Freshen Your Smile
Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Freshen Your Smile

Did you know that your diet can affect your oral health? This is especially important for children, but I have known an adult or two who has been shocked to learn about a cavity in need of filling!

The biggest culprit that leads to tooth decay is bacteria that eats away at the enamel. What feeds the bacteria? Sugar! Not just sugar, but also any carbohydrate. For example, if you snack on pretzels at your desk in the afternoon, the carbohydrate in the pretzels are a food for bacteria in your mouth for hours after you finish them.

Worst habits leading to tooth decay:
1. Having a sweetened beverage (sweet tea, regular soda, coffee with sugar) on your desk all day that you sip on periodically. This leaves sugar in your mouth, feeding the bacteria all day long
2. Putting your baby to bed with a bottle filled with milk, juice, formula, or soda. If he or she needs a bottle to get to bed, fill it with water
3. Eating sticky, chewy foods like raisins, caramel candy, jelly beans, honey, syrup, or even granola bars or peanut butter sandwiches. Anything that sticks to your teeth and lingers feeds the bacteria.
4. Sucking on hard candy, lollipops, cough drops, mints, or chewing gum that has real sugar in it. Do you ever feel a ‘coating’ on your teeth after eating something sugary? Think bacteria! Yuck!

Best habits to prevent tooth decay:
1. Brush after every meal or snack
2. Chew sugarless gum to get the saliva flowing to help wash down food particles and bacteria
3. Swish your mouth with water or mouthwash after a meal. Even drinking water after a meal will help get rid of food particles.
4. Get your recommended calcium
5. Visit the dentist regularly
6. Floss daily
7. Offer your children plain water instead of juice or soda. Even milk contains sugar. This doesn’t mean we should not feed our kids milk, but brush their teeth after a meal.

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About the Author


Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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