As the excitement of celebrating a new year quickly fades, so do commitments to resolutions focused on self improvement. “Eating healthier” and “becoming more fit” have always been popular “promise to myself” resolutions . And while veering from those goals may produce obvious consequences related to body image—it can also lead to partially hidden consequences regarding your dental health.

If you don’t already do so, I hope you’ll consider the advantages of consciously eating for “33”…your 16 upper teeth, your 16 lower teeth, and you!

As a Cosmetic Dental Specialist, I often meet and treat patients with smiles that have suffered from advanced decay due in part to poor diet. And while tips regarding “good dental habits” may seem like “old news” to most, I have learned first-hand that many have forgotten (or never totally learned) the following basics regarding “best practices” for maintaining a healthy, sparkling smile.

Eating your way to tooth decay

Eating the wrong foods, at the wrong times (and not practicing timely oral hygiene) is a catalyst for developing dental problems. Especially destructive are foods with high sugar content (candy, soda, sweet & sticky concoctions, chips, and more) because the sugars in these foods adhere to your teeth, resulting in the development of bacteria. In an attempt to combat this bacteria, your mouth releases acids, creating an environment that destroys tooth surfaces and leads to tooth-destroying decay.

A sugar-rich diet can also often be void of important nutrients and vitamins—leading to a compromise of your immune system that leaves your gums more susceptible to periodontal disease.

Eating right to keep smiling bright

A “healthy dental” diet includes foods low in sugars, high in nutrients, and rich in texture. Crunchy nuts, firm fruits, and crisp vegetables all provide a natural way to help combat decay. Because they have a high water content, Fruits and vegetables dilute harmful sugars and stimulate saliva to help the mouth naturally cleanse. Dairy, meats and cheeses are also beneficial, as they contain calcium, which aids in maintaining bone health and dental health. (Calcium also aids in the prevention of colon cancer and obesity.)

Drinking plenty of fluids—the right fluids—is another key ingredient for eating your way to great dental health. (Sugar-laden sodas and juices—especially sipping them slowly over time—should be avoided whenever possible.) Drinking plenty of water (with fluoride if available) throughout the day and with meals is most beneficial, as it combats dehydration, resulting in an abundant production of saliva. Important for protecting oral tissue and cleansing the teeth, saliva is crucial part of good oral health.

Cleaning up after meals and snacks

For most, washing glasses, dishes, and utensils after dining is a routine practice. Yet when it comes to our most IMPORTANT dining utensil—our teeth—many put off cleaning teeth until “later on.” Always brushing and flossing right after eating is a very effective way of maintaining optimal oral health.

If your New Year resolutions included healthier fitness habits, I hope you consider the importance of “eating for 33” so that you maintain a fit mouth as well. Should you be unsure of your current dental health, or are wondering if you could benefit from today’s advanced smile improvements, the Advanced Cosmetic Dentistry team is ready to assist! A free consultation is just a friendly phone call away.