As the years wage a daily battle against the health of our pearly whites, how do we nurture the bright, appealing smile we all want? Stick to the following list of supersmile foods that help prevent teeth from staining and maintain their healthy glow, and you’ll be grinning from ear to ear.

Making the right choices

While what you eat positively impacts your teeth, Dr. Jack Ringer, DDS, an Accredited Member and President-Elect of the AACD, wants to clear up the common misconception that certain foods can actually whiten teeth. No food will change the inherent color of a tooth or make the tooth color lighter, says Dr. Ringer. There are foods, however, that can help or promote gingival health.

Those foods include two groups you’ll want to know (and consume). The first either have scrubbing properties or don’t possess staining components, such as carrots, celery, sesame seeds and apples. The second group, which includes broccoli, onions, shiitake mushrooms, wasabi and green tea, promotes gum health and prevents tooth decay by helping to reduce the formation of decay-causing bacteria or acid formation.

Keeping it clean

The surface porosity of your teeth makes it challenging, but not impossible, to maintain their natural color. Any food that has natural scrubbing action on the tooth surface will help cleanse the tooth, which will help inhibit the absorption of staining elements, explains Dr. Ringer. The same rationale is applied when we brush our teeth with substances that cleanse the tooth surface. Since tooth decay and gum health is attributed to minimizing the growth of decay and gum disease-causing bacteria, any food that either helps reduce acid production or bacterial growth will help promote health for these structures. And along with foods that are beneficial to your oral health, the same lessons you learned as a child still apply. There is still no substitute for a balanced diet, thorough but gentle brushing and flossing, and regular checkups and professional cleanings by a dental professional to maintain healthy, natural appearing teeth and gums, says Dr. Ringer.

99.7% of adults feel an inviting smile provides a critical social benefit
96% think it makes a person more attractive to the opposite sex

Natural approach

While nothing works better for keeping your teeth healthy than timely dental visits, you can maintain their sparkle with a well-planned diet. So take heed of that other childhood lesson when favoring the all-natural route to an irresistible smile: You are what you eat.

Go to aacd.com/smilerecipes for a free AACD e-recipe book featuring superfoods for healthy smiles.