"The bacteria that contribute to tooth decay, Streptococcus mutans, feed on the sucrose -- the sugar -- that we eat," Louis Amendola, Western Dental's chief dental director says in a statement. "As they multiply, the bacteria release acids that lead to tooth decay."
Experts at Western Dental, a dental HMO and clinical provider of dental services in California, Arizona and Nevada, suggest some food can help maintain a smile's health and beauty including:
-- Although most chewing gum is a sticky, sugary dental disaster, sugar-free brands containing the natural sweetener xylitol can improve dental health.
-- Drinking green or black tea, which delivers naturally occurring fluoride to the mouth. For example, University of Illinois at Chicago researchers found chemical components in black tea inhibit the growth of glucosyltransferase, an enzyme that helps plaque adhere to tooth enamel.
-- Drink tap fluoridated water.
-- Having cheese for dessert could help prevent tooth decay and help repair tooth surfaces because cheese may reduce enamel demineralization, neutralize acids formed in plaque and, through increased saliva flow, flush away sugars.
-- Crunchy, crispy fresh fruit and vegetables such as carrots, apples and cucumbers help protect teeth by stimulating the gums and boosting the production of saliva, which helps flush away sugars and food particles.