8 Surprising Foods That Prevent Tooth Decay
Dentists reveal what leads to tooth decay and some surprising foods, such as eggs, that can lead to better oral and dental health.
Surprising foods that prevent tooth decay
You may go for a cup of coffee or tea in the morning followed by a glass of wine in the evening. And perhaps you’re good about brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing. Unfortunately, your dental hygiene practices may not be enough to ward away the effect of these foods on your teeth.
Acidic foods, along with starchy or sugary foods, can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Bacteria in the mouth feed on sugar you consume and can form plaque on the surface of your teeth, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. If the plaque stays there it could potentially lead to cavities.
So, what foods should you eat to avoid tooth decay? We spoke with dentists who share some surprising foods that can lead to better oral and dental health.
Maybe you like your eggs over easy or fried to perfection. Regardless of the style you’re into, eggs are vitamin D-rich and actively help fight tooth decay. “Vitamin D prevents tooth decay because it promotes tooth development and stronger teeth are less susceptible to decay,” explains Greg Gelfand, DDS, Gentle Dental Bayside in Bayside, New York. This is great news for breakfast sandwich lovers because eggs are also great for improving your eyesight.
You may be curious about how to prevent cavities during the holidays. This is especially true with foods that contain extra sugar. You can try filling your plate up with vitamin A-packed sweet potatoes. “Vitamin A is vital for salivary function, which buffers the pH of your mouth, helping to prevent tooth decay,” says Dr. Gelfand. Sounds like a green light to try this recipe for vegan mashed sweet potatoes.
Plain yogurt is loaded with calcium, vitamin D, and immunity-boosting probiotics, so you may not be surprised to find dairy on our list of tooth decay-fighters. However, you’ll be excited to learn that yogurt has both mouth-healthy and gut-healthy properties, says Lawrence Fung, DDS, a cosmetic dentist and spokesperson for Hello Oral Care, a natural-focused dental hygiene company. “Since our teeth are made up of calcium, foods containing calcium are great at building up our teeth’s enamel,” he explains. “To help increase the uptake of calcium in our teeth, foods that contain vitamin D, magnesium, and phosphorus can help as well.”
Strawberries are naturally jam-packed with vitamin C, and it turns out that’s a good thing for more than just revamping dull, dry skin. “Vitamin C will help with wound healing, thus giving your gums a boost,” shares Dr. Fung. Keep an eye out for the early signs of gum disease.
Does this seem crazy to you? Well, the butter-might-be-healthy case is building, and now we can add that it is a good source of vitamin B12, which helps fight periodontal disease. “Vitamin B12 is beneficial in reversing oral wounds like canker sores and promoting gum health,” tells Catrise Austin, DDS, cosmetic dentist in New York City. “Decreased vitamin B intake may lead to the progression of mild gum infections like gingivitis, or advanced gum infections like periodontitis that commonly lead to tooth loss.” You can also find B12 in soy, rice, and cheese.
Did you really need another reason to have that second piece of avocado toast? Well, sure, avocados are calorie-burning powerhouses, but their high potassium levels also help prevent tooth decay. “Potassium is a mineral that helps strengthen and prevents the breakdown of bone,” says Dr. Austin. A lack of potassium can be what causes tooth decay in some people. Therefore, it’s important to fill up on this mineral.
Load your salads and snack bowls up with walnuts, pistachios, and cashews because they’re phosphorous-rich nuts are great for protecting teeth, says Jonathan Neman, DDS, Neman Family Dentistry, in Forest Hills, New York. “Phosphorus-rich foods have been shown to protect tooth enamel and reduce the risk of cavities by making our saliva neutralize the acids.”
Sure, beans are one of the best vegan protein sources. But did you know they’re also great for your teeth thanks to their high phosphate content? “Your teeth are composed of calcium and phosphate, so these minerals must be present in order for the teeth to remineralize and remain strong,” shares Krysta Manning, DDS, of Solstice Dental & Aesthetics in Louisville, Kentucky. You may want to add cheese to your beans, too (hello, burrito time). “Vitamin D, like that found in cheese and dairy products, can help your body to regulate calcium and phosphorous levels.”
- National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: "Diabetes, Gum Disease, & Other Dental Problems"
- Greg Gelfand, DDS, Gentle Dental Bayside in Bayside, New York
- Lawrence Fung, DDS, a cosmetic dentist and spokesperson for Hello Oral Care, a natural-focused dental hygiene company
- Catrise Austin, DDS, cosmetic dentist in New York City
- Jonathan Neman, DDS, Neman Family Dentistry, in Forest Hills, New York
- Krysta Manning, DDS, of Solstice Dental & Aesthetics in Louisville, Kentucky