What to Eat for a Healthy Dental Diet

What to Eat for a Healthy Dental Diet
Posted on 08/07/2019

Like your whole body health, food plays a prominent role in the long-term health of your mouth. Good oral healthcare, including twice-a-day brushing, daily flossing, and regular teeth cleanings and exams goes a long way to ensuring your mouth stays healthy. Your diet plays a big role, too. 

When food gets stuck or caught on the surface of your teeth, bad things start to happen. Issues such as enamel erosion, decay (also known as cavities), dry mouth, and gum disease tend to pop up. 

While brushing and flossing counteracts these negative effects to a point, it does not fully counteract bad dietary habits. You must actively think about how something you’re about to eat is going to affect your teeth. 

Below, we outline how to promote a healthy dental diet with foods for healthy teeth so you can make the right choices for your whole body health (including your teeth, of course).


Which foods should I avoid so I can keep my teeth healthy?

The foods you should try to avoid are probably not too surprising! Since oral health is so closely tied to your whole body health, a lot of the foods bad for your general health are also bad for your teeth.  

Generally, the biggest culprit of bad food for your mouth is a common nemesis: sugar. Not only does sugar damage your teeth, but many foods containing sugar are chewy or have properties that latch onto your teeth and stick there. This does even more damage.

In addition to sugar, try to avoid foods that are:

  • Highly acidic: Damages and dissolves teeth, leading to decay

  • Sticky and chewy: Provides a source for bacteria to prosper, leading to gum disease

  • Starchy: Starch breaks down into simple sugars which cause cavities 

  • Hard: Cracks or breaks teeth


Are there are specific examples of food that’s really bad for teeth?

Some common foods to avoid to promote healthy teeth include:

  • Candy: Above all else, candy is loaded with sugar. Particularly chewy and hard candy, which can line your teeth with sugar, cause cracks, and wreak havoc for hours, leading to cavities. 

  • Citrus fruit: While great for you in many other ways, citrus fruit is high in sugar and acid. Citric acid erodes and decays tooth enamel. 

  • Dried fruit: Much like candy, chewy dried fruit will line your mouth with sugar and elongate the sugar blast into a day-long decay party. They also contain citric acid, leading to a dangerous oral health crisis in your mouth. 

  • Refined carbs: Carbohydrates are functionally sugar, making refined carbohydrates such as white bread and crackers problematic for your teeth. When this stuff gets between your teeth, bacteria grows as if you had a piece of candy stuck in there. 

  • Sugary beverages: Beverages like sweetened coffee, sweet tea, Gatorade, soda, and alcohol can actually do just as much damage as candy. In addition to teeth staining, the erosive nature of these candies can do long-term damage. 

  • Citric Acid:  this is the number one ingredient in all diet flavored sodas, teas and other drinks.  It can lead to weakening of the enamel making your teeth are more susceptible to cavities from simple sugars.  Most people think because it says “diet” on the label that it’s safer than natural sugar so they consume more.  This often leads to many adverse oral health issues--don’t be fooled--diet drinks can be a major force in creating cavities in your mouth.  Also many studies show consuming diet drinks leads to increased caloric intake--just one more reason to steer clear of them.


What’s the right food for proper dental diet? 

For the most part, the food that’s good for your teeth is good for the rest of your body, too — low in sugar and fat and highly nutritious.

Some good foods for healthy teeth include:

  • Whole grains

  • Leafy greens such as spinach, kale, and broccoli 

  • Berries such as strawberries, blueberries, cranberries

  • Dairy, such as yogurt, milk, and cheese

  • Fish

  • Shiitake mushrooms

  • Garlic and onions 

  • Celery, apples, and carrots


Is snacking bad for my teeth?

The fewer amount of times you eat in a day the better. Why? Decay happens when there’s a higher level of acid in your mouth than normal. 

When you snack throughout the day, your saliva can’t properly do what it’s there to do: protect against tooth mineralization, protect your teeth from acid, and clearing away food. When it can’t do this, your teeth will become susceptible and tooth decay will develop. 

Try limiting your food intake to meal times as much as possible. This is never going to be completely possible and snacks are a necessary part of life. If you do find yourself snacking mid-day, don’t be afraid to brush your teeth to avoid having that food sitting there for the rest of the day. Also limit the duration of the snack--the quicker you eat the sooner your mouth will return to a healthy acidic level.

Does this mean I can’t eat the foods I love?

Absolutely not! The key to a successful and healthy dental diet is to take a sustainable approach to what you eat. If you deprive yourself of the things you love, you’ll never be able to keep a healthy diet going.

The foods outlined in this post should be used as a guide to what’s healthy so you can develop the right diet for you. 

If you absolutely love pizza, knowing white pizza dough and tomato sauce are bad for your teeth shouldn’t cause you to never eat pizza again. Rather, we’d love for you to make the best decision with the right information regarding your whole health when making dietary decisions. Maybe instead of having pizza every week, limit yourself to twice a month.


Take an active role in your oral, and body, health

At Towson Smile Care, we’re all about empowering you take make good choices today. What you’ve done in the past is done. It’s what you do moving forward that will define your future oral health.

In addition to eating the right foods and practicing good oral hygiene at home, bi-annual dental exams and cleanings are crucial for maintaining a healthy smile. Our staff is non-judgemental and squarely focused on making sure you start on a path towards optimal oral health.  

Contact us today to schedule an appointment or to ask us any questions about your oral health. We can’t wait to hear from you!