Maintaining good oral health is essential for overall well-being and a healthy smile. Oral hygiene is essential for good dental health. Certain foods can also help improve oral health by promoting strong teeth, healthy gums, and fresh breath. Here are some tips for reaching better oral health and a brighter smile on World Smile Day:
Water: Staying hydrated is essential for saliva production. Saliva is an important defense mechanism in the mouth as it helps cleanse the mouth of bacteria and food particles. Adults should drink at least 1-1.5 liters per day, according to Jukka Meurman, Professor Emeritus of Oral and Maxillofacial Diseases at the University of Helsinki. (1)
Dairy Products: Dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt are rich in calcium and phosphorus, which help strengthen tooth enamel. In addition to lactose, calcium, and phosphorus, milk proteins have also been shown to affect dental health. Caseins are the most abundant group of proteins in bovine milk and account for approximately 80% of the total milk protein. (2)
Crunchy Fruits and Vegetables: Consuming foods with fiber help keep your teeth and gums clean, says the American Dental Association (ADA). Foods like apples, carrots, celery, and cucumbers are high in fiber and require chewing, which stimulates saliva production, thus, helping to maintain a healthy smile. According to studies, fruit consumption is also inversely associated with periodontal disease. (3)
Leafy Greens: Spinach, kale, and other leafy greens are rich in vitamins and minerals like calcium, folic acid, and B vitamins that promote oral health. (4)
Lean Proteins: Foods like chicken, turkey, and lean cuts of beef contain phosphorus, which is essential for strong teeth and bones. Lean proteins are rich in essential amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. These amino acids are vital for the growth, repair, and maintenance of gum tissue. (5)
Nuts and Seeds: These provide healthy fats, protein, and minerals like calcium and phosphorus that are beneficial for oral health.
Green Tea: Green tea is one of the most popular beverages in the world, and it has received growing attention because of its many scientifically proven beneficial effects on human health. Green tea contains antioxidants called catechins that can help reduce inflammation in the mouth and fight bacteria. (6)
Xylitol: Xylitol is a natural sweetener having the properties that reduce levels of mutans streptococci (MS) bacteria in dental plaque and saliva. Streptococcus mutans is the main cause of dental decay. Chewing sugar-free gum with xylitol can stimulate saliva production and help reduce the risk of tooth decay. The recommended daily dose of xylitol for dental caries prevention is 6–10 g/day. (7,8)
Lingonberries: Lingonberry (Vaccinium vitis ideae L.) is a low-bush wild plant found in the northern hemisphere. The berries are used in traditional medicine in Finland to treat oral yeast infections. Lingonberries contain compounds similar to cranberries that may help prevent the adhesion of bacteria to the teeth, reducing the risk of cavities. Lingonberries are a promising natural approach with regards to their studied and recorded beneficial oral and general health effects via antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-proteolytic, anticancerous and antimicrobial effects. (8)
Unsweetened yogurt: Eating yogurt, particularly plain or low-sugar yogurt, can be beneficial for oral health and may help in controlling bad breath. Yogurt is a source of probiotics, which are beneficial bacteria that can help balance the oral microbiome. An imbalanced oral microbiome can contribute to bad breath (halitosis). The best yogurts for dental health are plain and Greek yogurts because they often contain the highest amount of probiotics. Yogurt is also high in calcium which helps to keep your teeth strong.(9)
Raising oral hygiene to the next level
While drinking water and consuming many foods can be beneficial for oral health, it is important to remember that overall oral hygiene practices, including regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups, are crucial for maintaining a healthy mouth. Additionally, reducing the consumption of sugary and acidic foods and beverages can help prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and dental erosion.
Controlling oral biofilm, or dental plaque, is critical to preventing oral diseases such as gingivitis, periodontitis, and tooth decay. Research has shown, however, that even a high-quality electric toothbrush removes only about 65% of the harmful bacteria in the mouth (10).
Antibacterial Lumoral treatment enhances the effects of the toothbrush, and studies show that it also significantly improves in a preventive manner the results of professional oral care. Lumoral slows down plaque formation significantly reducing the burden of harmful bacteria in the mouth. (11)
User experience suggests that aPDT administered at home via the Lumoral® device may even improve dry mouth symptoms as it increases salivation. However, more scientific evidence is needed on the effect of the method on salivary secretion. New clinical trials on this topic are currently being initiated.
- Shkembi B, Huppertz T. Impact of Dairy Products and Plant-Based Alternatives on Dental Health: Food Matrix Effects. Nutrients. 2023 Mar 18;15(6):1469. doi: 10.3390/nu15061469. PMID: 36986199; PMCID: PMC10056336.
- Nielsen SJ, Trak-Fellermeier MA, Joshipura K, Dye BA. Dietary Fiber Intake Is Inversely Associated with Periodontal Disease among US Adults. J Nutr. 2016 Dec;146(12):2530-2536. doi: 10.3945/jn.116.237065. Epub 2016 Oct 26. PMID: 27798338; PMCID: PMC5118764.
- Jayasinghe TN, Harrass S, Erdrich S, King S, Eberhard J. Protein Intake and Oral Health in Older Adults-A Narrative Review. Nutrients. 2022 Oct 25;14(21):4478. doi: 10.3390/nu14214478. PMID: 36364741; PMCID: PMC9653899.
- Chatterjee A, Saluja M, Agarwal G, Alam M. Green tea: A boon for periodontal and general health. J Indian Soc Periodontol. 2012 Apr;16(2):161-7. doi: 10.4103/0972-124X.99256. PMID: 23055579; PMCID: PMC3459493.
- Nayak PA, Nayak UA, Khandelwal V. The effect of xylitol on dental caries and oral flora. Clin Cosmet Investig Dent. 2014 Nov 10;6:89-94. doi: 10.2147/CCIDE.S55761. PMID: 25422590; PMCID: PMC4232036.
- Pärnänen P, Lähteenmäki H, Tervahartiala T, Räisänen IT, Sorsa T. Lingonberries-General and Oral Effects on the Microbiome and Inflammation. Nutrients. 2021 Oct 23;13(11):3738. doi: 10.3390/nu13113738. PMID: 34835994; PMCID: PMC8623866.
GF Ferrazzano, T Cantile, M Quarto, A Ingenito, L Chianese, F Addeo, Protective effect of yogurt extract on dental enamel demineralization in vitro, First published: 27 November 2008 https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1834-7819.2008.00072.x
- Pakarinen, Saila, et al. "Home-Applied Dual-Light Photodynamic Therapy in the Treatment of Stable Chronic Periodontitis (HOPE-CP)—Three-Month Interim Results." Dentistry Journal 10.11 (2022): 206
- Neha Aggarwal, Sunil Gupta, Rashu Grover, Gunmeen Sadana, and Karan Bansal; Plaque Removal Efficacy of Different Toothbrushes: A Comparative Study, Int J Clin Pediatr Dent. 2019 Sep-Oct; 12(5): 385–390. doi: 10.5005/jp-journals-10005-1669