Food is the body’s fuel and is a necessary part of living healthy, but many surprising facts can hide in the foods we eat that affect oral health. Here are a few tips to consider when choosing the best foods to maintain a healthy mouth.

Sugar-free isn’t always the way to go

Low sugar and sugar-free drinks sound like a great idea, but in reality, they can be just as bad for teeth as standard sodas and sports drinks. A study by the University of Michigan found that teeth exposed to diet and regular sodas experienced nearly identical levels of enamel erosion. This is because sugar-free drinks use alternative ingredients, which can just be as harmful to teeth as regular sugar. A great exception to the rule is sugar-free gum. Why? Keep reading!

Hard foods: The edible toothbrush

Foods like apples, carrots, broccoli and sugar-free gum pack a double whammy. These foods require a lot of chewing, which stimulates saliva production to counter acidic oral bacteria. Also, hard foods rub against the teeth, helping to brush off plaque before it builds up. Pack a few hard snacks throughout the day to keep bacteria at bay in a guilt-free way.

Fresh fruit is the best

Sugar-free drinks are not the only things harmful for teeth. Fruit juices, snacks made with 100% fruit juice and other fruity foods are surprisingly high in sugar content. For example, a small eight ounce cup of apple juice requires juice from as many as six small apples. This high amount of sugar is harmful to teeth, even if it comes from a perceived healthy source. Instead, water-down fruit juices to cut back on sugar content. Even better, put down the orange juice and pick up an orange instead! Another surprising fact is how dried fruits are actually not as great as they are made out to be. Dried fruit is highly concentrated in sugar and is sticky. Portions of the dried fruit adhere to the tooth surface, making brushing more difficult. When choosing between dried and regular fruits, choose the fresh version for healthier teeth.