We know about scheduling regular dental appointments, and hopefully we know that cutting back on sugar and keeping it to mealtimes instead of snacks throughout the day is also important. But what about the vitamins and minerals that help build those healthy smiles in the first place? Let’s take a look at some of those.
Our first line of defense against gum disease and tooth decay is saliva. What keeps saliva flowing? Vitamin A! Good sources of it include melon, sweet potatoes, spinach, and beef liver.
Vitamin C is a powerful antioxidant that helps our bodies heal and fight inflammation. When kids don’t get enough, their gums could become more prone to bleeding and their teeth can become looser. Good sources of vitamin C include citrus fruits. However, these are also acidic, so make sure to rinse with water after enjoying a delicious orange!
As important as so many vitamins and minerals are, we wouldn’t be able to get much out of them without vitamin D, which signals our intestines to absorb them into the bloodstream. Enough vitamin D also means having denser, stronger bones. We can get vitamin D by spending time in the sun as well as by eating eggs, fish, and dairy products.
Each of these B vitamins is important for reducing the risk of developing canker sores in the mouth, and B3 also helps us convert food into energy. Good sources of vitamin B3 are chicken and fish, we can get vitamin B12 from pasta, bagels, spinach, and almonds, and we can get vitamin B2 from red meat, chicken, fish, dairy products, or liver.
We’ve all heard about how important calcium is for building strong teeth and bones (and that dairy products are good sources of it) but do you know what the other three do? Magnesium helps the body absorb calcium, so we should try to eat leafy greens, nuts, beans, seeds, and whole grains to get plenty of magnesium.
Next up is iron, which we need to maintain good oxygen levels in our cells. An iron deficiency causes problems like increased risk of infections, inflammation of the tongue, mouth sores, and a buildup of oral bacteria. It’s also associated with an ice-chewing habit, which can cause all kinds of damage to the teeth. Red meat and liver are great sources of iron.
Last but not least, zinc helps us fight oral bacteria and plaque by making it harder for it to build up along the gumline. Great sources of zinc are wheat, cereal, cheese, beef, and wild rice.
Bonus tip: cheese, in addition to being a great source of calcium, also contains casein, which is important for keeping our tooth enamel strong.
If your child isn’t already getting these important nutrients for building strong, healthy smiles, we recommend adding some of the foods we’ve mentioned into their diets. If allergies or food intolerance problems make this difficult, you can also consult your pediatrician about supplements and multivitamins. In the meantime, keep up the great work with brushing and flossing routines!