Eat, Drink, and Chew Your Way to a Beautiful Smile

There's one upside to dreading the dentist: That fear can motivate extra-faithful brushing and flossing. But there are less angst-ridden ways to protect your mouth from tooth decay, gum disease, and your nerves from a close encounter with the drill:

  1. Say no to bottled water. You'll help save your teeth (and the planet) by not drinking bottled water because tap water has more enamel-protecting fluoride than most store-bought bottled waters.
  2. Munch on apples and celery. Both contain substances that fight gum disease. Plus, their rough, fibrous texture helps scrub away food particles as you chew, slightly brightening your smile.
  3. Snack on low-fat yogurt. It's good for your gums. Japanese researchers found that people who eat about 2 ounces of no-sugar-added yogurt a day are less likely to have severe gum disease.
  4. Stock up on straws. Tooth enamel is designed to be a coat of armor for teeth. The acid in juice, sports drinks, and soda erodes it. Just say no to soda! It doesn't do any part of you an ounce of good anyway. Try to sip sports drinks and cranberry, prune, and citrus juices through a straw to limit your teeth's direct exposure. Oh, and favor cranberry juice. Ingredients in those tart little berries not only keep cavity-causing bacteria from sticking to teeth but also inhibit the inflammation of gum disease and put the kibosh on destructive enzymes linked to infection and decay. Just choose diet cranberry juice to avoid the loads of sugar that decay-causing bacteria thrive on.

Find out which foods can naturally help whiten your teeth.