The Best Foods for your Teeth When Quarantined at Home

foods for your teeth

Published by Dr. Charles Gemmi

A Board Certified Orthodontist and a Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics, Dr. Charles Gemmi has been a practicing orthodontist with Orthodontics Limited since 2000 and is a member of the teaching staff at Einstein Medical Center. Orthodontics Limited is a Diamond+ Provider of Invisalign in Philadelphia and Hatboro, PA.

We get it — when you’re stuck in quarantine it’s so easy to snack. The pantry is just right there, and while you’re working at home it just makes sense to snack. And snack foods are delicious. While at home, we have access to the entirety of our kitchen, so it’s easy to eat whatever comes to mind.

However, even in unprecedented times, it’s important to value your oral health. A day working from home gives you more access to lots of meals that may not be the best foods for your teeth.

Some snacks are beneficial foods for your teeth, and incorporating these into your diet may strengthen your teeth’s enamel, flush out decay-causing bacteria, and give your gums a good scrub.

How Do Foods Affect Tooth Decay?

Your mouth is full of germs. Don’t worry! They’re safe, and an important part of your health and immunity. However, some of them do cause tooth decay.

Every time you eat something, you’re introducing chemicals, minerals, and bacteria into your mouth’s biome. This affects the health of your teeth and gums directly.

Tooth decay occurs when sugars and carbohydrates in your mouth are digested by different bacteria. Acid is usually created as a byproduct, and this acid can eat away at the enamel on your teeth. This leads to decay and in some cases cavities or infections in the gums. The more frequently you eat, the more active the bacteria in your mouth can become.

However, adding certain vitamins and minerals to your diet can assist with remineralizing your mouth. Remineralization is adding calcium and other minerals back to your teeth, to help restore their defenses against potential wear. It’s an important part of oral health, and can be influenced by foods that work for your teeth.

The best diet for remineralizing your teeth has high calcium and phosphorous contents. Because saliva has neutralizing properties, increased chewing can also help put a stop to enamel erosion. Focusing on eating foods that help with the basic protection of your teeth is beneficial to your orthodontic care, dental care, and mouth tissue health.

Some Snack Suggestions For Dental Health

When you hear the word health food, it may bring to mind different ancient grains, lean shakes, or protein-heavy foods. Dental health foods, however, focus on specific vitamins, minerals, water content, and fiber content.

In evaluating how healthy a food will be for your teeth, look for foods that:

  • Have a high calcium content,
  • Contain water,
  • Are fibrous,
  • Do not contain a lot of natural or processed sugar, or
  • Are high in phosphorous.

Different combinations of these properties keep your mouth clean, rinse your gums and teeth, and add minerals to your enamel.

Cheese, Yogurt, and Dairy Products

Dairy products such as cheese and creams contain lots of calcium and proteins, which strengthen your tooth enamel. A study published in the American Academy of General Dentistry in 2013 suggests that eating cheese strengthens your enamel directly, leading to less tooth decay over time.

Yogurt has calcium and protein as well, carrying some of the same benefits as cheese. The probiotics in yogurt also assist your gums because good bacteria populate areas, crowding out bad bacteria. Choosing sugar-free yogurt is a better means of helping your teeth.

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens such as kale and spinach promote oral health due to the large amount of calcium they contain. While leafy greens are almost a cliché in the health world, they carry beneficial vitamins and minerals that will affect your entire body, starting in your mouth.

Apples, Carrots, and Celery

These three foods are fibrous and contain lots of water. They also require more chewing which increases the amount of saliva produced in the mouth.

An added benefit, aside from the vitamins and minerals contained in these vegetables, is that their structure makes them really useful for stimulating your gums and scrubbing at your teeth without scratching the enamel.

Celery takes oral health to another level by adding vitamins A and C, which are antioxidants that further benefit your mouth biome, teeth, and gums.

There is a caveat to this, however. In order to really further your orthodontic care, if you have braces and your orthodontist recommends for you not to eat denser, crunchier foods, always listen to your healthcare provider.


Nuts such as almonds are a great source of calcium and protein, and also require more chewing. They’re also a handy snack that can be carried along easily.

Some Extra Notes

Sugar-free chewing gum can really benefit your gums and teeth. Ongoing chewing dislodges pieces of food that may be wedged in between your teeth and produces higher levels of saliva, rinsing your mouth throughout the day. Both of these actions decrease tooth decay. However, be mindful of your jaw. If you suffer from jaw pain or you’re currently in braces, chewing gum may not be the first choice for you.

Be mindful about what you drink throughout the day. Water is usually a better choice for oral health than juice or soda. If you are drinking sugary beverages, try to not sip them throughout the day, as constantly puts sugar in the mouth. Constant sugar means constant bacterial activity, which means constant acid, leading to constant tooth decay.

Sugar substitutes do not break down the same way as sugars do in the mouth, so they will not lead to tooth decay. However, natural sugars are typically digested in the same way or a similar way to processed or added sugar, and therefore can also lead to tooth decay. Being mindful of sugary fruits, such as mangos and grapes, can lead to tooth decay.

As with any medical question, if you are facing ongoing issues or need input on your health, contacting your healthcare provider is always the best step. Taking these steps does not replace regular scheduling with your dentist or orthodontist, and scheduled cleanings, adjustments, and dental work is vital to having a healthy mouth.

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