Health Watch: Food to smile about!

Ghosts, goblins or things that go bump in the night may not be the scariest things to worry about this Halloween, but rather the creepy crawling germs in your mouth. Everyone knows that candy doesn't help with preventing cavities, but we have some foods that can.

Did you know that some everyday foods can help prevent tooth decay or even bad breath? Take lemon, for example.

"The lemon stimulates saliva," said periodontist David Genet, DMD.

That keeps your mouth from getting dry and filled with bacteria. Another food that helps: cheese. It contains calcium and proteins that strengthen tooth enamel. The probiotics found in yogurt help your gum by crowding your mouth with good bacteria, blocking out the ones that cause cavities. It's best to choose a plain yogurt with no added sugars. Leafy greens such as kale and spinach contain folic acid, which can help treat gum disease in pregnant women. Try adding some to a salad or a smoothie. Apples, carrots, and celery can act like a toothbrush at the end of a meal. They increase saliva, while also rinsing out bacteria and food particles. Also what you drink is important. Be wary of drinks with added sugars.

"Those sugars from the milk or juice basically coat the teeth, and it's a 24-hour buffet for bacteria in the mouth," explained Jason Bresler, DMD a pediatric dentist.

Instead, drink good old-fashion water.

"Rinsing your mouth with water, drinking water and swishing it around in your mouth," said Dr. Genet, will keep your smile shining brightly.

When it comes to Halloween, you shouldn't really worry about the amount of candy, but rather how often you are eating it. Dentists say when you eat candy, acid forms in your mouth for a limited amount of time. If you eat one piece of candy or three at one time, the same amount of acid forms. But if you eat one candy now and then another two hours from now, more acid will be coating your teeth longer with more opportunities to create cavities.

Contributors to this news report include: Milvionne Chery, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.
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