Best Foods For Your Teeth

  • Alisha SolankiBSc Biomedical science, University of Central Lancashire, UK


Importance of oral health

Dental health holds as much importance as our general health. The mouth is home to a wide range of microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi, and viruses. This is termed the oral microbiota, and when this is altered, it can cause pathogens to invade the body and result in diseases, some of which can be gastric (affecting the stomach) or pulmonary (affecting the lungs). Good dental health is also essential in those who are immunocompromised, such as individuals who have been diagnosed with cancer.1

Role of diet in maintaining healthy teeth

A good diet is important when preventing dental cavities. Having foods that contain acids, such as citric and phosphoric acid, can also result in dental erosion, which is irreversible damage to the enamel and dentin in our teeth. These acids can be found in fruit, fruit juices, and vinegar. There is also a higher risk of mouth cancer in those who consume high amounts of alcohol.2

Purpose of the outline

The purpose of this outline is to inform individuals about which food groups contain the key nutrients for healthy teeth and which food groups are best avoided when maintaining good oral health. Ultimately, knowledge of how to maintain good oral health can prevent a variety of disorders affecting the oral cavity, such as cavities, tooth decay, and potentially mouth cancer.

Key nutrients for healthy teeth


Sources of calcium-rich foods

Calcium-rich foods include dairy products, particularly hard cheeses, compared to other dairy products, such as milk and yoghurt. Cereals are also rich in calcium but contain less calcium than dairy products. Calcium-rich foods also include vegetables such as broccoli, watercress, and kale, as well as nuts and seeds such as sesame and chia.3

Importance of calcium for teeth

Calcium is a crucial component of tooth enamel, with 95% of tooth enamel consisting of calcium and phosphorus. Having high levels of calcium in your diet can also help with the remineralisation of enamel (a natural tooth-repairing process) and the prevention of cavities.4

Vitamin D

Vitamin D sources

Vitamin D can be sourced from foods such as egg yolks, red meat, oily fish (mackerel and salmon are examples), and liver.

Role of vitamin D in dental health

Vitamin D has a role in regulating the amount of calcium in the body, which is an important component of tooth enamel. Vitamin D is important for maintaining healthy teeth and gums. Weakening of the teeth due to vitamin D deficiency can make your teeth susceptible to cavities as well as tooth decay.


Phosphorus-rich foods

Phosphorus-rich foods include red meat, dairy foods, poultry, bread, brown rice and oats.

How phosphorus benefits teeth

Phosphorus helps the body absorb calcium, which is needed for healthy teeth and the remineralisation of tooth enamel. Together, phosphorus and calcium make up hydroxyapatite, which is the main structural component of tooth enamel.

Foods to avoid for dental health

Sugary and acidic foods

Sugary and acidic foods are a major cause of tooth decay. When bacteria in the mouth break down sugars, they release acids, which dissolve tooth enamel. In addition, acids sourced from acidic foods can also result in the dissolving of tooth enamel. This is the first stage of tooth decay. Both foods that contain natural sugars, such as fruits, and those that contain added sugars, such as cakes and biscuits, can result in the dissolving of tooth enamel.

Starchy foods

Starchy foods, especially those that are quickly digested into smaller sugars in the mouth, pose a great risk to dental health. Starchy foods increase the acid levels in the mouth. This, in turn, results in the formation of cavities and the dissolving of enamel, which is the first step of tooth decay.5

Sticky and chewy candies

Sticky and chewy candies adhere to tooth enamel and are a good food source for acid-producing bacteria. This acid, in turn, results in dissolving tooth enamel and forming cavities, contributing to the first step of tooth decay.

Best foods for dental health

Crunchy vegetables

Crunchy vegetables such as celery, bell peppers, and carrots are good for your teeth as the riffage can remove plaque on the teeth, which is a bacterial build-up on the outer surface of the teeth.

Dairy products

Milk, yoghurt, and cheese are all high in calcium, which helps strengthen tooth enamel and prevent the formation of cavities.

Lean protein sources

Protein and phosphorus are found in lean meats, such as turkey and chicken. Along with calcium, phosphorus has an important role in the formation of hydroxyapatite in tooth enamel, highlighting the importance of phosphorus in both building and protecting our teeth’s enamel. Phosphorus is an important mineral in both teeth and gum health.

Role of protein in teeth health

Protein has a key role in oral health, as it is a building block for both bone and the periodontium (specialised tissues that surround the teeth). Protein also has another key role in tissue repair, with an increased protein intake being associated with an improvement in periodontal healing.6

Nuts and seeds

Nuts that are free of additives and high in fibre and calcium are important for oral health, helping to strengthen tooth enamel and thus preventing the formation of cavities and further tooth decay. Chewing nuts also stimulate saliva production in the mouth, which can reduce the risk of tooth decay.

Water: Hydration and its impact on oral health

Hydration is imperative for oral health by allowing saliva production. Saliva protects teeth against the formation of dental cavities. Saliva washes the surfaces of the teeth, removing bacteria from them. Saliva also has a role in regulating the demineralisation and remineralisation of tooth enamel.7

Meal planning for dental health

Balanced meals

Many studies have indicated that a balanced diet has a key role when it comes to periodontal health.8

The best foods to incorporate for a balanced diet are vegetables and fruits and foods which have a high content of fibre.9 Nuts, grains, and unsaturated fats also contribute towards a balanced diet and good oral health.10

Snack choices

Healthy options between meals include the following:

  • Cheese and yoghurts
  • Crunchy vegetables, such as carrots and celery
  • Sugar-free boiled sweets

Timing of meals 

The timing of meals is important, and the following should be adhered to:

  • Consume no more than 5 meals a day.
  • Food and drink should be consumed in one block together, with definitive breaks between episodes.
  • Constant snacking doesn’t give our saliva time to recover and can damage the outer enamel layer of the teeth, which protects against tooth decay.

It is important to note that after eating, it takes the mouth approximately 30 minutes to recover and bring the pH of the oral cavity back to a neutral pH of approximately 7.

Additional tips for dental health

Proper oral hygiene practices: brushing and flossing

Teeth should be brushed twice a day using a fluoride-based toothpaste. The best toothbrushes to use should have soft to medium bristles, as hard bristles can damage your gums and the tooth enamel. The toothbrush should be placed at a 45-degree angle between your gums and teeth in order to help brush plaque off the surface of the teeth and maintain good oral hygiene.

Flossing once daily also maintains dental health standards. A piece of dental floss should have both ends wrapped around your middle fingers, and using the thumb and forefingers, the floss should be guided between two teeth. This ensures that areas which are difficult to brush are also being cleaned.

Regular dental check-ups

Check-ups allow a dentist to identify any dental problems, and this helps you keep your mouth healthy. The time between checkups is usually 6 months. However, this can vary from individual to individual, ranging from 3 months to 2 years.

Avoiding harmful habits: Smoking, excessive alcohol, and teeth grinding

Excessive alcohol consumption is a risk factor for mouth cancer. Alcohol can also increase the levels of acid in the mouth, which in turn can erode tooth enamel and cause cavities.

Smoking results in nicotine and tar resting on the tooth enamel and causing staining of the teeth, where they have a yellow appearance. Smoking puts individuals at a higher risk of developing mouth cancer and gum disease.

Teeth grinding is linked to those who take antidepressants, have sleeping problems, and have anxiety and depression. A dentist may recommend that an individual wears a mouth guard to avoid tooth damage and the development of tooth sensitivity.


  • Oral hygiene is very important to our dental health.
  • Food sources rich in calcium, vitamin D, and phosphorus allow our enamel to repair itself and maintain good dental health.
  • Crunchy vegetables, nuts such as almonds, and dairy products are good for our oral hygiene.
  • Sticky candies and starchy foods are bad for our dental health.
  • Eating a balanced diet is good for our dental health, and avoiding grazing gives time for the mouth to recover.
  • Teeth grinding, excessive alcohol consumption, and smoking all have negative impacts on our dental health.


  1. Bhatnagar, Dipti M. “Oral Health: A Gateway to Overall Health.” Contemporary Clinical Dentistry, vol. 12, no. 3, 2021, pp. 211–12. PubMed Central,
  2. Scardina GA, Messina P. Good oral health and diet. J Biomed Biotechnol [Internet]. 2012 [cited 2023 Sep 13];2012:720692. Available from:
  3. Cormick G, Belizán JM. Calcium intake and health. Nutrients [Internet]. 2019 Jul 15 [cited 2023 Sep 13];11(7):1606. Available from:
  4. Adegboye AR, Christensen LB, Holm-Pedersen P, Avlund K, Boucher BJ, Heitmann BL. Intakes of calcium, vitamin D, and dairy servings and dental plaque in older Danish adults. Nutr J [Internet]. 2013 May 16 [cited 2023 Sep 13];12:61. Available from:
  5. Atkinson FS, Khan JH, Brand-Miller JC, Eberhard J. The impact of carbohydrate quality on dental plaque pH: does the glycemic index of starchy foods matter for dental health? Nutrients [Internet]. 2021 Aug 6 [cited 2023 Sep 14];13(8):2711. Available from:
  6. Jayasinghe, Thilini N., et al. “Protein Intake and Oral Health in Older Adults—A Narrative Review.” Nutrients, vol. 14, no. 21, Oct. 2022, p. 4478. PubMed Central,
  7. Dowd, F. J. “Saliva and Dental Caries.” Dental Clinics of North America, vol. 43, no. 4, Oct. 1999, pp. 579–97.
  8. Najeeb, Shariq, et al. “The Role of Nutrition in Periodontal Health: An Update.” Nutrients, vol. 8, no. 9, Aug. 2016, p. 530. PubMed Central,
  9. Scardina, G. A., and P. Messina. “Good Oral Health and Diet.” Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology, vol. 2012, 2012, p. 720692. PubMed Central,
  10. Palacios, C., et al. “Nutrition and Health: Guidelines for Dental Practitioners.” Oral Diseases, vol. 15, no. 6, Sept. 2009, pp. 369–81. PubMed Central,
This content is purely informational and isn’t medical guidance. It shouldn’t replace professional medical counsel. Always consult your physician regarding treatment risks and benefits. See our editorial standards for more details.

Get our health newsletter

Get daily health and wellness advice from our medical team.
Your privacy is important to us. Any information you provide to this website may be placed by us on our servers. If you do not agree do not provide the information.

Alisha Solanki

BSc Biomedical science, University of Central Lancashire

Current biomedical science student with a keen interest in medical communications. I have a passion for producing scientifically correct articles in plain language, and communicating advances in the biomedical field to the public. presents all health information in line with our terms and conditions. It is essential to understand that the medical information available on our platform is not intended to substitute the relationship between a patient and their physician or doctor, as well as any medical guidance they offer. Always consult with a healthcare professional before making any decisions based on the information found on our website.
Klarity is a citizen-centric health data management platform that enables citizens to securely access, control and share their own health data. Klarity Health Library aims to provide clear and evidence-based health and wellness related informative articles. 
Klarity / Managed Self Ltd
Alum House
5 Alum Chine Road
Westbourne Bournemouth BH4 8DT
VAT Number: 362 5758 74
Company Number: 10696687

Phone Number:

 +44 20 3239 9818