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Avoiding Sugar Isn’t Enough for a Healthy Mouth

Jun 23, 2015

By Dean George

Trying to avoid cavities and maintain a healthy mouth solely by avoiding sugar is like trying to improve your auto mileage and lessen your drag coefficient by driving with your windows up.



Avoiding sugar is good, but your body needs food and nutrients to keep those chompers healthy. Recent research indicates antioxidants and other nutrients can strengthen our immune systems by fighting oral bacteria and inflammation, so here’s a novel idea: why not eat foods that actually protect teeth and gums rather than merely avoiding foods high in sugar?

Below are five keys to keeping both your oral health and smile sweeter than pure cane sugar without the nasty cavity aftertaste.

Vitamin C As previously mentioned in Dental Wire, vitamin C is an antioxidant and excellent tooth whitener that helps remove plaque. Vitamin C also helps produce collagen which helps maintain healthy gums. Found in strawberries, oranges, tomatoes, lemons and many veggies, vitamin C is an essential nutrient needed to maintain good oral health. When it comes to healthy teeth, Vitamin C rates an A+ in our book.

The Raw Tooth Truth Raw vegetables and fresh fruit help clean plaque and freshen breath. Apples, pears, carrots, peppers and celery are excellent teeth scrubbers and their high water content also stimulate saliva, which helps wash away food particles and tooth gunk from less healthy foods. As Dental Wire reported last fall, apples are sometimes referred to as an edible toothbrush!

Go Green! When it comes to oral health, “going green” means to regularly consume leafy green vegetables like broccoli, spinach, green peppers, kale, cabbage and Romaine lettuce. Leafy vegetables are chock full of vitamins and nutrients that benefit our oral health but also help fight against cancer, diabetes and heart disease.

Milk Dairy Products for All Their Worth Milk, cheese and yogurt are as important to good teeth as mouthwash is to fresh breath. All of these dairy products are rich in calcium, phosphorous and vitamin D that help strengthen teeth and bones. Ingesting low-fat dairy is a win-win because it gives teeth what they need to avoid periodontal disease, without putting undue stress on the heart and circulatory system with unwanted fat and cholesterol.

Drink and Be Merry The fluoridated water found in many public water supplies is excellent at helping protect tooth enamel. For those who find drinking water is too tasteless for their liking, unsweetened oolong or green tea contains a high concentration of antioxidants that can help prevent tooth decay, improve dental health and help prevent oral cancer.

As previously noted here, tea also contains a healthy dose of polyphenol which is believed to slow the growth of S. mutans bacteria that sticks to teeth, forms plaque and can lead to tooth decay.

Bottom line: eliminating sugar-based foods and drinks and sugar sources like fructose, sucrose, maltose and glucose from your daily diet is a smart move. An even smarter move is to be proactive by consuming healthy, tooth-friendly foods like those above because in addition to protecting your teeth, you can look forward to wowing your dentist at your regular six-month checkups.

To see plans available in your area that help pay for the cost of those regular dental visits, click here

Sources: health.usnews.com, mouthhealthy.org, WebMD.com
Photo source: menshealth.com


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