That word comes from no less an authority than Early Show contributor and registered dietician Keri Glassman, who chewed it over on Monday.
Doctors now tell us strong teeth and healthy gums are important to, and a window on, our overall health.
So, Keri: Which foods could make your pearly whites whiter, which ones can stain, and which foods can contribute to overall good dental health?
As a rule of thumb, if something will stain a white t-shirt, it will stain your teeth. Drink coffee, tea, wine and juice, among others, through a straw to be on the safe side.
Cheese can actually prevent cavities. The texture increases the secretion of saliva, while the nutrients it contains (protein, calcium, phosphorous) neutralize plaque. It may also help re-mineralize enamel. And eating cheese after sweet snacks will help fight sugar if you don't have a tooth brush around!
Also, eat your calcium, magnesium and vitamin C-rich fruits and veggies help dental health. Celery, carrots, and apples cause your mouth to produce more saliva, which acts like a cleaning agent, keeping the mouth moist and rinsed out. Acidic foods (think citrus fruit) increase saliva production. Colorful fruits and veggies tend to be high in Vitamin C, which prevents gum disease and gingivitis, and kills odor-causing bacteria.
In addition, the nutrients in milk (as well as yogurt and cheese), including calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, vitamin D and others, may offer protection against dental woes. Lactic acid in dairy products have been shown to decrease gum disease in non-smokers. Calcium is important for the development and maintenance of teeth. Dairy products and foods fortified with calcium and vitamin D are important not only for healthy teeth, but your jawbone -- the foundation for your teeth! Dentists are often the ones to see the first signs of osteoporosis. Even the milk in coffee counts -- and it has the added benefit of decreases coffee's staining ability.
Another item: old-fashioned H2O! Not only does water wash away food particles and keep the mouth moist, water that contains fluoride is important for the prevention of demineralization of tooth enamel (make sure your bottled water has been fluorinated).
WHAT TO EAT TO AVOID BAD BREATH
Green tea helps prevent bad breath and helps keep harmful bacteria from sticking to teeth (it's the flavanoids that do that trick). A cup of green tea per day is good for everything from increasing metabolism to keeping that smile glowing!
The live active cultures in yogurt have been shown to reduce levels of odor-producing sulfites in the mouth, and reduce unhealthy bacteria. Look for a brand with vitamin D, which provides an unfavorable environment for bacterial growth. Avoid yogurt with added sugar, and always choose low-fat or fat-free varieties. So, keep yogurt on hand in the fridge at work and home. It's the perfect afternoon snack for energy and teeth!
Xylitol gum can also help put bad breath in your rearview mirror. Chewing sugar free gum after a meal not only improves breath, but helps prevent cavities (gum sweetened with Xylitol has been shown to particularly effective).
There are also some natural bad breath preventers and remedies you could try: You have probably heard chewing on a sprig of parsley can improve bad breath, but coriander, spearmint, tarragon, eucalyptus, rosemary and cardamom have also been shown to help!