6 BEST NUTRIENTS FOR HEALTHY TEETH
FIND OUT ABOUT THE MOST IMPORTANT NUTRIENTS TO KEEP TEETH AND GUMS HEALTHY
Scientists have linked poor diet with a higher risk of tooth decay and gum disease. By eating more nutrient-dense foods, you not only improve your overall health, you’re also taking positive steps to better dental health.
Here are the top 6 nutrients you should include in your diet for great teeth and gums:
Calcium is not just for bones. It’s an essential component of teeth and we need to constantly replenish supplies through food. Bone health is an important factor too, as strong bones are needed to provide structure, support teeth and gums and are part of our chewing mechanism.
Women with osteoporosis have a three-fold increased risk of tooth loss, compared with the rest of the population. So, it’s especially important for women to include plenty of calcium in their diet, particularly post-menopause.
Calcium-rich foods are also very good at reducing acidity in the mouth. Acidity promotes loss of minerals from teeth and erosion of tooth enamel.
2. VITAMIN K
Vitamin K is the unsung hero when it comes to teeth and bone health. This nutrient helps us to build bones and teeth.
Vitamin K exists in slightly different forms – K1 and K2. Both are important for health of teeth and bones, but vitamin K2 is particularly important for helping calcium to be incorporated into the matrix of teeth.
Both vitamin K1 and K2 are also needed for immunity and help to reduce inflammation in the mouth, which can lead to gum disease.
Vitamin K1 is abundant in fruits and vegetables, so a good diet centered on natural foods is very helpful for dental health. Vitamin K2 is less readily available in a standard western diet. The main food sources are a Japanese fermented soy food called natto, and strong, aged cheese.
If you’re concerned about the health of your teeth and bones, you may want to consider investing in a good-quality vitamin K supplement from a health food store. When in supplement form, K2 has been shown to work better than K1 in supporting teeth and bone health.
BEST SOURCES OF TOOTH-FRIENDLY NUTRIENTS
- Calcium – tinned salmon or sardines, nuts and seeds
- K1 – Kale, broccoli, parsley, spinach
- K2 – Japanese natto, blue-veined cheese
- Vitamin C – Berries, kiwi fruit, cabbage, cauliflower
- Collagen – Collagen powder, bone broth
- Antioxidants – Green tea, cranberry, pomegranates
- Phosphorus – Dairy, beans, lentils, nuts, grains and meat
3. VITAMIN C
Vitamin C isn’t just for colds, it’s essential for gum health. Vitamin C helps to build collagen, the protein structure that supports our gums.
And, because vitamin C is essential for good immunity, it helps us to fight off damage caused to gums by unwanted bacteria.
As we’ve mentioned above, collagen is a key nutrient for good oral health.
You can buy collagen as a powder from health food stores and research has shown that it can help support gum health and repair receding gums.
Bone broths are also a good source of collagen. Very good ready-made bone broths are available from most health food stores and online now, so no need to slave over a hot stove for hours making it.
More and more research is coming out to show that foods high in antioxidants help boost dental health and reduce the risk of gum disease.
Antioxidants work by protecting cells and tissue from damage caused by chemicals called free radicals. In terms of dental health, antioxidants have been shown to:
- Reduce infection and inflammation which lead to gum disease
- Inhibit the breakdown of the bone, which surrounds the teeth and holds them in place. Advanced gum disease often causes this kind of erosion.
In particular, certain antioxidant phytochemicals, known as polyphenols, have shown great promise in protecting gums. Studies show that they actually have an antibacterial action against the gum-disease causing bacteria, Porphyromonas gingivalis.
Phosphorus is needed by every cell in the body and around 85% of the body’s phosphorus is found in our teeth and bones, according to the Linus Pauling Institute Micronutrient Information Center.
This nutrient is needed for mineralization of bones and teeth. It combines with calcium to give strength to bones and teeth.
Fortunately, phosphorus is easily obtainable from a healthy diet. However, if you suffer certain diseases such as diabetes or alcoholism you may become deficient.