• 91°

Want a healthy smile? Follow these helpful teeth-saving tips

If I knew then what I know now I would have a beautiful set of perfect pearly white teeth.

Multiple trips to the dentist office through the years remind me that it’s worth it to follow these tips to have healthy teeth for a lifetime.

Daily brushing with fluoride toothpaste and flossing are essential to a healthy smile, but did you know nutrition has an effect on your dental health, too?

Eating a variety of nutrient-rich foods from all the food groups promotes healthy teeth and gums. A balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, protein foods, calcium-rich foods and whole grains provides essential nutrients for optimum oral health as well as overall health.

Foods for optimum oral health

• Calcium-rich foods, such as low-fat or fat-free milk, yogurt and cheese, fortified soy drinks and tofu, canned salmon, almonds and dark green leafy vegetables help promote strong teeth and bones.

• Phosphorus, found in eggs, fish, lean meat, dairy, nuts and beans is good for strong teeth.

• Vitamin C promotes gum health, so eat plenty of citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, potatoes and spinach.

Smart snacking also can keep your mouth in good shape. Resist the urge to snack frequently — the more often you eat, especially between meals, the more likely you are to introduce acid attacks on your teeth. If you do snack, choose wisely. Forgo sugary treats such as hard or sticky candy and opt for nutritious choices such as raw vegetables, fruits, plain yogurt and popcorn. Remember to brush after snacking to keep cavities at bay. If you can’t brush, rinse your mouth with water to get rid of food particles.

Caring for a baby? Avoid pacifying your infant, toddler or young child with a bottle of juice, formula or milk. Sucking on the bottle bathes the teeth and gums in liquid, which can contribute to tooth decay.

In addition to healthful eating, oral health problems can be prevented by practicing good oral hygiene, such as brushing teeth with fluoridated toothpaste twice a day, flossing once a day, drinking fluoridated water and seeking regular oral health care. Okay? : Taylor Wolfram, MS, RDN, LDN

Special Nutrient Needs of Older Adults

Eating right and staying fit are important no matter what your age. As we get older our bodies have different needs, so certain nutrients become especially important for good health. Remember these essential tips:

Calcium and Vitamin D

Older adults need more calcium and vitamin D to help maintain bone health. Have three servings of calcium-rich foods and beverages each day. This includes fortified cereals and fruit juices, dark green leafy vegetables, canned fish with soft bones, milk and fortified plant beverages. If you take a calcium supplement or multivitamin, choose one that contains vitamin D.

Vitamin B12

Many people older than 50 do not get enough vitamin B12. Fortified cereal, lean meat and some fish and seafood are sources of vitamin B12. Ask your doctor or a registered dietitian nutritionist if you need a vitamin B12 supplement.

Fiber

Eat more fiber-rich foods to stay regular. Fiber also can help lower your risk for heart disease and prevent Type 2 diabetes. Eat whole-grain breads and cereals, and more beans and peas — along with fruits and vegetables which also provide fiber.

Potassium

Increasing potassium along with reducing sodium (salt) may lower your risk of high blood pressure. Fruits, vegetables and beans are good sources of potassium. Also, select and prepare foods with little or no added salt. Add flavor to food with herbs and spices.

Know Your Fats

Foods that are low in saturated fats and trans fat help reduce your risk of heart disease. Most of the fats you eat should be polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, which are primary found in nuts, seeds, avocados, olive oil and fish.  Source:  Taylor Wolfram, MS, RDN, LDN

Eating right and staying fit are important no matter what your age. As we get older our bodies have different needs, so certain nutrients become especially important for good health.