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A healthy mouth and teeth allow us to enjoy the food we like.

I didn’t ever think I would be writing about the correlation between the mouth and its teeth and biting into a juicy red apple or a piece of pizza in a food-related article.

It may be one of the most important subjects that I ever addressed in the 25 years I have been writing for The Phoenix.

It takes a healthy mouth and all of the teeth as your taste buds are hidden there. Saliva starts chemical digestion and triggers the beginning of the process of the enjoyment of what is put into the mouth.

The teeth not only help to crush the food but they also add saliva. The tongue, which is considered an accessory organ, is also a saliva maker.

From birth, and for some their entire life, teeth can be a problem. Some babies are born with teeth. Usually, the first primary set is in by the age of 3. From 5 on up, the baby teeth start to fall out to make way for the permanent set, which includes “wisdom teeth.”

As a kid, I thought if you had to have them pulled, you would become less smart. If any teeth are needed to be extracted, it usually the wisdom teeth. They are often removed in order to allow room for permanent teeth to line up.

It is so important to take care of your teeth and mouth so decay and infection do not set in. A good percentage of people are afraid to see the dentist. But a regiment with the dentist and at home needs to be followed. Brushing the teeth and yes, the tongue and flossing along the gum line as well as in-between the teeth is crucial because many problems start with gum disease first before spreading to other areas.

There are many treatments available to stabilize the mouth. It was not too long ago you could either put up with the pain of a bad mouth or have your teeth pulled. Pulled teeth could be replaced not too comfortable with full dentures and partials. Not always the easiest way to go — better than no teeth at all. Gumming your food does not seem too appealing.

It is quite important to keep the body hydrated throughout the day. The new fad is everyone going around with their water bottle. As a kid, if you needed a drink of water, you usually would go to the kitchen sink (or a garden hose). Get a drink and go on your way.

Many cultures believe in the drinking of hot and cold liquid leads to a strong balance in the body. In order to enjoy your food, the smell and taste start the digestive process of enjoying your food

All this mouth and teeth talk leads us to the enjoyment of the food we so like. So take care of what you are able to control. As one ages, your smell and taste start to diminish and you really don't have any control over it.

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Recently I heard of the passing of Emmett Gruici at the age of 96. Emmett is what I call a “Kiwanis Gentleman,” who usually are retired. Retirement does not stop them from a lifetime of helping and doing for others.

A while back I interviewed Emmett and Anna for my “Neighborhood Kitchens” Cookbook. He liked to cook and created this one-pot dinner for pot-luck events.

EMMETT’S TURKEY CHILI

1 lb. ground turkey meat

1 green bell pepper – cleaned & diced

1 medium onion – cleaned & diced

32 ozs. or so of whole canned tomatoes

3 (14 ozs.) cans beans, drained

1 tsp. black pepper

1 Tbsp. chili powder

salt to taste

In a skillet brown the ground turkey meat. In a large pot – mix meat, bell peppers & onions – add tomatoes & beans, then black pepper, chili powder & salt. Simmer for at least a half-hour to bring all the ingredients together. He then uses a crockpot to transport. Actually, it could be cooked in a crockpot, but you will have to play around with the time needed.

TIP: Emmett likes to use three different types of beans for color. For a fresher taste, I like to drain & rinse canned beans with running water.

STAY SAFE — WEAR THAT MASK — MAINTAIN SOCIAL DISTANCING.

Contact columnist Bette Banjack at banjack303.verizon.net. Search YouTube – with BetteBanjack as well as phoenixvillenews.com (search bar Banjack). She can also be found on Facebook.

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