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Healthy Note

Tips for long-lasting teeth

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 1 of every 4 adults older than 65 has no natural teeth. Which makes it a drag to eat corn-on-the-cob on the Fourth of July.

Why is nutrition important for our teeth? Because nutrients maintain strong teeth and strong teeth maintain our ability to get nutrients. Here’s the latest on this topic from a recent position paper by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics:

Bacteria that live in our mouth love sugar. When they feed on “fermentable carbohydrates,” they produce acids that destroy the protective mineral coating of tooth enamel. And they produce enzymes that attack proteins in the teeth. Result: weak, decayed teeth. Yuck.

So what are “fermentable carbs” that pump up mouth bacteria? Beverages sweetened with sugar including soda, fruit drinks, energy drinks and sweet tea.

Other fermentable carbs include any sticky sweet foods such as raisins and dried fruit, honey and molasses, and candies, cookies and cakes.

Some foods and food ingredients can actually protect our teeth from decay:

Sugar-free chewing gum. Chewing stimulates saliva that bathes teeth with antibacterial agents that neutralize bad acids in your mouth.

Fresh fruits and vegetables. Vitamin C in these foods is used to make collagen — a vital protein for healthy gums.


And chewing these fibrous foods keep gums healthy and produces protective saliva.

Protein foods such as meat, eggs, cheese, fish, beans and legumes strengthen teeth and gums.

Whole-grain, low-sugar breads and cereals provide a host of nutrients that enhance our immune response to fight off pesky bacteria.

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