So far, in our series on nutritional and lifestyle tips for better oral health, we’ve showed you foods to avoid and which foods to embrace in an effort to maintain and increase oral health and avoid gum disease. Below, we’re going to specifically explore which nutrients to look for and examine how they work to keep those teeth and gums healthy.
Understanding the specific benefit of these 6 nutrients will help you choose what to include more of in your everyday diet.
So, let’s get to it!
Most people know calcium is good for strong and healthy teeth and bones. Rightly so, calcium plays a fundamental and vital role in the health of your teeth. While calcium plays a big part in your overall bone health, your teeth are exposed to elements in your food and beverages, so it’s equally important (if not more so) to understand its role in keeping your teeth and gums healthy. Calcium in food counters acids in your mouth that cause decay. Pamela L. Quinones, past president of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association says milk, cheese, and other dairy products help protect and strengthen enamel. Calcium is also found in many foods and liquids, such as yogurt, beans, and oysters. If you do not eat dairy, calcium supplements are also available to help with adequate daily calcium intake.
The main role of iron is to transport oxygen throughout your body. Oxygen is a fundamental nutrient that is involved in many of the bodies’ disease and infection fighting processes. Your mouth is not excluded. A lack of iron in one’s diet can cause tongue inflammation or mouth sores due to bacteria build up. Bacteria build up over time will inevitably lead to gum disease if not removed through daily brushing, flossing and adequate iron levels in the blood. Foods that are rich in iron include beef, chicken liver, mollusks, grains, clams, mollusks, mussels, oysters, and a good variety of fish. Also, if none of the above foods are found in your diet often then there are iron supplement options to consider. However, too much iron can cause several complications such as cirrhosis or even heart failure. Women also tend to need more than men. To get specific iron needs find a wellness clinic or nutritionist that can analyze your body and give you an idea about how much you specifically need.
3. Vitamin B3 (niacin)
Vitamin B3 (niacin) is important for the body because it helps to convert food into glucose, used to produce energy. If the body lacks this nutrient it cannot adequately digest food. In simplified terms, the lack of proper digestion will increase waste in the blood. This waste produces chronic bad breath that cannot be appeased even by daily brushing and flossing. Foods that are rich in Vitamin B3 are chicken and fish.
4. Vitamins B12 and B2 (riboflavin)
Vitamins B12 and B2 work in tandem in the blood to assist the bodily processes of getting rid of toxic chemicals. A lack of these will lead to the develop mouth sores (among many other complications). Red meat, chicken, liver, pork, fish, as well as dairy products like milk, yogurt, and cheese, are good sources of vitamin B12. Vitamin B2 is found in foods like pasta, bagels, spinach, and almonds.
5. Vitamin C
Because the body cannot store Vitamin C long term, it is important to eat foods and/or take supplements every day to keep Vitamin C levels at optimum levels. Vitamin C plays important roles in the body’s ability to repair, rebuild, and maintain connective tissue, including bones, blood vessels, and skin. This includes your gums. If your gums are exposed to lack of vitamin C long term, they will weaken which will leave your teeth more susceptible to decay. Sweet potatoes, raw red peppers, and oranges are great sources of vitamin C.
6. Vitamin D
Vitamin D is unlike most other vitamins. Your body can make its own vitamin D when you expose your skin to sunlight. Calcium and phosphorus are essential for developing the structure and strength of your teeth, and you need vitamin D to help process and use these minerals and nutrients. Even if you eat foods that contain a lot of calcium and phosphorus, you can’t absorb them into your blood stream unless you have sufficient Vitamin D levels. Drink milk, and eat egg yolks and fish to increase your vitamin D intake and spend at least a half hour in the sun each day.