SOURCE: :DentalPlans

:DentalPlans

March 01, 2016 08:00 ET

:DentalPlans -- Eat Your Way To A Healthy Smile

Nine Delicious Ways to Celebrate National Nutrition Month

PLANTATION, FL--(Marketwired - March 01, 2016) -  A chocolate candy bar or a bag of raisins -- which is the healthier snack? If you want a treat that will delight your teeth, choose the candy bar.

Both snacks are sugar-laden, and sugar fuels the bacteria that cause dental decay. But raisins tend to stick to your teeth while chocolate dissolves quickly. The less time that your teeth are exposed to sugar, the better. That's why the candy bar is the (somewhat) healthier choice in this scenario.

Adopting a healthier lifestyle is so much easier when we have access to the information that enables us to make the right choices. That's the motivation behind National Nutrition Month®.

During the month of March, members of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics and other health-focused organizations focus on providing Americans with the info that they need to enhance their health.

Some of us may think of a healthy diet solely as a way of reducing weight, but the Academy tells us that eating right can also help to reduce the risk of chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Maintaining a healthy mouth also lowers the risk of these diseases, and supports overall wellness.

"Over the last few years, medical science has found multiple connections between the state of a person's oral health and their overall health. It's becoming increasingly obvious that good oral hygiene is as necessary to wellness as good nutrition. And of course, eating healthy is a key part of maintaining a healthy smile," says Bill Chase, vice president of marketing at :DentalPlans.

Here are nine nutritional ways to help keep your teeth and gums healthy:

1. Limit sugar -- sugar creates the carbohydrates that oral bacteria crave. Carb-fueled bacteria produce acid, which can erode tooth enamel and cause dental decay.

2. Avoid sticky foods -- caramels, raisins and dried fruit dissolve slowly and stick to your teeth. The same goes for hard candies (such as lollipops) or sugary cough drops.

3. Skip the popcorn -- it has an uncanny ability to lodge between your teeth and gums. And you may not even notice that it is lurking there until your gums get inflamed. If you're not giving up popcorn, practice your flossing skills.

4. Chew sugarless gum -- chewing promotes the flow of saliva (your body figures if you're chewing, you need to digest food). Saliva washes away food debris, and helps prevent tooth decay.

5. Eat foods rich in calcium and phosphorus -- eating these foods helps to maintain optimal mineral levels in saliva, which neutralizes acid levels in your mouth and protects your tooth enamel.

6. Eat foods rich in Vitamin D and Vitamin C -- these vitamins in particular are essential for strong teeth and healthy gums.

7. Consider limiting citrus -- acidic foods can soften dental enamel. Other acidic foods include tomatoes, coffee, and pickles. Hint: don't rush to brush after eating acidic foods, as you may further damage softened enamel. Instead, rinse your mouth with water and wait an hour before brushing.

8. Cheat smart -- if you choose to eat acidic or sugary foods or drinks, eat them as part of a well-balanced meal instead of a solo snack. Saliva flows more freely when you're eating a full meal, so acids/sugars will spend less time in your mouth.

9. Brush and floss -- even the healthiest food can cause dental decay if you don't practice good oral hygiene. Brush for two minutes twice a day, and floss at least once. See your dentist regularly for professional cleanings and checkups.

If regular dental care doesn't fit into your budget, get healthy with a dental savings plan.

A dental savings plan cuts dental costs by 10%-60%. And unlike traditional dental insurance, there is no waiting period for costlier procedures, and no restrictions on getting treatment for pre-existing conditions.

To learn more about dental savings plans, visit dentalplans.com.

About :DentalPlans

:DentalPlans, founded in 1999, is a leading dental and health savings marketplace in the U.S., helping more than a million people to affordably access quality healthcare services. Our mission is to empower consumers with the tools, information, and services that they need to live happier, healthier lives.

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