural cavity preventers. You also want to eat in such a way that cuts down on acid in the first place, which means chewing for gum and saliva stimulation—no turning everything that’s otherwise good for you into juices and smoothies. Let’s sit down to eat.

An apple a day might even
keep Dr. Apa away.

APPLES: An apple a day might even keep Dr. Apa away. The fruit’s high water content stimulates saliva flow, and as with carrots, the physical act of chewing an apple helps strengthen teeth and gums. Apples are also a good source of vitamin C, but are much less acidic than oranges and other citrus fruit.

NUTS: Studies have shown a link between omega-3 fatty acids, of which nuts are a good source, and protection against gum disease, while the general array of nutrients and protein found in almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, etc. are all great for supporting a healthy smile.

COD LIVER OIL: Yes, opinions are mixed on supplements. That said, cod liver oil shouldn’t be a subject of debate, thanks to its omega-3 fatty acid content and vitamins A and D. If you’re happy to go the supplement route, look for an option with “fermented” on the label, which is especially beneficial.

SPICES: Cinnamon, cardamom, and cloves are all naturally antibacterial. Nutmeg inhibits bacterial growth, which prevents plaque build-up. Turmeric and ginger are natural anti-inflammatories, and are great for preventing or helping heal inflamed gums.

Breaking news, leafy greens
are good for you!

Breaking news,
leafy greens are good
for you!

DARK LEAFY GREENS: Breaking news, leafy greens are good for you! However, it’s the darker varieties that are particularly high in vitamin A, calcium, and folic acid, which studies show might ward off gum disease. If you just can’t stand to eat another kale salad, go the Popeye route: spinach (which is a good source of magnesium, another nutrient that helps form tooth enamel).

CARROTS: Besides being a source of vitamin A, the physical act of crunching on a raw carrot will stimulate your gums, warding off gingivitis, which can have all kinds of rotten (ha…) consequences.

BONE BROTH: Our grandparents would have just called it “stock” and used it to make soup, but welcome to 2016, where boiling animal bones for upward of 24 hours is a culinary trend. That said, the phosphorus, magnesium, calcium, collagen, and glucosamine, which come out of the bones after the extended cooking process, are all great for a whiter, healthier smile.

SALMON: Salmon, particularly wild-caught, is a solid source of vitamin D, which you’ll need to assist calcium absorption from all that cheese and bone broth. You can get your daily intake of vitamin D from sun exposure, but if you’re avoiding rays for health reasons or during winter, salmon is a healthy way to make up the difference.

CHEESE: The classic French cheese plate to end a meal? Yet another magic lifestyle tip from our Gallic friends. For its phosphorous and calcium, cheese is an oral health booster at any time. Because of its particular protein, casein, cheese is particularly great as a final coda to dinner, because casein has been shown to help reduce the mouth’s acid levels.

DARK CHOCOLATE: Finally, dessert. If you’re eating dark chocolate with at least 70% cocoa, it’s fairly low in refined sugar, at least as far as desserts go, and there are compounds found in cocoa beans that are both anti-bacterial and prevent plaque build-up.

WATER: Water is a bonus to this list of foods because there’s just no way to emphasize how important hydration is for your teeth. A dry mouth is like a singles party for bacteria. And besides washing away food debris, keeping saliva production high—and bacteria production low—water itself provides minerals to support healthy enamel. So drink up!