When it comes to healthy teeth, we're all familiar with the basics: brush two times a day, try to floss at least once a day and visit your dentist for a check-up every six months.
Since April is Oral Cancer Awareness Month, health professionals urge people to not only keep up with their oral hygiene, but also be more aware of health risks associated with gums and teeth. Oral cancer, for example, is one of the only cancers in the U.S. that is increasing in numbers, and 40 per cent of diagnosed cases are young people and non-smokers.
And yet, oral health is often overlooked or ignored — one survey from the U.K. even found about 7 million Britons didn't brush their teeth regularly. Sometimes keeping on top of your oral health just means watching out for what goes in your mouth.
"A tooth's worst enemy is acid – either directly contained in the food and drink, or produced by oral bacteria which thrive on sugar and then convert it to acid," says Dr. Matthew Steinberg, a dentist based in Austin. "The mouth’s best friends are foods that neutralize acids, provide minerals and vitamins to repair tooth enamel and stimulate saliva."
Steinberg adds that while some foods like sugary candies or fizzy pop contribute to the build-up of tooth decay or gum disease, there are healthier foods and drinks that essentially act like our mouth's laundry detergent.
Here is Steinberg's ultimate cheat sheet of the best and worst foods for your teeth. Now while eliminating all of these 'bad' foods won't necessarily guarantee perfect teeth, watching how often you eat certain foods along with regular brushing and flossing all impact the health of your mouth:
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