Nutrition for Healthy Teeth & Gums
You are what you eat
Nearly one hundred years later, the saying still rings true. “Ninety percent of the diseases known to man are caused by cheap foodstuffs”. (Lindlahr, 1923)
Your daily food choices play an important role in the prevention of tooth decay and gum disease.
Is it possible to eat whole foods that contain
vitamins and minerals that help prevent tooth decay and/or gum disease?
12 Essential Vitamins & Minerals
for Healthy Teeth & Gums
Food scientists and dental researchers together have identified twelve essential key vitamins and
minerals that help improve the health of our teeth and gums.
The best part is…you can eat or drink your vitamins and minerals. No fancy pills or expensive supplements are needed. 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans reinforce this and impress upon the importance of replacing a pill for whole foods and/or beverages whenever possible.
In the charts below are the essential vitamins and minerals that researchers have found to help prevent tooth decay
and gum disease. These vitamins and minerals can be found naturally in a variety of fresh produce available at most grocery stores or health coops.
Also important to note that many of the foods cited in the charts to follow have a natural pH of 5.5 or higher. With good reason, foods with a pH of 5.5 or lower demineralize the outermost layer of our teeth called enamel, and increase your susceptibility for decay rather than help to prevent it.
Vitamin A helps keep gums moist and helps resolve accidental tissue trauma.
Vitamin B3 (Niacin)
A lack of vitamin B3 can cause bad breath (halitosis) and painful canker sores.
Vitamin B2 & B12 (Riboflavin)
Insufficient amounts of B2 and B12 may increase the development of canker sores.
Too little vitamin C will lead to bleeding gums and loose teeth.
Vitamin D helps your body to absorb calcium which is critical for the development of strong teeth and bones. Lack of vitamin D has been associated with burning mouth syndrome, a tingling sensation and symptoms including a metallic or bitter taste, and a dry mouth.
Vitamin K helps body to produce osteocalcin, a protein that supports bone strength.
Our teeth, bones including our jawbone are comprised of mostly calcium. Adequate calcium intake maintains bone density and helps reduce bone fractures and osteoporosis.
Not getting enough iron can lead to mouth sores and an inflamed tongue.
Magnesium along with calcium and vitamin D helps maintain bone strength.
Phosphorus supports calcium to help build strong bones and teeth.
Potassium helps to improve bone density.
pH & Tooth Decay: Acidic to Basic
A pH scale measures how acidic or alkaline something is.
A pH scale ranges 0-14, 7 is neutral. The lower the pH of a food or beverage is, the more harmful it is for your teeth and gums.
Foods and/or beverages with a pH of 5.5 or lower cause tooth enamel to demineralize or erode.
It takes approximately 20 minutes for the enzymes in our mouth’s saliva to neutralize the pH in our mouth after exposure to acidic foods and/or beverages.
Yikes! That means that your teeth and gums are under attack for 20 minutes with every bite or sip you take.
The sustained duration and frequency of acid attacks increase your risk for tooth decay. Most notably with the consumption of soft drinks, aka liquid candy.
Figure 11 Photo source: National Oral Health Care Conference
Sip All Day, Get Decay
Soft drinks and energy drinks are highly acidic and significantly increase your risk for tooth decay regardless if it’s regular, diet, caffeine free, etc.
It’s detrimental for people who prefer to sip their favorite beverage. Their prolonged exposure acidic exposure increases the duration of enamel demineralization.
Addtionally, researchers have found that it can take up to 60 minutes for the enzymes in our saliva to neutralize our mouth pH after drinking energy drinks. Ongoing research is still trying to determine why.
The detrimental effects of soft drinks have been studied for many years. One of the largest studies ever published titled, Liquid Candy , was published in 2004 by the Center for Science in the Public Interest.
Even though the report is twelve years old, the findings are still highly relevant. The actual numbers and percentages have likely only have increased since then as evidenced by influx of new beverages that line the shelves of convenience and grocery store shelves.
Nutrition and Dental Disease Prevention
Good nutrition is vital. Not only for our overall health and well being, but also for healthy teeth and gums. A healthy diet combined with ongoing preventive care visits from your dentist, will help you prevent dental disease and maintain a healthy smile for a lifetime.
Personalized Nutrition & Oral Health Recommendations
Call Dentistry for the Entire Family at (763) 586-9988 to schedule a preventive care visit or click the green button below to request an appointment.