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Any dentist will stress the importance of proper brushing and flossing for a bright smile and healthy gums. However, there is an important consideration before good oral care. Maintaining a balanced diet is just as important for your bright smile as it is for your strong body. When you take the care to eat well, you provide your body with the nutrients it needs to succeed.

Healthy eating + proper dental care = bright smile

High-sugar or acidic foods and drinks can damage the teeth. In fact, consuming too much sugar or acid can stain teeth, weaken tooth enamel, and increase the likelihood of tooth decay. Eating well boosts the immune system and aids in preventing gum disease and tooth decay.

Here are some guiding principles to keep in mind when planning and preparing meals for the family, from and the American Academy of Pediatrics. These will help to maintain a bright smile and overall health:

Everyone should consume a variety of foods from the five major food groups. Each one provides necessary nutrients, vitamins, and minerals.

Vegetables: 3-5 servings per day

Fruits: 2-4 servings per day

Protein foods: 2-3 servings of 2-3 ounces per serving

Dairy products: 2-3 servings per day

Bread, cereal, and pasta make up the final food group. It is important to have several servings per day, keeping in mind that each serving should only equal 1 slice of bread, 1/2 cup of rice or pasta, or 1 ounce of cereal.

Children require protein for proper growth and body function. Beans, grains, seeds, and nuts are valuable sources of protein. Other protein-rich foods include meat, fish, milk, yogurt, cheese, and eggs.

Thirsty? Water is always a healthy choice for body and teeth. Water, especially fluoridated water, helps to make teeth more resistant to the acid attacks that can cause decay. Nearly 75 percent of the U.S. population has access to fluoridated water, so drinking water from your own kitchen sink can help prevent dental problems.

Avoiding sugary and sticky treats is also important. If the family indulges once in a while, just remember to quickly brush and floss to prevent clingy residue from holding tight.

We want your bright smile to shine, so eat well!