Can Red Meat Help Your Teeth?

red meat smile

Meats that are red in color when raw are defined as “red meats.” This generally includes beef, lamb, mutton, pork, veal, goat, venison, and other red or processed meats from similar land mammals. Red meat is an excellent source of zinc and iron, and can help the body produce selenium, a powerful antioxidant. It has also been found to strengthen teeth, reduce the risk of decay, and promote an overall healthier smile.

Reduce Dental Plaque

Plaque forms on the teeth when bacteria in the mouth mixes with starchy or sugary foods, such as juice, milk, soft drinks, pasta, bread, or fruit. This sticky film can usually be removed with regular tooth brushing and flossing. However, if plaque is not properly removed it can harden into tartar which can only be removed by a dentist. Plaque can also contribute to cavities, gum disease, and ultimately tooth loss.

While red meat alone is not enough to protect your teeth, it can contribute to a healthy smile. According to research conducted by the University of Michigan and Newcastle University, red meat contains an amino acid called arginine. Arginine helps the mouth break down bacterial biofilm, which can lead to dental plaque. Today, L-arginine is commonly added to dental products to prevent the formation of plaque and stop tooth sensitivity.

Promote Remineralization

Tooth enamel is the strongest substance in the body. However, even enamel can break down over time due to poor hygiene habits, acidic foods and beverages, and certain health conditions. Minerals make up more than 90 percent of enamel and these minerals are susceptible to a process known as demineralization. When acids break down the minerals in our enamel, the enamel softens and gradually wears down.

Phosphorus is a critical mineral in the body that supports calcium in the building of strong teeth. When bacteria in dental plaque releases acids onto enamel, eating foods that are high in phosphorus can help restore the minerals lost and reverse the demineralization process. There are many different types of foods that are high in phosphorus. These include tofu, pumpkin seeds, eggs, fish, and red meat.

Prevent Gum Disease

Periodontitis, also known as gum disease, is a serious type of gum infection that causes harm to soft tissue. Without prompt treatment, periodontitis can cause teeth to loosen and eventually lead to tooth loss. It can also cause an array of symptoms, such as red, swollen, and tender gums. Periodontitis is a common but highly preventable condition that can usually be avoided with a good oral hygiene regimen and a healthy diet.

Eating animal protein, such as red meat, has been found to help ward off gum disease. This is because red meat is an excellent source of vitamin B12, a water-soluble vitamin that help maintain the health of nerve and blood cells. Vitamin B12 is also important for teeth health. A vitamin B12 deficiency can lead to gum disease and tooth loss. Consuming foods containing vitamin B12, such as red meat, can help reduce these risks.

How Much Is Too Much?

Red meat is a great source of iron, protein, and other micronutrients. However, eating meat is not an essential part of a healthy diet, according to the World Cancer Research Fund, and can actually increase a person’s risk of coronary heart disease, type 2 diabetes, stroke, and certain cancers. This doesn’t mean that red meat can’t be part of a balanced diet.

The WCRF recommends limiting your consumption of red meat to no more than three portions per week. This is equivalent to about 350 to 500 grams (12 to 18 oz) of cooked weight. If possible, consume very little to no processed meat. There are some excellent substitutes to red meat that are also high in protein and a valuable source of micronutrients. These include foods such as poultry, fish, eggs, and dairy.

Speak Our Dentist in Largo, FL

Good dental health and wellness begins with a balanced diet. A positive diet provides the body with essential nutrition, macronutrients, micronutrients, fluid, and adequate calories. Red meat can be a healthy addition to a diet when eaten sparingly, in small amounts. To learn more about the connection between red meat and your teeth, or to schedule an appointment, contact our dental experts at Bonham Dental Arts.