Why are minerals and nutrients
important for oral health?
You must include minerals and nutrients
in your diet in order for the body’s tissues
to resist infection. The presence of too
much or too little of any nutrient can
have harmful effects, particularly on the
mouth and teeth, and may contribute to
oral diseases and infection.
Which vitamins and minerals
are good for me?
There are many minerals and nutrients
that are good for the entire body. Here
are just some of the minerals and nutrients
your body needs to stay healthy:
• Calcium. Your teeth and jaws are made
mostly of calcium. Without enough calcium
in your diet, you risk developing
gum disease and tooth decay. Calcium
is found in many foods and liquids,
such as milk, yogurt, cheese, beans, and
• Iron. Iron deficiency can cause your
tongue to become inflamed, and sores
can form inside your mouth. Iron is
found in many foods, including liver
and red meat. Other iron-rich foods
include bran cereals, some nuts, and
• Vitamin B3 (niacin). A lack of vitamin B3
can cause bad breath and canker sores
in the mouth. To boost your B3 levels,
eat chicken and fish.
• Vitamins B12 and B2 (riboflavin). You
also can develop mouth sores when you
do not consume enough of the vitamins
B12 and B2. Red meat, chicken, liver,
pork, fish, as well as dairy products
like milk, yogurt, and cheese, are good
sources of vitamin B12. Vitamin B2
is found in foods like pasta, bagels,
spinach, and almonds.
• Vitamin C. Too little vitamin C will lead
to bleeding gums and loose teeth.
Sweet potatoes, raw red peppers, and
oranges are great sources of vitamin C.
• Vitamin D. It is very important to
consume enough vitamin D because it
helps your body absorb calcium. A diet
lacking or low in vitamin D will cause
burning mouth syndrome. Symptoms of
this condition include a burning mouth
sensation, a metallic or bitter taste in
the mouth, and dry mouth. Drink milk,
and eat egg yolks and fish to increase
your vitamin D intake.
Which foods may be bad for
my mouth and why?
Not all foods are good for your teeth.
If you consume these foods, do so in
moderation, and be sure to practice good
oral health care.
• Carbohydrates. Bacteria feed on leftover
foods in the mouth and produce
acid, which causes decay. Carbohydrateladen
foods, such as chips, bread, pasta,
or crackers, can be as harmful to the
teeth as candy.
• Sticky, chewy foods. Raisins, granola
bars, jelly beans, caramel, honey, and
syrup stick to teeth and make it difficult
for saliva to wash the sugar away.
• Sugary snacks. Snacks like cookies,
cakes, or other desserts contain a high
amount of sugar, which can cause tooth
• Gum and candy. Chewing gum and eating
candy is very harmful to your teeth.
As you eat, sugar coats your teeth,
which can lead to cavities.
• Carbonated soft drinks. Regular soda
(or pop) contains an extremely high
amount of sugar. Both regular and diet
sodas also contain phosphorous and
carbonation, which wears away the
enamel on your teeth (causing them to
become stained and brown).
• Fruit or vegetable juices. Fruit and
vegetable juices tend to be high in
sugar, which can damage tooth enamel
Why are minerals and nutrients