Brushing and flossing are essential to maintaining good oral hygiene—but did you know that the nutrients you consume (or lack thereof) can also have a significant impact on your oral health? This article discusses the best vitamins for teeth and gums and what foods you can eat to add more of these nutrients to your diet. Luckily, a lot of the foods are natural and delicious!
Why Take Vitamins For Teeth?
Your mouth, teeth, and gums are the first contact points for the nutrients you consume and are essential for kicking off the digestion process. In fact, the process of chewing allows you to extract the greatest possible amount of nutrients from the food you eat. Conversely, nutrient deficiencies can lead to oral conditions like inflammation and tooth loss. That means that consuming the right vitamins through food and supplements can promote healthy teeth and gums. Here are ten of the best vitamins, minerals, and supplements that may improve your oral health and well-being.
Calcium is well known for bone health, so it’s only obvious that it would be essential for dental health as well. When not enough calcium is consumed, your body will compensate by removing this mineral from teeth and bones. This can result in tooth decay because teeth aren’t as strong and resilient as they once were.
Where to find: Some of the most common foods that are packed with calcium include leafy greens, almonds, sardines, oysters, and most dairy products like milk and yogurt.
Vitamin D helps the body absorb calcium while boosting bone mineral density, so it’s crucial to get an adequate amount of vitamin D to get the most out of your calcium intake. Without enough Vitamin D, your body is not able to absorb calcium as efficiently. Even if you’re taking an excellent calcium supplement or are eating foods packed with this nutrient, you may not be absorbing nearly as much as you want without the help of Vitamin D. Unfortunately, Vitamin D deficiency is one of the most common problems in the modern world, with a good majority of people being deficient in some way. Your best sources of Vitamin D include natural sunlight and enriched dairy products like milk and yogurt. Even sitting in the sun for 15 minutes a day is enough to soak up an adequate amount of Vitamin D.
Where to find: Your body naturally makes vitamin D when it’s exposed to sunlight, but the vitamin can also be found in fatty fish, canned tuna and portobello mushrooms. You can also look for foods and drinks that have been fortified with vitamin D, such as milk, orange juice and cereal.
Like vitamin D, potassium improves bone mineral density. It also works with magnesium to prevent blood from becoming too acidic, which can leach calcium from your bones and teeth.
Where to find: Bananas are well known sources of potassium, but they’re not alone. Other fruits and vegetables with high levels of the mineral include Lima beans, tomatoes, Swiss chard, potatoes, sweet potatoes, avocados and prunes.
Studies have found that aside from vitamin D, calcium needs aid from phosphorus to achieve complete absorption. Pairing phosphorus with calcium boosts oral health by strengthening your tooth structure.
Where to find: Luckily, phosphorus is found in a wide range of foods. Rich sources of the mineral include seafood, such as scallops, sardines, cod, shrimp, tuna and salmon. If you’re looking to get your phosphorus from plant-based foods, consider soybeans, lentils and pumpkin seeds. You can also find phosphorus in beef, pork and cheese.
Think of this vitamin as a shield – it helps block substances that break down bone. It also helps your body produce osteocalcin, a protein that supports bone strength. A vitamin K deficiency can slow down your body’s healing process and make you more likely to bleed.
Where to find: Chowing down on leafy greens, such as kale, collards and spinach, can help you increase your vitamin K quota. Other great sources include parsley, broccoli and Brussel sprouts.
Vitamin C strengthen your gums and the soft tissue in your mouth. It can protect against gingivitis, the early stage of gum disease, and can prevent your teeth from loosening.
Where to find: You probably already know that citrus fruits are rich in vitamin C, but you can also find it in potatoes and leafy greens.
Most people think of Vitamin A as contributing to good eyesight, but it can be just as important to your dental health. Vitamin A is responsible for keeping salivary glands active and flowing, which can help to prevent tooth decay. Saliva works by washing away bacteria and plaque inside of the mouth. Dry mouth can contribute to both gum disease as well as tooth decay, so preventing dry mouth from occurring in the first place is your best line of defense.
Where to find: For strong gums and teeth, load up on fish, egg yolks and liver. You can also find it in leafy green vegetables like spinach, kale and collard greens, or in orange-colored fruits and oranges: think apricots, cantaloupe, pumpkin, carrots and sweet potatoes. These fruits and veggies contain high levels of beta-carotene, which your body converts into vitamin A.
Two of the essential B vitamins that help with dental health are niacin (B-3) and riboflavin (B-2). Both vitamins help to keep sores and oral inflammation at bay, which can help in preventing and treating canker sores, inflamed gums as well as injuries inside of the mouth. Healthy gums and soft tissues found in the mouth are all part of maintaining a full, healthy smile.
Where to find: Some of the most common food sources for niacin and riboflavin include almonds, spinach, legumes, red meats, and dairy products.
There have been links to Vitamin E and the prevention of gum disease. This is mostly due to Vitamin E’s anti-inflammatory properties. The vitamin can help in reducing inflammation in the mouth as well as helping to prevent swelling and oxidation.
Where to find: The most common sources to obtain Vitamin E include wheat germ, vegetable oil, seeds and nuts, fish, and avocados.
Iron is essential in keeping red blood cell counts at a healthy level. Without enough iron, your body becomes iron deficient, which can cause a myriad of side effects like dizziness, extreme fatigue, pale skin, weakness, and persistent headaches. Unfortunately, iron deficiency can also have an impact on your dental health. Without enough iron in your diet, your body won’t be able to fight off infections and inflammation as it should. This can cause issues with inflammation, gingivitis, and eventually, gum disease despite your best efforts to treat the condition. The best source of iron is in red meats, but you can also obtain it through bread, cereals, and eggs.
Where to find: Some of the most common foods that are packed with iron are red meats, but you can also obtain it through bread, cereals, and eggs..
A Healthy Diet for Healthy Teeth
Eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables as well as healthy, lean meats is essential to your overall health and well-being. Also, your oral health is directly connected to your body’s health. Fortunately, a healthy diet can also contribute to a brighter, fuller smile and fewer dental problems. If you are unable to get all of these foods into your diet each day, a high-quality multivitamin can help fill in any gaps that you might be missing. You may even find that emphasizing the number of vitamins and supplements you take each day benefits more than your smile.