Take the tooth test

Published On: Mar 06 2013 03:40:44 PM EST
Updated On: Mar 07 2013 07:55:00 AM EST

You may think you know everything about your pearly whites, but do you really?  Dentists reveal some interesting facts about what causes cavities and what prevents them.

First question:  Brushing twice a day helps keep our gums and teeth healthy, but what's another proven cavity fighter?  Is it green tea, dried fruit, or lemons? The answer?  Serve up a hot cup of green tea for its cavity fighting properties.  The Polyphenols in tea suppress bacteria in your mouth.

Next: Brushing your teeth is the best way to fight cavities, right?  Dr. Blanche Grube,  says while brushing is important, she says your diet is even more important.

"You get cavities because you have too much sugar or refined carbohydrates in your diet. we are what we eat. it's that simple," explained Dr. Blanche Grube, DMD, IMD.

Besides candy and sugary drinks, eating starchy foods like white bread and french fries is just as bad. It all turns into sugar and can rot your teeth.

Next question: Are sugar-free energy drinks safe for your teeth? The answer is no way!  A recent study shows all energy drinks can do serious damage. The acid in them starts destroying teeth after only five days of consistent use.

"it's what we eat. it's what we eat. it's what we eat," said Grube.

Finally:  If you want to protect the enamel on your teeth, what should you avoid doing immediately after eating acidic foods? Brushing your teeth, chewing gum, or eating hard cheese?  The answer: You should not brush your teeth.  The acid in things like soda, wine or citrus fruit softens your enamel. to avoid damaging it, wait at least 30 minutes to brush. it gives your saliva enough time to neutralize the acid.

If you are wondering about coffee and cavities, a 2002 study found roasted coffee beans have anti-bacterial properties that may prevent cavities.  However, if you drink lattes, some dentists say sipping the sugary drinks throughout the day can make your mouth a breeding ground for cavity-causing bacteria.

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