Hints to Fresh Breath for Holiday Parties

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The holiday season is stressful enough without having to worry about bad breath at the inevitable holiday parties and family get-togethers that feature rich foods and seasonal beverages. But you can reduce the odds of being burdened with holiday halitosis by following these tips.

Brush Your Teeth – And Your Tongue

For most people, it’s second nature to brush their teeth prior to attending a party or get-together. After all, all those pesky bacteria that hang around on your teeth and gums are removed by a thorough brushing. But don’t forget your tongue – it’s also a favorite place for icky-smelling bacteria to hang out. For work parties, be sure to keep a toothbrush and a small tube of toothpaste in your desk or locker at work so you can be minty fresh before the party. Colgate Wisps and FLIX Interdental sticks are also good solutions for on-the-go cleaning of your teeth and tongue.

Be A Smart Eater

The holiday season features lots of grazing on delectable foods at parties. All that grazing can leave you with a perpetual case of bad breath during the holidays. Here’s some simple tips to avoid that problem.

Beware the Buffet: Certain foods provide a source of sulphur-producing bacteria, which can cause stinky breath. The main culprits are brazil nuts, walnuts, smoked salmon, eggs, beans, and cream cheese. Eat them in small quantities and be sure to graze on other foods that don’t fall into the sulphur-producing category.

Pursue Parsley: Don’t think of parsley and mint as decorations on a holiday platter. Grab a sprig or two and munch on them – the chlorophyll in them is a proven breath deodorizer and odor neutralizer.

Have A Veggie: Vegetables are chock-full of water and Vitamin C, and both are effective bacteria fighters. The water helps flush out your mouth and Vitamin C kills odor-causing bacteria. So be sure to grab a handful of veggies periodically when grazing.

Look for a Lemon: Lemons – and other citrus fruits – kick start your mouth into producing more saliva. And that’s good, since saliva rinses away bacteria and plaque. Add a slice of lemon to your water, or even better, take a bite of lemon and swish the juice around in your mouth.

Drink Lots of Water

A dry mouth worsens bad breath, and alcoholic drinks just exacerbate the bad breath since they dry out your mouth. So keep a glass of water handy if you decide to have an alcoholic drink and sip from it periodically. It will keep your mouth – and your body – hydrated (and help you prevent a hangover).

Keep Sugarless Gum Handy

If you feel like you overdid it on onions or garlic, or your breath still smells foul, grab a stick of sugarless gum to chew. It will provide a double bonus by increasing saliva production in your mouth to rinse away bad-smelling bacteria and cover up odors.

Source: Colgate.com, Express.CO.UK

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

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.

Adorable Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate that is at least 70% cacao is a smile helper if eaten in moderation. It contains a compound that helps to harden tooth enamel and prevent cavities. Eat one square per day – but be sure it’s dark chocolate, not milk chocolate, which is higher in sugar and doesn’t contain the compound that helps your teeth.

Pass the Cheese

Cheese is packed with calcium and protein and contains very little sugar – perfect for good oral health. Cheese also lowers the acid level in your mouth, which reduces your odds of developing cavities. Plus cheese helps your teeth remineralize and lowers the chances of decay. Don’t forget milk as an oral health booster – it also contains lots of calcium and protein and is good at washing away sugars in your mouth.

Try Some Tea

Polyphenols are efficient bacteria killers and both green and black teas are loaded with polyphenols. Killing bacteria in your mouth is a good thing, since bacteria produce acids which destroy your tooth enamel. And bacteria’s food of choice is sugar, so if you have a cup of tea following dinner you’ll get a triple assist for your oral health – killing bacteria, washing away sugar, and replenishing your saliva.

Good Food from the Sea

Seafoods are wonderful for your oral health because they are full of protein and contain natural fluoride. Together, they make your teeth stronger and help prevent cavities. They are also chock-full of Vitamin D, which helps you absorb calcium from your diet. You want to encourage calcium absorption, since it helps your gums and teeth battle disease that can impact your oral health.

Go Nuts for Nuts

Another good source of protein is nuts. Loaded with phosphorus and calcium (which tooth enamel loves) nuts benefit both your teeth and gums. And don’t forget, nuts produce saliva in your mouth, which helps to wash away cavity-causing stuff in your mouth.

SOURCES: Colgate.com

 

These 9 Foods Can Be Tough on Your Teeth

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Your teeth can be seriously impacted by what you eat and drink. Here’s a list of 9 foods and beverages that you should either avoid or consume in moderation. You’ll notice that some of the 9 are pretty obvious – chewing ice has never been a good idea – while others will provide a surprise.

Hard candies are tough on teeth

You might be a fan of hard candies, but because they are packed with sugar, constant sugar exposure can damage your teeth. Plus they can break or chip a tooth if you decide to chew on them. Instead of reaching for a handful of hard candy, grab a piece of sugarless gum.

 Ice is best for chilling, not chewing

Is ice good for your teeth? After all, it comes from water and contains zero sugar or additives. So the answer is yes – unless you decide to chew on that cube or chunk of ice. Then you’ll expose yourself to damaging your teeth enamel or creating a dental emergency. So the next time you put ice in your drink, let it do what it’s supposed to do – chill your beverage – and skip the chewing.

Be careful of citrus

The enamel on your teeth can erode if frequently exposed to foods and beverages that contain citrus. The acid in the citrus is the culprit, and the impact it can have on enamel can make your teeth more prone to decay. If you like citrus drinks and fruit, there’s a simple method to reduce the impact of the acid in citrus on your mouth. Drink a glass of water while you are eating that orange or grapefruit and rinse your mouth out after you have a glass of orange juice.

Coffee can be a problem

Coffee and tea can be healthy beverages – if you avoid adding tons of sugar. Unfortunately, that’s what many of the “coffee” drinks at places like Starbucks and Caribou are chock-full of. Plus coffee and tea that are caffeinated can dry out your mouth (remember, saliva washes away bacteria which cause cavities) and stain your teeth. If you do decide to regularly drink coffee or tea, be sure you’re drinking lots of water and keeping the add-ons under control.

Don’t get stuck on sticky foods

If you like a healthy snack, then dried fruit can be a winner. Unfortunately, they are often quite sticky – which can be a problem since sticky foods remain on your teeth much longer than other food types. Be sure to rinse with water when you finish those sticky foods and of course, carefully brush and floss to remove anything still sticking to your teeth.

If it goes crunch, it might be a bad munch

Potato chips are a wonderful habit for many people. The combination of the crunch and the flavor are hard to beat. But all that starch in a potato chip can get trapped in your teeth, which is the first step on the road to cavities. So be sure to brush and especially floss after you eat chips. That way, you’ll avoid leaving food particles that will become plaque.

Switch water for soda

Did you know that the bacteria that create plaque love sugar? They use the sugar to produce acids that go after the enamel on your teeth. Which means that if you are drinking lots of sugary soda or other drinks, then you are helping those plaque bacteria attack your teeth. Plus the carbonation in soft drinks – including diet sodas – is acidic and negatively impacts your teeth. So the next time you want to reach for a soft drink, think twice. And if you do decide to consume a soda, keep a glass of water handy and alternate between the soda and the water.

Keep a handle on alcohol consumption

Many people don’t realize that alcohol dehydrates your body and reduces the saliva in your mouth. Remember, saliva is good because it helps wash away cavity-causing bacteria. Long-term consumption can reduce saliva flow even when you aren’t drinking. Heavy alcohol use can also boost the risk of mouth cancer.

Beware of sugary sports and energy drinks

Powerade, Gatorade, Red Bull, Monster – lots of people use them to boost athletic performance or as a pick-me-up during a busy day or evening. Unfortunately, sports and energy drinks also share a common main ingredient – sugar. There is also a lot of research that says that sports drinks are in most cases unnecessary for someone engaged vigorous physical activity. A better solution would be to drink water instead!

 

SOURCE: American Dental Association

 

7 Ideas to Enhance Your Family’s Oral Health

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If tooth decay and gum disease are two oral health problems you want your family to avoid this year, then we have 7 great tips to help your family have a healthy year for their teeth and gums. Remember, most gum disease and tooth decay is preventable if you practice good oral hygiene habits. Make sure you and each member of your family spend a couple of minutes a day flossing and brushing and that you make good choices to enhance your oral health. For a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums, that’s not a lot to ask, is it?

Begin at six months. Start your child’s dental care around six months, which is when their first tooth generally appears. Initially, use a damp cloth or soft brush to wipe your baby’s teeth. Once a child turns two, they can brush for themselves with adult supervision.

Consider sealants. Just 33% of kids in the United States receive dental sealants, but it is a great way to protect your child’s permanent molars when they come in at age 6. The sealant is applied by your dentist to the chewing surfaces on the molars and provides protection against decay.

The daily duo. Be sure to brush twice a day and floss once a day to avoid gum disease and tooth decay. Gum disease has been linked to heart disease, so it’s not something you want in your mouth.

Finish your meals the right way. Rinse your mouth right after a meal with water and/or an antibacterial rinse. Another tip is to chew a piece of sugar-free gum right after you eat to enhance the flow of saliva, which washes away bacteria and reduces acid.

Practice smart eating. Be sure to include whole foods in your diet because they will provide your teeth and gums the nutrients they need to stay healthy. That means to be sure to eat nuts, grains, dairy products, vegetables and fruits on a daily basis.

Say no to soda. Sugary sodas are “double trouble” because of their high sugar content and because people tend to sip them over extended periods of time. Bacteria in your mouth love sugar, because they produce acid when they break down the sugar. Acid erodes the enamel on your teeth, which can then lead to decay.

See your dentist regularly. Make an appointment for a dental check-up and cleaning every six months if you want to stay on top of your oral health. Your dental hygienist will get rid of built-up plaque on your teeth and check for tooth decay. Your dentist will also check for signs of oral cancer or gum disease.

 

SOURCE: WebMD

 

11 Tips to a Happy and Healthy Mouth in 2018

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If you’re a fan of making New Year’s resolutions – and sticking to them – then we have 11 helpful tips for keeping your smile bright and your mouth happy in 2018. Even if you aren’t a fan of New Year’s resolutions, our list is still a great place to start on the road to good oral health this year.

Modifying your diet can whiten your teeth

If you’re a fan of black tea or red wine - or a smoker - your teeth are going to suffer. Dark foods and beverages stain your teeth which equals a dingy smile. Gravies, dark juice and colas are also hard on your smile. To counter these dark foods, brush right after you eat or drink them. Eating an apple is also a great on-the-go solution to clean your teeth.

Toss your toothbrush regularly

Get yourself in the habit of getting rid of your toothbrush every three months. That includes the head of your electric toothbrush. Bacteria settle into the bristles of your brush over time, and after a couple of months, you are just transferring a bunch of bacteria to your mouth every time you brush. Plus, worn bristles don’t clean your teeth as well. In fact, plan for the year by getting out your 2018 calendar now and note every 90 days to change your toothbrush.

Eat foods that “scrub”

Raw carrots, celery and popcorn – along with apples – are great foods that naturally scrub your teeth. Eat them at the end of a meal if you know you won't be able to brush your teeth right after eating. They are great for when you can’t get to your toothbrush and they have the added value of being high in vitamins and fiber.

Use a natural mouthwash like apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is a great natural multi-purpose mouthwash. Gargle with it in the morning before your brush. It will help remove stains on your teeth, whiten them, and zap bacteria in your mouth.

Brush your teeth with baking soda once a week

Baking soda will naturally remove stains and make your teeth whiter. Use it the same way you would your toothpaste.

Be a boss of your floss

Less than half of Americans say they floss daily – which is a definite oral health mistake for those who don’t floss regularly. It just takes two minutes once a day. To make it easier to get in a daily floss, stash packages in your purse or backpack, in your desk, and next to your bed. That will make it much more difficult to find excuses not to floss.

Switch your gum

If you like gum, then be sure to use sugar-free gum. For an even better result, purchase gum with xylitol, a non-sugar sweetener that has been proven to reduce plaque. Plus, gum produces saliva, which washes away food particles in your mouth and acid from your teeth.

Brush at optimal times to enhance the results

Brush when you first get up in the morning and just before you go to bed at night. Why? Because saliva – which is a natural plaque fighter – dries up when you sleep, so you should be sure to avoid getting into bed with a mouth full of plaque. When you get up in the morning and brush, your toothbrush will remove any plaque that built up during the night. Plus it will get rid of bacteria, which causes bad breath!

Twice a day keeps the dentist away

Spend two minutes twice a day brushing your teeth and you are almost guaranteed to reduce the bad news (cavities) when you visit your dentist the next time.

Moderate your sugar intake

Bacteria in your mouth love sugar. When sugars aren't cleaned off your teeth, bacteria feed on them and produce acids. The acids then combine with bacteria, food particles and saliva to form plaque, a sticky film that covers the teeth. Once plaque forms, the acids wear away the enamel, which is the tooth's hard outer surface. These tiny openings in the enamel represent the first stage of cavities. So cut down on your sugar intake. Swap water for soda, or sugar-free gum for your regular gum.

See your dentist regularly

Twice a year is how often you should be seeing your dentist. Book a dental hygiene appointment every six months for a professional cleaning of your teeth and gums. Plus, your dentist will take a thorough look in your mouth and spot any potential issues before they become full-blown emergencies.

Sources: Delta Dental, Colgate, WebMD, Stealth Health/Reader’s Digest

 

 

Top Tips to Choosing the Best Toothbrush for Your Smile

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How do you decide what is the best toothbrush for your oral health needs? Do you go with a favorite color? Maybe the type of bristles – soft or hard? How the toothbrush feels in your hand when you are brushing?  Or the cost? All of those are important (even the color of your toothbrush) because you want to be sure that you are doing everything possible to encourage you to brush twice a day. Remember, if you are brushing twice a day for two minutes each time, you will end up spending about 1,000 hours during your lifetime brushing your teeth. You definitely want to give yourself every opportunity to make those hours as enjoyable as possible. 

Here are some simple tips to give you the best “toothbrush experience” possible:

When Should You Buy a New Toothbrush?

As soon as the bristles on your toothbrush begin to look worn or frayed, buy a new one. That usually happens every three months if you are brushing regularly. Remember, a worn-out toothbrush isn’t helping to keep your teeth clean. After an illness replace your toothbrush because germs can linger and make you sick again. Also, if you can’t remember the last time you changed your toothbrush, it’s probably time for a new one.

The Parts of a Toothbrush – Bristles, Head Shape and Handle

Bristles: Soft is Safe

Most dentists agree on using a toothbrush with soft bristles and to brush gently. You may think that scrubbing your teeth with a stiff-bristle toothbrush will improve your oral health, but you’re probably wrong. Instead, you’ll end up damaging your teeth and gums. How? The hard bristles will cause gum tissue to pull back from teeth, which can expose the tooth root and lead to increased sensitivity to heat, cold or certain foods and drinks. Plus the hard bristles will create damage to enamel on teeth, which can leave them exposed to cavity-causing plaque.

Head: Size Matters

Consider the toothbrush’s head shape when selecting your tool of choice. Some toothbrush shapes will suit some mouths better than others. Make sure the head allows your toothbrush bristles to comfortably reach your back molars, as some brush heads may be too large or wide. Brush in front of the mirror to make sure you cover every tooth. If it doesn’t, swap your toothbrush for one that does.

Handle: Get a Grip

The handle of the brush should be long enough to hold comfortably. It should neither be too thick nor too thin to hold. Some toothbrushes today have wide handles. This helps you control the toothbrush better. So, choose a toothbrush with a handle that is long enough and wide enough for you to use. 

Do You Go Cheap on What You Pay for Your Toothbrush?

Five no-name toothbrushes in a package may seem like a steal at a handful of pennies each, but consider the risks. Seeing as you put a toothbrush in your mouth two or more times per day, it’s worth going with a reputable manufacturer. If you buy a cheap toothbrush, you may be getting a product could be from a manufacturer who doesn't care about safety or efficacy. Plus, the toothbrushes could be made of inferior or unsafe materials. Bottom line, cheap toothbrushes are better suited for cleaning grout than oral hygiene. 

Why Is the ADA Way Important?

Buy toothbrushes that have the American Dental Association’s (ADA) Seal of Acceptance. A company earns the ADA Seal for its product by producing scientific evidence that the product is safe and effective. The ADA Council on Scientific Affairs carefully evaluates the evidence according to objective guidelines for toothbrushes.

Does Color Matter?

Sure it does if color is important to you. Using an icky-colored toothbrush won’t motivate you to brush twice a day. Buy one that has a color attractive to you!

The Bottom Line on Selecting Your Toothbrush

At the end of the day, the best toothbrush is the one you’ll actually use. That means the toothbrush handle should fit comfortably in your hand and the toothbrush head should feel comfortable in your mouth and be able to reach every tooth surface. Look for the ADA Seal, your assurance that the product has been objectively evaluated for safety and effectiveness. 

Sources: The American Dental Association (ADA)

 

 

Seven Foods for a Happy Smile

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Can what you eat help your smile and overall oral health? The answer is a definite “yes”! We have seven foods in this week’s blog that will give your “pearly whites” a boost and help your gums and enamel stay happy and healthy.

Fruits and Vegies that Crunch

The high fiber in certain fruits and vegetables are like mini “scrubbers” in your mouth, replicating some of the work your toothbrush does by cleaning your teeth. Plus, they trigger saliva production in your mouth, which is a great way to wash away bacteria that have gathered on your teeth. In addition, any sugar in your mouth from other foods you’ve eaten will have a harder time sticking around, because the increased saliva will wash away that sugar. Raw celery, carrots, apples, broccoli, cauliflower and jicama are some of these oral health helpers.

Chocolate…Yes, Chocolate!

Believe it or not, dark chocolate (at least 70% cacao) can be good for your smile if you eat it in moderation. Research has shown that a compound in dark chocolate actually hardens tooth enamel and can help prevent cavities. One square a day is enough – and we’re talking dark chocolate, not milk chocolate!

Cheese Please

Cheese is high in protein and calcium and low in sugar – a good combination for oral health. It also has been shown to lower the acidity in your mouth – and the lower acidity level, the lower the chance of developing cavities. Another benefit is that cheese helps remineralize the teeth and minimize decay. Milk is also a good choice for oral health, since it contains protein and calcium and helps wash away sugar from other foods (that glass of milk with dessert is a good combination for oral health).

Be a Fan of Tea

Both black and green teas are high in polyphenols, which kill or suppress bacteria in your mouth. Remember, bacteria produce acids which destroy your tooth enamel. They feed on sugar in your mouth, so having tea during or after your meal will fight the bacteria, wash away sugar, and replenish your saliva. That’s a trio of good benefits from tea.

Foods from the Sea

What do sea foods have in common? They are lean in protein and they contain natural fluoride. The combination strengthens your teeth and helps prevent cavities. A bonus is that they are a great source of Vitamin D, which helps your body absorb calcium in your diet. Calcium helps your teeth and gums fight disease which can lead to oral health problems.

All Kinds of Nuts

Nuts provide a healthy dose of protein, which your teeth and gums benefit from. They also are loaded with calcium and phosphorus – both good for tooth enamel. And the “crunch” of nuts produces saliva in your mouth, which washes away bad stuff in your mouth.

The Wonders of Water

We’ve mentioned multiple times in our blog how important the production of saliva is for your oral health. Water is just as good for a variety of reasons. First, it replenishes your saliva (which is nearly 100% water) and hydrates your mouth. Second, the right amount of saliva in your mouth helps break down food you eat, reduces acid produced by bacteria, and slows down tooth decay. All of those are good for your smile.

 

SOURCES: Colgate.com

 

 

7 Resolutions to Help You Improve Your Smile in 2017

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Happy New Year! The holidays have come-to-a-close, yet winter remains for another 2-3 months. It’s the perfect time for reflection at another year gone by and making resolutions for the one to come. Self-improvement is a great way to make these cold winter nights a little bit brighter after all. Maybe you’re finally ready to quit that bad habit or you’re planning that trip you’ve always wanted to take. There are a ton of ways you can improve your smile if you stop to think about it.

The trick to making your teeth healthy is not necessarily expensive dental work, unless of course you already have a dental problem that needs addressing. The very first step is a consultation with your dentist. A hygiene appointment and x-rays are affordable and serve as an excellent starting point. You can talk to your hygienist about a customized treatment plan at home to make 2017 the year of improving your dental health.

1.      Brush More Often

Brushing your teeth is crucial to good dental care. Professionals recommend that you brush your teeth . at least twice a day. When making your resolution, brushing more might seem daunting, but there are a couple things you can do to keep your schedule. And don’t forget to keep your family brushing regularly too, especially from an early age.

You may also consider a travel toothbrush for your office or work to keep your brushing routine regular. The trick to making a regular brushing schedule stick is set reminders for yourself the first few weeks on your phone or watch. Hopefully after a few weeks of practice, brushing two to three times a day will feel like second nature.

2.      Floss Every Day

No matter your age, flossing once each-and-every day is the BEST way to insure a healthy smile. Dental floss is stronger and easier to use than ever, and there are flossing aides like flossing picks and Waterpik available as alternatives if you find it difficult to start. If you haven’t flossed in a while, you might find it cumbersome or even painful to the point of it causing your gums to bleed. This is normal, for a time, however if bleeding continues more than a week or two you probably have gingivitis and should consult with your dentist.

3.      Eat (& Drink) Better

The most popular resolution each year is diet. We all want to look better, improve our physical appearance and become healthier. Your oral health effects the rest of your body and your appearance, and yet it is often forgotten when it comes to eating habits. Sure, we know sugar is bad and vegetables are good, but are you making sure you brush every time you drink a sugary drink or stain your teeth with coffee or red wine?

Avoiding certain food and drink in your diet isn’t the only thing you can do. Eating those vegetables, nuts, fruits and other foods with antioxidants helps to reduce inflammation and fight bacteria that can lead to gum disease. They also help with nutrition in most diets, as to not get in the way of shedding those extra pounds. Think of it as one more reason to get healthy this year!

4.      Curb Bad Habits

Nervous habits and addictions are bad for your teeth. Smoking for instance will stain your teeth, damage your gums and can cause oral cancer, and that’s just for starters. Coffee addicts will notice considerable staining to their teeth over time and if you chew your nails or lips you might find yourself with sores, increased risk of infection and damage to enamel.

Breaking a habit is always an uphill battle, but there’s no better time than the start of the new year. If you needed one more reason to drop the cigarettes, cut back on caffeine or find other ways to keep your hands busy and out of your mouth, your dental health is it. Cigarettes in particular, will be the biggest challenge and you can speak to your dentist for suggestions on breaking the chemical dependency over time. Dental friendly chewing gum is a great place to start in most cases.

5.      Get Your Oral Cancer Screening

Our dentists recommend an annual check-up for oral cancer. Every year thousands of people die from oral cancer and most of those cases are treatable if found early. When you visit, our dental care team will check for bumps and inflammation that may be an early sign of cancer. Oral cancer is on the rise due to HPV or the human papillomavirus. Screening only needs to be conducted annually but at the very least be sure to ask for a screening every few visits to the dentist.

6.      Set a Schedule

What is the single most important step in making dental health as a resolution stick? Sticking to the schedule of course. Not only do you need to set a personal, daily schedule for yourself and your family, but you’ll also need to set a schedule with your dentist. Every patient has different dental needs, but the average, healthy person should see the dentist for cleaning and an exam every six months, regardless of age.

Seeing a dentist regularly for smaller, routine care has proven to be more cost effective than waiting for restorative care. It’s especially worth considering a set schedule with your dentist if you have insurance benefits of some kind or if you are nervous about fillings or root canals. With a regular cleaning schedule at home that involves flossing, brushing and a healthy diet, visiting your dentist AT LEAST twice a year is the final and crucial piece to a perfect smile.

7.      Smile More

It might seem simple, but we don’t smile enough. Maybe you don’t smile because you’re shy or because you are self-conscious about your teeth. Maybe, like most of us, you don’t really remember to do it until it’s too late. Studies have shown how positive a smile can be on you and those around you. Smiling can improve productivity, energy and atmosphere at work. It can make shopping easier, and it can lead to social interaction you had closed yourself off to. If everyone made it their resolution to smile more, we could change that together.

 

Source: 123Dentist.com, Colgate.com

 

You Can Love Dark Chocolate and Your Teeth During the Holidays

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 Research Reveals Cocoa Extract is More Effective than Fluoride in Fighting Cavities

 Chocolate is a fun gift for holidays. While candy generally doesn’t mix well with keeping teeth healthy, dark chocolate (the kind with at least 70% cocoa) can actually be a cavity fighter. That’s obviously fantastic news for chocolate lovers.

 Recent studies emerging from Japan, England, and the U.S. support the fact that chocolate is effective at fighting cavities, plaque, and tooth decay in the mouth.

 Dark chocolate doesn’t deserve its bad rap as a cavity-causing treat. It may actually help prevent cavities! And here’s where the gauntlet gets thrown down. Compounds in chocolate may be more effective at fighting decay than fluoride. Researchers are predicting that one day, the compound found in chocolate called CBH will be used in mouthwashes and toothpaste.

 Tooth decay occurs when bacteria in the mouth turn sugar into acids, which eat away at the tooth’s surface and cause cavities. Compounds in the cocoa bean husk have an anti-bacterial effect and also fight against plaque. This makes chocolate less harmful than many other sweet foods your dentist might warn you against because the antibacterial agents in cocoa beans offset its high sugar levels.

 This research has even revealed that the cocoa extract is more effective than fluoride in fighting cavities. To many, this is shocking news, but for some that’s not saying much. Many dentists are not big fans of ingesting fluoride, and think it has long been over-hyped.

 The Compound CBH

 The compound CBH, a white crystalline powder whose chemical makeup is similar to caffeine, helps harden tooth enamel, making users less susceptible to tooth decay. This specific compound has been proven effective in the animal model, but it will it will take another two to four years before the product is approved for human use and available for sale (in the form of mouthwashes and toothpastes).

 n the meantime, however, one can “administer” this compound via the ingestion of chocolate. Eating 3 to 4 ounces of chocolate a day is a great way to take advantage of this wonder compound and lower your chance of getting cavities. What an easy and fun recommendation a doctor can make; it’s been called the food of the gods, a supposed aphrodisiac, and the drink that Casanova favored.

 Chocolate Contains Polyphenols

 Polyphenols are a class of naturally occurring chemicals that can limit oral bacteria. They are also able to neutralize the microorganisms that cause bad breath and prevent bacteria from turning sugar and starches into acid. Polyphenols have great promise for their apparent anticancer and anti-inflammatory effects as well as their ability to reduce hypertension and stroke. 

Tannins are Abundant in Chocolate

Tannins are plant compounds that are found in many of the foods we eat. They’re also what give dark chocolate its slightly bitter taste and dark color. Tannins have been shown to help stop bacteria from sticking to teeth because their molecules bind to bacteria before plaque has time to form.

 The Flavonoid Compound Epicatechin is Found in High Quantities in Chocolate

 Flavonoids are a group of plant-based antioxidants that have been shown to slow tooth decay. A recent study by researchers at the University of California showed that a particular flavonoid called epicatechin displays a remarkable ability to reduce cholesterol, blood clots and clogged arteries.

 Cocoa not Snickers- Best Chocolate for Your Teeth

 For the best therapeutic effect (yes, we’re still talking about chocolate), it’s best to chew on cacao nibs. Most will find this option unpalatable.

 The second-best choice, is dark chocolate with less than 6-8 grams of sugar per serving – organic if possible. Be aware that chocolate is a calorie-rich food, so modify your calorie intake accordingly.
Raw chocolate is even a better choice, as it is less processed, and more of the antioxidants are left intact.

 Do all of this for your teeth, but enjoy the other benefits of mood elevation and better blood flow as well!

 Again, chocolate should be at least 70% cocoa for most of these benefits to your teeth and body. However, almost any food can be eaten in moderation, as long as you remember to keep brushing regularly.

 With the recent findings, it’s now more true than ever, that chocolate is a superfood. Chocolate has over 300 chemical compounds in it, making it one of the most complex foods we know of, and it is predicted that many new compounds in chocolate beneficial to us will surface over time and cement its nutritional five-star rating.

 Source: AskTheDentist.com, TribecaPediatricDental.com