Taking care of your mouth requires more thought than most people realize. Your teeth require to be brushed and flossed at least twice a day, in order to protect them from plaque buildup, that when not addressed properly, can lead to tooth decay. One of the best ways to maintain good oral health is to choose foods that are good for your mouth. Oral hygiene doesn’t stop at the toothbrush. You can also eat foods that help to scrub your teeth, fight bacteria, reduce plaque decay, and even add a protective layer to your teeth to help resist regular buildup. The more mouth-healthy foods you eat, the healthier your teeth will be.
Oral health is achieved through several positive influences. Increasing saliva production helps promote the self-cleaning nature of the mouth. Antioxidants in fruits and berries help to fight bacteria and protect teeth. Yogurt can offer a unique set of helpful bacteria while chewy and fibrous foods work to manually clean your teeth. You can eat foods high in calcium and phosphorus to grow stronger teeth and avoid foods high in acid to prevent enamel erosion.
Let’s dive into the 15 best foods for a healthy mouth followed by less nutritious foods for your teeth that can cause tooth decay.
Good Foods for Oral Health
Below are just a few foods that are good for your oral health, but there are many more out there to be explored. Also, just by eating healthy, it does not give you perfectly healthy teeth. We still recommend making an appointment twice a year to see your dentist in combination with a good diet.
1. Raw Fruits and Vegetables
Why: Tooth scrub, stain removal, plaque scraped away
If you were to make one change to your diet to benefit your teeth, it would be a steady diet of raw fruits and vegetables. The crunchy types of produce are extremely good for your teeth on a manual level. Biting through the fruit or vegetable skin and chewing on the fibrous plant flesh actually scrubs your teeth. The process can provide mild but continuous stain removal. Fruits and vegetables also often feature Vitamin C and other nutrients that promote strong teeth.
Why: Jaw exercise, gum health, and phosphorus which is good for teeth and bones
Chewing steak is another great way to give your teeth a workout and benefit them with good nutrients at the same time. Steak contains phosphorous which is essential for growing strong teeth and bones. In addition, chewing a good steak can improve the strength of your jaw while the massaging action can even improve your gum health.
3. Dark Chocolate
Why: Contains antioxidants, fights bacteria, prevents bacteria from sticking, and strengthens tooth enamel
Dark chocolate is surprisingly good for your teeth. Unlike sugary milk chocolate, dark chocolate contains antioxidants and can help you fight the bad mouth bacteria that cause gum and tooth decay. Dark chocolate even prevents bacteria from sticking to your teeth. There is also an element to dark chocolate that helps to strengthen tooth enamel.
You can nibble on low-sugar dark chocolate or even go more natural by chewing cacao nibs.
4. Fatty Fish Filets
Why: Vitamin D reduces tooth decay.
Fatty fish is good for you all around. Salmon, mackerel, tuna, and trout are all healthy fish high in Omega-3 oils that support gum health and can prevent or reduce gum disease. Fatty fish is also high in vitamin D which among its other health benefits has also been found to reduce tooth decay.
5. Grass-Fed Dairy
Why: Chlorophyll processed by cows produces Vitamin K2, a nutrient needed by teeth.
Vitamin K2 works together with Vitamins A and D to deliver calcium to your teeth. Getting Vitamins A and D can be done with a healthy diet. But vitamin K2 is elusive these days due to a few logistics of food processing. K2 can be processed from chlorophyll-rich plants but humans don’t have the enzyme. Fortunately, cows do. Dairy from grass-fed herds includes a higher amount of K2 which is essential for teeth receiving calcium from the body.
6. Citrus Fruit
Why: High Vitamin C levels increase blood flow to the mouth and gums, reducing gum inflammation. Citrus can reduce bleeding gums.
Citrus fruit is a debated topic in oral health. On one hand, eating citrus daily has been found to reduce gum bleeding and inflammation. This is considered related to direct exposure to vitamin C content and citric acid. On the other hand, citrus is highly sugary and citric acid can damage your tooth enamel. Enjoy citrus fruits, but rinse your mouth so that the sugar and citric acid don’t linger on your teeth.
Why: Calcium-rich and fibrous, almonds also increase saliva production.
Almonds are rich in calcium, a nutrient essential for building and strengthening teeth. They also make a great non-sugary snack that still tastes luxurious. Chewing almonds and other nuts can increase your saliva production which promotes your mouth’s natural self-cleaning capabilities. Snacking on almonds is a great tooth-healthy option.
Why: Malic acid increases saliva. Ellagitannins and antioxidants that reduce bacteria, reduce tooth staining, and reduce gum inflammation
Strawberries contain a unique acid called malic acid which increases saliva production. This enhances the mouth’s self-cleaning abilities and blends with the other benefits of eating berries. Like other berries. strawberries contain antioxidants together with ellagitannins that reduce the bacteria in your mouth and reduce gum inflammation. Unlike other berries, strawberries actually help to reduce tooth staining.
Why: Calcium, dairy, beneficial bacteria for the oral microbiome.
Dairy is always good for teeth, but yogurt has a special benefit due to the new blend of healthy bacteria that yogurt brings. The cultures in yogurt create a more positive oral microbiome in your mouth by fighting and neutralizing the other bad bacteria. As a dairy, yogurt is rich in calcium as well to promote strong teeth.
Why: Phytochemicals kill bacteria
Raisins are uniquely good for your teeth in comparison to most dry fruits. As long as they don’t stick and linger, the phytochemicals in raisins can be helpful to your mouth microbiome. Phytochemicals kill bacteria, reducing gum inflammation and tooth decay. After eating this dried fruit, just remember to brush and floss as they are very sticky and the sugar in them should not be sitting on your teeth for a long period of time.
11. Shiitake Mushrooms
Why: Contains carvacrol, adenosine, copalic acid, and erythritol that prevent cavities and gum disease.
Good oral health on the other side of the world has been partially credited to shiitake mushrooms. These mushrooms include biologically active compounds that, together, prevent cavities and gum disease. The compounds include those named carvacrol, adenosine, copalic acid, and erythritol. These work together to provide good oral health when mushrooms are eaten regularly.
Why: Vitamin D & calcium for strong bones. Minerals neutralize the acid from plaque and results in less tooth decay.
Cheese is a good source of both Vitamin D and Calcium. These are well known to work together for building strong bones and teeth. Cheeses also tend to create a variety of minerals that help to neutralize the acid emitted by plaque. Because this acid is plaque’s way of eating down teeth, your tooth decay can be slowed by eating cheeses.
13. Oats and Other Whole Grains
Why: Fibrous, improve sugar processing
Processed flour and fluffy bread are bad for your teeth, but whole grains are better. Oats and other chewy whole grains provide some scrubbing action because they are highly fibrous. In addition, eating whole grains improves your ability to process sugar in the bloodstream. Low-sugar meals including whole grains like oats or barley can improve your oral health over time.
14. Leafy Green Salads
Why: Produce a nitrite-reducing barrier and increase nitric acid. Dark greens include calcium and other nutrients.
Most fresh produce is good for your teeth, but dark green leafy vegetables are the best. Dark greens include calcium and other earth minerals that are good for growing strong teeth. Leafy greens also produce nitric acid and create a barrier that reduces nitrite in the mouth. This promotes a better oral microbiome while also eating nutrients for healthy teeth.
Why: contains cinnamic aldehyde oil known to kill oral bacteria
Cinnamon is a powerful spice with some known medicinal properties. In terms of keeping your teeth healthy, cinnamon contains the cinnamic aldehyde oil inside your mouth. This oil can kill oral bacteria. You can make a cinnamon mouthwash or you can just enjoy more cinnamon in your cooking and warm drinks.
Harmful Foods That Can Cause Tooth Decay
A good diet is all about balance and indulging in moderation. Just because you have some of the items on the list below doesn’t mean your teeth are doomed. Below are just a few foods that we recommend having as a treat or not every day to help improve your teeth in the long run.
1. Crackers and Chips
Why: Turns to glucose while stuck in teeth
Crackers are a common mistake in oral health. It seems they should have a scrubbing effect but the reality is quite the opposite. Crackers, flake-snacks, and chips all embed thin layers of carbohydrates in the teeth. Exposed to saliva, those carbs quickly break down into sugars which feed plaque and oral bacteria. Avoid embedding your teeth with the starchy layers of crackers and chips.
2. Soda & Bottled Juice or Kombucha
Why: Highly acidic, contributes to rapid tooth decay, saturates teeth, stains teeth with dark colors
Washing your teeth in sugar is always a bad idea and for two powerful reasons. Sodas and other sugary drinks tend to be highly acidic. This acid can eat away at your tooth enamel, causing early tooth decay and staining. Fruit juice and even bottled kombucha are subject to this problem. We recommend drinking these in moderation, rinse with water or you can even water down the juice to reduce the amount of sugar you are coating your teeth in.
3. Dried Fruit
Why: Sugary and stick to teeth
Dried fruit is a great addition to any trail mix, but it tends to be bad for your teeth. When you remove all the water from a fruit, what’s left is a sugary and gummy concentrate. Any amount of dried fruit that sticks in your teeth is then supplying sugars to bacteria and plaque. Many dried fruits are also highly acidic so stuck pieces will also wear away at your enamel.
4. Sugary Candies and Cakes
Why: Sugary tooth decay
Everyone knows that sugar is bad for teeth, meaning candies and cakes are for special occasions only. You may not have known that both hard candies and chewy candies are dangerous in their own ways to oral health. Chewy candies like toffee and caramel stick directly into your teeth where plaque likes it most, while hard candies create a sugary environment inside your mouth for many minutes.
5. Squishy Bread
Why: Starch sticks to your teeth which turns to sugar.
Likewise, avoid extremely fluffy or squishy bread that will compress to bread-putty when chewed. This compressed bread made from processed flour turns directly to glucose (sugar) in your mouth. When the bread sticks between your teeth and in your molars, it is delivering that glucose directly to tooth bacteria and plaque.
Why: Chewing Ice can damage enamel, crack teeth, and loosen crowns
You may have heard that ice chewing is bad for your teeth. Let us confirm the rumor, chewing ice causes tooth cracks and chips deep into the enamel. While ice chewing may be a hard habit to break, your teeth are worth finding alternate ways to stay cool or deal with nerves. Ice chewing can damage your enamel and after that, can crack and chip your teeth. If you already have crowns, you can loosen them with ice chewing.
Why: Decreases saliva production and coats teeth in acid. Irritates mouth soft tissue
Alcohol dries out your mouth and reduces the production of saliva. This can seriously hinder your mouth’s ability to clean itself and regulate the ph level. In addition, alcohol tends to be highly acidic which coats the teeth in an acid that can continue eating away at enamel and gums. Alcohol also irritates the soft tissue of the mouth which is why your mouth may feel especially bad after a night of drinking. Many specialty mixed drinks you order out at bars and restaurants contain lots of sugar. We recommend rinsing your mouth with water after having one of these drinks to ensure the sugar isn’t sitting on your teeth for a long period of time.
How to Keep a Healthier Mouth Whatever You Eat
Eating right for oral health can be fun if you like the ingredients on your healthy list and can live without the unhealthy stuff most of the time. The trick, of course, is to treat your teeth right no matter what you eat. Maybe you have some cake at a birthday party or just enjoy a soda with your lunch. You haven’t doomed your teeth, you should just take a little extra care.
Here are a few tips to keep your mouth healthy whether you’re close or far from your ideal diet for oral health.
- Always keep a glass of water near you
- Rinse your mouth with water after eating
- Drink sugary beverages with a straw
- Brush 2-3 times a day
- Brush & floss before bed
Keeping your mouth clean and rinsed reduces the fuel for bacteria and plaque to build up. You can protect your teeth from sugary indulgences by using a straw, and ‘brush up’ on your oral hygiene by brushing a few times a day. Giving your teeth a little extra cleaning before bed can help to prevent overnight plaque buildup with just a little extra care.
Want to learn more about having a healthy mouth and good oral health? Reach out and contact us. Our team is always happy to discuss oral health with patients and provide the best services for your dental needs.