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You only have one set of pearly whites, so you’d better keep them healthy. How to do this? Watch what goes in your mouth.

Certain foods, especially sugary ones, directly contribute to tooth decay and gum disease which can ultimately lead to tooth loss – no one wants to lose teeth, right? Here’s how to choose foods that are good for your teeth, so you can have them for a lifetime.

Raw Foods That Crunch – Bad since they’re harder to chew, right?

Nope. Add more raw foods to your diet. When you don’t have time to pull out a toothbrush at the office, munch on a raw apple or celery stalk, instead. Why?

Bet you didn’t know it, but these crunchy, high fiber foods have natural teeth-cleaning capabilities and help to give plaque-forming bacteria the “heave ho”.

We advise, post-snack, head for the water cooler and rinse out your mouth to remove any natural fruit sugars and acids that may have clung to your teeth. Your mouth will feel refreshed and your teeth will look brighter.

Milk – Has sugar, so it’s bad, right?

Milk can help keep your teeth healthy.

Nope. Some studies suggest that calcium rich-foods, such as milk, protect against periodontal disease. That’s a condition that can lead to tooth loss. In animals, milk also protects against dental caries (that’s dentist-speak for “cavities”) even when animals are given a diet high in sugar. Plus, it also helps teeth to re-mineralize. Don’t like the taste of milk? Cheese seems to have a similar effect.

Probiotic Food – Bad because the acid hurts your teeth, right?

Nope. Yogurt, kefir and other probiotic-rich foods are great for your teeth! Probiotics are active bacterial cultures that compete with the bad bacteria in your mouth that cause dental caries and gum disease.

Other foods that are probiotic include soft cheeses, miso, tempeh, kimchi, sauerkraut, sourdough bread and
sour pickles. Yikes!

Strawberries – Once again, a sweet fruit you shouldn’t eat, right?

Nope. Strawberries may be red, but did you know? They actually pack a very mild bleaching action and can remove superficial stains; but be sure to rinse your mouth thoroughly after eating them. Ironically, strawberries are acidic and acids erode away tooth enamel.

Green Tea – Stains teeth, so it’s bad, right?

Yes but also no. Green tea is a good source of natural catechins. They help to reduce bacteria such as streptococcus mutans that cause plaque to form in the first place.

To get the beneficial effects, sip a cup of green tea throughout the day; but beware that drinking tea can also stain the teeth – everything in moderation. (So many conflicts!)

Sugar-Free Chewing Gum – Sticks to teeth so avoid, right?

Nope. Not if you lchew gum containing xylitol as the main sweetener. This substance, found in many fruits and vegetables, has been shown to reduce decay-causing streptococcus mutans bacteria. The word is, you need to chew four or more sticks of xylitol gum to get the best results. That’s a lot of chewing – don’t crack a tooth!

The Bottom Line for Your Mouth?

To get the benefits of foods that are good for your teeth, make some simple substitutions. Instead of downing a soft drink that could erode tooth enamel, switch over to green tea or skim milk once in awhile. Substitute an apple or a stick of sugar-free gum for a sweet pastry or candy bar. It may pain you to give up your faviorite treats, but it beats a toothache and hefty dental bill – doesn’t it?

Also, make sure to visit your dentist every six months! Just sayin’…

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