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It’s common knowledge that a poor diet will have negative consequences on your body.   However, what many fail to realize is that a poor diet can be just as unhealthy for your teeth.  Here are some tips for keeping your smile free of cavities and stains:

Sugary Foods:  Reduce your risk of cavities by avoiding sugary, chewy and tacky foods.  Caramels, jelly beans, dried fruit, honey and syrups all have the tendency to stick to your teeth.  Saliva is slow to break down and remove these sweet treats that act as a catalyst for bacteria growth in your mouth.  Lollipops and hard candy dissolve slowly coating teeth with sugar for an extended period of time. If you choose to indulge in dessert or candy, try to have them with your meals.  The increased amount of saliva from eating along with your drink can remove lots of sugars from your teeth, reducing the opportunity for plaque growth.

Drink Water: Contrary to popular belief sports drinks are not the healthiest beverage to give you energy.  Most are acidic and have a high sugar content resulting in enamel erosion. Juices and soda are also very acidic and sugary and should be avoided to prevent tooth decay.  Coffee, teas, wines, juices, colas and other dark beverages stain you teeth. If you do decide to have a sweet or dark beverage, try drinking it with a straw which allows part of the liquid to bypass your teeth.  Drinking water is also crucial to maintaining your teeth. Water washes away food particles, neutralizes the pH of your mouth, hydrates you, and is the best drink to keep your mouth healthy!

Choose Sugar Free Gum: Chewing gum greatly increases salivary flow. If you chew a gum with the sugar replacement xylitol there is the added benefit of reduced bacterial growth and a neutral pH in the mouth.

Limit Snacking:   Try to stick to just one or two snacks a day.  Time between meals allows your saliva to clean teeth, encouraging the reminerlization process and allowing less time for bacterial growth to be stimulated.  There are many healthy snack options for your teeth. Cheddar, Monterey Jack and aged cheeses promote the flow of saliva to remove food from teeth. You can also enjoy a snack high in calcium such as a glass of milk, broccoli or yogurt.  Cinnamon also kills odor-causing bacteria. And Greek yogurt lowers the waste product of hydrogen sulfide from bacteria in the mouth. Fresh parsley can also help your breath.

No Ice Chewing:  The pressure from chomping on ice combined with the extreme change in temperature is extremely bad for your tooth enamel and can lead to tooth chips or fractures.  Ice can also break braces and cause damage inside your mouth, especially if it is a sharp piece of ice. To kick the habit, try munching on other crunchy things such as carrots or apples.  These snacks will clean plaque from teeth and freshen one’s breath. Not to mention that fruits and veggies also give you healthy vitamins, minerals and antioxidants as well!

Staining Foods:  If you had your teeth whitened or cleaned and want to keep them sparkling, avoid dark soups, stews, marinades, soy sauce, tomato based food, red wine or dark chocolate.  These are all yummy, but you’ll see your bright new shade get dark pretty quickly.

Your body and mouth will thank you for making the right choices when it comes to food and drink.  And of course, Smiles Unlimited Dentistry, P.C., can help you maintain good oral hygiene through regular cleanings and exams!