Health & Wellness

The Right Foods for Your Teeth

By Isabelle Huot


April is Oral Health Month. What better time to adopt these five good eating habits and light up your smile?

Add nuts to the menu

Nuts are rich in fat and protein, two nutrients that protect teeth. And because they are low in carbohydrates, nuts are less likely than other foods to cause cavities. Finally, their firm texture and high fibre content encourage chewing, which stimulates the production of saliva and neutralizes acidity. That’s it in a nutshell!

Put more dairy in your diet

Several studies have shown that dairy products help to prevent cavities when consumed before a meal—after meals is even better. Dairy products contain calcium and phosphorus, two min- erals that limit a decrease in pH levels (acidity) and promote the remineralization of tooth enamel. In addition, they contain fat and protein, which protect teeth.

Choose high-fibre foods

The fibre in whole grains, fruits, and vegetables encourages chewing and so stimulates the production of saliva. That’s why it’s better to eat an apple than drink apple juice—the apple has more fibre and contains other molecules for sugars to stick to. This controls oral bacteria better. In brief, choose whole grains rather than refined grains and fruit rather than fruit juice.

Limit foods rich in free sugars

Candy, sweetened beverages, and fruit juices can contribute to the development of cavities. Free sugars are carbohydrates that are readily available to oral bacteria, which break them down into acids. These cause the erosion of tooth enamel, promoting the development of cavities. In addition to their high free-sugar content, sweetened bever- ages and fruit juices are themselves very acidic, so they contribute to dental erosion in two ways.

Opt for healthy snacks

The ideal is to choose foods that contain little sugar and don’t stick to your teeth—hence the emphasis on nuts, dairy products, fruits, and vegetables.


Isabelle Huot holds a Ph.D. in nutrition