We do a lot for our oral health - brushing and flossing twice a day, and routinely visiting the dentist, but one of the best things we can do for our oral health is eat the right food! Your digestive system and oral health have a lot to do with another so keeping a clean and well-maintained digestive system will aid in maintaining a healthy mouth too.
Despite our teeth being bones, they still require essential minerals and vitamins to sustain healthy levels of enamel and dentin and stay healthy and strong. The right foods also help break up build-up of naturally occurring microflora and fungus.
Certain foods definitely help support healthy oral hygiene more than others and there are certain foods you may want to avoid altogether. We're here to highlight the benefits some foods have for your teeth and mouth healthy, as well as list some that do the opposite!
Foods For Strengthening Teeth
There are a number of vitamins and minerals that contribute to strengthening your teeth. Instead of hunting down which ones are the best for your teeth and then checking each ingredient label to see if it contains those, we'll do you one better and give you a few examples.
Butter - Vitamin K2
It may not be the first thing you think of when you imagine healthy foods but you'd be surprised - butter is one of the best foods for sustaining healthy teeth. The saturated fat contained in butter won’t make you fat and instead helps naturally release hormones that keep you feeling full and won't spike your blood sugar.
Butter is also a good source of the fat-soluble vitamins A, vitamin D, and vitamin K2.
Asparagus is loaded up with important fibers that benefit our health. It is a perfect resource for inulin, a fiber that helps digest probiotics. Probiotics are good bacteria that help you maintain healthy digestion and digestive flora which affects your dental health as well.
Although liver may not be as popular in the culinary world as it used to be it still is one of the most nutrient-rich foods that you can eat. Liver is a reliable source of fat soluble vitamins like Vitamin A, Vitamin D, Vitamin K1 and K2. It also is packed with Vitamin C and iron, making it a perfect food to promote oral health.
Sauerkraut is a fermented cabbage that contains live probiotic cultures that help sustain healthy digestion. It also contains lactic acid forming bacteria that is good for your gut. The lactic acid also helps prevent tooth decay and gum disease, aiding in strengthening your teeth.
Sauerkraut also contains Vitamin K2, which is vital for healthy teeth, gums, and digestion and decay prevention.
The most popular cut of chicken is usually the lean skinless breast. It’s the cut that is lowest in calories in calories right? That may be true but you might be surprised to learn that chicken drumsticks are actually the most beneficial cut for your teeth! Chicken drums, thighs, and wings are all rich in collagen, when cooked and eaten, this collagen is excellent for joint health. Collagen also has a large impact on your gum health as gum disease is considered a loss of the collagen ligament attached to your teeth. Chicken stock can also be helpful for this.
Parsley is well known for possessing a number of anti-bacterial characteristics. It also is rich in antioxidants and phytonutrients which aid in your overall health. Phytonutrients are chemicals that help guard plant life from bugs, germs, fungi, and other threats. Fruits and vegetables contain phytonutrients.
Thankfully parsley is very easy to incorporate into recipes as well. It can make a flavorful addition to a salad or be added as a garnish on top of your meal. As it's very light in flavor, you can even blend it in with smoothies. This is also one of the best natural breath fresheners as well.
Garlic has boasted a number of healthful qualities for some time now. Garlic possesses a number of antibacterial properties and an important little component called allicin. Allicin is a chemical that gives you the noted 'garlic breath' but also makes garlic an antifingal, antiviral, and antibacterial agent. Allicin helps balance your internal oral and digestive flora by controlling negative bacteria that can cause cavities, and gum disease.
Garlic is contain perbiotic fiber which aids in promoting gut health, which will make for a health mouth too! You can add garlic to a number of recipes as well.
Foods that cause short-term vs chronic bad breath
Foods that can cause temporary bad breath:
- Tuna/fish – breaks down to trimethylamine, which has its own ‘fishy’ odor that can cause bad breath
- Garlic & onions – both rich in sulfur which leaves a distinct smell in even the healthiest of mouths
- Carbonated and flavored drinks
- Spicy foods, chili, and curries – Can cause digestive unrest which has the potential to lead to bad breath
- Cigarette Smoking
If you're struggling with regularly occurring bad breath, you can try removing these select foods from your diet, waiting 2 weeks and seeing if your breath has improved. If you see no change in your breath freshness, it's likely there may be a more serious underlying condition that is causing it.
Bad Breath Causes
The process of breaking down dietary proteins with oral microbiota is usually the main source of bad breath.
An imbalance in the gut and oral microbiome can create a build-up of by-products such as bacteria or fungus that causes bad breath. This means your diet could be causing a bacterial imbalance in your system, in turn causing bad, odorous breath.
Short chain fatty acids
Short chain fatty acids are very important for the digestive system but if bacteria released these fatty acids from the wrong place, they can cause nasty breath.
The improper breakdown of carbohydrates can be associated with gas, bloating and reflux. What people may not recognize is that these can also cause bad breath, stemming from the digestive system and microbiome.
- Sugar & Simple Carbohydrates
- Sugar and white flour both drive bacterial imbalances and should be avoided. Sugar serves as fuel for bacteria when it comes to promoting bad breath. Sugary candy, chewing gum, and even mints can end up causing bad breath.
Starchy, High-Fiber Foods
Starches and dietary fibers like potatoes, corn, seeds/nuts, grains, and legumes such as beans contribute a lot of healthy fiber to your diet, but can also increase gas.
Usually high-fiber foods are good for the digestive system but they also take some effort to be broken down. The level of carbohydrates they posses can also contribute to fermentation, leading to imbalances in your digestion, causing gas within the process.
Removing these foods from your diet temporarily can help get rid of bad breath. However, if this persists it may be something you want to investigate further with the help of your doctor.
Naturally Fight Bad Breath
Add Herbs to Your Diet
Poor digestion of the foods we ingest is one of the major causes for bath breath that originates in areas other than the mouth. To improve digestion and eliminate the bad breath, herbs can be really helpful. Herbs often possess natural substances that aid in improving digestion and maintaining a healthy digestive system.
Try adding these herbs to your diet
Increase Your Intake of Chlorophyll
Leafy green vegetables are packed with chlorophyll, which is a potent antioxidant and deodorizer. This can be really effective in arming you against bad breath and also helps with your natural body odor as well. Spinach and parsley possess the largest amount of chlorophyll but other great resources include:
- Green beans
Incorporate Natural Acidic Foods In Your Diet
Acidity is usually associated with negative dental affects such as eroding protective enamel around your teeth but naturally occurring acids can be a big help in fighting off offensive breath.
An increase in your intake of the foods can help:
- Apple Cider Vinegar
You can incorporate these acidic ingredients into salad recipes or simply add them to your water to help improve breath. With any acidic supplement, we recommend monitoring the amount you intake as you don't want it to negatively impact your teeth.
Use Dental Products with Micro-nutrients
A deficiency in micro-nutrients can be linked to bad breath. Particularly a lack of zinc and magnesium which are thought to interconnect with sulfur which helps prevent bad breath. Those nutrients help neutralize sulfur molecules before they begin to form odors.
Oral products containing zinc are shown to be more effective in reducing or inhibiting oral malodor. You can also try taking zinc and magnesium supplements to get rid of your bad breath naturally.
Good sources of magnesium and zinc include:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Kidney beans