I know certain foods are bad for my teeth. But are there any that are GOOD for them?

In fact, there are! Foods such as milk, cheese, nuts, chicken and other meats contain calcium and phosphorous, which have been proven to strengthen bones and protect enamel. Calcium is essential for bone development, and while your teeth do not directly absorb it, a stronger jawbone leads to healthy gums, and healthy gums make healthy teeth. Fruits and vegetables are just as good for your teeth as they are for your body, especially firm, crunchy ones with a high water content (apples, pears). Water is critical for your oral health, as it rinses away food particles and keeps your mouth and gums moist. Dehydration can cause dry mouth, which makes your mouth particularly prone to bacterial growth and bad breath.

As most people know, foods high in sugar tend to stick to teeth and can lead to decay. What many people don’t know is that almost all foods contain some form of sugar—even milk products and fruit—so you can’t cut it out completely, and you wouldn’t want to. The most important part of the “dentist diet” is brushing your teeth after each meal. If you do snack between meals, especially on starchy or sweet foods, and cannot brush, drink plenty of water or chew sugar-free gum to loosen any residue. For those of us out there with a sweet tooth, don’t despair: not all sweet snacks are off-limits. Chewing sugar-free gum that contains xylitol can actually prevent cavities.