Long gone are the days when we looked for healthy food options just for weight loss or for keeping blood sugar levels and cholesterol in check. Today we look for best diets to address multiple health problems including digestive, hormonal, weight gain and for healing other conditions. Doctors, dentists and oral surgeons often recommend the best foods for dental health because of its close connection to heart health.

Best Foods for Healthy Teeth and Gums

Here’s a list of the top 5 foods for your teeth and gums:

Dairy – When eaten in the right amounts, dairy including cheese, milk and yogurts can help build stronger teeth. Dairy products have calcium, Vitamin D, phosphorus and whey protein that help restore enamel, provide strength and protect teeth from decay and erosion. Yogurt, being a great probiotic and cheeses that contain the good bacteria maintain the pH levels in the mouth and prevent the growth of bad bacteria that lead to decay and other periodontal diseases. However, milk should be consumed in smaller proportions as it can lead to weight gain and digestion issues. It is also important to choose cheeses that are lower in cholesterol and less processed. Similarly, yogurts that are high in sugar should be avoided.  You could opt for mixing fruits like banana and berries in plain yogurt at home instead of buying high-sugar and flavored yogurts at stores.

Fruits and Vegetables – Fresh fruits and vegetables are not only good for overall health but also provide key vitamins for healthy teeth and gums. Crunchy veggies and fruits act like a toothbrush and scrape food particles and plaque. Citrus fruits like lemons and oranges provide Vitamin C, carrots and celery provide beta carotene that helps formation of Vitamin A, leafy greens provide iron and folic acid. Certain fruits like berries provide antioxidants. Fruits and vegetables are great foods for inflamed gums and protect against gum disease.

Nuts – Many of us eat nuts for protein and good cholesterol (HDL), but are nuts good for teeth and gums? Almonds, walnuts, peanuts, pistachios, Brazil nuts and cashews are good sources of protein. Nuts also provide a wide array of vitamins and minerals including Calcium, Zinc, Potassium, Selenium, amino acids and Vitamin E that help maintain dental health. As with other foods, one must be careful with portion sizes and avoid salty and sugar-coated nuts to get the real health benefits of eating nuts.

Teas – Green and black teas contain polyphenols and antioxidants which protect against decay, plaque, gum disease and gingivitis. Go ahead and make that cup of tea for yourself but make sure you don’t lower the benefits by having sugary or artificially sweetened teas.

Meat, Fish & Soy – Meat and soy contain arginine which is an amino acid that helps in protecting teeth from decay, cavities and plaque. Eggs, meat, fish and soy products are also few of the the top healthy foods you can eat for healthy teeth and gums as they prevent periodontal disease and make bones and teeth stronger. Fatty fish like wild salmon, tuna, Atlantic herring and mackerel are great sources of Omega 3 fish oils and Vitamin D. They not only prevent gum disease and tooth decay but also protect against heart disease.

A nutritious, well-balanced diet and lots of water is the key foundation of good dental health. Apart from knowing the good and bad foods for your teeth and gums, it is important to follow good dental hygiene practices such as brushing teeth regularly at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing at least once a day and making sure to visit your dentist for a regular checkup and cleaning twice in a year.