|Eating healthier is a top goal for many of us. But did you know that the food choices you make also have an impact on your smile? Here are a few nutrition basics for a healthy smile. |
The Best Foods for Your Teeth
Dairy. Dairy products such as milk, yogurt and cheese are the most common sources of calcium, which is an essential mineral for healthy teeth. Calcium protects and strengthens the enamel on the outside of your teeth, which helps fight against decay.
Dark Leafy Greens. Dark green leafy vegetables are another great source of calcium. Some of the best choices include kale, spinach, collard greens and broccoli.
Crunchy Foods. Crunchy foods like apples, carrots and celery require a lot of chewing. This generates saliva, which neutralizes acids in the mouth and protects against gum disease and tooth decay.
Green Tea. Drinking green tea can protect against cavities, gum disease and bad breath. It may even lower your chance of developing oral cancer. Just remember to skip the sweeteners!
| The Worst Foods for Your Teeth |
Sticky Foods. Sticky foods like dried fruit and gummy worms can get stuck on and between your teeth, creating plaque that causes tooth decay. Avoid varieties that have added sugar or are sweetened with corn syrup. If you indulge, drink plenty of water and make sure to brush and floss 30 minutes afterward.
Starchy Foods. Starchy foods like bread, chips and pasta can get stuck between teeth and linger in the mouth. They then mix with bacteria to create acid that can lead to tooth decay.
Citrus. Too many acidic foods like citrus fruits can ruin tooth enamel, leading to tooth sensitivity and decay. Drink plenty of water after enjoying an orange or grapefruit and wait 30 minutes before brushing to avoid rubbing the acid against your enamel.
Sugary Drinks. Not only does soda contain high amounts of sugar, but it also contains its own acid, which erodes the enamel that protects your teeth. Drinks that are high in sugar, including sports drinks and fruit juice, can cause cavities to develop over time and can even damage composite fillings.
Puzzled about how to come up with healthy snacks for your youngsters? Try these ideas:
■ Keep a variety of fruit in the house. Go for kid favorites like bananas, apples, and oranges, but also encourage your children to sample less-familiar produce, perhaps mangoes, kiwis, papayas, or blackberries. Tip: Look for fruit that’s in season or on sale to keep costs down.
■ Raw vegetables make great snacks. Offer green beans or baby carrots with a dip of low-fat ranch dressing or guacamole.
■ Together, read food labels when you’re grocery shopping. Make a game of picking out nutritious snacks and drinks. Example: See who can find the granola bars with the least sugar or the salsa with the lowest sodium.
■ Look for healthier versions of snacks your youngsters like. For instance, get baked crackers, whole-wheat pretzels, and low-fat string cheese.
■ Store healthy snacks in your pantry or refrigerator at your children’s eye level. Your kids will see them first and be more apt to reach for them.
■ Put together snacks that combine two major nutrients. Serving a protein and a carbohydrate together—a turkey and cheese sandwich, for instance—will fill your kids up and give them energy. Add a drink (water, fat-free milk) to keep them hydrated.
■ Buy snacks like whole-grain cereal, nuts, and dried fruits in bulk to cut costs, and then package them in individual servings in zipper bags. Note: Show your children how to check the nutrition label to find the size of one serving. It’s often not the whole bag or box!
■ Take along healthy snacks when you go out. You’ll avoid stopping for fast food or buying junk food from snack bars or vending machines when your youngsters are hungry.
■ Let your children pitch in and help prepare their own snacks. Steer them toward healthier choices, and watch as they happily eat what they’ve made!
We served our annual Thanksgiving meal on November 20. We were so pleased to have nearly 400 parents join us for this feast!