It is fair to say just how important taking in a number of vitamins and minerals every day is vital for a healthy body and mind.
We can achieve overall health with a stress-free life and balanced diet, but did you know that vitamins and minerals our body needs are just as important for our teeth and gums?
Ideally, your daily vitamins and minerals should be coming from the foods you are eating. Healthy whole food sources are the easiest for us to absorb and have the most impact on our health. However, taking a supplement such as a multivitamin each day can be helpful in correcting any deficiencies you might have. It doesn’t mean it is safe to eat a moderately beige diet and assume the multivitamin is going to be all that you need. Your plates should always be colourful and full of different vegetables and leafy greens.
Here is a list of the specific nutrients and vitamins your teeth and gum needs for good oral health:
Vitamin A is important for keeping your mouth’s saliva supply flowing. It helps to maintain healthy mucous membranes which coat your gums and cheeks, which helps keep your gums and cheeks less susceptible to disease.
It also promotes saliva production, which is crucial for cleaning away destructive bacteria and food particles from between the teeth and gums.
The popular vitamin A source is carrots, but vitamin A is also found in other orange fruits and vegetables, such as peppers and sweet potatoes, as well as being present in dark, leafy greens like kale and spinach. You can also find it in proteins from egg yolks and fish.
B vitamins, specifically niacin and riboflavin, ward off mouth sores and oral inflammation. You can find niacin and riboflavin in poultry, fish, red meats, dairy products, spinach, almonds and legumes. If you find yourself getting sores or inflammation on the gums or tongue you could have a B Vitamin deficiency, so try incorporating more of these vitamins into your diet, in addition to seeing your dentist.
Vitamin C is essential in keeping the connective tissues of your gums strong. Eating foods such as sweet potatoes, peppers, broccoli, berries, oranges, kale and berries which are high in vitamin C and will keep those gum tissues healthy.
Without enough vitamin C, the tissues holding teeth securely in place weaken, teeth can become loose, gums can bleed, and gum disease could become a real danger to your oral health.
Calcium is the mineral that is most popular for keeping our teeth healthy – and with good reason! Your teeth and supporting jaw bones are largely made up from calcium. It is also needed for normal development and to keep them strong throughout your life.
When not enough calcium is consumed, your body automatically takes what it needs from your bones, which can compromise their strength and integrity. To avoid this and to make sure that your mouth’s supporting bones are as sturdy as possible, include calcium in your diet with leafy green vegetables, broccoli, sardines, almonds, legumes, oysters, and of course dairy products (as long as they don’t have too much sugar). If you are still unsure you are having enough calcium, consider buying a supplement or seeing a doctor about your concerns.
Studies have shown that in order for calcium to fully absorb into the body and promote notable bone health, it needs to be taken along with phosphorus. Most dairy products contain both phosphorus and calcium together. However, many calcium supplements don’t actually have phosphorus in them.
This means that in order to reap the benefits of taking calcium supplements, phosphorus is going to have to be consumed through diet. The foods high in phosphorus include milk, cheese, yogurt, red meat, beans, lentils, nuts and whole grains.
Vitamin D is one of the most popular deficiencies most of us have in the UK. It is very important for your oral health, as it’s what allows us to absorb calcium. Without it, your entire mouth would suffer from calcium deficiency, leading to underdeveloped teeth, gum disease and tooth decay.
You can acquire all the vitamin D that your body needs by simply sitting in direct sunlight for 15 to 30 minutes each day. Living in the UK, where direct sunlight is not always guaranteed, you should also eat foods such as milk, eggs, fish, cod liver oil and even some breakfast cereals that advertise added vitamin D.
Vitamin E intake can be obtained by including various nuts, seeds, vegetable oils and wheatgerm, leafy green vegetables, fish and avocados into your diet.
Vitamin E has been linked to the prevention of periodontal disease and works against the disease in two ways: one way is through decreasing inflammation in the mouth, chronic or otherwise, and the other is by being an antioxidant. Vitamin E’s antioxidant properties fight against the oxidation of gum tissue. Oxidation causes a variety of issues.
Iron helps to keep red blood cell counts at their appropriate levels, allowing the body’s immune system to work as it should and fight against disease and infection. This means that without enough iron in your system, fighting against gum disease and oral infections can be more difficult than need be.
To keep a strong immune system and ensure your defences are working, eat iron-rich foods like eggs, seafood, red meats, breads and cereals that have been enriched with the mineral, and green leafy vegetables.
Potassium plays a role in bone health as it blocks certain substances in the body that promote the breakdown of bones. Not only does it guard against the weakening of supporting structures like the jaw, but it is also essential in blood clotting. This means if your gums occasionally bleed when you floss, or if you suffer an oral injury, the blood will clot more efficiently, and the wound will be able to heal quickly.
Eating foods that are high in potassium include legumes, dark leafy green vegetables, squash, yogurt, milk, cheese, mushrooms, bananas, and avocados.
Fluoride is usually used by dentists and in most toothpastes as a treatment to fight against tooth and gum decay. It promotes the remineralization of tooth enamel, the protective outer coating of teeth that needs to be strengthened regularly. You can include more fluoride in your diet by drinking black tea and eating seafood.
Iodine is a trace mineral in the body, meaning that very little is needed in order to be effective. Even so, iodine helps in the development of teeth and bones as it facilitates the absorption of calcium in the body which, as mentioned before, largely makes up our teeth and bones.
Iodine also plays a role in the healthy functioning of the thyroid glands which, when not regulated, can cause swelling throughout the body, as well as metabolism issues. You can ensure that you are getting your dose of iodine by including shellfish, seaweed, garlic, sesame seeds, squash, and reasonable doses of iodized salt in your diet.
Zinc is another trace mineral and can naturally be found in saliva. It has been proven to fight against the growth of bacteria and plaque, which can decay teeth and gum tissues, causing cavities and gum disease. You can ensure that your mouth is having all the zinc it needs with foods like cashews, red meat, pumpkin seeds, squash, oysters, mushrooms, legumes and even dark chocolate.
Eating a balanced diet is important in maintaining your oral health and overall health. Fortunately, a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals can also contribute to a brighter, fuller smile and fewer dental problems. If you are unable to add all of these foods into your diet each day, a high-quality multivitamin can help add any that you might be missing. You may even find that the number of vitamins and supplements you consume each day benefits more than just your smile. It can also help your brain health and moods.
Alongside a diet full of goodness, regular check ups with your dentist at The Mall are essential for keeping top oral health.