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.