Anyone who has visited a dentist has likely been told to avoid certain foods that can be harmful to teeth. Most of us are aware, for example, that sugary foods cause cavities. However, many people don’t know that there are foods we should be eating that can directly benefit the health of our teeth and gums. Our teeth may be the hardest structures in our bodies, but in order to stay strong they need nourishment too!

Considering this, Dr. Jordan Taylor of StoneCreek Dental Care has compiled a list of the seven healthiest foods for teeth and gums:

  1. Milk and yogurt. Dairy products are rich in vitamin D and calcium, which are critical to tooth and bone health. Adding calcium to your diet strengthens your teeth and the enamel that protects them. Yogurt contains probiotics, which are “good” bacteria that block the growth of “bad” bacteria that cause plaque buildup, cavities and bad breath. Just be sure to reach for the plain kind — flavored yogurt is often high in sugar, and therefore not good for your teeth!
  2. Cheese. Who doesn’t want an excuse to add cheese to their diet? Like milk and yogurt, cheese contains high levels of calcium. It is also high in phosphate, which helps balance the pH levels in your mouth. Additionally, cheese reduces the amount of harmful acids in your mouth, which can cause cavities and even periodontal (gum) disease.
  3. Crunchy foods. Crunchy fruits and vegetables like apples and celery act as a cleaning mechanism for your teeth, removing food debris and stimulating saliva production. While you can’t replace your toothbrush with an apple, you can help rinse away harmful bacteria by eating crunchy foods!
  4. Dark, leafy greens. If you haven’t jumped on the kale bandwagon yet, you may want to reconsider — dark, leafy greens like kale and spinach are high in calcium and other vitamins and minerals, including folic acid. Did you know that pregnant women have an increased risk of developing gum disease, and that gum disease can negatively affect a developing fetus? The folic acid in leafy greens has been shown to help prevent and treat this issue.
  5. Lean protein. Lean meat, chicken, fish and tofu contain phosphorous – an element that works synergistically with calcium. Calcium alone cannot strengthen teeth. Research has shown that along with Vitamin D, phosphorous plays an essential role in helping the body absorb and use calcium for stronger teeth and bones. Without it, your teeth are much more susceptible to cracking or chipping.
  6. Nuts. Nuts are a nutrient powerhouse, containing protein, vitamins and minerals essential for dental and overall health. Furthermore, much like the crunchy foods mentioned above, nuts stimulate saliva production that helps wash away harmful bacteria.
  7. Onions. You probably didn’t expect this one to make the list! Many people do not realize that onions have powerful antibacterial properties. If you eat raw onion, you may not have the best breath, but you’ll be fighting the damaging bacteria that causes cavities and tooth decay. Onions also can help make your teeth stronger!

It’s crucial that we take control of our dental health by eating the right foods and providing our teeth with adequate nutrients. Although teeth are an incredible part of the human body, surprisingly they are not very good at repairing themselves. That is why we must pay close attention to our diet and hygiene habits in order to prevent damage in the first place. Consider adding these foods to your diet so you can have the healthiest, strongest teeth possible!