5 Diet Adjustments That Can Help Improve Dental Health

dental health

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 all know that brushing and flossing is a great way to keep our teeth strong and healthy. However, your diet is an incredibly important factor to take into consideration when talking about dental health.

The content of the food you eat changes the environment in your mouth. If you’re eating the wrong foods, you could be contributing to the growth of bacterial cultures, which can lead to a loss of tooth enamel and early onset tooth decay. You also need to consider your gums and what they need to stay healthy since they supply your teeth with the vitamins they need to stay strong.

Cutting back on sugars, increasing your daily water intake, and increasing your intake of certain vitamins and minerals are important steps to a healthy smile.

As any professional in orthodontic dental care could tell you, diet plays a huge role in keeping your mouth, gums, and teeth healthy. Here are 5 diet adjustments to make to improve your dental health.


This is an obvious one but it’s still worth mentioning. Sugars are the most common cause of tooth decay, which is a particularly common childhood disease that’s easily preventable with a few diet adjustments.

“Plaque” is a word you’ve probably heard before without knowing what it really means. Plaque is bacteria buildup on the front of your teeth and between your gums that causes tooth decay. When plaque mixes with sugar, it turns into an acid that slowly wears away your teeth.

The big culprit in this country is soda. Sugary beverages contribute to tooth decay more than any other food substance, though cookies and cakes don’t help the issue. By choosing a healthy alternative to sugary drinks, you could be saving your teeth from decay.


Drinking water isn’t just a good substitute for soda. It also washes away some of those sugars and acids that are already in your mouth. It’s even more beneficial if the water contains fluoride, which according to the American Dental Association is “nature’s cavity fighter.”

Dry mouth is a leading cause of tooth decay because saliva is how your mouth naturally deals with leftover food and bacteria growing on your teeth. Drinking water is a great way to fight dry mouth and therefore a great way to keep bacteria at bay.

Aside from being healthy in general, drinking water is a great way to keep your teeth in good shape, as it improves the health of your bones by helping your body digest and process the vitamins and minerals that you’re putting into it.

Calcium and Phosphorus

Calcium and phosphorus are two minerals that promote strong, healthy teeth. A great diet adjustment you can make for your dental health is to be sure to include foods rich in these minerals every day.

We’ve been hearing about calcium since we were kids and how it’s good for our bones. That includes our teeth too: calcium is known to strengthen your enamel and even your jaw, promoting your mouth’s ability to ward off the plaque/acid combination that leads to tooth decay. Phosphorus aids in bone health as well.

Now you may be thinking: what should I eat to get my daily allowance of these vitamins?

For calcium, dairy is going to be your main source, including milk, cheese, and yogurt. One of the reasons broccoli is so good for you is that it’s also high in calcium.

For phosphorus, seafood is the way to go, from shrimp to salmon (which is also high in calcium, by the way). If you want plant-based alternatives, beans like soy and lentils are also high in phosphorus.

Vitamin C

Your teeth aren’t the only casualties when you’re suffering from poor dental health. Thinking about how to eat right for your whole mouth means thinking about the gums as well.

Gingivitis is the gum killer: it leads to gum disease, which is not only painful but eventually causes you to lose teeth, which I’m sure nobody wants. Vitamin C protects against gingivitis while strengthening all the soft tissues in your mouth.

You can get vitamin C from potatoes and citrus fruits/juices. Just remember any time you drink citrus juice or eat anything that’s really acidic to wash it down with water since those acids contribute to tooth decay if they sit in your mouth for too long.


The last mineral on this list is potassium. This one isn’t as commonly used for helping people increase their bone density as calcium or vitamin D, but it definitely doesn’t hurt.

The reason it’s on this list is that potassium lowers the acid levels in your blood. If your blood gets too acidic, it leads to a loss of calcium from your bones and your teeth suffer as a result. Consuming potassium ensures that you keep the valuable calcium you went through the trouble of eating in the first place.

Eat lots of bananas, tomatoes, avocados, and lima beans to get your daily allowance of potassium.


Everyone could stand to be more concerned about their dental health. Diet is an easy and effective way to manage how healthy your teeth and gums are. All you have to do is remember to take in enough of the teeth-strengthening vitamins calcium and phosphorus, drink enough water, cut back on sugars, and get your vitamin C and potassium.

All of this advice is even more important if you have braces, which traps food under the brackets and encourages the growth of tooth-destroying plaque and bacteria. You shouldn’t eat sugary candies or drink soda at all when you have braces, but the majority of us could cut back on those too (or cut them out altogether).

Your teeth and gums are your tools for putting things in your body. What you choose to give them can greatly affect their strength, health, and longevity. Don’t let your future self face the painful inconveniences caused by tooth loss and decay over something as simple as these dietary changes.

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