Want a Radiant Smile? Check Out Your Food’s Nutrition Label

Having a healthy smile is about more than brushing and flossing. While taking care of your
teeth certainly does involve brushing, flossing, and visiting your dentist, what you eat can have
just as much of an effect on your smile as how well you care for it.

By checking your food’s nutrition label, you can make healthier choices to have a radiant smile.
What exactly should you look for on the nutrition label to protect and even nourish your teeth
and gums?

Check for Sugar

We all know how damaging sugar can be to our teeth. Sugar can wear away tooth enamel and
cause cavities and tooth sensitivity.

Typical foods that have sugar include sodas, candy, breads, and other processed foods.
However, sugar can be hiding in foods such as yogurt, tomato sauce, and salad dressings.
The label should tell you how many grams of sugar are in a product. Women should have no
more than 25 grams a day (six teaspoons) and men should have no more than 37.5 grams a day
(nine teaspoons) [1].

Eat Foods Rich in Calcium and Vitamin D

On most nutrition labels, there’s a section for percent daily values (DV). This section will tell you
what percentage of nutrients you’re getting from the food.

Teeth need a diet rich in vitamins and minerals to remain strong and healthy. Looking for foods
that have higher percentages of calcium and vitamin D can help you maintain a radiant smile.

Examples of these foods include wild-caught salmon, which can have 988 IU of vitamin D per
ounce, wild mushrooms, and even fortified soy milk [2]. For foods high in calcium, cooked
beans, almonds, and dark leafy greens top the charts. If you eat dairy, milk and hard cheeses
are excellent sources of calcium and vitamin D as well.

Look for Foods with Vitamin A, C, and K2

All of these vitamins play a vital role in your dental health. Vitamin A and C help protect your
smile from infection such as that which is present in gum disease. Vitamin A can also encourage
healthy saliva production to buffer teeth from acids and bacteria. Vitamin C is essential for
maintaining gum health.

But what about vitamin K2? Chances are you haven’t heard of this one.

Vitamin K2 is found in animal products such as liver, eggs, butter, chicken, beef, and even lamb.
However, if you follow a plant-based diet, you can also get vitamin K2 from sauerkraut, yogurt,
kefir, and hard cheeses. Vitamin K2 can protect against tooth decay and help teeth repel
bacteria and stay strong [3].

Don’t Discount the Importance of Fats

Fats have gotten a bad reputation in the past. But the truth is that not all fats are bad.
The right kinds of fats are actually essential to fight inflammation. These include oils such as
olive oil and flaxseed oil. Even saturated fats—eaten in moderation, of course—aren’t as bad as
experts once thought. Unrefined saturated fats such as coconut oil and butter can help reduce
inflammation, unlike refined oils that promote inflammation, such as canola, soybean, and corn
oil [4].

Eating Right for Your Teeth

You can help protect your teeth and promote a beautiful smile by continuing your regular oralcare habits but also by eating healthy. When you regularly check the nutrition label on the food
products you buy, you empower yourself to make smart choices for your smile!

1. http://sugarscience.ucsf.edu/the-growing-concern-of-overconsumption.html#.XD0bYc9Kgxc
2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2698592/
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4566462/
4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4382606/