Healthy Foods Can Cause Tooth Trouble – Part II

Last time we discovered that the benefits  of blueberries to your teeth (and the rest of your body) are worth the simple precautions needed to prevent staining your smile, whether it’s your natural teeth or veneers.

There are two more foods that are good for you, but need some help from you to be good for your teeth, too.

Nuts are another potential problems with a big benefit. According to Harvard University Men’s Health Watch,

  • nuts may help lower cholesterol, partly by replacing less healthy foods in the diet
  • nuts contain mono- and polyunsaturated fats known to benefit the heart
  • the omega-3 fats found in walnuts may protect against irregular heart rhythms
  • nuts are rich in arginine, a substance that may improve blood vessel function
  • other nutrients in nuts (such as fiber and vitamin E) may also help lower cardiovascular risk.

Best_DentistWith all those benefits, what’s the problem? Nuts are hard and can fracture a tooth with a large filling. They can also damage temporary dental work, whose structure is not as strong as the crown or veneer that will replace it.

“The easiest solution is to chop nuts so the pieces aren’t so large,” explains Dr. Ford. “You can also chew them on the side of your mouth that doesn’t have the large filling,” she continues.

Many people keep nuts in the freezer to keep the natural fats from spoiling. In that case, it’s wise to let the nuts warm up to room temperature before you eat them. The benefits are worth the little bit of additional care you need to take.

If you eat nuts as a snack, check your teeth afterwards to make sure they are not caught between your teeth. You may also want to carry an interdental brush—a small plastic device that looks like a cross between a toothbrush and a toothpick. Several kinds are disposable and small, so carrying a few with you will allow you to clean up your smile and still enjoy your snack.

Finally,  the high-vitamin C lemon is both a friend and a foe. A squirt of lemon is great on fruit salads, fish, chicken and ice tea. The lemon adds a fresh, bright taste and a quick boost of vitamin C. WebMD advises “. . . the benefits of vitamin C may include protection against immune system deficiencies, cardiovascular disease, prenatal health problems, eye disease, and even skin wrinkling.”

The problem is that lemons are acidic, and acid is bad for your tooth enamel. “Squeezing lemon on your food or drinks is not a problem, as the lemon doesn’t stay in contact with your teeth when it is used as a flavoring,” says Dr. Ford. Some people like to bite into a wedge of lemon to clean their teeth and some like the bright bolt of taste of sucking a lemon wedge. It’s not a great habit to get into, but if you do bite into a lemon wedge to clean or bleach your teeth, rinse your mouth thoroughly afterward. Reducing the time your teeth are in contact with the acid will help you keep your smile bright and your teeth healthy.

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