Chew on sugar-free, aspartame-free, plastic-free, natural xylitol-sweetened gum like Glee Gum. Xylitol may increase salivation, helping to reduce cavities and plaque. More research is needed, but the author of one study did note, "the benefits it offers are literally worth salivating over," which was good enough for me to test it out post-lunch.
Following this plan, I’ve learned how taking time to really improve one area of my life can dramatically affect other areas. For instance, because I usually chew a piece of tooth-friendly sugar-free gum after lunch I find that I no longer have the same afternoon cravings for coffee or sugar cookies that I used to. Taking care of my teeth to the max has translated into taking care of my nutrition and health to the max, too. Now, before I reach for starchy potato chips I’ll think about whether that’s a choice that helps me reach my goal of no more "baby cavities."
The interesting thing is that science—to some degree—is on my side here. Dentists, nutritionists, and doctors are starting to understand the connection between dental health and overall health. Many people cite dentist Weston A. Price's work looking at indigenous cultures diets and teeth as proof of this connection, but the scientific validity of his work has come under fire for his sample size and research methodology. Regardless of what you believe about Dr. Price, we've known that sugar is bad for your teeth for years, and now there are scientific studies that highlight the benefits of eating a low-sugar, low-carb diet for overall health. For instance, the World Health Organization now recommends that individuals, "reduce the frequency with which they consume foods containing free sugars to four times a day and thereby limit the amount of free sugars consumed."
The American Dental Association’s website now features an entire section about what foods to eat for healthy teeth. ADA’s site supports eating a healthy diet that includes dairy (which is low in sugar and rich in calcium), lean proteins that can help strengthen teeth, fruits and vegetables (which balance sugar and when chewed produce saliva that rinses acids off teeth), and nuts because they are low in carbohydrates, which activate tooth decay.
So, if you are looking to boost your health, nutrition, and wellness, why not start with something as simple as improving your dental care? The benefits of doing so will extend beyond your radiant minty-fresh smile.
Ever wonder what your smile says about your health? Here's your answer.