Jan 31, 2023 - minute readminutes read

Nutrition & Oral Health: Which Foods Are Good for Your Teeth?

A battle is being waged for your oral health – on a microscopic scale. The microorganisms living within your oral microbiome have the ability to both help and harm your oral health, and they thrive on the foods and beverages you consume. 


It’s up to you to arm the beneficial bacteria with the right nutrients to hold the line while depriving the bad bacteria of the foods they need to wreak havoc on your teeth and gums.

We’ll walk you through the ways food impacts your oral health and offer guidance on how your food choices can help you avoid developing common oral health conditions.

How foods impact your gums and teeth

The foods and beverages you consume are key to maintaining both your oral health and whole body health. 

From the moment food enters your mouth, your body begins to break down and utilize its component properties. This process is aided by mastication and saliva production and continues throughout your digestive system.

What you consume is broken down into

  • Carbohydrates
  • Proteins
  • Fats
  • Vitamins
  • Minerals
  • Water

While a balance of each of these components is important for maintaining whole-body health, the reality is we often consume unbalanced diets. In fact, globally we take in too much sugar and too few vitamins and minerals.

This imbalance can lead to complications in both oral and whole-body health.

The role of food in the fight against common oral health conditions

Development of dental caries

You’re likely more familiar with the common terms for dental caries: tooth decay or dental cavities.

Dental caries is the most common health condition in the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) cites free sugars (sometimes called “added sugar”) as “the essential dietary factor in the development of dental caries.”

The harmful bacteria in your mouth metabolize sugars and produce acid that can cause demineralisation of tooth enamel.

Our tip

AVOID: Strictly limit or eliminate foods that contain added sugars, and be thoughtful about the carbohydrates you consume

TRY: Fresh fruits are a healthier source of sugar, and nuts and vegetables are a great snacking alternative. However, hold off toothbrushing for at least 30 minutes after consuming fruit to give your enamel the chance to recover from the acids that fruit contain.

Demineralisation of tooth enamel

Enamel and dentine are the hard tissues of the teeth. Once these tissue layers are breached, teeth are far more susceptible to infection and decay.

Chemical demineralisation is caused by acids in the foods you eat and the beverages you drink. Additionally, acid is produced as a byproduct of the bacteria in your mouth processing sugars, further exacerbating chemical demineralisation.

Consuming sugary, carbonated drinks is a significant risk factor for accelerated demineralisation.

Our tip

AVOID: Limit sugary, acidic drinks like sodas and fruit juices.

TRY: Drink water and brush your teeth after consuming these beverages to wash the acid away, but again, wait for 30 minutes at least before you start brushing.

Gum disease

Bleeding, receding, and inflamed gums are an indication of serious oral health conditions known as gingivitis and periodontitis.

We dedicated a whole post to the foods that help fight gingivitis, but it’s equally important to advise on which foods will specifically help or hinder the healing of gum tissues.

Stopping gingivitis before it has the opportunity to advance to periodontitis should be your goal.

Consuming low-sugar, low-acid foods that fight inflammation, when combined with regular dental care and a complete daily oral care ritual, can help put a stop to the progression of gum disease.

Our tip

AVOID: The regular culprits – sugars and acidic foods and beverages – can exacerbate irritated gums. You should also avoid sharp foods that could irritate your already sensitive gums.

TRY: Anti-inflammatory foods like omega-3-rich fatty fish, nuts, and seeds, as well as leafy green vegetables like spinach and kale.

Establishing good habits for better oral health

Consuming a balanced diet and enjoying treats in moderation is key for both your oral and whole-body health.

Simple changes to your consumption habits can improve your oral health outcomes. Drink water with your meals and snacks and after consuming sugary drinks or alcohol, and wait 30 minutes after consuming acidic foods or beverages before brushing your teeth.

Practice good oral care habits every day

When making changes to your diet or habits, it’s best to make only one or two big changes at a time so you don’t become overwhelmed and give up. Over time, this will help you transition to a more balanced, healthier lifestyle.

Most importantly, establish a daily oral care ritual that includes interdental cleaning and brushing for two minutes, twice a day.

know more about oral care rituals

Related Articles