Healthy Teeth and Gums

Regular brushing and flossing are your best protection against tooth decay and gum problems. But a nutritious balanced diet can also help keep your teeth strong and your gums healthy.

Many nutrients, including vitamin C, vitamin D, calcium and others, are essential to oral health.

In addition, it's wise to limit snacking. Especially if you snack all the time, you expose your teeth again and again to foods that can erode enamel

Beware of these Foods and Drinks

Soft drinks and Fruit drinks: When bacteria in the mouth break down simple sugars, they produce acids. These can erode tooth enamel, creating pits where cavities can form. Sugary drinks, including soft drinks and fruit drinks, consist almost entirely of simple sugars.

Carbonated drinks are especially bad for teeth, since carbonation increases acidity. Some studies have singled out sports drinks as the worst offenders for eroding enamel.

Candy and sweetened snacks: Most candies are loaded with sugar, which increases acid levels from bacteria in the mouth. Sticky and gummy candies pose the biggest threat, since they adhere to teeth, making it hard for saliva to wash them away.

Starchy foods: Starches also raise acid levels from bacteria in the mouth, eroding tooth enamel. Starchy foods include breads, pastas, rice, and potatoes. Raw starches in the form of vegetables tend not to endanger tooth enamel.

Breakfast cereals: Foods that contain a mixture of sugar and starch should be avoided. Snacks such as ready-to-eat breakfast cereal, pastries, and many processed foods may be bad for teeth. The combination of starch and sugar is more likely to get stuck in plaque between teeth.

Coffee, tea, and red wine: Sweetened tea or coffee raises acid levels, weakening enamel. And because they are often sipped slowly, acid levels may remain high over a longer period of time, raising the danger. Coffee, tea, and red wine also tend to stain teeth.

Threats to Your Teeth

Teeth are strong and resilient. But teeth with root canals or fillings are often weakened. Biting down on something hard can cause them to crack or fracture.

Choose these Foods for Healthy, White Teeth

Water: The best thirst quencher is also the smartest choice for your teeth. Water helps wash acid-producing foods from the mouth.

Sugar-free drinks: If you like your water sweetened, choose sugar-free drinks. Because sugar-free drinks wash acid-producing food from the mouth, they may help reduce cavity risk.

Sugar-free chewing gum: Chewing gum increases the flow of saliva, which helps neutralize acids in the mouth, protecting tooth enamel. The flow of saliva also washes food out of the mouth, limiting the amount of time it is in contact with teeth. Sugar-free chewing gum is also a good choice when you crave something sweet.

Citrus fruit: Although it is acidic, citrus fruit increases saliva flow. In fact, research shows that oranges, grapefruits, and other citrus fruit tend to protect tooth enamel. Because citrus fruit contains a lot of water, it also helps wash away acid-producing bacteria.

Cheese and milk: Cheese and milk protect tooth enamel and ward off cavities in several ways. First, they encourage saliva production, which neutralizes acids in the mouth. The protein, calcium and phosphorous in cheese and milk also buffer acids, protecting enamel from erosion.

Fish and flax: By far the biggest threat to healthy teeth is gum disease. It occurs when bacteria collect in pockets. This causes inflammation that can damage the connective tissue anchoring teeth to bone. Foods that reduce inflammation may protect against gum disease.

Omega-3 fatty acids are the most potent anti-inflammatory nutrients. This form of fat is found in fish, fish oil, and flaxseed. A diet high in omega-3s is more resistant to inflammation and infection.

Cocoa: Good news for chocoholics: Substances found in cocoa appear to dampen inflammation and may help protect against erosion and decay. Dark chocolate is a good choice, since it is lower in sugar than milk chocolate.

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