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Tips for a Tooth-Friendly Diet

People like to say “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but what can you do to keep the dentist at bay?

First, brushing and flossing daily are crucial. But your diet can also play an important role in your oral health. In fact, changes in your mouth start the minute you ingest certain foods. Bacteria present in the mouth can convert sugars to acids and those acids attack the enamel on teeth, beginning the decay process. The more you eat and snack, the more exposure teeth get to the cycle of decay.

To prevent tooth decay and cavities, our dental experts here at Dr. Dental are sharing their top 5 tips for a tooth-friendly diet:

- Say cheese for whiter teeth. Chomping on cheese — specifically aged Cheddar, Swiss or Monterey Jack — can help keep your smile sparkling white due to the presence of casein and whey protein, which helps keep tooth enamel in top form by reducing demineralization. Cheese also has vital, tooth-building calcium. More cheese, please!

- Load up on proteins. Beef, chicken, eggs and nuts help protect tooth enamel by providing the calcium and phosphorus needed to re-mineralize teeth (a natural process by which minerals are re-deposited in tooth enamel after being removed by acids).

- Shop the produce section. Fruits and veggies are great for teeth — especially when eaten raw – because that helps remove plaque and massages your gums. Choose fruits rich in Vitamin C, which help hold our body’s cells together. Good choices include broccoli, carrots, sweet potatoes and pumpkin. These foods are rich in Vitamin A, which helps tooth enamel form.

- Chew sugarless chewing gum. The saliva generated from chewing gum can actually help to remove food particles from your mouth. Just make sure to read the package to guarantee it is sugar-free.

- Opt for simple beverages. Try plain water (especially fluoridated water), milk and unsweetened tea to quench your thirst. Limit consumption of sugary drinks like soda, lemonade and coffee or tea with added sugar, as these expose teeth to decay-causing acids.

The worst foods for your teeth? There are the obvious ones like candy and desserts. But did you know cough drops, bananas, raisins and other dried fruits can contain large amounts of sugar and can stick to teeth, providing a spot for bacteria to grow?

Even if you follow these dietary guidelines, you still need to brush and floss daily. We also recommend visiting your dentist twice a year for check-ups to maintain optimal oral health!