Friday, June 03, 2011

Worried about your Dental Health? Try these 7 Super Foods

By Jenna McCarthy for our content partner: Charge Up For Good Health

Want a camera-ready smile and cavity-free dental health? Brushing and flossing are merely the beginning. Turns out there are a host of incredible edibles that fight bacteria, attack plaque and build enamel with every bite, says Wendy Bazilian, a registered dietitian and author of The Superfoods Rx Diet. Here, her surprising foods for a healthier grin.

1. Whole Grains
You know whole grains are filled with cholesterol-lowering fiber. But were you aware that the B vitamins and iron they contain will help keep your gums healthy too? According to a study of 34,000 men conducted by Canada’s McMaster University, those who ate three daily servings of whole grains -- think brown or wild rice, barley, oatmeal and whole-wheat bread -- were 23 percent less likely to suffer from periodontitis, a severe form of gum disease.

2. Carrots
They’re not just good for your eyes: Carrots are packed with beta-carotene, a powerful antioxidant that is key to building and maintaining strong, healthy teeth. Sweet potatoes and pumpkin are also excellent sources of this wonder nutrient.

3. Celery
Water-rich vegetables like celery cleanse the teeth, washing away sugar and starches that can cause cavities and plaque. In addition, munching on crunchy veggies massages your gums, which increases circulation and can help remove bacteria.

4. Dairy products
Dairy products such as yogurt, low-fat or nonfat milk and cheese are all rich in calcium, a mineral essential for preserving and rebuilding tooth enamel. Calcium also aids in saliva production, which helps kill the bacteria that cause cavities and gum disease.

5. Sesame seeds
Another great calcium source, sesame seeds have a gritty texture that acts like a hundred tiny toothbrushes to tackle plaque buildup. Try them sprinkled on cereal or vegetables, or blend them into into yogurt, soups, and homemade breads and muffins.

6. Lean protein
Eggs, poultry and lean beef are rich in phosphorous, a mineral critical to maintaining strong tooth enamel. In addition, phosphorous helps balance pH levels in the mouth, discouraging the growth of cavity-causing bacteria.

7. Water
Substituting water for sugary sodas and sports drinks may be the tooth-friendliest move you can make. Frequent exposure to liquid sugars allows cavity-causing ingredients to reach the most remote surfaces of teeth and gums. Sugary drinks also contribute to the formation of decay-causing acids in the mouth. (If you must indulge your cola cravings, be sure to sip through a straw to reduce exposure.) Water, on the other hand, contains no harmful ingredients and helps wash away bacteria from food, making it one of the cheapest, best dental health boosters around.

Jenna McCarthy has covered nutrition, fitness
and general health for a variety of national publications, including
Allure, Cosmopolitan, Glamour, Ladies’ Home Journal, Real Simple, Self, Men's Fitness and Shape.

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