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Smart swaps to nourish a healthy smile.

Chew on this: The same foods that are healthy for your whole body may be good for your grin too. That’s because strong teeth and healthy gums depend on nutrients — like calcium, phosphorus and vitamin C — that can be found in a balanced diet.

What’s that?

A well-balanced diet includes:

  • A variety of fruits and vegetables.
  • Whole grains, like oats, barley and brown rice.
  • Lean sources of protein, such as soy, fish and skinless poultry.
  • Calcium-rich foods, like kale, and low-fat or fat-free dairy.
  • A small amount of healthy fats, like those in olive oil and nuts.
  • Plenty of water.

For a healthy smile, you may also want to limit added sugars — and cut back on snacks between meals.

Easier said than done? Here are 3 simple swaps that may help:

Out: Slow sips | In: Quick rinse.

Instead of nursing a sweetened drink for hours, giving sugar time to damage your teeth, sip water between meals. And if you can’t brush after you eat, rinse out your mouth with water.

If your drinking water has fluoride, that’s even better. It may help your mouth fight tooth decay. But if fluoridated water isn’t available where you live, your dentist can talk with you about other ways to get it.

Out: Empty calories | In: Mini meals.

Snacks that are packed with fiber and protein may be more satisfying, which might help you snack less between meals.

Aim to combine different food groups when you snack. Enjoy whole-grain crackers with low-fat cheese, for instance, or dip carrot sticks in hummus.

Out: Hard or sticky sweets | In: Sugarless gum.

To satisfy a sweet tooth, chew on a stick of sugarless gum. Chewing stimulates saliva, which helps cut down on acid in the mouth. And that may help you avoid cavities. Bonus: There’s some evidence that products containing artificial sweeteners like xylitol may even help repair damaged enamel.*

What to do next

Ask your dentist what else you can do to keep your smile bright, white and healthy. Regular checkups are a covered part of your UnitedHealthcare Dental plan. Go to My UHCOpens a new window® or the Health For Me® app to find a dentist in your network.

*Source: Prathibha Anand Nayak, Ullal Anand Nayak, Vishal Khandelwal. The effect of xylitol on dental caries and oral flora.Opens a new window Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dentistry. 2014; 6:89–94.

Additional sources: Academy of General Dentistry; Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; American Dental Association; American Heart Association; National Institutes of Health; U.S. Department of Agriculture

The information provided is for educational purposes only. If you have a UnitedHealthcare Dental plan, please refer to your certificate of coverage for a full description of benefits.

Last reviewed January 2018

© 2018 United HealthCare Services, Inc.

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