Strong teeth are essential for a healthy mouth! You can work on strengthening your teeth by getting the right vitamins and minerals in your diet. You can also protect your teeth through healthy habits. In addition, certain foods and habits can weaken your teeth so limit those as you work for a healthy smile.

EditGetting the Right Nutrients

  1. Ensure you're getting 1,000 to 1,200 milligrams of calcium a day. You probably know calcium helps keep your bones strong; the same is true for your teeth. Eating the recommended amount of calcium in your diet every day will help increase the strength of your teeth. Dairy products are a great source of calcium; however, you'll find other good sources, such as fortified cereal and leafy greens.[1]

    • For instance, both of low-fat milk and a few cubes (about the size of 3 dice) of cheese have 305 milligrams of calcium.
    • However, other foods have calcium, too: a serving of fortified cereal can have anywhere from 150 milligrams to over 1,000 milligrams so read the label.[2] Tofu with calcium sulfate added, as well as calcium-fortified milk substitutes are good choices. Canned fish with the bones, such as sardines or salmon, collard greens, bok choy, turnip greens, and kale are also good sources of calcium.[3]

  2. Aim for 800 IU (40 ?g) of vitamin D a day. Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium properly. Many milk products and cereals are fortified with it for this very reason. Being out in the sun is another way to get vitamin D, though you need to weigh the costs of sun exposure, which can damage your skin. However, if you're not getting enough, you may need to take a supplement.[4]

    • Fish is a great source of vitamin D. A serving of fish that's about the size of a deck of cards can have anywhere from 4 ?g to 18 ?g. Sardines, rockfish, herring, halibut, and tuna are on the low end, in the 4-5 ?g range. Fish like coho or sockeye salmon, mackerel, whitefish, and sturgeon are about 10-11 ?g, while smoked sturgeon, smoked chinook salmon, trout, swordfish, and canned sockeye salmon are on the high end of that range.[5]

  3. Eat phosphorus-rich foods to get 1,000 milligrams per day. Like calcium, phosphorus is essential to bone and teeth health. Most dairy foods are high in phosphorus, as well as many fortified foods, so if you're getting your calcium from these foods, you're likely getting enough phosphorus, too. Also, many protein-rich foods, such as meat and eggs, are high in phosphorus.[6]

    • Phosphorus is used as an additive in many processed foods, mainly as a preservative. In fact, sodas are high in phosphoric acid. That doesn't mean you should increase your intake of processed foods; however, if you are eating these foods, you're likely getting enough phosphorus in your diet.
    • Toddlers should get 460 milligrams, 4-8 year-olds should get 500 milligrams, and 9-18-year-olds should get 1,250 milligrams a day.[7]

  4. Eat a balanced diet for teeth and mouth health. Aim to eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in your weekly diet; try selecting a variety of colors when choosing your produce, as that ensures you'll be getting a wide variety of vitamins. Fill your plate up halfway with fruits and veggies at every meal, then opt for a lean protein and whole grains for the rest of your plate, along with a serving of low-fat dairy.[8]

    • While focusing on nutrients like calcium and vitamin D are great for dental wellness, a healthy diet overall is also essential. Getting a wide variety of vitamins and minerals will help support your strong teeth.

EditPracticing Healthy Habits

  1. Brush your teeth twice a day to remove bacteria. To brush well, hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle to your teeth. Use soft, gentle strokes to brush all the surfaces of your teeth and aim to brush for at least 2 minutes. Set a timer to help you brush longer![9]

    • Remember to replace your toothbrush or toothbrush head every 3-4 months.

  2. Floss once a day to get food from in between your teeth. Pull out about of floss. Wrap around your middle finger on one hand. Leave loose between your hands, then wrap the rest around the middle finger on your other hand. Gently press the floss between your teeth, taking care not to ram it into your gums. Make a "C" around each side of the tooth and move the floss up and down to help clear food.[10]

    • As the dental floss gets dirty, move clean thread into the middle by taking some off the finger holding most of it and wrapping the extra around the other finger.

  3. Visit your dentist at least once a year for x-rays and cleaning. These visits help detect problems before they begin. Plus, if you start to get a buildup of plaque, which can weaken teeth, the dentist can remove it for you so you can start fresh.[11]

    • If you have dental problems, you may need to visit more often.

  4. Increase saliva production by chewing sugarless gum and drinking more water. Dry mouth can increase your chances of tooth decay, and it can be a side effect of many medications. To help your body produce more saliva, try chewing on sugarless gum throughout the day or even sucking on sugarless candy.[12]

    • Sipping water can help combat dry mouth. To increase the benefit, don't swallow immediately; instead, hold it in your mouth for a few moments first.

  5. Opt for fruits and veggies high in fiber to clean your teeth. These foods naturally clean your teeth, helping to keep them strong. Plus, they increase saliva production, which in turn will help reduce the bacteria in your mouth and protect your teeth.[13]

    • Try produce like carrots, leafy greens, apples, and celery.
    • Saliva has small amounts of calcium and phosphate in it, which helps restore the minerals in your enamel.

  6. Enjoy green and black teas to reduce bacteria in your mouth. These teas contain polyphenols, which help to reduce bacteria in your mouth. Try drinking tea with your meal or shortly after to help protect your teeth.[14]

    • Keep in mind, though, that teas can stain your teeth over time.

  7. Consider oil pulling to reduce bacteria in the mouth. Oil pulling is a traditional Indian technique that some people experience good results with. To practice this method, simply put 1-2 spoonfuls of oil in your mouth (enough to swish around) and move it around in your mouth for 5-20 minutes. When you're done, spit the oil out in a trashcan and rinse your mouth out. Then, you can brush your teeth like you normally would.[15]

    • Typically, you do this in the early morning before you eat.
    • While moving the oil around, try to swish it between your teeth.
    • You can use sesame oil, olive oil, coconut oil, or sunflower oil, just to name a few.

EditAvoiding Destructive Foods and Habits

  1. Rinse after eating soft, starchy foods. Soft breads, potato chips, and even crackers can wedge food particles in your teeth, leading to increased bacteria and tooth decay. Try to avoid these foods when you can. When you can't, try swishing your mouth with water after eating them to clear out the food.[16]

    • You can also try eating sugarless gum.

  2. Choose chocolate and other short-lived candies over hard candies. Avoid sugary candies that you hold in your mouth a long time like lollipops, hard candies, and caramels. Because the sugar stays in your mouth so long, it promotes bacteria growth and tooth decay. If you need something sweet, pick something that will wash away more quickly, such as chocolate.[17]

    • Reach for dark chocolate, which has less sugar and may have other health benefits.
    • Also, go for sugary foods when you're already eating a meal, as the extra saliva will help clear out the sugar.

  3. Slow down your alcohol intake. Alcohol can dry out your mouth, which can lead to tooth decay. Try limiting your intake of alcohol or skipping it altogether to help avoid this issue.[18]
  4. Quit smoking to protect your teeth. You likely are aware that smoking causes lung cancer and a whole host of other health problems. In addition, it can also weaken bone tissue, including your teeth.[19] Plus, smoking can cause oral cavities and oral cancers that lead to teeth decay.[20] If you've been thinking about quitting, now may be the time.

    • Consider joining a quitter's group to help you learn how to deal with triggers and cravings.
    • Discuss nicotine patches and gums with your doctor to help you quit.
    • Get your friends and family to help you out by letting them know you are trying to quit.

  5. Opt for water over sugary sodas. The sugar in soda is bad for your teeth, but it goes beyond that. The acids can break down your enamel over time, leading to decay. Avoid sodas when you can and opt for water instead.[21]

    • If you really need a soda, try using a straw, which cuts down on the soda's contact with your teeth.


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