What to Eat for a Healthy Mouth and Teeth

bowl of greek yogurt

Confused? There is so much information out there on the oral microbiome and how to achieve a healthy mouth and strong teeth, it can be mind-boggling. My approach is quite simple. I favor the traditional healing systems such as Ayurveda because they are as natural and simplistic as you can get. Below, I listed my personal top ten food types plus a bonus. Keep reading to the bottom! The Ayurvedic herbal tea is used as a mouth rinse (and of course, it is super healthy to drink, too). 

Eat These Foods to Support a Healthy Mouth. 

The community of living organisms in your mouth is referred to as the oral microbiome. There are at least 700 species of organisms living in our mouths. This is our defense system from pathogens. Yes, they serve and protect! They stick to the surfaces of our teeth and the mucosal walls of soft tissues inside our mouths. But these living babies can either flourish or diminish and that depends largely on our actions.
 
The oral microbiome can easily be disrupted by poor diet and poor lifestyle practices. So, healthy teeth are not dependent on brushing, flossing, and dental checkups alone. We need to consider our diet as part of our oral hygiene! 

In this article, I share my top recommendations on what to eat to for a healthy mouth and healthy teeth while supporting your oral microbiome. Always check with your physician first if you are under care for a condition or taking medications. 

Ten Foods to Eat for a Healthy Mouth and Teeth 

For a healthy oral cavity, you want to choose foods that are anti-inflammatory, and high in antioxidants. Include some alkalizing foods (pH over 7) to protect the integrity of your teeth and the rest of your bones. The standard American diet is sadly rich in processed foods and sugars, which add fuel to the fire (inflammation) and negatively impact the immune system, besides your teeth. Trying to limit and eventually eliminate those foods can help save your teeth and the rest of you. 

Now if you know me or have been following me on this blog or social media, you know I’m going to say, these foods should not be served with any seed oils, added sugars, artificial sweeteners, gluten, and corn syrup-based condiments. These would obviously be counter-productive!

These are not listed in order of importance. If these are fairly new to you, start by incorporating one or two at a time every 7 to 14 days.

1. PROBIOIC FOODS – Fermented foods such as grass-fed yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, dill pickles and kombucha. 

2. PREBIOTIC FOODS– Feeding the healthy bacteria in your mouth is the secret to a healthy oral microbiome. Onions, apples, dandelion greens, jicama, artichokes, garlic, sauerkraut, and flaxseed.

3. GHEE– this is clarified butter, rich in healthy fats, and contains butyrate or butyric acid – a short-chain fatty acid that is highly anti-inflammatory. This is excellent for swishing in the mouth to nourish the teeth and gums. Ghee contains Vitamin K2 which improves calcium absorption. Try to use organic, grass-fed. 

4. GRASS-FED DAIRY– raw milk and raw cheeses contain Vitamin K2 which helps drive calcium into your teeth. K2 works with Vitamin A and D which are also found in dairy products as well as animal sources. 

dark chocolate and cacao nibs for healthy mouth and teeth
Dark chocolate and cocao nibs have an anti-bacterial effect in the oral cavity.

5. CACAO NIBS AND DARK CHOCOLATE*-Definitely eat this in moderation! Dark chocolate is rich in antioxidants to combat the bacteria causing tooth decay. Choose at least 80% cacao for optimal antioxidant levels and minimal sugars. The cacao nibs are an excellent option and superior to chocolate since they are also rich in fiber, for digestion (immune) support. 

6. SALMON AND OTHER FATTY FISH– Vitamin D and Omega-3 fatty acids in these types of fish support gum health and help prevent tooth decay. 

7. HEALTHY FATS – Olive oil, grass-fed butter, coconut oil, nuts* seeds*, and avocadoes are favorites in supporting healthy tissues and the immune system.  

8. GRASS FED BEEF– Beef not only gives the muscles in your jaw a workout, but steak for example also contains the mineral, phosphorous which helps with maintaining strong teeth and bones.

9. CRUCIFEROUS VEGETABLES– These include cauliflower, broccoli, and dark, leafy greens* like kale that are rich in minerals, vitamins A, C and beta-carotene. 

blueberries for healthy mouth and teeth
Wild blueberries are loaded with antioxidants to support the oral cavity and teeth.

10. CERTAIN FRUITS- These include citrus, berries, and fibrous fruits.
Citrus fruits contain high amounts of vitamin C which promotes blood flow to the tissues of the oral cavity (gums especially) however these are acidic and like all fruits, high in sugar so be careful and rinse your mouth with water or drink a glass after consuming. Citrus Peels can be sun-baked or oven baked and served as a chewy snack which is great for added antioxidant boost to the teeth and gums. See my YouTube video on how to prepare grapefruit-citrus tonic and peels HERE
Darker-colored berries have higher amounts of antioxidants. Wild blueberries contain compounds to reduce decay and plaque and prevent gum disease. Compounds in cranberries are found to disrupt the enzymes used by the bad bacteria to build plaque.
Fibrous fruits such as fresh apples and oranges are known to increase salivation and clean teeth. The chewing activity of apples stimulates the gums.  

Teas for a Healthy Mouth and Healthy Teeth

Teas are rich in polyphenols -naturally occurring organic compounds helpful in improving circulation, reducing inflammation, and controlling blood sugar levels. According to Aswini Y Ballappanavar of the Maulana Azad Institute of Dental Sciences, New Delhi, India4, Chinese green tea has been found to be effective against oral cancer, and precancerous lesions. It also helps with gingivitis and decreases plaque. Tea is regarded as a functional food in oral health care, and I certainly agree! 

I’m a big proponent of tea drinking, however, swishing tea in the mouth after eating is also a good strategy for a healthy oral microbiome. 

TRIPHALA TEA

In Ayurvedic Medicine, triphala is an ancient blend of three fruits: amalaki, bibhitaki, haritaki. This powerful herbal combo supports all three doshas, or mind-body types: vata, pitta and kapha. It nourishes, rejuvenates, and detoxifies tissues. I recommend this for overall health and well-being and it is part of my daily morning routine. Taken internally, (pill or powder) it targets the digestive tract and since your digestion starts in the mouth, drinking Triphala tea is a good idea to cleanse and rejuvenate the oral cavity and gut. However, you can make a tea with the powder, cool it down then swish it in your mouth and spit. Please note that triphala has a detoxifying effect. Check with your physician or Ayurvedic practitioner to determine the proper dose for internal consumption.

HOW TO MAKE A TRIPHALA TEA FOR A HEALTHY MOUTH:

Add a ½ teaspoon of triphala powder to a cup of boiling water, and stir well. Let it cool then strain out the powder and use the tea as a swish. A triphala mouth rinse helps rejuvenate the oral mucosa, and gums and acts to thin the saliva.  

Three fruits of triphala- for healthy mouth and teeth
Triphala-a combination of three fruits.

WHY IS YOUR SALIVA IMPORTANT? When considering eating foods to maintain a healthy mouth and strong teeth, choose foods that support salivary production. Saliva acts as a self-cleaning mechanism and it protects the tooth enamel by preventing acid from breaking it down. Saliva also plays a key role in starting the digestive process. See my previous article explaining saliva and the oral microbiome.  
Since our body goes through a natural detoxification process during our sleep, it is a good practice to swish this tea during your morning routine, but anytime during the day is better than not doing it at all. 

*Things to Consider When Eating for a Healthy Mouth and Teeth

Following the consumption of acidic and/or sugary foods, it is a good idea to brush your teeth or at least rinse your mouth. I also recommend drinking a glass of water. 

Diabetics especially should be cautious of the high naturally occurring sugars in some of these foods. Check with your physician for any food-drug interactions and if you are on prescription or over-the-counter medications. 

Be careful with the high oxalate foods on this list such as leafy greens, almonds, seeds, and some fruits if you are on a low oxalate or elimination diet. Always check with your physician before implementing any suggestions in this and other articles. 

HEALTHY MOUTH, HEALTHY BODY, HEALTHY FUTURE

Don’t forget your mouth is a significant gateway to your health (the other being your skin). It is responsible for the initial breakdown of your food while being exposed to the chemicals in food and drink particles. Safeguarding your mouth with these foods I mentioned above will not only foster a healthier environment for the microbiome to flourish there but also ensure the next stages of your digestion, absorption, and elimination are smooth sailing. 

Remember, 80% of your immune system resides in your gut. You can read more about protecting your gut in my “Go With Your Gut” e-book here.  

 
Keeping your stress in check and exercising consistent dental hygiene habits, will help your oral microbiome diet go a lot further!  

Have you made a major positive shift in your diet that resulted in improved dental health over time? 

Have you had trouble giving up the sugars and processed foods and constantly battle with poor dental health?  

Please comment below and let’s share some ideas and encouragement to help each other optimize our health! As always, thank you for spending your valuable time reading this article.

Dr. Melanie

REFERENCES:

  1. Defining the oral microbiome: https://bmcmicrobiol.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12866-020-01801-y 

2. Blueberries, Cranberries, and Gum Disease: https://www.dentalhealth.org/news/cranberries-and-blueberries-why-certain-fruit-extracts-could-provide-the-key-to-fighting-tooth-decay 

3. Inhibitory effects of fruit berry extracts on Streptococcus mutans biofilms: https://www.scinapse.io/papers/2907415780

4. Teas and Oral Health: https://www.intechopen.com/chapters/63614 
Aswini Y. Balappanavar* Department of Public Health Dentistry, Maulana Azad Institute of Dental Sciences, New Delhi, India 

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