By Dr. Michael Herndon, DDS, AF

We all want to have a nice clean smile and the food and drinks in our diet contribute to whether we have healthy, white or yellow-colored teeth with possible tooth decay. As you have heard before, we are what we eat.

As for snacks, crunchy fiber-rich vegetables such as carrots, celery, etc. are way better than starchy chips or crackers and sugary snacks are especially harmful. Indeed, it appears that emerging science recommends not worrying about fat so much or counting calories, but to cut out the sugary snacks and carbohydrates. This not only helps with overall health but reduces dental decay as well. If you do eat sugary snacks, make sure you rinse your mouth out well with water afterwards to remove the sugars from your teeth.

Sugarless gum chewing for 20 minutes following meals helps reduce tooth decay as well by increasing saliva in the mouth that can wash away acids produced when food is broken down by the bacteria in the plaque on our teeth.

The worst of these foods and drinks are ice, sticky foods, soda, and alcohol. (dang..)

The best are vegetables, dairy (calcium in cheese, milk, and yogurt helps re-mineralize your teeth), sugarless gum, and of course water.

As for alcohol potentially injuring your oral health, the reason is that it reduces salivary flow. Saliva is very important not only for maintaining good oral health but it is also the beginning of digestion.

Take care of your teeth. They are your ivory and you only have one set as an adult!