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July 1, 2013

Brush up on foods that are good for teeth

(Continued)

Eat to support tooth health

My childhood dentist regularly told me that if I was in a pinch, chewing parsley was a "natural" way to brush my teeth. I didn't buy it back then, but there is truth to his advice, according to the American Dental Association.

- Saliva neutralizes acids, helping to prevent tooth decay. High-fiber vegetables such as celery and parsley take longer to chew, so they stimulate saliva production.

- Some foods neutralize acids, such as pears, apples, yogurt and other dairy.

- Foods that provide calcium and phosphates such as raw nuts and yogurt can strengthen the tooth's surface.

- Crunchy fruits and vegetables such as apples, celery and cucumbers have high water content, which helps dilute the sugar and wash away food particles.

- Drinking water throughout the day will wash teeth and flush bacteria.

- You can minimize acid in foods such as citrus and tomatoes by eating them with other foods.

- Sip sugary drinks through a straw to limit the amount of contact the sugar has with the teeth.

The foods that damage teeth have been shown to damage overall health, and the foods that are favorable to teeth tend to be favorable to health. No surprise. Just one more reminder of why we should eat well and avoid sugar. Not that any of our kids wanted one more reminder.

Seidenberg is co-founder of Nourish Schools, a Washington, D.C. -based nutrition education company.

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