It’s not just your bones that benefit from milk; your teeth get stronger and healthier when you drink, too, because it contains calcium. Calcium helps protect your teeth against periodontal (gum) disease and keeps your jawbone strong and healthy. Since women are more likely to get periodontal disease if they don’t absorb enough calcium from their daily diet, it’s especially important for eat and drink plenty of calcium–rich foods.
This may come as a surprise to you, but citrus fruits like oranges help keep your gums healthy by strengthening blood vessels and connective tissue, including the connective tissue that holds your teeth in your jaw. It’s the vitamin C in citrus that is so powerful. Vitamin C also helps reduce inflammation, which may prevent or slow the progression of gingivitis, so make oranges, grapefruits, and other citrus regular features in your fruit bowl!
Like oranges and other citrus fruits, strawberries are brimming with gum–building vitamin C. Vitamin C is required for production of collagen, a key protein that maintains your gums’ strength and integrity — and strong gums are an integral part of overall oral health. Just a half a cup of fresh strawberries delivers more than 70 percent of the daily value for vitamin C!
Fatty fish like salmon and Atlantic mackerel are one of the few good food sources of vitamin D. Vitamin D is critical for oral health since it allows your body to absorb and use calcium, a nutrient that protects your teeth and gums from disease. The vitamin D found in salmon makes it easier for your teeth and bones to get the full power of calcium from the foods you’re eating.
Your teeth can also benefit from water. Water helps wash away food debris and keeps your saliva levels high. Believe it or not, saliva is actually your mouth’s best defense against tooth decay because it contains proteins and minerals that counteract enamel–eating acids. Saliva is made up of 95 percent water, so if you want to avoid unnecessary cavities do yourself a favor and stay hydrated. Water also displaces sugary drinks like soda and sweet flavored waters, which can damage tooth enamel and promote decay.