Even if you’re not a gym buff you probably know that weak muscles can get stronger if you follow the right nutrition and training program. But did you know that the same principle basically applies for making your teeth stronger? And there’s no sweating or heavy lifting required! Just follow the few simple diet and oral care tips below and you’ll build stronger teeth and a powerhouse smile.
1. Focus on fluoride
Fluoride remineralizes weakened teeth, hardens your enamel, and makes your teeth more resistant to decay. While many communities add fluoride to their water, adults who primarily drink bottled water could be missing out. Fortunately, there are several ways to make sure you get enough fluoride, including:
Using fluoride-based toothpaste
Rinsing with fluoride mouthwash
Taking fluoride supplements
Fluoride treatments at the dentist’s office
2. Get your vitamins
Taking in the right vitamins can help you strengthen your teeth from the inside out. Supplements will get you there, but eating a nutrient-rich diet is an even better way to go. The three most important vitamins for healthy teeth and gums are:
Vitamin D: Helps your body absorb calcium, and prevents your body from leaching calcium from your bones and teeth, which weakens them. You can get adequate amounts through sun exposure, supplements, or by eating vitamin D rich foods such as salmon, beef liver, canned tuna, and egg yolks.
Vitamin K: Critical for strong bones and teeth, a deficiency of Vitamin K can not only lead to weakened enamel, you may also end up with bleeding gums. Getting enough Vitamin K is pretty easy if you include leafy greens such as kale, spinach, or swiss chard in your diet, or other veggies such as broccoli and brussel sprouts.
Vitamin C: Essential for healthy gums and preventing gingivitis, Vitamin C fights off free radicals that can damage your cells and it also helps promote the production of collagen. You can get plenty of C from citrus and other fruits, as well as bell peppers, broccoli and tomatoes.
3. Eat foods high in calcium
While vitamins are important, minerals are too, and when it comes to your teeth calcium is the main mineral you need. A high-calcium diet can fortify enamel, strengthening the outer surface of your teeth. The average adult should consume about 1,000 mg of calcium per day. Dairy is one of the best sources, offering plenty of calcium in yogurt, milk, and cheese. Dairy also promotes saliva secretion, which helps to protect your tooth enamel from acid and bacteria. If you’re lactose intolerant and can’t do dairy, you can also get calcium from sardines, leafy greens, almonds, and beans.
4. Get out of the grind
Teeth grinding (or bruxism) can wear down your tooth enamel, weakening your teeth and exposing deeper layers. If you suspect you’re a grinder, speak to your dentist to see what you can do about it. There are a number of different treatments, including mouth guards, muscle relaxation exercises, or mouth splints that can help.
5. Chew sugar-free gum
Chewing gum can increase the flow of saliva within your mouth. This provides enamel-strengthening calcium and phosphate, strengthening your teeth and preventing decay. It also helps to wash away the acid in your mouth which wears down enamel.
6. Avoid over-brushing
Brushing your teeth diligently is critical to oral care, but there is such a thing as putting too much muscle into it! By brushing too hard or too frequently, you can wear down enamel and weaken your teeth. Be sure to use a soft-bristled brush, and consider investing in an electric toothbrush for a thorough cleaning with a gentler touch. And though it may seem counterintuitive, wait about an hour after eating acidic foods to brush your teeth, or the acid combined with the brushing will work to further wear away your enamel.
Now that you know there are simple steps you can take to reverse weakened enamel and build a set of stronger teeth, there’s nothing stopping you from improving your oral health. Incorporate the tips above, brush twice and floss once daily, and see your dentist regularly and you’ll be well on your way to maintaining healthy teeth and a beautiful smile.