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Choosing foods that are good for your teeth

Can you eat your way to good oral health? New research from two leading universities shows that diet choices can have a positive impact on the health of your mouth.

Because they're sticky and sweet, dentists have often recommended parents limit raisins to occasional snack treats to protect youngsters' dental health. But research at the University of Illinois at Chicago has shown that raisins contain phytochemicals that suppress growth of oral bacteria associated with cavities and gum disease and can inhibit the ability of plaque-forming bacteria to adhere to teeth.

Besides containing substances that inhibit bacterial growth, the sugars contained in raisins are fructose and glucose; the main sugar associated with oral disease is sucrose, said lead researcher Dr. Christine Wu.

"Foods that are sticky do not necessarily cause tooth decay," she said. "It is mainly the added sugar, the sucrose, that contributes to the problem."

You may have been drinking milk and serving it to your family because you know consuming calcium helps build strong bones and teeth.

According to the University of California at Los Angeles School of Dentistry, milk also contains proteins essential for good oral health by preventing cavity-causing bacteria from sticking to tooth surfaces.

You can enhance milk's effectiveness by brushing and flossing regularly, getting regular dental checkups and replacing sugary soft drinks with milk as often as possible.

For more information about how a healthy diet, including milk and dairy products, contributes to good oral health, log on to www.ada.org/public/topics/diet.asp.

Please contact the ADA if you have questions about this article.

©2010 American Dental Association. All rights reserved. Reproduction or republication is strictly prohibited without the prior written permission from the American Dental Association.

10/14/2005

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