Food and Your Smile

Top Smile Savers and Spoilers

Posted Tue, Apr 03, 2007, 10:02 am PDT 

Food.Yahoo.com

Somewhere in America right now, a student’s science fair project is demonstrating cola’s ability to eat through tooth enamel. It’s not pretty. But soda isn’t the only food that does a number on your grin. Here are some of your smile’s worst enemies — and best friends.

THE ENEMIES LIST

Soda, fruit juice, and sports drinks  Not only are they sugary, they’re acidic, and that creates a perfect home for the bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease — especially if you tend to sip on one or another of these drinks all day (who, us?). Acid-neutralizing saliva just can’t keep up.
The realistic fix  Nobody’s saying go cold turkey but for all-day swigging, choose water. Reserve these pick-me-ups for once-a-day use. And buy some straws — sipping through them (try this trick) shrinks teeth-exposure time.

Sticky stuff  We’re not just talking gooey caramels or fruit rollups. Bread, crackers, chips, sweet rolls, and other refined carbohydrates are nearly as likely to cling to teeth as a Tootsie Roll — and they hang on for at least 20 minutes. Not good.
The realistic fix  Try to say no to sticky sweets and carbs when you can’t brush afterward. Alternatively, slosh some water around in your mouth or chew a stick of sugarless gum that’s sweetened with xylitol. The gum helps remove sticky food particles from your teeth, and xylitol curbs cavity causers and increases healthy saliva.
YOUR SMILE’S BEST FRIENDS

Cheese, please  Eating a bit of cheddar (or whatever) at the end of a meal helps protect teeth. It stimulates the production of cleansing saliva, plus the calcium in cheese helps harden teeth.

Crunchy things  Crisp apples, celery and carrots are nature’s little toothbrush alternatives. Not only do they help rid your mouth of food particles but their rough, fibrous texture actually scrubs away as you chew, slightly brightening your smile.

Have a cuppa  Drinking tea after eating can help destroy the germs that cause cavities, gum disease, and phewy breath. That goes for both green and black teas.  [ed note: In China/Japan you can find green tea toothpaste/mouthwash. aml]

Shiitake mushrooms
  These delicate, delicious flavor-boosters contain lenitan, a plant substance that’s anything but a lightweight: It fights both tooth plaque and the bacteria that live in it.

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