It’s nearly impossible to avoid sweets during the holiday season, beginning with Halloween and lasting into the New Year. You can enjoy Halloween candy and Christmas cookies in moderation without harming your teeth, as long as you perform good oral habits.

On top of that, keep these fit foods on hand for you and your family to enjoy the rest of the time as a snack or with a meal. Too much sugar can cause cavities but did you know some foods are actually good for your teeth?! Certain substances found in the foods on this list can strengthen the enamel and prevent plague.

Say Cheese

Cheese is one of the healthiest snacks for your child’s teeth, according to the American Dental Association. In addition to providing large amounts of much-needed calcium, cheese helps fight cavities. Cheddar, Swiss, Mozzarella and Monterey jack all stimulate the body’s salivary glands. This clears the mouth of debris and protects teeth from acids that weaken them. Cheese disrupts the development of cavities, especially when eaten as a snack or at the end of a meal.

Calcium and phosphorous found in cheese reduce drops in plaque’s pH level. These substances work to re-mineralize the enamel of your teeth. Cheese also contains the protein casein, which helps to strengthen enamel. So pack some string cheese in your child’s lunch or make a spooky after-school snack with cheese and pretzels!

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Berry Pretty Smile

Cranberries are one of the top antioxidant-rich foods. In fact, all berries are rich in antioxidants that can help fight bacteria and reduce inflammation. Scientists have found that the red pigments in cranberries called proanthocyanidins may prevent bacteria from adhering to the teeth. This can discourage the formation of sticky plaque that leads to cavities and gingivitis.

Be aware that most cranberry juices and jellies have fruit acids and added sugar, which may actually harm your teeth with excess consumption. Look for cranberry juice with no added sugar to drink and to add to smoothies. Also, use fresh or frozen cranberries for cooking.

An Apple A Day Keeps the Dentist Away

If you need a boost of energy, eat hard fresh fruit or vegetables like apples, carrots, peppers, dark green vegetables and berries. Chewing hard fruit will help naturally clean your teeth. The act of chewing produces saliva in your mouth, which washes away bacteria and food particles. This will hold you off after a meal until you can get a good brush in! At the same time, you are giving your body various vitamins and minerals that help build a healthy mouth.

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Green Tea May Be Nature’s Defense Against Oral Cancer

According to a study by Penn State University, green tea may halt the growth of new oral cancer cells and break down existing oral cancer cells. The oxygen-rich environment of the mouth seems to be conducive to the formation and multiplication of oral cancer cells.

Polyphenols found in green tea prevent gene mutations from actions of free radicals. Additionally, green tea polyphenols are able to cause cell death in cancerous cells without harming the normal cells. They can also inhibit the growth and spread of cancerous cells.

Vitamin C Promotes Healing

Sufficient intake of vitamin C after oral surgery may help speed up recovery. Not only is vitamin C a powerful antioxidant, it’s also vital to the production of collagen. Collagen is the main protein building block for all living tissues. Vitamin C increases resistance to bacterial penetration into tissues. It maintains a healthy capillary network that supplies the newly forming oral tissues. Along with vitamin C, vitamins A, E, B, K and D, are all integral to the healing process and a speedy recovery time.

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Chew Sugar-free Gum

Many studies show that sugar-free gum containing an artificial sweetener called Xylitol can reduce the incidence of tooth decay and oral cancer. Xylitol appears to prevent accumulation of bacteria on teeth by inhibiting bacterial ability to adhere to teeth. Xylitol is also found in some toothpaste and mouthwashes. Chew a piece of sugar-free gum after eating a meal to help clear away bacteria – and to freshen your breath.

These foods can all help promote dental health but are not a one-stop solution to a healthy mouth. Please don’t forget to brush your teeth twice a day and floss once per day! Visit your dentist at least two times each year for cleanings and regular checkups.

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