What foods help whiten teeth?

Some foods help to protect teeth from decay, and clean healthy teeth are generally whiter teeth. Certain foods increase saliva flow and neutralize the acids produced by bacteria. This makes it less likely that the enamel will lose minerals. For example, aged cheese eaten immediately after other food helps to buffer the acid.

Chewing sugarless gum also can help protect your teeth against cavities. Xylitol is an ingredient in some sugarless gums. This sweetener has been shown to reduce the amount of bacteria in the mouth. It also helps to buffer the teeth against the effect of acid. Most sugarless gums and sugarless candies increase the flow of saliva, which helps to protect your teeth against bacteria.

Joan Salge Blake, MS, RD
Nutrition & Dietetics Specialist

To deliciously achieve a healthier, whiter smile, try these foods suggestions from the AACD:

  • Pineapples can help whiten teeth. Research shows that the enzyme bromelain in pineapples acts as a natural stain remover. Bromelain also helps break up plaque, the sticky film of bacteria that accumulates on your teeth. The bacteria in plaque produce acids that can erode the enamel of your teeth and lead to dental caries.
  • Carrots contain vitamin A, which is needed for healthy tooth enamel. Eating them raw stimulates saliva, your mouth’s natural cleanser. In fact, chewing any crunchy vegetable will naturally cleanse your teeth. Try this Carrot-Pineapple Ginger Salad from the AACD.
  • Basil is a natural antibiotic that reduces bacteria in the mouth. Basil's essential oils, rosmarinic acid, linalool, and oleanolic acid inhibit the growth of bacteria in the mouth.
  • Cheese is rich in protein, calcium, and phosphorus, all of which can help buffer the acids in your mouth. Calcium and phosphorus also assist in the remineralization or repairing of your teeth. Enjoy reduced fat cheese to minimize heart-unhealthy saturated fat in your diet.
  • Sesame seeds help “scrub” away the plaque on your teeth. Chewing nuts can also provide this coarse, scrubbing action. Sesame seeds also contain bone and teeth-strengthening calcium.
  • Onions contain the sulfur compounds, thiosulfinates and thiosulfonates, which reduce bacteria that cause tooth decay. Eating them raw is a must as cooking will destroy these tooth-friendly compounds. Don’t like onions?  Garlic also contains these sulfur compounds.
  • Broccoli contains iron which helps form an acid-resistant film or barrier that can protect the enamel of your teeth.

These foods can help keep your teeth white:

  • Foods that require a lot of chewing, meaning fibrous foods like apples, celery, and carrots, will whiten teeth because they naturally remove stains on teeth. They act as natural exfoliants.
  • Greens such as spinach, broccoli, and lettuce prevent staining because when chewed they create a film over teeth that acts as a barrier. This biofilm prevents stain molecules from adhering to the teeth.
Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

Want to brighten up your smile? Swap your whitening strips for a crunchy midday snack. Celery contains fibrous cellulose which scrubs away teeth stains as you chew it.

This content originally appeared on

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.