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Foods to Eat (and Foods to Avoid) for a Brighter Smile

foods that are great for dental health
Creative Commons image by Trace Nietert.

In your quest to achieve a whiter, brighter smile, your main strategies could be teeth whitening, veneers or bonding. These are all excellent options, and your dentist will go over them with you if you are looking for a way to make your smile look a certain way. However, in the meantime, there are some foods that you can add to or take away from your diet to help your teeth look their best.

Foods to Avoid

In general, anything that is packed with sugar, particularly liquids, are worth avoiding to keep your teeth in good shape. This means that you should cut down on sodas, sweetened iced tea and other sugary beverages. The danger with beverages is that they tend to be sipped throughout the day (rather than just eaten in one sitting, like you would do with food) and they can coat all of your teeth at once. Carbonated sodas are particularly harmful because they tend to be acidic.

Coffee, tea and red wine are also culprits that are not only acidic, but also stain-inducing. So are foods like blueberry pie or blackberries.

While you can eat or drink any of these foods and beverages, it’s best to ingest them fairly quickly instead of sipping at them all day.  Once you are done, brush your teeth or, if that’s not feasible, rinse with plain water.

Foods to Eat

There are foods that you should eat more of if you are trying to achieve a brighter smile. One is not a food at all, but a beverage. Plain water is excellent for not only rinsing off your teeth after you enjoy other foods, but also for stimulating saliva production, which will also rinse your teeth.

Fresh fruits and vegetables, particularly those eaten raw, are mildly abrasive and will clean your teeth fairly well. Try freshly sliced apples, strawberries and melon. Carrots and cucumbers are good vegetables to eat. These foods contain vitamins and substances called antioxidants that contribute to good dental health.

Dairy products, particularly hard cheeses, can also strengthen teeth. Cheese has antibacterial properties and also contains both vitamin D and calcium, both of which are important for dental health.

No matter which foods you eat, you should always brush after each meal (or a minimum of twice daily) and floss every night before bed. Removing food debris will help prevent both gum disease and dental decay that can wreak havoc on how your smile looks. Talk to your dentist about ways that you can get a brighter smile by focusing on the foods you eat and other lifestyle choices that you can make.


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