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Teeth-Cleaning Tips for a Bright Smile

Teeth-Cleaning Tips for a Bright Smile

The last few weeks -- or even days -- before starting a diet can be a perilous time for your teeth, thanks to "last chance syndrome." You know: "Hey, it's my last chance to indulge before my diet, so why not go for it now?"

3 Smart Steps to Keep Your Teeth

Desserts, such as those brought into the office, can be especially dangerous. There's evidence that the combination of sugar and starch (think pies, cakes, cookies, and breakfast treats) is worse for your teeth than either one alone. The sugar-starch combo kicks a potent mouth bacteria called S. mutans into high gear. It creates a kind of super-plaque that is up to five times harder, stickier, and more acidic than the dental plaque made without much starch.

7 Worst Foods for Your Teeth

Worse, not brushing right after eating these sugary, starchy foods gives those bacteria extra hours to pile up plaque on your teeth. Check out these tips to protect your teeth:

  • Wash dessert down with cranberry juice. A molecule in cranberries cuts acid production of certain bacteria by 70% and keeps them from sticking to teeth.
  • Avoid soft drinks. Sodas tend to be acidic, which helps erode tooth enamel. That goes for diet soda, too. Carbonated sodas -- even diet soft drinks -- have been linked to obesity and diabetes, too.
  • Chew sugarless gum. Specifically, chew gum sweetened with xylitol. Chewing stimulates saliva, your body's natural mouth rinse, and xylitol curbs bacteria. Chewing gum can also stifle your cravings.
  • Put your toothbrush and floss on your pillow. That way, no matter how tired you are, you'll remember to safeguard that smile with nightly brushing and flossing.

Medically reviewed in September 2019.

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