Which foods are rich in calcium and good for our teeth, gums and general oral health? Our Edmonton dentists list some staples you may want to stack up on.
Calcium for Healthy Teeth
Along with your oral hygiene habits and visiting the dentist for regular checkups, eating healthy and calcium-rich foods can contribute to helping you maintain excellent oral health - or be another factor working against you. Calcium is one of the most important nutrients for healthy teeth, as your body needs this mineral to build and maintain strong bones, and perform many important functions.
Your muscles need calcium to move, and nerves use it to carry messages between your brain and every part of your body. While calcium is the most abundant mineral in the body, a deficiency of this essential nutrient can have serious negative impacts. If you don't have enough calcium in your diet, your body will take it from your bones. Good food for our teeth is good food for our bodies.
Low calcium can leave your bones brittle, increasing your risk of eventual tooth loss. Bones need nutrients to support them, and a balanced diet goes a long way to ensuring your body has the nutrients it needs to keep your bones healthy, strong and resistant to fracture and diseases such as osteoporosis, which weakens bones.
How much calcium you'll need depends on your age. Adults should take in 1,000 mg daily. Women over 50 and women who are pregnant and breast-feeding should get 1,200 mg every day.
Calcium-Rich Foods for Your Teeth
Since your body doesn't produce this mineral, it relies on your diet to get the calcium you need. We sometimes have patients ask us what they can eat to strengthen their teeth, and what foods are high in calcium. Here are some calcium-rich foods:
Milk, Cheese, Yogurt and Other Dairy Products
Dairy products are high in calcium. Milk is one of the best and cheapest sources of the mineral - one cup provides 200 mg of calcium or 20% of the daily value you'll need. Cheese contains protein properties to limit cavities, produce more salvia and strengthen enamel, helping in the battle against acid. It also provides strength to bones and teeth. Yogurt is another excellent source of calcium (you'll get 296 mg or 30% of your daily value in one cup of whole milk yogurt). Why not have it with breakfast or lunch, and add some fruit and granola?
Looking for a quick, calcium-rich snack? A handful of almonds will add a quick pick-me-up to your day, giving you 75 mg of calcium per ounce.
Leafy Green Vegetables
Speaking of calcium-rich foods - a green smoothie or salad full of vegetables can offer a good source of calcium to help you maintain strong enamel. Darker leafy greens such as spinach, kale and collard greens offer numerous benefits to your health and are good foods for healthy teeth and bones. Kale offers 38 mg, and spinach 30 mg to your diet. One cup of raw collard greens provides 83 mg.
Keep in mind that while orange juice is a good source of calcium and vitamin D, it can also contain high levels of sugar proteins, Look for pure concentrated orange juice on your grocery store shelves and drink an occasional small glass with breakfast (but don't make it a regular beverage).
Fish is another source of calcium and part of a healthy diet. Bonus: It's also an excellent source of vitamin D. Add some to your dinner menu or pick of a can of sardines, which will give you a calcium boost with 351 mg per can. Canned salmon provides 202 mg per can of calcium.
Can I increase calcium in my teeth naturally?
The best foods for our teeth are also often high in calcium. While it's important to have enough calcium in your body to keep your bones strong and prevent bone loss, we recommend taking inventory of your diet and looking at where you can eliminate harmful foods and beverages, replacing them with calcium-rich foods that are good for your teeth. Getting the calcium you need from food has been shown to be safer than taking calcium supplements, which have a minimal effect on preventing fractures and may increase the risk of health issues such as kidney stones and acute gastrointestinal problems.
Ask your doctor before taking any supplements and inquire about where you might be able to increase the amount of calcium in your diet.