Nutrition and Oral Health
Healthy Living

Nutrition and Oral Health

Elina Dawoodani profile Authored by Elina Dawoodani on 2 Aug 2014 - 16:31.

Dental Health

Just as nutritious and balanced food is important for overall good health, so does right food and eating pattern for good dental health. The food choices and eating habits also impacts our dental health and is a determinant of overall good health. Poor oral health reflects poor diet.

To protect your teeth from getting affected by diseases, a well-balanced nutritious diet is cardinal. A diet that contains fruits, vegetables, protein (lean meat, fish, skinless chicken) beans, legumes, peas and dairy foods (fat free or low fat milk and yogurt) along with physical activity keeps not only your overall health in great shape but your oral health too.

What is recommended most is, drinking plenty of water. Fruits and vegetables are good choices as they contain water and fiber and help to clean the teeth and maintain dental health. They help wash away harmful acids and food particles in the mouth, through saliva production.

Dietary advice for good dental health:

  • Avoid sweet and sticky foods, which encourage bacterial growth and fermentation.
  • Frequent consumption of sugared and acidic beverages weakens the enamel and cause development of caries (cavities).
  • Empty caloric and low nutritional foods are a no. no.
  • Gastrointestinal issues like acidity and GERD (Gastroesophageal reflux disease) also increase the risk of oral and dental ailments.
  • Foods containing simple carbohydrates (candy, caramel, lollipops etc) are best avoided. Complex carbohydrates are preferred instead. Some examples are: chapattis, bhakris, legumes, rice etc. they provide proteins, vitamins, minerals and fiber too.
  • Brush your teeth and rinse your mouth thoroughly after every meal, especially before going to bed.
  • Frequent snacking in between meals by eating unhealthy sweets, sugary drinks(sodas, cakes, cookies, muffins, wafers etc.) often is detrimental. However, healthy snacking like nuts and fruits are fine.

When the enamel of the tooth, gums or the pulp cavity get affected or damaged, it leads to various oral diseases. Most common of which are the Gingivitis, Dental caries, and Cankers (oral sores). The reason for these being poor diet, eating sugary foods, frequent and unhealthy snacking.

Following is the dietary management of the most common oral diseases:

  • Gingivitis : Is a condition of gums, marked by  its redness and inflammation. It is caused by sticky line of bacteria and other debris. It is also called dental plaque. This plaque has the tendency to damage the teeth and the tissue. One of the early signs of gingivitis is easy bleeding of gums when brushing teeth. Though early gingivitis is reversible, if it is not treated at the right time, it further progresses to periodontitis. Periodontal disease is marked by permanent damage to the underlying bone and tissue, leading to swollen gums and loose teeth.

Dietary advice for Gingivitis:



Opt for vegetables and fruits

Avoid refined carbohydrates e.g. Bread, biscuits etc.

Consume foods rich in Vitamin C like strawberry, orange, lemon etc.

Avoid excessive consumption of sugars

Consume good quality proteins like milk, eggs etc.

Avoid consumption of foods that have sharp edges, this can cause bruises in your gums

  • Dental Caries : This is one of the most common tooth ailments. But, proper nutrition and tooth care can totally prevent it. Dental caries occur when the bacteria infect the teeth, ferment on sugar and other carbohydrates to produce acid and cause demineralization of its hard tissues like dentin and enamel. This is often seen as cavity and infected dental pulp.

Dietary advice for dental caries:



Lactose and fructose are less likely to cause caries.

Sucrose is completely hazardous, hence has to be avoided.

Fats should be given, but in moderation. They from a coat like protective layer around the teeth.

Post-dinner avoid desserts, substitute them with milk, cheese or cottage cheese dishes.

Proteins also should be encouraged as it increases the buffering capacity of the saliva.

Avoid carbonated beverages

Calcium, flouride, vitamin C and D should be given.

Excessive salt has to be avoided.

  • Canker Sores (Oral ulcers)

The small painful ulcers on the oral mucosa are called Canker Sores or Oral Aphthae. They can result because of strike of toothbrush, accidental biting of cheeks etc. This produces a rupture in the tissue.

Dietary advice for Canker Sores:



Have fermented milk products like curds

Acidic foods have to be avoided. E.g. tomatoes, citrus foods etc.

Have Lactobacillus containing food

Eliminate foods that cause sensitivity

A few micronutrients are said to play a positive role in prevention and treatment of tooth ailments according to researchers as given in the table below:






Calcium and Vitamin D

600 mg Calcium and 5-10 mcg Vitamin D

Maintains bones and supports teeth

Milk, milk products, butter, liver, nachni etc.

Vitamin C

0.5 to 1 g

Healing of inflamed gums and bleeding. It helps in strengthening the immune system.

Citrus foods such as orange, lemon, sweet lime etc. , guava, strawberry, capsicum, tomatoes

Folic acid

500 mcg to 1 mg

Folic acid intake can be effective and beneficial for the gums.

Beans, peas, lentils, seeds, nuts, cauliflower, etc.


0.25 mg (in form of drops) for infants

0.5-1 mg for both  children and adults

Flouride helps in toughening the enamel against acid formation that occurs when bacteria invade the tooth and ferment on sugar and carbohydrates.

In the synthetic form sources and supplements.


Food sources:

Strawberries, peach, radish etc.

Multi-vitamin supplement for children

10 mcg vitamin D and 20-50 mg vitamin C

They play a major role in tooth formation, maintenance and stability.

Multi-vitamin supplements with vitamin D3 and calcium.



30-60 mg

Prevention of ulcers

Nuts, sea food, chocolate, pumpkin seeds, spinach etc.

Vitamin B- complex

All B-complex vitamins should be taken as supplements. Particularly folic acid and Vitamin B12 are important.

They make the immunity stronger and are responsible for the strength of the oral mucosa.

Green leafy vegetables, whole grains, low-fat milk and milk products (yogurt, cottage cheese) etc.

Vitamin A

2000 mcg

Maintains the integrity of oral tissues

Carrots, papaya, dark green leafy vegetables, drumstick etc.

Have healthy foods and prevent dental ailments!


1.       Burgerstein’s Handbook of Nutrition by Micheal Zimmermann, M.D.



*Disclaimer: This is not medical advice. The content is for educational purposes only.Please contact your doctor for any health care issues.