In a little more than a week, thousands of Americans will be resolving to lose weight and get fit – just the same as they did last year, and the year before and so on….
That shouldn’t stop you from doing your best to get healthier. Sometimes people need to start a health project a few times before it takes hold and they achieve their goals.
But the problem is that we can get so frustrated with ourselves at this time of year that we adopt a strict lose-weight-fast diet that can damage our health … and our smiles.
Restrictive diets that feature lemon juice and other acidy drinks can weaken tooth enamel. Even diets that many consider healthy — liquid cleanses, low-carb diets like Atkins or Paleo, vegan or raw diets — may not always be so healthy for the teeth and gums.
Juice Cleanses and Your Teeth
Among the diets that can cause dental problems is a juice cleanse. During a cleanse people consume only fruit and vegetable juices for three to seven days. No solid food obviously means no chewing, and no chewing results in reduced saliva production. Your saliva play an important role in clearing food debris from your teeth, and controlling the bacterial buildup that leads to cavities.
Additionally, juices tend to be acidic, which breaks down tooth enamel. You’re much better off eating your fruit than drinking it. If you must have juice, dentists tend to suggest drinking it through a straw and then rinsing your mouth with water directly afterward.
Do not brush your teeth for an hour or so after drinking juice. Your enamel will be soft after exposure to acidy fluids, so let the acid neutralize – wait an hour or so before you brush. Once you’ve lost your enamel, it’s gone. But you can help to protect your teeth with fluoride mouthwashes and “remineralizing” toothpastes can help, too.)
Fewer carbs tend to mean less sugar – that’s great for teeth. But many dieters on these plans can experience dry mouth. As noted above, lack of saliva creates a harsh oral environment for your teeth.
Whether low carb is a diet or a lifestyle for you, take life better for your teeth when you’re eating low carb by keeping yourself well-hydrated with water, rinsing your mouth with a product designed for dry mouth care, and chewing sugarless gum.
Thankfully what’s good for your body is also good for your teeth. Stay hydrated, eat a variety of foods including plenty of vegetables, lean sources of protein such as lean beef, skinless poultry and fish; dry beans, peas and other legumes, whole grains, and low-fat dairy foods. Limit snacks to healthy foods such as fruits, veggies or a piece of cheese. Stay active. Think lifestyle, not diet – getting fit is not a project, it’s a lifelong process.
Be careful about falling into the skinnier is better trap too. Muscles weigh more than fat, so a healthier you may not equate to a smaller number on the scale. Most of us have a good idea of the weight that we feel our best at – and that number may not correlate to your “perfect” weight on medical charts. If you’re not sure what your fitness goal should be, look for help from a nutritionist, personal trainer or medical professional that is more concerned about your health than the size of your jeans.
Can’t afford a consultation with a medical professional? Consider a health plan like DP HealthNow, which supplements your medical insurance with discounts on health services such as consultations with doctors, nutritionist, and fitness experts. In fact, members of DP HealthNow get free, unlimited consultations with medical professionals.
eDocAmerica is one of the six health services included in the DP HealthNow plan. Members get email, phone and app (Apple/Android) access to the eDocAmerica medical team – which includes board-certified physicians, psychologists, pharmacists, dentists, dieticians, and fitness trainers. Members also get online access to a health video library, healthy lifestyle assessment tools, and weekly health tips via email from physicians. It’s a great way to start the New Year off right!
To find out more about DP Health Now, and dental savings plans that will help you cut the costs of dental care, visit dentalplans.com.