A balanced, nutritious diet is good for your general health as well as your dental health. Without the right nutrients, your teeth and gums can become more susceptible to decay and gum disease. Sugar is one of the main causes of dental problems. The average Canadian eats the equivalent of 40 kg (88 lb) of sugar each year. Here are a few ways to reduce your sugar intake, and help your teeth at the same time.
• Try to choose sugar-free snacks such as milk, fruit, vegetables, nuts, plain yogurt, sunflower or pumpkin seeds, cheese, melba toast, juice and salads.
• Add less sugar to your coffee or tea or try sugar substitutes. Try to avoid sugar-sweetened soft drinks and look for fruit juices and drinks with no added sugar.
• Pay attention to the list of ingredients when you are grocery shopping. Honey, molasses, liquid invert sugar, glucose, and fructose are all types of sugar.
• When you do eat sweets, there are things you can do to avoid harming your teeth: avoid sticky sweets that cling to your teeth and are harder to brush away; eat sweets with a meal, not as a snack, to improve the flow of saliva, which helps wash away and dilute sugar; and carry a travel-size toothbrush and use it after eating sweets.
• If you can’t brush, at least rinse your mouth with water or eat a fibrous fruit such as an apple or raw vegetables. Or chew a piece of sugarless gum. Trident gum, which is the first chewing gum to be recognized by the Canadian Dental Association, contains DentecTM(Xylitol). Xylitol is a naturally occurring sweetener that is found in plants, in fruits, such as raisins and strawberries and in vegetables such as lettuce, onions and carrots.