5 Surprising Foods for Healthy Teeth

If you’re trying to score top marks at your next dental appointment, in addition to your brushing and flossing regimen, the food you put in your mouth plays a crucial role in overall oral health.

We know that there are many foods that sneak into the diet that can damage teeth. Sugar is the main culprit, especially added, refined sugar. Any food that increases your intake of refined sugar can feed harmful bacteria to cause tooth decay. Other harmful foods include acidic beverages like sodas and sports drinks.

However, if you’re really trying to stay on top of your dental health, you want to make sure that you’re eating the right types of foods that assist your body in balancing and managing the oral environment.

Here are five to add to your diet.

Man with healthy teeth at picnic

Maskot / Getty Images


Not only for warding off vampires, but garlic is also known for its antibacterial properties. Rich in the compound allicin, garlic prevents the activity of a wide range of bacteria that can cause an imbalance in the oral environment.

Adding some chopped garlic to your stir-fries or even raw garlic to your salads is a great way to ensure your mouth bacteria stay in check. Watch out, though! Garlic is notorious for causing bad breath.


Widely cultivated in the traditional Spice Islands like Indonesia, cloves have been known for their antimicrobial properties for centuries. Their remarkable properties can be attributed to the rich source of eugenol and oleic acid.

A powerful spice with a sweet kick, cloves can be used in a range of cooking, such as curries and soups. However, cloves are also particularly useful as a sugar replacement for desserts like spice cakes and muffins.


For many years, this rich, yellow-colored plant has been used in India, where it has been consumed in spice form for thousands of years. Long believed to be a remedy for problems in the mouth, we now know turmeric to have its antimicrobial activity because of its primary active component curcumin.

Turmeric is an excellent addition to curries and cooked meats. It's also great in your morning smoothie—simply add a teaspoon.


Packed with fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K2 (if raised from grass-fed cows), it’s also rich in calcium and conjugated linoleic acid, which is a booster of the immune system. You can add butter to nearly any meal; however, due to its high-fat content, it's important to consume in moderation.

Green Tea

Steeped with a rich history in Chinese medicine where it was known for its wide-ranging health benefits, today there’s not much that green tea can’t do. Rich in the antioxidant EGCG, green tea has powerful antibacterial properties. With low acidity, it also promotes tooth remineralization of tooth enamel.

Having a daily cup of green tea is sure to keep your teeth strong and healthy. You can also try using the powdered "matcha tea," which you can add to yogurt or smoothies for a more concentrated punch.

Food and Floss

So, before your next dental appointment, besides keeping up with your flossing regime, make sure to eat meals rich in these foods that will keep your dentist amazed at your flawless oral health.

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  • Dikshit, P. K., and S. Ranganathan. "The vitamin. D. content of butter and ghee (clarified butter)." Indian Journal of Medical Research 38 (1950): 37-40.
  • Goenka, Puneet, et al. "Camellia sinensis (Tea): Implications and role in preventing dental decay." Pharmacognosy reviews 7.14 (2013): 152.
  • Nagpal, Monika, and Shaveta Sood. "Role of curcumin in systemic and oral health: An overview." Journal of natural science, biology, and medicine 4.1 (2013): 3.
  • Nzeako, B. C., Zahra SN Al-Kharousi, and Zahra Al-Mahrooqui. "Antimicrobial activities of clove and thyme extracts." Sultan Qaboos University Medical Journal 6.1 (2006): 33.

By Steven Lin, DDS
Steven Lin, DDS, is a dentist, TEDx speaker, health educator, and author.