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A Healthy Smile

A diet rich in vitamins and minerals gives you another reason to smile.

Eat healthy, and your mouth will benefit. That's because the gums, teeth, and bones in your mouth require certain nutrients to maintain optimal health.

Two important nutrients are vitamin C and calcium, says Kenneth Bueltmann, D.D.S., president of the American Academy of Periodontology. Vitamin C builds healthy gum tissue and fights bacteria that cause periodontal disease, while calcium strengthens bones, protecting them against inflammation and infection. Other important nutrients include fluoride, which strengthens teeth, and vitamin D, which helps increase calcium uptake, says Felicia Busch, M.P.H., R.D., spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association.

Where to find the necessary nutrients:

Calcium: Cheese, dark green leafy vegetables, milk, yogurt

Fluoride: Bottled water with fluoride or flouridated municipal water

Vitamin C: Citrus, melons, strawberries, tomatoes

Vitamin D: Salmon, butter, eggs