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40 Best Superfoods To Maintain Oral Health

| Reviewed By Sneha Krishnan

Superfoods are great for your health, including your oral health. Foods which are rich in starch and sugar serve as the most loving eatables for bacteria that reside in our gums. They convert the sugars into harmful acids that cause our enamel to decay leading to several gum diseases such as gingivitis or periodontitis.

Diets play a vital role in promoting our oral health and ensuring the bright and beautiful smile on our face. Also, a healthy diet makes our immune system stronger, which in turn helps in keeping away all the health problems, including gums and teeth health. Take a look at these amazing superfoods for oral health.

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1. Cheese

Cheese reduces enamel demineralisation and helps maintain good oral health. Chewing cheese activates saliva production and it's alkaline property neutralises the acid formed on teeth by bacteria. The saliva produced also helps to dilute the sugar in the mouth. [1]

2. Milk

In a study, it has been observed that milk proteins such as casein and lactoferrin attach themselves to the teeth and prevent tooth decay bacteria (Streptococci mutant) from attacking them. Also, phosphorylated peptides in milk help to maintain tooth minerals. [2]

3. Yoghurt

Yoghurt is a probiotic that helps in stabilising the oral microbiota and maintaining the good health of gums and teeth. The two bacteria in yoghurt, lactobacillus and bifidobacterium may help control the growth of cariogenic bacteria, thus preventing tooth decay. They also help in warding off bad breath. [3] However, the effect of probiotic bacteria for oral health need more research.

4. Oranges

Orange contains compounds such as tannins, terpenoids and flavonoids which are effective against the oral bacteria. A study says that orange peel extract has an antibacterial property that shows potent behaviour against oral pathogens. [4]

5. Apple

Leftover foods in the mouth are decomposed by the oral bacteria causing the production of acids that decay the teeth. Crunching apple stimulates the production of alkaline saliva that reduces acid in the mouth.This is why, apple is considered one among the best foods for oral health.

6. Pears

In a study carried out on 30000 participants, it was found that individuals who had a less dietary intake of fruits like pears lost more than five teeth during a four-year follow up period compared to the ones who had a maximum intake. Fibre, vitamin C and E in pears help in maintaining good dental health. [6]

7. Watermelon

Watermelon is a great source of lycopene (antioxidant) along with vitamin B (B1, B6), potassium and magnesium. According to a study, lycopene is known to prevent multiple diseases along with oral cancer and other oral diseases. [7]

8. Cranberries

Polyphenols in cranberries play a very promising role against gum diseases like periodontitis. It inhibits the production of acid by the streptococcus mutans bacteria found in the mouth, thus preventing and treating oral diseases. [8]

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9. Pineapple

A powerful proteolytic enzyme named bromelain in pineapple exhibits antiplaque and anti-gingivitis properties. Plaque and gingivitis are the most common oral diseases which can easily be treated at home with the consumption of pineapple. [9]

10. Papaya

Papain in papaya possesses the same anti-plaque and anti-gingivitis properties like bromelain. Stain in a tooth is built up in the thin protein layer that protects the enamel. Papain helps in removing the stains by dissolving the pellicle layer. [10]

11. Meat

In a study, it was found that participants who consumed more fruits, root vegetables and meat, have higher numbers of teeth compared to the ones who had less. Also, vitamin B12 and protein in meats fight tooth decay and prevent periodontitis. [11]

12. Fatty Fish

Fatty fish such as salmon, mackerel and sardines are rich in omega-3 fatty acid and vitamin D. Intake of these nutrients significantly reduces the periodontal inflammation and helps to keep the teeth and gums healthy. [12]

13. Eggs

Eggs are a great source of vitamin D that helps in the absorption of calcium by the body, including teeth. Calcium helps maintain healthy teeth. Also, eggs are rich in phosphorus and vitamins (A and C) that help in the mineralisation of teeth and themaintenance of healthy gums.

14. Carrots

Carrots are regarded as a cavity-fighting veggie. Munching on this essential vegetable massages the gums, strengthens the enamel and protects gums from bacterial damage due to the presence of components such as antioxidants, vitamin A and vitamin C.

15. Onion

Onion shows antibacterial activity against streptococcus mutans, the main gingivitis and periodontitis causing bacteria in adults. A study says that onion extract affects cultured bacterial cells of the mouth. The extract was also known to show effect for 48 hours. [13]

16. Garlic

Allicin in freshly cut or chopped garlic is known for its therapeutic property. A study proves the antimicrobial activity of allicin on dental pathogens which are linked to periodontitis as well as all types of bacteria. Even a minimum concentration (300 mcg/mL) of allicin inhibits the growth of oral bacteria, alleviating various dental diseases. [14]

17. Cucumber

Cucumber is among those crunchy vegetables that help in maintaining good oral health. The water content in this veggie helps wash away the acid in the mouth along with harmful dental bacteria.

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18. Ladyfinger

Okra or ladyfinger is a good source of phosphorus, zinc, folate, potassium and vitamins. These components are great for the health of teeth and gums. They keep oral bacteria at bay and promote stronger teeth and gums.

19. Cabbage

Cabbage is one of the great choices for oral health. This cruciferous veggie contains vitamin C, phosphorus and calcium. These components keep the gums and teeth healthy and prevent a bacterial attack. [15]

20. Spinach

Leafy vegetables such as spinach contain a high amount of dietary nitrate. When they are consumed, the oral microbiota converts the nitratein to nitrite. The salivary nitrite possesses anti-inflammatory properties on the oral cavity. It was found that people who have periodontitis have less amount of NO2 in their saliva. [16]

21. Mushroom

Shiitake mushroom has anticaries and anti-gingivitis properties. They prevent demineralisation of teeth caused by oral bacteria. Also, they lower the number of oral pathogens without affecting the bacteria which is good for oral hygiene. [17]

22. Green Turnip

Green turnip is crunchy and extremely nutritious. It is rich in vitamin C and K and helps in the absorption of calcium which makes the teeth strong. In a study, fermented turnips are known to treat periodontitis due to the presence of probiotics. [18]

23. Kale

Vitamin K in kale helps with bleeding gum problems caused due to gingivitis. Lack of this essential vitamin may lead to oral diseases like plaque and gingivitis, and thus, its administration keeps oral bacteria at bay. [19]

24. Black Eyed Peas

This legume is rich in phosphorus and calcium. These compounds promote oral health and keep away bacteria which cause oral diseases. Also, chewing black-eyed peas stimulates saliva that helps neutralise the acid in the mouth.

25. Broccoli

Particularly in elders oral health is very important. Poor dental hygiene leads to tooth loss and periodontitis which is linked to the increased risk of oral cancer, heart diseases, dementia and cognitive dysfunction. Introduction of broccoli in diets helps in adding nutrients to the body which helps fight multiple diseases including oral problems. [20]

26. Chili Pepper

Capsaicin in chili pepper helps to promote oral health. In a study, it was found that consumption of chili pepper immediately releases nitric oxide and malondialdehyde in the saliva that shows anti-inflammatory activity against oral bacteria. [21]

27. Sweet Potato

Sweet potato is rich in vitamin A that helps improve periodontal health. This vitamin has antioxidant potential against oral diseases. Consuming around 900 mcg/day of sweet potato is considered beneficial for the health of teeth and gums. [22]

28. Celery

Celery helps in carrying out a great workout for your teeth. When we chew celery, our gums get massaged and saliva production is stimulated that neutralises acid in the mouth and maintains proper oral hygiene.

29. Almond

Calcium and protein inalmonds inhibit the growth of bacteria in the mouth that causes cavities and other gum diseases. It is also low in sugar which prevents the accumulation of plaque in the teeth.

30. Cashew

Cashew belongs to the Anacardiaceae family which is known to have potential medicinal value. Leaves to cashew plants have been a natural remedy for sore gums and toothache since ancient times. Tannin in cashews is known to have antibacterial and antifungal activities that help prevent gingival fibroblast. [23]

31. Brazil Nut

Brazil nuts are packed with phosphorus, calcium and vitamin C. These essential nutrients are vital for the health of gums and teeth. Also, the nut is very crunchy, which is why enough saliva is produced while chewing them that helps in washing away acid and bacteria present in the mouth.

32. Raisins

According to the US Department of Food and Nutrition, raisins help protect against cavities due to the presence of five phytochemicals and antioxidants. These compounds prevent streptococcus mutans bacteria to stick to the teeth's surface, thus preventing bacterial growth in the mouth.

33. Sesame Seeds

Sesame oil derived from sesame seeds help reduce plaque-induced gingivitis. Sesame seeds are rich in chlorosesamone that possesses antifungal activity. Also, the presence of polyunsaturated fatty acid in the seed reduces oxidative damage to the oral cavity. [24]

34. Pumpkin Seeds

Pumpkin seeds are a powerhouse of nutrients such as vitamin A, vitamin C, zinc, iron and magnesium. Vitamin A and C help with gum problems and act as anti-inflammatory for oral diseases. On the other hand, magnesium strengthens the enamel and zinc treats bleeding gums.

35. Green Tea

Catechin, a potent antioxidant in green tea, helps prevent periodontal pathogens. A study says that catechin inhibits the growth of P. intermedia, P. gingivalis and P. nigrescens in the mouth and improves oral health. [25]

36. Whole Wheat Bread

Whole wheat bread contains complex carbohydrates, which is why bacteria present in the mouth finds it difficult to convert them into acids and cause tooth decay. Also, the heavy nutrients in the food helpto improve oral health.

37. Brown Rice

Brown rice is a type of whole grain food which is packed with nutrients like fibre, iron, magnesium and vitamin B. These compounds are vital for teeth and gums health. The complex carbohydrates in brown rice prevent the growth of bacteria in the mouth cavity and help maintain oral health.

38. Tofu

Tofu is made from soy milk which is naturally rich in calcium. This essential component helps in strengthening teeth and gum muscles. Also, tofu is low in cholesterol and gluten-free. According to a Celiac Disease Foundation, people with gluten diseases (Celiac disease) are more prone to enamel defects, cavities and delayed dental development. Tofu's gluten-free property makes them one among the best oral foods for dental health.

39. Water

Water is the easiest and effective choice for maintaining oral health. Consuming water helps wash away the leftover food particles in the mouth, preventing bacteria to convert them into acids and causing oral diseases. It also helps in the saliva production that neutralises all acids in the mouth.

40. Soy

In a study carried out on 3956 Japanese females, it was found that intake of soy or soy products is linked to decreased risk of periodontal health. Isoflavones in soy modulate the production of cytokine that helps in boosting the immune system to fight against foreign material. The Good immune system maintains good oral health.

Other Healthy Habits To Promote Oral Health

  • Brush properly and not just for the sake of doing it every day. Move the brush in circular motions everywhere in the mouth to remove plaque.
  • Make a habit of brushing twice a day, in the morning before food and at night before going to bed.
  • While brushing, don't forget to clean your tongue.
  • Make a habit of flossing after every meal.
  • Consider using mouthwash for good oral health.
  • Look out for fluoride in the toothpaste as it helps prevent cavities, strengthens enamel and prevents oral diseases.
  • Avoid food/drinks that cause dry mouth such as soda, chips, alcohol, fries, etc.
  • Visit a dentist at least twice a year.
Sneha KrishnanGeneral Medicine
MBBS
Sneha Krishnan
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