Give Your Teeth A Healthy Thanksgiving This Year

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If you’re looking for ways to make this year’s Thanksgiving meal a little healthier for your oral health, then we have seven tips to help you keep everyone’s teeth and gums happy this year.

Slow Down on the Sugar

If you love sweets, then Thanksgiving is often a sugared-filled delight for you. Marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes, cranberry relish, and a variety of pies covered in whipped cream are often packed with sugar. That’s tough on your teeth because sugar is a favorite food of bacteria in your mouth. And bacteria consuming sugar is the first step in the creation of a cavity in your mouth. There’s a simple solution to avoid all that sugar – switch to erythritol or xylitol. They don’t create cavities but are great as sweeteners.

Beware of Brightly-Colored Foods and Drinks

If your Thanksgiving spread includes red wine, cranberry relish, cherry or blueberry pie, then you might want to reconsider your choices. Brightly-colored food and drink can dull the enamel on your teeth and increase the odds of staining. So this year, cut back on bright foods and be sure to drink lots of water to wash away those stain-causers.

Reduce the Starches

Stuffing, cornbread and rolls are all starch-filled – which is why most of us love them. But consider cutting down on the amount you eat this year. You’ll get a double bonus if you do that because you’ll be reducing the calories you consume and reducing the opportunity for bacteria in your mouth to use the starches as food (starches convert to sugar when you eat them) that can lead to cavities. This year have an extra portion of protein or vegetables instead of a starch-filled food.

Acid Makes Your Teeth’s Enamel Unhappy

Acidic foods and beverages are tough on the enamel that covers and protects your teeth. The reason? The acid softens your teeth’s enamel, making it easier for bacteria to start the process of creating cavities. Cranberry juice and red wine are the biggest culprits in terms of acidity. But you can reduce the impact by keeping a glass of water handy and sipping from it between drinks of your acidic beverage. Also, be sure to wait at least 30 minutes before you brush after you have eaten acidic foods. The acid softens your enamel and the bristles on your toothbrush can damage the enamel.

Get A Little Nutty

You can strengthen and remineralize your teeth by spending some time at the nut dish this Thanksgiving. That’s because nuts are loaded with calcium and good minerals. Plus the nuts produce lots of saliva when you chew them!

Think “Rainbow” When You Fill Your Plate

If your plate on Thanksgiving looks like a rainbow of colorful vegetables, then your teeth will be happy. That’s because vegetables are packed with minerals and vitamins. Orange and red vegies will provide you with lots of Vitamin C, while green leafy vegies will deliver lots of calcium. A bonus is the fact that chewing raw vegetables will create lots of saliva, which will naturally wash away your oral enemy – bacteria. And don’t forget – celery’s fibrous strands are great at helping clean between your teeth!

Drinks Lots of Water…And Have a Cup of Tea

Damage to your enamel caused by acids is reversed when you drink fluoridated tap water. You also double your cavity-fighting efforts if you brew some green or black tea using fluoridated tap water. Teas kill bacteria and thus fight cavities. Sipping water or tea while you eat will also wash away acids caused by starchy and sugar-laden foods.

Sources: MouthHealthy.org (American Dental Association), DeltaDental.com, Colgate.com

Alternatives to a Candy-Filled Halloween

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Every year about this time, when spooky ads abound and grocery aisles are fully stocked with individual-sized candy, you might be pondering whether you should stock up on the sugar-laden treats for the neighborhood kids or should you look for healthier alternatives that won’t negatively impact oral health and won't evoke a look of disgust from the children?

You can find tooth-friendly healthy food treats and fun non-food gizmos that will please the most ardent candy-lover – you just have to spend some time looking for the right “healthy Halloween” items. These healthy treats that you drop into trick or treaters’ Halloween buckets can be delicious, good for them and don't have to start with 'c' and end in 'y'.

From the Pantry

Gone are the days when you could bake a batch of homemade oatmeal raisin cookies or popcorn balls and pass them out. Most parents are hesitant to let their kids enjoy anything that is not individually wrapped. But there are plenty of individual portion treats to satisfy even the most discriminating costumed child.

Favorites from the pantry include:

  • Raisins
  • Pretzels
  • Juice boxes
  • Mini water bottles (they need them to help wash down the candy while trick or treating)
  • Plain cookies (graham crackers, Teddy Grahams, vanilla wafers, etc.)
  • Baked chips, baked tortilla chips
  • Popcorn
  • Lowfat granola or cereal bars
  • Sugar-free gum

Believe it or not, a few random non-candy items in the sack are fun to discover for both parents and kids. Moms and dads delight in finding nutritious nibbles that they can borrow to put in Johnny's lunchbox. The kids like the variety and often end up eating or drinking the nutritious treats while trick or treating for respite from all the candy.

Party Store Goodies

If you opt to generate a little more enthusiasm from your neighborhood gang, try the numerous non-food items that kids love. These items will often generate bigger smiles than the typical sugar-laden candy that is the norm on Halloween. Keep your eye out for small inexpensive gadgets and things that kids love to collect such as:

  • Decorative pencils
  • Small rubber balls
  • Erasers
  • Rubber ghosts, goblins, witches
  • Waxed lips
  • Glow sticks
  • Stickers
  • Key chains
  • Marbles
  • Tic-tac-toe or other small games
  • Bubbles
  • Chalk
  • Coloring books
  • Crayons

So How Bad is a Bucket of Candy?

OK, so you decide to wear your parent hat, remembering fondly the thrill of your own childhood when you came home after Halloween night and spilled out all your goodies onto the living room floor. Why would you want to deny kids this same memorable experience? Granted, there is nothing wrong with candy in small doses. The problem is that more kids today are overweight or obese and it is a serious health problem. Is Halloween the time or place to correct this national problem? No, but it sure doesn't hurt to sprinkle a few non-candy items to help reduce the temptation to pig-out on candy.

If candy you must, choose non-chocolate types that contain fewer calories without caffeine-like stimulants. Hard candies, jelly types, licorice are good examples of candy without the extra fat calories of chocolate and sans potential stimulants.

A Dose of Parental Guidance

As a parent, it is best to establish a plan of how all this candy will be consumed. Ideally, the distribution of the candy will be the parent's responsibility, otherwise, you may find meals skipped in preference to candy fests. Dole it out in moderation. If you have a very active child who is of normal weight, you can be more generous but not so much that it affects their appetite. Remember, kids are growing and need lots of nutrients that are not found in candy. Candy needs to be considered a treat, to be consumed after satisfying the body's need for vitamins, minerals and nutrients.

SOURCE: WedMD.com

Amalgam vs. Composite Resin Fillings

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Your body has an amazing ability to repair and heal itself. As an example, when you break a bone, your body can create new cells that “glue” the broken bone back together. However, the body’s ability to repair itself doesn’t include your teeth. Once you injure a tooth or develop a cavity in it, your body can’t repair the tooth itself.

If you do develop a cavity in one of your teeth, your dentist can provide you with a range of options to repair and fill the problem tooth. In this blog we’ll just focus on the two most popular common fillings, amalgam and composite resin.

Amalgam Fillings

Most people know amalgam fillings as silver or mercury fillings because they are made from silver, copper, tin, zinc and mercury. They’ve been used by dentists for nearly 200 years. When combined, the metals initially produce a soft material that the dentist uses to fill your tooth. Quite quickly, however, the metals harden as they combine. Multiple studies have shown that amalgam fillings are safe. Although pure mercury is toxic, the mercury found in amalgam fillings is locked inside when the filling hardens and is therefore not harmful.

Composite Fillings

Composite resin fillings are also called white fillings, tooth-colored fillings or direct veneers. They are made my using bits of silica and covering them with a plastic resin compound. This is a newer approach to fillings used by dentists, and the technology is constantly improving. When a dentist fills a tooth with a composite filling, it has the consistency of modeling clay until a bright blue light is shined on the filling by the dentist. A series of chemical reactions hardens the composite resin into a sturdy material that resembles your natural tooth.

How Do You Decide What to Choose?

Here’s a list of nine factors you should consider when deciding on whether you should get an amalgam filling or composite filling.

1 – Amalgam fillings are stronger than composite fillings. Amalgam fillings are often used on the back teeth because of their strength. Your back teeth absorb the most force when you bite down and/or chew.

2 – Composite fillings are more expensive than amalgam fillings. If you’re on a tight budget, amalgam may be your best choice.

3 – Amalgam fillings last longer than composite fillings. Eventually, composite fillings will last as long as amalgam. But that time isn’t here yet, so if you want your filling to last a long time, pick amalgam.

4 – Composite fillings are less noticeable than silver amalgam fillings. Most people won’t notice an amalgam filling on your back teeth. But if you don’t like the look of silver, go with composite.

5 – Amalgam fillings contain mercury. It is true – small amounts of mercury are released by amalgam fillings – but it’s less than you get from eating fish. However, if you are allergic to mercury, an amalgam filling could be a problem.

6 – Composite fillings may leak out Bisphenol-A. In large enough doses, the chemical bisphenol-A can be toxic. However, studies have found that the amount of Bisphenol-A released from a filling is unlikely to cause any harm.

7 – Amalgam fillings require the dentist to remove healthy tooth structure. Since amalgam fillings don’t bond to the tooth like composite fillings, the dentist has to make the filling wider at the bottom than it is at the top so that the tooth will hold the filling in place. In order to do this, the dentist usually has to cut away healthy tooth structure. With composite fillings, the dentist can simply remove the decay and then place the filling without cutting away healthy tooth structure to retain the filling.

8 – Composite fillings shrink when they harden. Most composite fillings get somewhere between 2-5% smaller when they harden. Sometimes this can lead to gaps between the filling and the tooth which allow bacteria to enter and start a new cavity. Other times, when a large composite filling shrinks as it hardens, it can put stress on the tooth which results in increased sensitivity of the affected tooth. The effect of the shrinkage can be minimized if the dentist adds the composite in small, incremental layers.

9 – Composite fillings are more technique-sensitive. This means that the dentist has to pay close attention to detail when placing a composite filling. For example, if your dentist doesn’t properly prepare the tooth with an etching solution for a specific amount of time, or if they do, but some of your saliva gets onto the tooth after it is etched, the filling may not attach to the tooth tightly and could end up leaking and ultimately needing to be replaced after only a year or two.  Our dentists have lots of experience doing white fillings and will do a good job.

Give us a call to discuss any questions you may have about amalgam vs. composite resin fillings. We would be happy to answer your questions and give you additional information.

Source: WebMD, DentalFearCentral.com

 

Six Foods to Pump Up Your Oral Health

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Many people don’t realize that certain foods and drinks can enhance your oral health. From chocolate to cheese, this set of super foods help strengthen your gums and teeth, battle bacteria in your mouth, and wash away or scrub away sugars that cause cavities. Consume these six foods and drinks and you’ll have a brighter and happier smile!

Crunchy Vegies and Fruits

Some vegetables and fruits are high in fiber and act like mini “scrubbers” when you eat them, cleaning your teeth. In addition, they increase the production of saliva in your mouth, helping to wash away bacteria that are attached to your teeth. Plus sugar in your mouth from other foods will have a tougher time sticking to your teeth because of the increased saliva. Fruits and vegetables high in fiber include raw apples, carrots, cauliflower, jicama, celery and broccoli.