Health Features

Chew on This

It’s easy to think of dental care as separate from regular medical care, but a healthy mouth is just as integral to overall wellness as any other part of the body. In addition to regular brushing, flossing and preventive exams, here’s some helpful advice to sink your teeth into this spring.

Drink water!
Water is crucial for the proper functioning of your organs and tissues, but did you know it’s just as important to your teeth? It rinses away food residue that can lead to dental decay, but it also removes additives like phosphoric, citric and malic acids that erode tooth enamel. Staying hydrated also helps you produce enough saliva to prevent dry mouth, a condition that can lead to cavities.

Take care with these foods & drinks!
We all know sugary foods and beverages contribute to tooth decay, but here are some other things to limit in the interest of good dental health.

  • Ice. It’s just frozen water, right? True, but chewing it is not good for your teeth. Hard substances like ice can harm enamel and leave teeth open to further damage.
  • Citrus fruits and drinks. They can be important vitamin sources, but they also contain acids that erode enamel and make teeth more vulnerable to decay. Eat or drink them in limited quantities.
  • Coffee and tea. Many people add sugar to these drinks, and the caffeine they contain can dry out your mouth. Coffee and tea can cause stains, too. If you drink them, be sure to consume plenty of water as well.
  • Sticky foods. Dried fruits and trail mix can offer nutritional benefits, but they also leave a sticky residue that stays longer on your teeth and contributes to tooth decay. It’s a good idea to rinse with water or brush your teeth after eating them.
  • Crunchy snacks. Crispy foods like potato chips can contain a lot of starch that gets trapped on tooth surfaces and leads to plaque buildup. Don’t forget to floss carefully to remove food particles.
  • Alcoholic beverages. Drinking alcohol can dehydrate your body, leading to dry mouth and tooth decay.
  • Sports and energy drinks. They often contain a lot of sugar, so read bottle labels carefully. Better yet, stick to water.

Avoid tobacco!
Using tobacco can stain your teeth and tongue, interfere with healing after dental surgery, and contribute to gum disease and oral cancer. Your dentist or doctor can provide information on resources to help you quit.

Did you know?
Cities have been adding fluoride, a mineral that strengthens tooth enamel, to their water supplies for decades with positive results. According to the American Dental Association, the Canadian city of Calgary stopped about 10 years ago, and research showed its children had more tooth decay than those in cities with fluoridated water. In areas where water is not treated, children can get fluoride in tablets, toothpaste and mouth rinses.

Source: American Dental Association

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