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Good Dental Health

Between-meal eating of foods high in sugar and starches may promote tooth decay. Sugarless candies made with certain sugar alcohols do not. Typical Foods: Sugarless candy and gum. Whether you're new Virginia or have been here a while but haven't had a chance to choose, getting a family dentist is a necessity. Over time you'll build trust and become comfortable with them so your visits don't seem as bad.

Requirements: Foods must meet the criteria for "sugar free." The sugar alcohol must be xylitol, sorbitol, mannitol, maltitol, isomalt, lactitol, hydrogenated starch hydrolysates, hydrogenated glucose syrups, erythritol, or a combination of these. When the food contains a fermentable carbohydrate, such as sugar or flour, the food must not lower plaque pH in the mouth below 5.7 while it is being eaten or up to 30 minutes afterwards. Claims must use "sugar alcohol," "sugar alcohols," or the name(s) of the sugar alcohol present and "dental caries" or "tooth decay" in discussing the nutrient-disease link. Claims must state that the sugar alcohol present "does not promote," "may reduce the risk of," "is useful in not promoting," or "is expressly for not promoting" dental caries.

Sample Claim: Full claim: "Frequent between-meal consumption of foods high in sugars and starches promotes tooth decay. The sugar alcohols in this food do not promote tooth decay." Shortened claim (on small packages only): "Does not promote tooth decay." Reprinted with permission from FDA Consumer

How to Reduce your Chances of Getting Cavities

Good oral hygiene significantly reduce your risk of getting cavities. Brushing removes bacteria and food debris bacteria feeds on. When brushing it is important to brush all teeth surfaces for 2-3 minutes.

Flossing everyday is important for preventing cavities. Flossing reaches the nearly parts of your mouth that your toothbrush can not reach. In these areas, bacteria lives and may cause cavities.

Good Diet will Help Prevent Cavities

Bacteria are particularly fond of foods containing sugars and carbohydrates. These foods provide bacteria with energy to grow, reproduce, and create enamel eating acid. A special favorite of bacteria are foods which tend to stick to teeth like peanut butter, caramel, and honey. When stuck to teeth these foods are not cleared by chewing and swallowing. Consequently they provide bacteria with a long lasting food source from which to make acid.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture notes that "frequent eating of foods high in sugars and starches as between-meal snacks may be more harmful to your teeth than eating them at meals…" Put the treats out of sight and encourage children to avoid excessive snacking, especially between regular meals. If they desire a treat, consider including it as part of the meal.

One group of scientists doing a recent study found that apples actually helped clean teeth among a control group of children and therefore significantly cut down on the risk of tooth decay.

Fluoride to Help Prevent Cavities

Fluoride is a wonder of modern dentistry. Fluoride incorporates itself into tooth enamel strengthening the enamel and making it more resistant to cavities. Most adults receive adequate amounts of fluoride in their toothpastes. Children often receive adequate amounts in their drinking water. If your water is not fluoridated you may want to consult your pediatrician to see about providing fluoride supplements for your child.

Visit your Dentist Twice a Year for Regular Checkups

Though cavities can be repaired, taking care of your teeth is easier to do. Here's how: