Maintaining healthy teeth is a matter of daily dental care and a tooth-friendly diet. Daily care would involve flossing and brushing twice a day with an American Dental Association approved fluoride toothpaste. A tooth-friendly diet would observe the following dental health facts: • Protein, calcium, phosphorus and vitamin D are needed to build and maintain healthy teeth. • Foods high in sugar, carbohydrates and acid contribute to tooth decay. • Foods with fiber provide a natural defense against cavities and gum disease. • Foods that require chewing and produce saliva reduce acid and remove food particles from teeth. • Rinsing with water after eating sweets or drinking sugary liquids will wash away sugar remaining on teeth. • Flouridated water protects teeth from decay. Here are foods that aid in maintaining healthy teeth: • Milk and other dairy products provide calcium, protein and Vitamin D; cheese is also good for chewing and counteracts acid. • Lean meat, poultry, fish or eggs provide protein and phosphorus; in addition, fish and eggs are sources of vitamin D which helps the body absorb calcium. • Fruits such as apples, oranges. bananas, strawberries and raspberries provide fiber; oranges contain calcium and phosphorus. • Vegetables such as leafy greens provide fiber; carrots, celery and cucumber require chewing, which produce saliva. • Nuts such as walnuts and almonds provide phosphorus and stimulate saliva production. • Sugarless chewing gum also produces saliva. • Black and green tea prevent bacteria from growing. Here are foods to minimize or avoid: • Foods with high sugar content such as candy-- especially hard candy, gummy candy, caramels, and sugary gum—allow bacteria to produce acid that cause cavities. • Soft drinks, including sweetened sports drinks, which have high sugar content have the same effect. Drinking water afterwards will rinse out the sugar. • Sticky foods such as dried fruit when eaten as a snack tends to stay on the teeth, inviting acid production. If eaten with a meal, the extra saliva produced will help wash it away. • Acidic foods such as citrus fruits, pickles, tomatoes, fruit juice and red wine can affect teeth over time, but can be minimized if taken in moderation and rinsed with water. • Starchy, refined carbohydrates such as chips, pasta, bread or crackers can lead to acid production if not rinsed out with water.