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5 Superfoods for Prettier Teeth and Gums

Whitening toothpaste will only get you so far. Here’s what to eat (and what to avoid) for a healthier, brighter smile. Plus: How to avoid ‘mask mouth’ during the pandemic.

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Whitening toothpaste will only get you so far. If you want to keep your teeth and gums healthy and your smile bright, you can give yourself an edge by switching up your grocery list. According to the American Dental Association, the foods you eat and how often you eat them can affect your overall health, including the health of your teeth and gums.

You probably know that if you drink too many syrupy sodas, fruit drinks and junk food snacks, you could be at risk for tooth decay. This happens when plaque caused by carbs and sugary foods and drinks are left on the teeth, producing acid in the process. That yellow buildup isn’t just harmful — it’s often noticeably discoloring. And, perhaps you’ve noticed how receding gums, associated with gum disease, can turn the smile a person had in their youth to one that makes them appear “long in the tooth.” The thing is, in addition to the usual sugary suspects, there are some sneakier snacks that can also promote tooth decay, and you may be surprised to learn what they are.

There are also foods that are especially helpful in keeping your smile shining bright. In fact, you may be surprised by some of the foods that can scrub and whiten.

Follow the same routine to avoid ‘mask mouth,’ a condition typified by dry mouth, bad breath and, in some cases, inflamed or receding gums that’s become more common since face coverings were recommended to the public.

Good home care that includes regular brushing matters even more these days. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, many of us are going longer between dental checkups. So be sure to brush and floss between meals, chew sugarless gum and drink plenty of water to prevent pandemic related cavities. Follow the same routine to avoid “mask mouth,” a condition typified by dry mouth, bad breath and in some cases, inflamed or receding gums that’s become more common since face coverings were recommended to the public.

To keep you on the right track, here are five foods to eat for healthier, whiter teeth and five foods to avoid.

5 foods to eat for healthier, whiter teeth

Strawberries are rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, which fight gum disease. They also contain an enzyme called malic acid that could make your teeth whiter. To access that brightening action, give your teeth a strawberry “facial” by mashing up strawberries, mixing them with baking soda and rubbing them on your teeth. Leave for five minutes then rinse with water and brush and floss as usual.

Broccoli, spinach and kale are packed with vitamin C, which promotes strong, healthy gums. Toss these vibrant green veggies into salads, stir-fried dishes and fresh juices.

Cheese. Yes, please! The lactic acid and calcium found in cheese may strengthen your teeth and prevent cavities. To whiten your teeth, chomp on hard cheeses.

Nuts and seeds, including almonds, cashews, sunflower and pumpkin seeds are rich in phosphorus, which helps to build strong bones and teeth. The rough texture of nuts and seeds helps remove surface stains. Folks with kidney disease, however, should limit their phosphorus intake.

Celery, apples, carrots and other fibrous fruits and veggies are wholesome snack alternatives to candy and chips and support healthier teeth and gums. They naturally remove stains by increasing the production of saliva, kill bacteria that causes bad breath and scrub away food particles for whiter teeth.

5 foods to limit or avoid for healthier, whiter teeth

Hard candies are full of sugar, which can lead to tooth decay. If you take the wrong bite, they can also chip or break your teeth. Ouch! Instead, keep a pack of sugar-free gum handy.

Lemons and limes can give tap or bottled water a colorful and refreshing boost, but consuming too much citric acid can erode tooth enamel over time.

Coffee gets many of us revved up in the morning and offers the caffeine jolt we often need midday, but too many cups of Joe can stain your teeth over time.

Dried fruits can stick to your teeth and cause dental damage. So if you can’t resist that piece of dried pineapple or handful of trail mix, remember to rinse, floss and brush properly afterwards.

Diet soda. Most carbonated soft drinks are bad for your teeth. Yes, it’s partly because many contain sugar. But even diet sodas are acidic, which can weaken your tooth enamel and cause tooth decay.