New Year’s Eve ball drop, you’re not alone. Weight
loss is one of the most common New Year’s resolutions
made every year.
Making smart food choices, paying attention to portion
size and exercising are the steps you can take to
shed pounds, and these changes can benefit
more than just your waistline. They can also be good
for your teeth. Read on for small swaps that can
make a big difference on the scale and in your smile.
When You’re Planning MealsThen:
You may have favored fatty foods, indulged in too
much takeout or didn’t spend much time planning
what should be on your plate.
You’re learning how much lean protein, vegetables,
grains and dairy to have each day
Food is fuel for your body, and the right kinds of
food will help you look, feel and function better.
ChooseMyPlate.gov is a resource to help jump
start new, healthy habits and figure out what and
how much you should be eating each day.
An easy way to start is to think about what your
plate should look like, using the image above:
Fruits and vegetables:
These should cover half your plate at meals. They are
high in water and fiber, which balance the sugars they
contain and help to clean your teeth. These foods also
help stimulate saliva production, which washes harmful
acids and food particles away from teeth and helps
neutralize acid, protecting teeth from cavities.
At least half of the grains you eat should be whole
grains or low-sugar breads and cereals, such as
oatmeal, whole wheat bread and brown rice.
Make lean protein choices, such as lean beef, skinless
poultry and fish. Vary your protein choices to also
include eggs, beans, peas and legumes. These
phosphorus-rich foods help to keep your mouth
healthy and contain valuable protein, which help keep
you feel fuller for longer amounts of time.
When it comes to dairy, choose low-fat or fat-free
dairy foods. Milk and other dairy products such as
cheese and yogurt, are low in sugar, which is a good
thing for your dental health. Plus, they contain
protein and are full of calcium, which are good for
healthy teeth and gums.
When You Need Something to DrinkThen:
You reached for a soda.
You quench your thirst with water.
Two out of three adults in the United States are
overweight or obese, and 1 in 4 Americans get at least
200 calories a day from sugary drinks like soda. Since a
20-ounce regular soda has an average of 227 calories,
cutting soda from your diet is an easy way to save on
The calories in regular soda are bad enough but it is
even worse than that for your teeth because those
calories come from added sugar. A regular can of soda
also contains about 12.5 teaspoons of added sugar,
which is how much added sugar the FDA says
people over the age of 3 should have throughout an
The swap is simple: Water. (Even better if it’s
fluoridated!) Water contains no calories, no sugars
and helps keep cavities away by washing away
leftover food and keeping dry mouth at bay.
When You’re Craving DessertThen:
You grabbed a cookie after dinner to feed your
You reach for a piece of sugarless gum.
It’s a win-win: You can prevent dessert remorse and
clean your teeth at the same time. Waiting about
20 minutes after a meal helps your body
determine if it’s really still hungry. Studies also
show that chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes
after eating can reduce your risk of cavities.
(Look for a sugarless gum with the ADA Seal of
When You’re Working OutThen:
You rehydrated with a sports drink after exercising,
which you might not have realized is loaded with sugar.
When you work out this year, fill a sports bottle
with water from the tap.
Adults should aim for two and a half hours of
moderate-intensity physical activity every week.
Staying hydrated is key when you’re exercising,
but sports drinks also often add extra calories
because they are full of sugar and can be
acidic. That’s why, hands down, water is the best
beverage for your body and your teeth. And while
you’re strengthening your body with a workout, you
can strengthen your teeth by drinking tap water.
Community water with fluoride can actually help
rebuild weak spots on the outer shell of your teeth.
When You Could Really Go for a Snack Then:
When hunger strikes, you reach for the first food at hand.
You’re better prepared and choose healthy foods.
Picking up chips, crackers or whatever is around
is an easy way for calories to sneak up on you.
Limiting your snacking and making better choices
can help control your calorie intake and give
cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth less leftover
food to snack on as well. If you do snack, make it a
nutritious choice—such as cheese, yogurt, fruits,
vegetables or nuts—to feel fuller, longer and help
your overall and dental health at the same time.
If you tend to snack at night, try moving your
evening brushing time up a bit. A clean mouth just
might motivate you to say no to that midnight snack.