How Do the Five Food Groups Affect Your Teeth?

A close up of a variety of foods on a table with people's hands grabbing it

How Different Foods Affect Your Teeth

Eating a well-balanced diet is not only good for your body but also for your oral health. However, knowing what to eat and how much you should eat is a struggle that many people face regularly. The US Department of Agriculture has created nutritional guidelines based on the five food groups, but it’s crucial to know how each one affects your smile.

What Are The Five Food Groups?

What kinds of foods do you normally consume? Some people consume mostly grains and proteins, while others eat a mostly vegetable-based diet. Everyone requires different amounts of food to function, but it’s recommended that you eat a variety of foods within the five major food groups. Discover what each of them includes.

1. Vegetables

Do you consume foods such as broccoli or salad on a regular basis? If so, then you’re already on the right track. Vegetables contain a variety of vitamins such as fiber, vitamin A, and vitamin C. They’re the healthiest of the five food groups and are low in calories as well.

Popular vegetables that people consume include:

  • Broccoli
  • Lettuce
  • Carrots
  • Cauliflower
  • Brussel Sprouts

The amount of vegetables you should include in your diet depends on your age, weight, and activity level, but adults should consume 2-3 cups per day.

How Do Vegetables Affect Your Teeth?

The high level of vitamins in vegetables not only benefit your body but also your oral health. Many are high in calcium, vitamin B, and vitamin A, which can strengthen your enamel and help prevent gum disease.

Eating leafy vegetables will provide you with your daily serving of fiber, and dentists like Dr. Chad Brown in Greenwood Village, CO say they can even remove bacteria from your teeth as you chew them.

2. Fruits

Fruit is one of the sweeter food groups and contains a variety of options to choose from. It’s also very versatile and can be eaten as a side, snack, and even as a dessert. Many fruits contain vitamins like potassium and vitamin C that are beneficial to the body. This sweet food has been known to lower your risk for heart disease, boost your immune system, and even protect you from certain types of cancer.

Since there are so many options for you to choose from, consider choosing a few of the following fruits:

  • Bananas
  • Oranges
  • Strawberries
  • Grapefruit
  • Blackberries

How Fruit Affects Your Teeth

While fruit is considered to be a healthy and necessary food group, many fruits contain a high amount of natural sugar and acidic properties. If overconsumed, they can cause cavities or tooth discoloration. Dr. Elaine Chow in Thunder Bay, ON suggests rinsing your mouth and then brushing your teeth after eating fruit.

A man and woman smiling at eachother and holding fruits and veggies

3. Grains

Another part of a well-balanced diet is grains. While many people associate them with fatty carbs, eating this food group in moderation can be beneficial to your health. Examples of foods that contain grains include bread, cereal, pasta, rice, and oatmeal.

It’s recommended that people consume mostly whole grains to reap the most health benefits. They have been proven to lower your risk for diabetes, obesity, and heart disease. The high amount of fiber in grains can also support healthy digestion and reduce inflammation.

How Grains Affect Your Oral Health

Like the other food groups mentioned above, grains are a good source of fiber. They can strengthen your teeth and bones and even help protect your gums against gum disease.

However, it’s important to choose whole grains rather than processed grains. Foods such as white bread, pastries, and most cereals contain processed grains and often large amounts of sugar that can harm your teeth, according to Dr. Regina Dailey in Ann Arbor, MI.

4. Protein

Protein is an important aspect of your diet that comes in a variety of forms. Most people think of protein to be solely meat, but there are other ways to get your daily source as well. Other forms of protein include eggs, nuts, peanut butter, and even vegetables.

It’s recommended that people eat at least eight ounces of protein, but young children require less. This food group builds muscles, balances your body’s chemicals, and promotes healthy blood flow as well. If you decide to consume your protein through meat, doctors suggest choosing lean options like chicken and fish.

How Does Protein Affect Your Teeth?

While you can receive plenty of protein from fatty meats such as steak or sausage, lean meats, eggs, and nuts will provide the most benefits for your teeth. These contain phosphorus, which helps strengthen the enamel on your teeth. Certain proteins also contain vitamins like B3, B2, and B12 that help fight off cavities.

A woman leaning over her plate of fish and veggies and smiling

5. Dairy

Were you ever told to drink your milk as a kid? Dairy is a food group that can be consumed alone or in other foods. It contains 13 different vitamins and, like protein, can strengthen your bones and muscles. Unless you’re sensitive to lactose, everyone should drink about one cup of milk per day, on average.

If you don’t like drinking milk, you can get your daily source of dairy through cheese, yogurt, and butter. Dairy is also high in protein which helps you feel full longer, contributing to weight loss.

How Dairy Affects Your Teeth

As mentioned above, dairy helps strengthen bones — this includes the bones in your mouth that keep your teeth in place. Additionally, the high amount of calcium in dairy can strengthen your teeth to help protect them from damage or decay.

A Well Balanced Diet Will Benefit Your Teeth

Too much of one particular food can possibly harm your oral health, which is why dentists and nutritionists recommend eating a well-balanced diet that includes the proper amount of each food group. It’s also essential that you choose unprocessed foods such as whole grains, organic fruits and veggies, and lean proteins to ensure your teeth stay strong and free of decay.