Protecting your oral health goes beyond just making sure you brush, floss, and head to the dentist for those bi-annual checkups. What you’re putting on your plate also impacts your oral health. Sure, you already know that you should skip the sugar to prevent cavities, but you may not realize that getting the right vitamins is essential for a clean, strong, healthy smile, too.
Whether you focus on eating your vitamins or you take nutritional supplements, here’s a closer look at some of the best choices for your oral health.
Although vitamin A is associated with a strong immune system, clear skin, and better eyesight, it’s also important for the maintenance of salivary flow and healthy mucous membranes in your mouth. Not only can it help prevent dry mouth, it can promote faster healing in your mouth.
You can find vitamin A in egg yolks, organ meats, and fish. Since the body converts beta-carotene into vitamin A for your body to use, eating yellow and orange foods like sweet potatoes, mangoes, and carrots, as well as dark leafy greens can help you ensure you’re getting enough vitamin A in your diet.
Getting plenty of vitamin C is important for good oral health since it helps to build and repair your connective tissue, which can help prevent gum inflammation. If you’re deficient in vitamin C, you’re more likely to deal with gum problems. Getting enough vitamin C can offer protection against gingivitis, preventing tooth loss in the future. As a powerful antioxidant, it also speeds healing and boosts your immune system.
Vitamin C is plentiful in citrus fruit. However, you can also find it in kale, broccoli, berries, and many other fruits and veggies.
Vitamin D is synthesized in your skin when you’re outside in the sun, and this vitamin helps to regulate levels of phosphorus and calcium in your blood. If you don’t get enough vitamin D, your body isn’t able to absorb calcium effectively to keep teeth strong and healthy.
Getting 15 minutes of sun several times a week generally gives people enough vitamin D. However, if you’re vitamin D deficient your doctor may suggest a supplement. Some cereals and dairy products are also fortified with vitamin D.
Vitamin K helps to block substances that can break down bones and also helps the body produce proteins that support bone strength. If you don’t have enough vitamin K, your body’s healing process can be slowed down, which can be a problem for your oral health.
Leafy greens, such as spinach, collards, and kale, are all packed with vitamin K. Other great food sources of vitamin K include Brussels sprouts, parsley, and broccoli.
B vitamins are important for energy and keeping stress controlled. However, they are important for oral health because they can help prevent canker sores and reduce problems with tongue inflammation. Specifically, vitamin B1 may prevent tongue inflammation, vitamin B2 may help prevent inflammation of mucous membranes, B3 (Niacin) may reduce the symptoms of gum disease, and B5 (pantothenic acid) may help with the healing of oral tissues.
You can find B vitamins in meat and poultry, as well as in green vegetables, legumes, and beans. Vegetarians in particular often have difficulty getting enough B12, so a supplement may be worth considering if you’re a vegetarian.
Minerals are Important Too
Along with getting the right vitamins for your oral health, certain minerals are also very important. Calcium is very important for the health of your teeth since calcium helps strengthen the jawbone and harden enamel. Other important minerals include potassium, phosphorous, iron, zinc, and magnesium.
One of the ways to make sure you’re getting all the nutrients your body needs for healthy teeth and gums is to eat a healthy diet packed with lean proteins and plenty of fruits and vegetables.
If you think you may have a vitamin or mineral deficiency, talk to your doctor or dentist about whether a supplement may be a good choice for you.