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Foods for Bright Teeth and a Healthier Smile

Hidden 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. To avoid trouble, don’t chew ice. Be careful eating olives or fruits that contain pits. Sometimes even  foods that have been pitted retain a stray pit. Avoid unpopped popcorn kernels, as well.

Foods to Choose 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. Studies suggest that cheese and milk may even help strengthen the protective minerals in teeth surfaces.

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. “People who consume diets high in omega-3s are more resistant to inflammation and infection,” says Iacopino. “We also think they may be more resistant to gum disease.”

Cocoa: Good news for chocoholics: Substances found in cocoa appear to dampen inflammation and may help protect against erosion and decay. Even chocolate milk, although it contains some sugar, doesn’t seem to increase the risk of cavities compared to snacks like cookies, chips, and raisins. Dark chocolate is a good choice, since it is lower in sugar than milk chocolate.

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Reviewed on August 02, 2010

How Do I Measure Up? Get the Facts Fast!

Number of Days Per Week I Floss

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Only 18.5% of Americans never floss. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Floss removes food trapped between the teeth and removes the film of bacteria that forms there before it turns to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Try flossing just one tooth to get started.

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily. You are missing out on a simple way to make a big difference in the health of your mouth. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for 3 more days!

You are one of 31% of Americans who don't floss daily, but you're well on your way to making a positive impact on your teeth and gums. Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Aim for all 7 days!

Only 50.5% of Americans floss daily, and good for you that you are one of them! Regardless of how well you brush, plaque still forms between your teeth and along your gums. Toothbrush bristles alone cannot clean effectively between these tight spaces. Flossing removes up to 80% of the film that hardens to plaque, which can cause inflamed gums (gingivitis), cavities, and tooth loss. Congratulations on your good oral health habit!

SOURCES:

American Dental Association, Healthy People 2010

This tool is intended only for adults 18 and older.

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