New research has explored the benefits of leafy greens to oral health. While using mouthwash is a common activity for many, the researchers have found that using leafy greens may actually be more beneficial to our mouths. This is due to the levels of a molecule called Nitrate that can be found in greens. Therefore, these are interesting findings that can aid our oral health.

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We all know the importance of brushing our teeth at least twice a day, and many of us supplement this with the use of mouthwash. These measures help to improve our oral health.

However, could there be something more effective than mouthwash for our oral health? New research suggests that eating leafy greens can be very beneficial to our oral health – potentially more so than mouthwash [1]!

This relates to a molecule called Nitrate, which is commonly found in leafy green vegetables. This is an interesting finding!


Dental problems are very common in the adult population. These problems often include tooth decay, enamel erosion and gum disease.

Moreover, dental problems can then have an impact on physical health. For example, when bacteria from the mouth enters the bloodstream, this can contribute to conditions like Diabetes and Cardiovascular disease developing [2].

Treatments like cavity fillings, scaling and even antibiotics all have their limitations. With this in mind, finding other – and more natural – ways of aiding oral health is important.

The Research

New research into this topic has been carried out by a team at the non-profit news website The Conversation [1]. The research is published on their website.

Anyone with knowledge of food knows leafy greens and root vegetables are great for our health. They are capable of helping us maintain a healthy weight, keeping our immune system strong, and preventing numerous health problems [1].

One of the consistent features across a range of leafy greens is the presence of nitrate in them. When consumed, the nitrate in these greens is naturally reduced to nitric oxide by nitrate-reducing bacteria, which is commonly found in the mouth [1].

Subsequently, Nitric oxide has a range of health benefits. When in the mouth, it can reduce acid levels, and prevent the growth of bacteria [1]. Therefore, it is great for reducing the chances of gum disease or tooth decay developing.

On a physical level, nitric oxide is also able to lower blood pressure and improve overall exercise performance [1]. Therefore, it has a range of benefits to both oral and physical health.

The researchers used competitive athletes as an example. It is well-known that athletes are more vulnerable to developing gum disease due to their requirement of a high-carbohydrate diet.

Moreover, their intense training often results in them breathing hard, which often stimulates dry mouth [1]. Therefore, this made professional athletes an interesting group to analyze.

The researchers used beetroot juice as an example. Beetroot juice includes plenty of nitrate. They found that it was able to protect teeth from acidic sport drinks and carbohydrate gels [1].

This led the team to suggest that nitrate can be used as a prebiotic for athletes as a way of reducing the risk of tooth decay and gum disease.

Leafy greens or mouthwash?

The researchers also took into account mouthwash. However, they found that the benefits of leafy greens outweighed the goodness of mouthwash.

They reasoned that mouthwashes often include an ingredient called Chlorhexidine. While chlorhexidine has a range of benefits, it removes both good and bad bacteria in the mouth [1].

Moreover, they also point to other research, which has found that chlorhexidine could contribute to antimicrobial resistance, which is a growing problem around the world [3].

However, nitrate produces more targeted results. It can reduce acidity levels in the mouth, balance the oral microbiome and eliminate harmful oral bacteria [1].

This led to the researchers concluding that leafy greens are actually more beneficial to our oral health than mouthwash. While mouthwash can have many positive effects, there are also some downsides to it.


Overall, the researchers believe that strong oral hygiene and a diet rich in nitrate can help both oral and physical health. Therefore, consuming nitrate-rich foods is something we should all endeavour to do.

The researchers suggest that a “generous helping of spinach, kale or beetroot” at mealtimes can be beneficial. This can help in the long-term to boost our health in numerous ways.

This research is interesting, and underlines further benefits associated with a healthy diet. Specifically, focusing on nitrate-rich foods like leafy greens is important!

Thinking points…

[1] This research once again shows the importance of oral health. With this in mind, make sure you keep your oral health strong. One of the best ways of doing this is to attend regular dental appointments – as this will allow a dentist to review your oral health and make any treatment suggestions if needed. We recommend booking an appointment now!

[2] If you have children, this article is especially important! We recommend that you try to implement a diet high in nitrate for them. This can have a positive impact on their oral and physical health. Another way of aiding the oral health of your children is to attend dental appointments with them. If they are due an appointment, we recommend booking now!

What we offer at Taradale Dental

Taradale Dental is a Calgary dental clinic that provide its patients with a range of treatment options and advice, with the aim of improving oral health and boosting overall wellbeing!

We advise our patients to attend our Calgary dental clinic at least twice per year for a regular dental check-up. At these check-ups, we provide a comprehensive review of a patient’s oral health. If any problems are detected, we have many treatments available. For example, these include cavity fillings and root canals. To strengthen your oral health, we recommend brushing your teeth at least twice a day and flossing regularly.

Here at Taradale Dental, we also have some cosmetic treatments available! These include dental implants, teeth whitening and Invisalign™! Our patients find that these treatments have a positive impact on their appearance, confidence and self-esteem.

Moreover, the fees of our treatments at our Calgary dental clinic Taradale Dental are set in line with the Alberta Dental Fee Guide. This ensures transparent and fair pricing, with no hidden costs.

We hope to see you soon at our Taradale Dental clinic in Calgary! You can find out more about us by visiting our website


[1] Burleigh, M. C., & Moran, S. P. (2024). Eating leafy greens could be better for oral health than using mouthwash. Available: Last accessed: 3rd February 2024.

[2] Li, X., Kolltveit, K. M., Tronstad, L., & Olsen, I. (2000). Systemic Diseases Caused by Oral Infection. Clinical Microbiology Reviews. 13 (4): p547-558. DOI:

[3] Cieplik, F., Jakubovics, N. S., Buchalla, W., Maisch, T., Hellwig, E., & Al-Ahmad, A. (2019). Resistance Toward Chlorhexidine in Oral Bacteria – Is There Cause for Concern?. Frontiers in Microbiology. 22 (10): 587. DOI: