I’m sure you have heard it said many times, “you are what you eat.” That especially applies to your teeth and your dental health. What you eat and drink, or more importantly, what you don’t, determines your dental health. Many foods can actually damage your teeth.

The American Dental Association has published a list of what they recommend that you should be eating and drinking. According to the ADA, “water and especially fluoridated water” is best for your teeth because it helps your teeth resist the acids that can cause cavities.

Dairy products are low in sugar and contain calcium which helps strengthen your teeth. Foods rich in phosphorous, fish, meat, eggs and poultry, are important because, containing valuable proteins, they both protect and help rebuild your tooth enamel.

Fruits and vegetables are high in water and fiber that helps balance sugar and clean your teeth. Chewing gets rid of particles that could otherwise harm your teeth. Don’t forget nuts; they are low in the carbohydrates that can produce the bacteria to attack teeth.

Now let’s look at the other side of the coin, the food and liquids that are not good for are teeth, beginning with hard candies. Not only are they full of sugar,  but they can also cause chipped and broken teeth.

Here are several foods and drinks that may surprise you. Chewing ice can actually damage your enamel and lead to a dental emergency. Enjoy water instead. Even too much citrus, like oranges and tangerines, can cause your tooth enamel to erode and also irritate mouth sores. Drink plenty of water with your citrus snack. Coffee and tea are not a problem by themselves. It’s all of that sugar and artificial sweeteners that we put in them.

Sticky foods are another culprit because they stay on our teeth for a long time. If you want to indulge, be sure to brush, floss and rinse thoroughly. The ADA calls these types of foods “your mouth’s worst nightmare.” Conversely, if it goes “crunch” like potato chips and pretzels, it is filled with starch that gets trapped in your teeth. This can lead to plaque build-up, so pay attention to brushing and flossing afterward.

Soda, caffeinated beverages, and sugar containing foods, also produce plaque bacteria that attacks your enamel. Alcoholic beverages, in excess, can reduce the flow of saliva and lead to gum disease and tooth decay. They also increase the potential for mouth cancer. Before you take your next sports drink, read the label; too much sugar, don’t drink it. In many energy drinks, sugar is the number one ingredient. Water is an excellent thirst quenching alternative.

There are lots of foods and drinks that are good for your teeth. It is important for you to learn to read labels and choose carefully. With proper care and dental hygiene, your teeth will last a lifetime.

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