If a picture is worth a
thousand words, then a smile must be worth a million. Smiling doesn’t just make
us appear happier — let’s face it, no one likes a sourpuss — it actually makes
others perceive us as more attractive, relaxed and sincere. And while that
might be enough of a reason to start flashing those chompers all around town,
teeth that are anything less than pearly white can make us a tad self-conscious
about showing them off. Sure there are always whitening treatments, but those
often come with a hefty price tag and can lead to major tooth sensitivity.
Lucky, there’s a better way.
By strategically incorporating
certain foods into our diet, we can whiten teeth naturally, while also
improving our overall health. “Your teeth play several roles when it comes
to taking care of your overall health,” Nutrition and Wellness Coach Liz
Blom, RD, told me. “A balanced diet with focus on whole fruits and
vegetables, lean proteins, calcium sources including dairy, and water will not
only promote a healthy waist-line but also a beautiful smile.”
If you wanna rock a sparkling
white smile, here are the foods you need to eat!

Chock-full of vitamin C,
oranges are low-fat, nutrient-rich and tasty, which makes them the perfect
on-the-go snack. But besides being healthy, this citrus fruit also acts as a
natural teeth whitener.

“Research shows that the
enzyme bromelain in oranges is like a natural stain remover,” said Dr.
Robert D’Alfonso, DDS, a dentist located in Austin, TX. “Bromelain also
helps break up plaque, which, if not prevented, can produce acids that can
erode your teeth enamel and lead to dental cavities.”

Could your favorite weekend piña
colada actually have some health benefits? Eh, not quite. But, eating pineapple
(sans the rum) could help take your smile to the next level. Like oranges,
pineapples contain the natural stain remover enzyme, bromelain, noted Dr. D’

Blom agreed, explaining,
“A study in the International Journal of Dental Hygiene found that
bromelain is an effective ingredient in a stain-removing toothpaste.
“Pineapple, similar to other citrus fruits also provide that tart factor
to increase saliva, to naturally wash teeth clean.”

I don’t know about you, but I
love me some strawberries. So, eating more of them in the name of whiter teeth
seems like a win-win. “Strawberries contain an enzyme called malic acid,
which acts as a natural astringent to remove surface discoloration,” Dr.
Leslie Renee Townsend, DDS, Regional Dental Director for Jefferson Dental Care,
told me in an interview.

Besides eating them, Dr. D’
Alfonso also suggests creating a sweet and tasty DIY teeth whitening treatment
with them. “You can try mashing strawberries and leaving them on your
teeth for five minutes, and then rinsing them off and brushing your
teeth,” he told me.
and seeds

Nuts and seeds are an
essential part of any healthy diet. Besides being a great source of plant-based
protein, nuts also contain healthy fat and fiber. Eating them might also help
keep your teeth healthy, according to Dr. Townsend. “Aside from being an
easy and portable snack, nuts and seeds are slightly abrasive enough to disturb
surface stains on teeth,” she said.

Almonds, for instance, are a
particularly tooth-friendly food, thanks to their high levels of calcium, and
low sugar content.

An apple a day may do more
than keep the doctor away. It may keep the dentist away too, according to D’
Alfonso. “These crunchy fruit work as a natural abrasive scrub for your
teeth when you chomp on them,” he said.

When it comes to keeping teeth
white, Blom is also a big fan of apples, saying “Apples also have a high
concentration of malic acid, which is used in some toothpastes. Malic acid
increases saliva, which cleans your teeth and helps remove stains.”

D’ Alfonso also recommends
other crunchy foods including celery. Like apples, celery helps create create
saliva. “Saliva prevents plaque from developing, which stains like to
stick to,” he explained.

Celery is also chock-full of
other nutrients, including potassium for a healthy metabolism, calcium, fiber
and vitamin K, which is essential for healthy bone and kidney function.
and broccoli

Blom is a fan of crunchy
carrots and broccoli for naturally whiter teeth. “These veggies act like
natural stain removers by increasing saliva production, which serves as the
mouth’s self-cleaning agent,” she explained. “They also may kill
bacteria that causes bad breath, and the fiber content works to scrub teeth

Both carrots and broccoli are
also a great source of vitamin C, calcium and fiber.
teeth enemies

Just like there are many foods
that can help naturally whiten teeth, there are plenty smile saboteurs out
there, as well. Dr. Mark Burhenne, creator of, recommends
avoiding things like coffee, tea, red wine, dark berries, dark berry juice, and
soy sauce — on the quest for a whiter smile. “Smoking is also a big factor
in tooth yellowing,” he added.

Meanwhile, Blom says beware of
sweets. “Sugars in cookies, hard candy, and other simple carbohydrates
latch onto your teeth and become the main meal for the bacteria in your
mouth,” she said. “When the bacteria feed off these sugars, they
release acids that lead to tooth decay, which may be dark and cause back holes
in your teeth.” She also suggests staying away from soda, saying,
“Sugar-laden beverages act the same as sugar-laden snacks, giving the
bacteria in your mouth plenty to feed off of (and thus releasing damaging
diet, healthy smile

The bottom line: when we make
good food choices, our smiles will naturally be rewarded. “There is a deep
connection between the mouth and overall health,” Dr. Townsend said.
“Good oral hygiene is the gateway to good health throughout the body. On
the reverse, poor oral health has been linked to illnesses such as breast
cancer, diabetes, heart disease and stroke, to name a few.”

And while eating healthier is
a top priority (especially if we want whiter teeth), Blom says the benefits of
a great smile go even further. “While consumption is important to our
survival, so is communication,” she notes. “A smile is a universal
language. There are too many quotes to choose from when it comes to a smile. In
the end, why not keep it healthy and bright?”
Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.