Skip to content
Back Back to Insurance menu Go to Insurance
Back Back to Saga Money Go to Saga Money
Back Back to Saga Magazine menu Go to Magazine
Search Magazine

What to eat to keep your teeth healthy

07 August 2015 ( 30 July 2015 )

Brushing, rinsing and flossing are obvious ways to keep your teeth and gums healthy, but what you eat also has a major impact on whether or not you’ll suffer with gum disease or experience tooth decay. Find out which foods and drinks to avoid and which to go for.

Apples on a wooden board
Fibre rich foods can help get saliva pumping that can help prevent tooth decay

Bad: the sticky stuff

It’s obvious that sugary foods such as sweets, toffee, caramels, lollipops and so on aren’t good for your teeth but some sugary foods  are worse than others, specifically those that get stuck in your teeth. So avoid crunchy sweets such as hard toffee or peanut  brittle, as well as chewy ones such as caramel and toffee. Also, steer clear of sugary foods that you take a long time to eat, such  as lollipops or even cough lozengers. Because the sugar is in your mouth for a longer period of time, there’s more change of damage.  

Read about hidden sugar here 

Good: fibre-rich foods

All that chewing gets your saliva pumping in your mouth and that’s good for preventing tooth decay and gum disease. Saliva is key in  reducing the negative effects caused by eating sugar or starch, too, but it only really starts working about 20 minutes after you’ve  eaten something. So a good idea is to eat an apple, for example, about 20 minutes before you tuck into something starchy or sweet, to help prevent dental problems. 

Read more about fibre here

Bad: drying drinks or foods

Alcohol, caffeine-based drinks and also some types of medication can make your mouth drier so make gum disease and tooth decay more  likely. Counteract the effect by drinking plenty of water, as well as chewing gum and eating fibre-rich foods as outlined above.  Exceptions to the caffeine-based drinks rule, are green tea and black tea, which contain polyphenols that fight plaque bacteria. 

Find out more about staying hydrated

Good: chewing gum

It’s got to be sugar-free but chewing on a piece of gum helps produce a lot more saliva and that helps fight off the acid effect caused when sugar or starch comes into contact with the plaque on your teeth. 

Bad: starchy foods

Sugar gets a lot of bad press and that’s as it should be – it’s the biggest culprit when it comes to tooth decay and disease – but  starchy foods have a similar effect on plaque on your teeth, producing enamel-damaging acid. So be aware of this when eating foods  such as soft breads as well as starchy foods that get stuck in your teeth like crisps or pretzels. 

Good: Cheese or yogurt

To neutralise that acid in your mouth dairy products are a quick and easy fix. Research from the US Academy of General Dentistry  found that cheese created a protective layer around teeth and also encouraged the production of alkaline saliva, helping protect  against acid. A great excuse to tuck into a post-dessert cheese platter!


The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.