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The foods your choose to eat each day play a critical role in determining your overall health, including the health of your smile. Wise choices at breakfast, lunch, and dinner will not only help you stay lean and avoid disease, but can also keep your teeth healthy for many years to come. Here are five guidelines to remember to accentuate your dental health:

1. Drink water, and lots of it

Drinking water is good for staying sufficiently hydrated, but it is also beneficial for your smile. Following a meal, small particles of debris, sugar, and acids can stay stuck to your teeth. Drinking water when you finish eating can help you rinse your teeth of the damaging particles. The less time debris is on your teeth, the better!

2. Avoid excess sugar, especially in soda

Sugar is your smile’s worst nightmare. Sugar, especially refined and processed sugar, is the ideal food for plaque or bacteria to accumulate on your teeth in the crevices of your smile. When sugar remains in contact with your teeth for extended periods of time, acids are released which harm your smile. Soda contains sugar AND acid, packing a traumatizing one-two punch to your teeth. If you choose to drink soda, follow it up with a drink of water to clean the acid and sugar off of your teeth.

3. Avoid excessive snacking

Snacking may keep you feeling energized and awake, but it may lead to dental damage by regularly exposing your teeth to the sugars and acids found in so many foods. Try to eat only at mealtimes to keep your teeth’s exposure to food at a minimum.

4. Focus your diet on nutritious, whole foods

A balanced diet with lots of vitamins and minerals helps you keep strong, healthy teeth and gums. If your diet lacks essential nutrients, your oral health can suffer.

5. Avoid foods that are sticky

Sticky foods unfortunately keep food and sugar in contact with your teeth even longer than usual, giving the damaging chemicals more time to damage your smile. Additionally, sticky foods can cause damage to your fillings and dental crowns.