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Know What Nutrients Your Teeth And Gums Need

Harvey Dental Group
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BY Harvey Dental Group

A well-balanced diet not only helps prevent chronic diseases such as diabetes, heart disease and osteoporosis, but also contributes to a healthy smile. Just like your body, your teeth and gums need certain key nutrients to stay healthy.


The calcium in milk, cheeses, yogurt, and other dairy foods help keep teeth and the jaw bones that support them strong. Consequently, if you don't get enough calcium in your diet, you increase your risk for gum disease and tooth loss.

Broccoli, salmon, sardines, soybeans, and dark leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale are other foods that give your body the calcium it needs to keep your bones and teeth healthy. You can also get extra calcium in your diet by adding nonfat powdered milk to pudding mixes, cocoa, hot cereals, and cake and cookie batters.

Vitamin D

Your body need vitamin D to absorb calcium and phosphate — the main minerals that make up tooth enamel. Without adequate amounts, you can have oral health problems, including gum disease and tooth decay. Vitamin D helps the body produce proteins that fight cavity-causing bacteria, as well as aids in supporting the immune system, protecting against gum disease.

Besides getting adequate exposure to sunlight to help your body make vitamin D, you can get additional vitamin D from the foods you eat. Include foods in your diet such as egg yolks, beef liver, salmon and tuna. Foods like milk, orange juice and breakfast cereals that are fortified with vitamin D are also helpful to include.

Vitamin C and Other Antioxidant Vitamins

Vitamin C is an antioxidant vitamin that helps protect gums from cell damage and bacterial infection. Found in a variety of fruits and vegetables including oranges, berries, broccoli, sweet potatoes and peppers, this important nutrient also plays a role in collagen production. Collagen is a key protein in connective tissue, including gum tissue.

Vitamins A and E are other antioxidant vitamins that help keep your teeth and gums healthy. Vitamin A increases the saliva flow needed to wash away bad bacteria. Vitamin E protects against oxidative stress that can lead to inflammation of gum tissue.

Folic Acid

Folic acid — also known as folate — is essential for keeping your gums healthy. This B vitamin reduces gum inflammation, helping to prevent gingivitis and more serious periodontal disease. However, since the body doesn't store B-complex vitamins, you need to get folic acid from the foods you eat.

While this important nutrient is found in dark green leafy vegetables like spinach, broccoli, asparagus and kale, cooking them reduces the amount of folic acid they contain. To benefit the most from the antioxidant properties these vegetables offer, eat them raw from a vegetable platter or in salads.

Citrus fruits are another source of folic acid, but the high acid contents in oranges, grapefruits, lemons and limes can erode tooth enamel. Oranges, which are less acidic than lemons and limes, aren't as damaging to your teeth.


Fluoride, which promotes the remineralization of tooth enamel, helps prevent tooth decay. In addition to the fluoride contained in most brands of toothpaste, you can get fluoride in your diet by drinking fluoridated tap water and black tea.

Black, white and green teas contain high levels of fluoride as the roots absorb fluoride from the soil as the tea plant grows. Small fish, such as sardines and anchovies, are other natural sources of fluoride.


Zinc is a trace mineral found in saliva that helps control dental plaque by inhibiting the growth of oral bacteria. Although adding zinc to fluoride toothpastes does not appear to reduce cavities, clinical trials show that zinc can reduce demineralization of tooth enamel.

You can get zinc by including oysters, red meat and poultry in your diet. Whole grains, crab, lobster, squash, cashews and legumes are other food sources that provide the body with zinc.

For more information about preventive dental services, including what foods you should include in your diet for healthy teeth, contact Dr. M. Dawn Harvey, DMD, PC or the staff with your questions.

For more information about preventive dental services, including what foods you should include in your diet for healthy teeth, contact Dr. M. Dawn Harvey, DMD, PC or the staff with your questions.

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