When it comes to oral health care, the basics still apply: brush twice daily, floss daily, and see your dentist twice a year. On top of that, there are certain foods that can help promote healthier teeth and gums. Here are 8 foods for healthier teeth.
First up: Salmon is rich in docosahexaenoic acid, a type of omega-3 fat that may help prevent periodontal disease. Fish is also a good source of phosphorous, a mineral that helps rebuild tooth enamel.
“They tend to be high in water, which helps dilute sugars, as well as fiber, which helps clean teeth,” says Kristi L. King, MPH, RDN, senior dietitian at Texas Children’s hospital and a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Fruits and veggies also have vitamin C to help build collagen for healthy gums, Cram adds.
Tap water helps rinse away plaque-causing bacteria, and it’s fluoridated to help prevent—and even reverse—tooth decay. (In response to concerns about dental fluorosis, a condition in which fluoride stains teeth, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently lowered the recommended optimal level of fluoride in water to a baseline that helps protect teeth without staining them.)
Sure, red wine is known for staining teeth, but it’s also high in polyphenols that early research suggests may prevent plaque and tooth decay. Same goes for other polyphenol-rich foods, including coffee, olive oil, tea, and cocoa.
Chewing sugar-free gum for 20 minutes stimulates saliva production, which washes away debris, neutralizes plaque-causing acids, and bathes teeth in calcium and phosphate to help rebuild enamel. This is especially smart if you take common drugs, such as blood pressure medication or antidepressants, which can cause dry mouth.