We often hear about the negative impact of certain foods on teeth, such as sweets, breads, and sugary drinks. But did you know that some foods actually promote oral health?
In addition to brushing and flossing daily, you can help keep your teeth, jaw bones, and gums healthy by staying hydrated and filling your plate with wholesome foods that supply key macronutrients, vitamins, minerals, and probiotics.
Nutrients That Fuel Oral Health*
Carbohydrates, fats, and proteins help fuel the growth, repair, and maintenance of everything in your body – including your teeth, bones, and gum tissue. To support a healthy mouth, focus on eating:
- Fiber-rich fruits and vegetables:Unlike cookies, white bread, and crackers, these sources of carbohydrates are not broken down into sugar and acids in your mouth. Apples, peppers, celery, and other crunchy produce also stimulate the flow of saliva to help clean your mouth.
- Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats:These types of good fats help with the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins D, E, A, and K. They are also needed for repairing connective tissue, and supporting immune function.* Delicious sources of good fats include:
- Salmon and other cold water fish
- Chia seeds, flaxseeds, and borage oil
- Avocado and olive oil
- Almonds, peanuts, and nut butters
Lean sources of protein: The amino acids from protein are needed to make immune cells, digestive enzymes, connective tissue, bones, and more. Try one of these easy, protein-rich snacks:
- Diced turkey on lettuce wraps
- Hummus and veggie sticks
- Tofu skewers
- Salmon on wholegrain crackers
- Low-fat cottage cheese
Top Vitamins and Minerals for Teeth, Bones, and Gums*
Eating a wide range of whole foods will help supply the vitamins and minerals needed to maintain overall health. The following have the biggest impact for teeth, bones, and gums:
- Vitamin C is needed for the production of collagen, a connective tissue found in teeth and gums. It is also an antioxidant that protects against oxidative stress.* Signs that you need more vitamin C in your diet include occasional bleeding gums, loose teeth, and slow-healing sores.* Strawberries, broccoli, and citrus fruits are wonderful sources of vitamin C.
- Vitamin D plays a key role in the development and maintenance of teeth and bones by helping the body absorb the calcium and phosphate needed for bone mineralization.*  Your skin makes vitamin D in response to sun exposure, but this is often not enough. Eating eggs, fish, and dairy products can help, but supplementation is one of the most effective ways to increase your intake.
- Vitamin K increases calcium absorption into the bones and teeth, helps form proteins within the bones, and helps with normal blood clotting.* You can get more vitamin K by eating leafy greens and broccoli, as well as supplementing with K2 menaquinone-7 (MK-7), the most biologically active form of vitamin K.
- B Vitamins are needed for many functions in the body, including tissue formation, metabolizing nutrients, and immunity.* Occasional canker and other mouth sores may signal that you’re not getting enough vitamins B2, B3, and B12.* You can increase your intake of these important vitamins by including a range of lean meats, poultry, fish, eggs, tofu, pumpkin seeds, and milk in your diet.[1,4]
- Calcium is the mineral that most people think of when talking about bones and teeth – 99% of your body’s calcium is found there!  If your dietary intake is low, your body draws and uses stored calcium from your bones. Over time, this can weaken your teeth, jaw, and other bones. You can boost your calcium intake by drinking milk and eating low-fat dairy products, beans, and broccoli, as well as taking a calcium supplement.
- Phosphorus and magnesium also make up large portions of your bone mineral matrix and are needed for proper bone and tooth structure.* [1,5] While most of us get enough phosphorus in our diets, many people could benefit by increasing their magnesium intake by eating more greens, legumes, and nuts.
Probiotics for Healthy Teeth and Gums*
Your digestive tract is home to trillions of microorganisms that influence many aspects of health. This includes the microflora in your mouth, which help keep plaque under control and help support periodontal health.*[2,6]
The delicate balance of microflora in your body is easily disrupted by common stress, occasional minor illness, and poor diet. You can help maintain healthy populations of these microorganisms by including a range of probiotic-rich foods in your daily meals and snacks. Fantastic choices include:
Water for a Healthy Mouth
Drinking water plays a huge role in oral health. It helps wash down all the food you eat and promotes saliva flow for healthy teeth.*  Water also supplies small amounts of dissolved minerals and helps your body absorb and use water-soluble vitamins.
Supplements for Teeth, Bones, and Gums
When your diet is lacking a specific nutrient, supplementation can help. Two popular supplements for teeth, bones, and gums are CoQ10 and collagen.
- CoQ10 is an antioxidant that protects your cells from free radical damage. It is also used to promote periodontal health.* Our bodies make CoQ10 naturally, but as we age this level declines. Supplementation is the most effective way to replenish declining levels.
- Collagen is a protein found in the cartilage of joints, including those in the jaw, as well as connective tissues throughout the body. Lysine is also used to help promote healthy immune function.*
Your diet and oral health go hand-in-hand. A big part of keeping your mouth happy and working well is putting the right foods into it – those with the nutrients to maintain healthy teeth, bones, and gums.*
- Ontario Dental Hygienists’ Association. Dental hygiene facts. Available from: https://odha.on.ca/your-oral-health/oral-health-facts/ [Accessed 11th April 2019].
- Saeed R. EC Dental Science.2017; 10(5):132-134.
- Farrar MD, Mughal MZ, Adams JE, et al. J Clin Endocrinol Metab.2016; 101(8):3105-3113.
- Dieticians of Canada. Food sources of niacin. Available from: http://www.unlockfood.ca/en/Articles/Vitamins-and-Minerals/Food-Sources-of-Niacin.aspx[Accessed 11th April 2019].
- Linus Pauling Institute. Bone health in depth. Available from: https://lpi.oregonstate.edu/mic/health-disease/bone-health#minerals [Accessed 11th April 2019].
- Haukioja A. Eur J Dent.2010; 4(3):348-355.
- Benelam B, Wyness L. Nutrition Bulletin.2010; 35:3-25.
- Manthena S, Rao M, Penubolu L, et al. J Clin Diagn Res.2015; 9(8):ZC26-ZC28.
- Mailoo VJ, Rampes S. Integr Med (Encinitas).2017; 16(3):42-46.