You may think that taking care of your teeth simply means incorporating a strict two-brushes-a-day schedule. Well, you’ll be interested to learn that there’s a whole lot more to looking after your teeth than just brushing and flossing. In fact, changing your lifestyle may have the biggest impact when it comes to maintaining clean and healthy teeth.

Just as important as brushing on a regular basis is ensuring you keep to a healthy diet. Eating the wrong foods and drinking sugary drinks too often can cause tooth decay, so it’s vital that you stick to a healthy diet when looking after your teeth. A healthy diet constitutes plenty of fruit and vegetables, starchy foods such as potatoes, bread and rice, protein sources such as meat, fish, eggs and beans and some dairy products.

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Foods that are high in fat and sugar should be eaten every now and then but not on a regular basis. These are the foods that contribute most to tooth decay. To give you a better idea of the amounts of each food group you should be eating, check out one of the many food pyramid diagrams available on the net. These are great for planning your own healthy, balanced diet.

Of all ingredients that have a negative impact on your teeth, sugar is by far the biggest culprit. Limiting the amount of sugar you eat and drink is essential if you are to dramatically reduce your chances of tooth decay and other oral health problems. There are a number of common food and drink products that contain high amounts of sugar. Here are some examples of what you should be looking to avoid in high quantities:

  • Sugary drinks, soft drinks, fizzy drinks, milky drinks with added sugar etc. A few examples would be cola, squash, alcohol and certain smoothies. Smoothies bought from retail stores are likely to have far more sugar in them than your own homemade smoothies, so stick to healthier, homemade recipes.
  • Sweets, chocolate, biscuits, cakes etc. all of which contain high amounts of sugar. Rather than investing in sugary snacks such as these, you should look to make your own and monitor the amount of sugar you use.
  • Fruit juice AND fresh fruit juice which can contain high levels of sugar. Fresh fruit juice is a healthy option in many cases, so having a glass or two each week can also be beneficial.
  • Pies, pastries, cakes, buns etc. which are given their sweeter taste with the help of sugar. Cut down on these products, especially if they are coated in icing or other sugary ingredients.
  • Sponge puddings
  • Table sugar, commonly added to tea or coffee
  • Breakfast cereals
  • Jams, marmalades, syrups
  • Ice cream and sorbets
  • Fruit syrup and dried fruit
  • Sweet sauces

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Of all the examples mentioned above, the most controversial is certainly fruit juice. If you are a regular drinker of the stuff and feel it would be taking a step back to remove it from your diet, here’s what you need to know.

Sugars occur naturally in a number of our drinks, including both fruit juice and milk, but these are sugars we don’t need to cut down on entirely. When fruit juice is blended into smoothies, sugars are released from their structure and can subsequently damage teeth.

Unfortunately, this makes it difficult to drink fruit juice regularly if you’re hoping to look after your teeth. However, anything from 3 to 7 glasses a week shouldn’t cause too much harm. Remember, even unsweetened fruit juice can be sugary, so don’t be fooled by fruit juice that advertise this.

When it comes to changing your lifestyle to benefit your teeth, you need to identify the habits that contribute to bad teeth. One of the most talked about of all these habits is smoking, which can damage your teeth in the long term and permanently stain them. Smoking also causes bad breath and increase your risk of gum disease, breathing problems, lung cancer and oral cancer.

Smoking more than 20 cigarettes a day increases your chances of developing mouth cancer by 600 per cent compared to someone who doesn’t smoke. This is one of many reasons why giving up smoking is essential to maintain good oral health.

As far ask keeping your teeth white is concerned, food and drink alongside smoking are the main contributors to stained teeth.  Other culprits include wine, tea and coffee, so keep all of these to a minimum. Your dentist can supply you with professional teeth whitening toothpaste to help reduce staining.

This article was provided by Mike James, an independent content writer in the health sector working alongside a selection of companies – including Horsham Dentists Dental Healthcare Practice, who were consulted over the information in this piece.