What you eat has a direct impact on your oral health, and the many vitamins and minerals found in the foods you eat can have both positive and negative effects on your teeth. Some of these nutrients are essential to good oral health, while others need to be eliminated from your diet to prevent damage to your teeth and gums. Keep reading to learn about 10 minerals and vitamins that affect your teeth.
What Are Minerals?
All of your teeth are made up of minerals—in particular, minerals like phosphorus and calcium. If you do not have enough vitamins or minerals in your body, that can impact your oral health. Vitamin deficiencies can be an indication of a larger health problem. The solution is to eat more nutritious foods, rather than taking supplements—but don’t forget to rinse after eating sugary foods or drinking soda so you don’t end up with tooth decay. You may also want to brush for two minutes twice a day, visit your dentist every six months, and use fluoride-containing toothpaste—all things which could prevent cavities from occurring at all. Stay away from processed carbohydrates when possible since these often contain high amounts of sugar; instead opt for fruits and vegetables because they help whiten teeth while improving overall oral health. Vitamin deficiencies shouldn’t go untreated; instead talk to your doctor about treatment options.
Of all 10 minerals and vitamins that can affect your teeth, fluoride may be one of the most important. This mineral works with your saliva to help strengthen and harden tooth enamel and protect it from decay. There are two main types of fluoride: systemic and topical. Systemic fluorides are found in drinking water, food and prescription medication. Topical fluorides include fluoride toothpaste, mouthwash, supplements or foam/spray treatments at your dentist’s office.
Getting enough calcium is essential for healthy teeth. Calcium promotes remineralization—or a return to normal mineralization of tooth enamel—and also strengthens bones, which provide structural support for teeth. Dental sealants, treatments that line and protect vulnerable tooth surfaces from plaque and acid attacks, can help improve oral health by keeping teeth strong. Without proper calcium intake (which may not occur if you’re avoiding dairy products), dental sealants aren’t effective at preventing cavities.
Magnesium deficiency has been linked to several oral health issues, including increased tooth sensitivity and higher risk of cavities. When oral-health specialists recommend that patients take magnesium supplements as part of their treatment plan, they’re typically trying to combat these problems. Magnesium not only helps restore calcium balance in your body but also improves bone mineralization. The mineral is also believed to help with muscle relaxation and control blood sugar levels, so getting enough may improve sleep quality, further helping your oral health.
Iron is an essential mineral that your body needs to transport oxygen throughout your body. It is also a key component of several proteins, including some enzymes and cytochromes. Iron is required for many reactions in your body, including those that produce energy, such as breathing and metabolizing food. Not getting enough iron in your diet can result in anemia—the most common nutrient deficiency worldwide.
Zinc is a mineral that enhances our immune system and protects us from harmful bacteria. In fact, researchers have found that zinc can actually prevent cavities. If you’re looking to protect your teeth, add more zinc to your diet—it’s present in dark-meat poultry, seafood, shellfish, legumes, spinach and yogurt.
Not only does phosphorus help build strong bones and teeth, but it’s also important for cardiovascular health. If you have inadequate amounts of phosphorus in your diet, your body will take it from your bones, leaving them more susceptible to fracture and weakening. To keep your teeth healthy and strong, be sure to include lots of foods rich in phosphorus in your daily diet. Beans, nuts and whole grains are all high in phosphorus, so add these to soups or salads for a quick boost.
Potassium is not just for your heart; it’s also important for your teeth. Adequate potassium intake helps prevent cavities, and it can also reverse early-stage tooth decay. Potassium helps pull excess acid from your mouth, and it may also help keep plaque from sticking to your teeth, both of which are essential to preventing dental decay.