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Why Good Nutrition Promotes Healthy Teeth

Photo: Courtesy of Morgane Perraud

Jerlyn Jones, MS, MPA, RDN, LD, CLT

National Spokesperson, Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

A healthful eating style, which limits added sugars, benefits your body from head to toe, including your teeth and gums. The vitamins and minerals from nutrient-rich foods and beverages can help strengthen your teeth and protect them against decay.

A healthful eating pattern, coupled with good oral hygiene habits of brushing with a fluoride toothpaste twice a day, cleaning between your teeth once a day, and visiting your dentist regularly, are keys to good oral health. 

Keep your teeth in tip top shape with the following recommendations: 

Limit added sugars

Limiting foods and drinks with added sugars may help prevent tooth decay because sugar creates acids in your mouth that attach to your teeth, which causes tooth decay. 

Limiting added sugars in your meals not only benefits your teeth but has been associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and some cancers.

Check the nutrition facts labels while grocery shopping to reduce the foods and drinks you purchase with added sugars. Limit beverages with added sugars, such as fruit drinks and sodas. 

Drink plenty of water

Drinking water not only hydrates your body, but also benefits your teeth by washing away leftover food and diluting acids in your mouth. Most of the U.S. population has access to tap water with fluoride, which is a mineral that helps teeth resist tooth decay. 

Drink to your health by choosing water in place of sugar-sweetened beverages. 

Eat healthful foods

Eat a variety of nutrient-rich foods from all the food groups. Balance your meals with fruits, vegetables, proteins, grains, and dairy. 

Strengthen your teeth and bones with calcium-rich foods and beverages, such as milk and yogurt, or calcium-fortified soymilk. Other foods that provide calcium include canned salmon and some dark green leafy vegetables. 

Eat foods with phosphorus, such as eggs, fish, lean meat, and beans, and that are sources of vitamin C, such as oranges, kiwi, tomatoes and potatoes. These are all beneficial to your oral health.

A registered dietitian nutritionist can advise you on how to make healthful food choices that fit your individual needs. Visit the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ online Find an Expert service to find a registered dietitian nutritionist near you.

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