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

 

 

Don’t Leave Oral Health Behind During Holiday Travel

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10 Tips to Keep a Healthy Mouth on Holiday Trips

We don’t have to tell you: the winter holidays mark one of the busiest seasons of the year. With shopping, parties and vacations jam-packed on the calendar, it’s no wonder that many people take shortcuts when it comes to oral health maintenance during this time. If you are traveling during the holiday season and you want to avoid a January surprise cavity (or worse), here are some simple tooth travel tips to help you keep your smile intact.

1.      Don’t leave home with a toothache! If you suspect you have any lurking problems in your mouth, schedule an appointment prior to your travel date so that you don’t end up with a tooth emergency while out of town. Research emergency dental clinics in your destination city and have those numbers handy to ensure that your time off is as relaxing as possible.

2.      No one ever regrets buying travel-sized gear. Keeping a travel toothbrush, floss and toothpaste on hand in addition to trial sizes of your favorite toiletries reduces your packing time, and not just during the holidays.

3.      Carry a travel kit. If your luggage gets lost, at least your oral health won't be compromised.

4.      Splurge on probiotics! Diseases and germs run rampant in buses, airports and other communal places that you might encounter during your trip. Researchers believe that probiotics are not only good for the gut; they may help maintain optimal oral health too!

5.      Chewing gum is a limitless oral-health-on-the-go tip! Bringing sugar-free gum with you has multiple benefits; not only does it taste good and make your breath smell fresh, but the gum can help remove food that may be stuck in your teeth as well, acting as a secondary toothbrush.

6.      Instead of digging out that spare toothbrush that stays in your travel kit, consider spending the spare change and buying a new one for your next trip. Old faithful has served you well, but travel toothbrushes tend to get tossed around in a variety of germ-ridden environments. While you’re at the store, purchase a toothbrush cover with holes for ventilation and some extra floss in case your current supply unexpectedly runs out (it happens to all of us).

7.      Pack smart. Make sure everyone has packed their own toothbrush. Sharing toothbrushes can spread cavity–causing bacteria, even among family members.

8.      Use a toothbrush cap. Protect your toothbrush from germs with a travel toothbrush cap. Once you reach your destination, make sure to take the cap off because it can lock in moisture and create a breeding ground for germs.

9.      Keep healthy snacks around. Pack healthy snacks such as veggies, nuts and string cheese. Avoid crackers and chips, which will stick around in your mouth and can feed the harmful bacteria that cause tooth decay.

10.   Drink plenty of water. Drinking water rinses away bad-breath–causing bacteria that sit at the back of your tongue. The bacteria can also result in gingivitis and other oral health issues.

And of course, keeping up with regular brushing and flossing is as important as ever! Don't let your oral health routine fall by the wayside just because your regular work and school schedules are disrupted.

Sources: DeltaDental.com, HighlandParkPerio.com

 

 

Is Your Thanksgiving Meal Good for Your Teeth?

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Family, fellowship and food are just a few of the reasons why we love Thanksgiving. While the food may be flowing at the Turkey Day table, the smiles are too! Believe it or not, your teeth love Thanksgiving just as much as you. Below are some of the good – and not so good – dishes you’ll see at a typical Thanksgiving dinner feast when it comes to their impact on your teeth. Plus how they rate from a “Healthy Mouth” perspective.

Turkey

The Good: This main course is packed with protein. Turkey is unarguably the main attraction of the Thanksgiving table. Turkey is loaded with protein, making it a fan favorite for both your body and smile. Protein has phosphorus in it, and when phosphorus mixes with calcium and vitamin D, it creates strong bones and teeth. So even though eating a Thanksgiving feast can make you sleepy, you can rest assured that turkey is a healthy option for a great smile.
The Bad: It often gets stuck between your teeth – so flossing is often required before you take a nap.
Healthy Mouth: It's the star of the Thanksgiving table. Gobble it up!

 Stuffing

The Good: What would a turkey be without stuffing? And depending on what you put in your stuffing, it could have ingredients that are very good for your teeth. Celery is great for your teeth because of its water content (your mouth loves water) and onions have strong bacteria-fighting properties (and bacteria lead to plaque).

The Bad: If your stuffing is sticky, be sure to floss.

Healthy Mouth: It’s a tradition in most homes – enjoy (and floss).

Cranberry Sauce

The Good: It's a tasty Thanksgiving tradition.
The Bad: Cranberries are naturally tart, so sugar or sugar substitutes are often added to products, including sauce. This side dish can be sticky, acidic and may temporarily stain your teeth. 
Healthy Mouth: If eaten alone the sugar content, stickiness, tendency for the little berries to get stuck between your teeth and acidity make it one of those foods that needs to be eaten with a meal.

Yams

The Good: Sweet potatoes are rich in Vitamins A and C, which help keep your gums healthy. They can also be prepared in many ways.
The Bad: Candied yam recipes call for marshmallows. Sticky foods can damage your teeth since they tend to stay on your teeth longer than other types of food.
Healthy Mouth: If candied, enjoy in moderation and drink plenty of water with your meal to help wash away any food particles on your teeth.

Green Bean Casserole

The Good: Green beans are healthy, mushrooms are healthy, and onions are healthy. 
The Bad: It can be sticky and little beans may get stuck in your teeth.
Healthy Mouth: Dig in! But you may want to keep a floss pick handy.

Macaroni and Cheese

The Good: Say cheese! Many recipes call for cheese and milk. The calcium from these ingredients helps strengthen teeth.
The Bad: Good cheese can be gooey, and white pastas are also starchy and can leave sugar behind on your teeth.
Healthy Mouth: As with many feast-worthy foods, eat a sensible portion and break out your brush and floss later.

Mashed Potatoes and Gravy

The Good: Potatoes are an important dietary source of vitamin C, B6 and potassium. 
The Bad: Potatoes are starchy, and cavity-causing bacteria loves the sugar that makes up starch.
Healthy Mouth: If covered with gravy, the health benefits of the overall dish are diminished to some extent, but this is a holiday and only comes once a year.

Pumpkin Pie

The Good: Pumpkins are decorative and delicious, but did you know they’re good for your teeth too? Pumpkin pulp is filled with filled enamel-building Vitamin A, fiber and potassium. Your chompers love all parts of the pumpkin – including their seeds! Pumpkin seeds are a good source of magnesium, a nutrient that can strengthen teeth. Pumpkins aren’t just for eating - they make fabulous decorations for your Turkey Day table. Make a pumpkin party cooler, custom centerpiece or place card holders. The pumpkin possibilities are endless!
The Bad: There’s the added sugar in the pie itself and whatever whipped topping you put on top.
Healthy Mouth: This is usually a once-a-year treat, but dish it out after dinner. Eating sweets shortly after meals helps keep saliva flowing to wash away leftover food.

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

 

 

 

Fight Kid’s Cavity Fright This Halloween

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Tricky Treats to Avoid and Good Oral Health Habits to Prevent Plaque

As the Halloween candy is being devoured, sugar and dental plaque can linger in the crevices in and between your child's teeth and cause cavities. Monitoring your child's sugar intake and ensuring regular brushing habits to remove plaque will help prevent tooth decay this Halloween and make your child's next visit to the dentist cavity-free.

Sugar has long been identified by oral health experts as a major cause of tooth decay and cavities. If not removed by brushing or some other means, naturally occurring bacteria in the mouth form a colorless, sticky film called plaque. Cavity-causing microorganisms within plaque feed on sugar and turn it into acid. This acid attacks tooth enamel and causes tooth decay.

Guidelines for Your Trick or Treaters

Here are a few guidelines to safeguard your little pirate's teeth against decay this Halloween:

Don't buy Halloween candy too far in advance to avoid the temptation for children (and adults) to get a head start on the splurge.

When buying candy for Halloween, look for treats that can be eaten quickly, like miniature candy bars.

Try to ensure children eat a good, hearty meal prior to trick-or-treating, so there will be less temptation to gorge on candy.

Encourage your child to eat a small amount in one sitting followed by a glass of water and thorough tooth brushing. It is not a good idea to allow your child to graze on candy from after school until dinner time as this will increase the amount of time sugar comes in contact with teeth.

Promote good oral health care habits year-round to your children by encouraging twice daily brushing with fluoridated toothpaste, flossing and getting regular dental checkups.

Beware of Hard or Sticky Candy

One of the worst types of candy in terms of your child’s oral health is hard or sticky candies like sugared fruit snacks, caramels, popcorn balls or lollipops. They are particularly damaging because they spend a prolonged amount of time stuck to teeth and are more difficult for teeth to break down. Plus, they can crack or chip a child’s tooth.

On the other hand, sweets like chocolate that quickly dissolve in the mouth and can be eaten easily lessen the amount of time sugar stays in contact with teeth

To help parents at Halloween, we offer a list of the most harmful to the safest treats your kids should be choosing from their trick-or-treat bag:

Sour Power – Sour candies are the absolute worst in that studies have revealed that the acids in sour candies are so destructive because they dissolve enamel on contact!

Hardly Harmless – Hard candy needs to be sucked on for an extended period of time and very chewy candies are harmful in that they get stuck between the teeth. Both hard and chewy candy allow bacteria to wreak havoc on your child’s teeth for a much longer period of time.

Resist Raisins – Don’t be fooled by their natural derivative. Raisins easily damage dental work because they are very sticky and do not mix well with fillings, braces or retainers.

Candy Bars Get Four Stars – While we can’t say candy bars are good for your oral health, they are less harmful because they are eaten quickly allowing less time for the sugar to damage with acid.

Dissolve Your Worry – Powder candy is fairly safe as the sugar dissolves quickly and makes little contact with the teeth.

Eat Two or Three if They’re Sugar Free – As obvious as it seems, sugar-free candy is the most highly recommended Halloween treat for your children’s teeth. You can even prevent cavities by chewing sugar free gum! Sugar free gum promotes increased saliva which neutralizes harmful bacteria.

 

Sources: DeltaDental.com

 

 

Vitamin Supplements – Can They Help or Hurt Your Teeth?

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Some Forms of Supplements Can Actually Harm Your Oral Health

Nutrition experts encourage daily supplementation of vitamin C for everyone. It protects against everything from sudden infant death syndrome (S.I.D.S) to scurvy, heart disease, and in some cases, cancer. Two-time Nobel Prize winner, Linus Pauling, recommended a whopping 3 grams of vitamin C every day for the average healthy male, and 6 grams for those at risk of heart disease. There are many methods of vitamin C supplementation, in the form of capsules, powders and syrups. For decades, parents have been providing their children with chewable vitamin C pills.

Chewable Pills and Citrus Toothpaste

Vitamin C is destructive to tooth enamel, so chewable pills may lead to increased cavities, particularly in those who are lacking minerals, such as calcium and phosphorus. Vitamin C should never be taken in a manner which leaves residues of it on the teeth for an extended time. Some well-intentioned toothpaste manufacturers have misguidedly added vitamin C or "citrus" to their formulas, without realizing the dental problems that this presents. Similarly, some alternative medicine sites on the Internet recommend cleaning the teeth with lemon-based solutions. Citrus acids have the tendency to make the teeth feel clean. This occurs partly because the acid strips the teeth of everything, including the minerals bonding with them. It can cause long-term enamel damage; especially when it is combined with abrasives or stiff bristle brushes.

Vitamin C when taken internally actually strengthens teeth, and the rest of the body. However, it should never be kept in direct contact with the teeth. It is strongly recommended for those who are brushing their teeth with citrus formulas to discontinue immediately. Toothpastes which contain calcium carbonate are ideal for long-term dental health and for tooth whiteness. Toothpastes containing phosphorus (phosphates) are even better.

Fizzy Vitamin Supplements

We know that sugar-filled juices and canned drinks such as cola and lemonade can cause tooth decay - yet few of us would think fizzy vitamin preparations can have similar effects. However, a study at the University of Helsinki on eight types of effervescent vitamins found they could all have corrosive effects on teeth. 

Leaching out the minerals contained in teeth, they left them weaker, more porous and prone to decay.

In the research, teeth were soaked in the vitamin drinks for 100 hours. All of them - including those drinks that contained calcium - caused demineralization. The effects were worst in the Vitamin C products, where teeth were corroded so severely that dentine, the sensitive layer beneath the enamel was exposed.

“When you drink fizzy vitamins, you wouldn't expose your teeth for anything near this length of time,” says Dr. Mervyn Druian, spokesperson for the British Dental Association. “However, if you drink one of these dissolved tablets each day, it is likely that they would weaken your teeth.”

Citric acid, the primary ingredient of many fizzy vitamin drinks, has been found by researchers at the University of Baltimore Dental School to cause dental erosion. While this erosion is less than in drinks that also contain sugar, it is still significant.

“Dental erosion is caused by acidic solutions which come into contact with the teeth,” says Dr. Adam Thorne, dental surgeon at the Harley Street Dental Studio. “Because the critical pH of dental enamel is 5.5, any solution with a lower pH value may cause erosion, particularly over a long period or if it is taken regularly.”

The danger of these soluble vitamins is that they are marketed for daily use and consumers tend to take them with breakfast and brush their teeth shortly after. “For an hour after you have an acidic drink such as a fizzy vitamin, cola or apple juice, your tooth enamel will remain softened,” says Dr. Thorne. “During this period, teeth become more vulnerable to corrosion, sensitivity and decay. Vitally, if you brush your teeth during this time, you are likely to brush away a layer of tooth enamel.”

How Can You Protect Your Teeth from the Effect of Chewable or Fizzy Supplements?

The strength of teeth changes continually over the course of a day, with minerals being taken out and replaced according to the foods you eat and drink. “Whenever we have an acidic drink, minerals are leached out of the teeth to help neutralize the acid. Saliva is slightly alkaline, so it also has a neutralizing effect,” says Dr. Druian.

“After a few hours, the neutralizing action of saliva takes over, and calcium and other minerals are gradually put back in the teeth.”

Dairy products such as cheese and milk have an alkaline pH that help neutralize acids. They also contain minerals. Eating these after an acid drink will help reduce acid levels and re-mineralize teeth at a faster rate. 

“Don't brush your teeth for at least an hour and don't swish the fizzy vitamin drink around your mouth,” states Dr. Durian. “You can also chew some sugar-free gum to increase the flow of saliva. Ultimately, if you are worried about the effects of these vitamins on your mouth, drink them through a straw or switch to a vitamin pill.”

Sources: KnowYourTeeth.com, HealthWyze.org, DailyMail.co.uk

 

 

 

Are Your “Healthy” Food Choices Ruining Your Teeth?

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How green juices and fruits could be turning your smile yellow (and what to eat instead)

 

Sipping a green smoothie or munching on a low-calorie snack may well be good for our waistlines (or so we're told)... but what are they doing to our teeth? Apparently, your super-food kick could be damaging your smile - and contributing to teeth discoloration and bad oral health.

In this week’s Lehigh Valley Smile Designs blog, we’ve highlighted some of the dental dangers of a few of the most popular health foods and advised on alternatives that pose less of a threat to your teeth.


WHAT TO AVOID

 

Popcorn

Popcorn has gone from snack food to superfood and has quickly become a go-to item to embrace low-calorie snacking. However, popcorn is not quite so nice to your teeth and if you take a bite into one of those un-cracked kernels there's a high risk of breaking or cracking a tooth. It's also practically impossible not to get popcorn stuck in between your and if those tiny bits become lodged between teeth, it can lead to infection and even a rather nasty abscess.

 

Ensure you are flossing thoroughly at least 2-3 times a week to remove bacteria and dislodge trapped food. If you do not floss you are only cleaning a third of the tooth and could be at risk of tooth decay.

 

Green smoothies

With the juicing trend and NutriBullet craze in full swing, green smoothies are all the rage. However, in reality consuming large quantities doesn't do your oral health any favors. These green juices and smoothies are made by blending leafy green vegetables with fruit to sweeten the taste. The juice from fruit and vegetables, especially fruit, tend to have a high acid content which severely damages the enamel of your teeth in a similar way to fizzy drinks. 

 

Although fruit and vegetables are considered healthy acids, this is only the case when they are consumed as a whole, rather than as a concentrated juice. Fruit's natural sugar, fructose, is also a common cause of cavities as the bacteria in the mouth feed on it, so be careful when you do consume juice as part of a balanced diet. To reduce the impact, make sure you drink through a straw and try to wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth after consuming a green smoothie.

 

Grapefruit

With so many celebrities endorsing this so-called healthy citrus fruit, it's hard to believe that grapefruit can actually do a lot of damage to your teeth. Just like sweets, any sour foods contain a high level of citric acid that horrifyingly has the same pH level as the acid in your stomach. The acidity from these citrus fruits causes the enamel of your teeth to erode and tooth decay can occur.

 

Acid erosion can increase teeth sensitivity and when eaten regularly, citrus fruits can contribute to the build-up of plaque and tooth decay. Many experts recommend chewing gum after consumption to rehydrate the mouth and promote the production of saliva, which will wash away the citric acid.

 

WHAT TO EAT

 

Almonds

Packed full of goodness, almonds make for the ideal tooth-friendly snack. Unlike other nuts, almonds are incredibly low in sugar and also have the highest nutritional value in terms of calcium and they are a good source of protein. Calcium helps to strengthen teeth and bones and also nourishes healthy gum tissue.

 

Feta Chees

Feta cheese is a great source of calcium and general health food for maintaining good oral hygiene. Cheese and Feta in particular has a low pH level, which helps to neutralize acid, fight plaque and prevent cavities from forming. Researchers have also found that Feta cheese makes the mouth more alkaline, which in turn can reduce the need for dental treatment.

 

Celery

Celery might not be the most flavorsome food around, but it does work miracles on your pearly whites. Like carrots and apples, celery acts like a natural toothbrush, scraping food particles and bacteria away from your teeth. This in turn maintains a healthy, white smile and prevents staining. It is also a source of vitamins A and C that boost your gum's health too.

 

Green and Herbal Teas

We all know that herbal tea is good for your digestive system. However, were you aware of all the teeth and dental related benefits too? Herbal tea and in particular green tea, contains polyphenols that interact with plaque and prevent harmful bacteria from growing. This not only helps to prevent cavities, it also reduces inflammation and the chances of gum disease'.

Source: Daily Mail, WebMD

 

 

7 Surprising Foods That Are Staining Your Teeth

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And How to Keep Eating Them While Reducing Their Impact on Your Pearly Whites

Wine, coffee and tea – it's the trifecta of tooth-staining foods that almost everyone knows to avoid in order to protect their pearly whites. These beverages, however, are just the beginning of a long list of foods that can sabotage your smile, and chances are that many are flying undetected right under your very nose! From condiments to candy, put these sneaky offenders on your radar to keep tooth discoloration at bay.

Common Tooth-Staining Foods

1. Tomato-Based Meals
The high acidity level of tomatoes coupled with their bright red color can pack quite the punch on the enamel of your teeth. From your mom's homemade spaghetti sauce or soup, or your favorite brand of ketchup, constant exposure to even the smallest of doses can be damaging.

2. Curries
As rich in color as they are in flavor, many spice blends rank high in staining power, due to brightly colored ingredients such as turmeric and saffron. Over time, their pigments can leave a yellowish tint on your teeth.

3. Dark Sauces
Whether it's food infused with soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, or other dark liquid, you can bet that eating enough of it will also dim your smile. If it's the base of your meal, there's a definite risk to the enamel of your teeth, but even side dips can be just as harmful because they are often more concentrated.

4. Clear Soda
Dark sodas already get a lot of notoriety for discoloring teeth, but don't switch to clear soda just yet! While its lighter color can make it seem like the better choice for those who love soda, it's still high in sugars that can eat away at tooth enamel and leave them prone to staining.

5. Fruit Juices and Berries
Fruit is undeniably nutritious, and many juices now come with no sugar added, but fructose is still a form of sugar, and it is bad news for tooth enamel. In fact, the darker color of certain fruits and juices – such as blueberry or grape – can have a staining effect similar to wine.

6. Sports Drinks
Because their makers often do a masterful job of promoting rehydration and electrolyte replacement, it's easy to overlook the sugar content and bright, fluorescent colors. Similar to soda and fruit juice, however, both the pigment and sugary nature of these drinks can leave your teeth less than white in no time.

7. Hard Candies and Popsicles
If they can turn your tongue into a rainbow of colors in a matter of seconds, just think of what they can do to your teeth! Even if consumed occasionally, prolonged sucking puts the surface of your teeth in direct contact with sugar, acid and dye – resulting in tooth decay as well as discoloration.

Tips To Prevent Tooth Staining

Cutting out many of these problem foods can go a long way in keeping your smile sparkling, but it may be unrealistic to avoid certain foods completely. Here's how you can help protect your teeth from sugary, acidic and/or colorful food:

Eat thoroughly, but quickly to minimize any contact with the tooth's surface

Use a straw to help bypass most of your teeth when drinking beverages

Drink plenty of water during and after meals to wash away food particles

Brush and floss your teeth after meals to help prevent stains from setting in

Use whitening toothpaste to help remove stains and keep teeth sparkling

Professional Treatment Options

In addition to practicing good hygiene and being more mindful about your diet choices, professional dental care can do wonders in keeping your smile bright. Seeing your dentist regularly for a cleaning and checkup can help prevent and detect tooth staining, and there are many cosmetic whitening procedures that can remedy existing discoloration, whether mild or severe. Schedule a visit with your dentist for the optimal treatment plan for you.

 

Sources: Women’s Health Magazine, WebMD

 

 

Holiday Oral Health Tips for Kids

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Child-Friendly Pointers On Opening Presents, Eating Sweets and Holiday Travel

It’s not easy keeping kid’s mouth healthy during the holidays. Chances are good that visions of cookies, desserts and candy canes may be dancing in your children's heads this holiday season. There are ways to keep your kids' teeth and gums in shape and to minimize damage to their dental health.

 

Teeth Are Not For Tots

Don’t let your kids crack nuts with their teeth: Although protein found in nuts helps keep muscles and bones strong, they shouldn’t test the strength of their teeth by shelling nuts. The hard surface of most nutshells can cause serious tooth and gum damage, and may even crack teeth. Your safest bet? Get a cool holiday nutcracker (they’re everywhere) and make shelling nuts fun for kids.

Use proper tools to open your child’s packages and bottles: We know kids get excited to rip into that gift from great-aunt Martha, but their teeth are not the right tools for the task. Gripping a package or stubborn bottle cap with teeth can crack them, possibly requiring a root canal and a crown. Help children by getting the wrapping off stubborn packages started for them and then let them tear away. Make sure you’re the one reaching for a scissors or bottle opener and not the kids.

 

Five Unhealthy Holiday Treats Kids Eat

Cookies, candy and sweet holiday beverages all have at least one main ingredient in common: sugar. You don’t need to cut your kids off from holiday goodies completely, but take a conservative approach to these sweets in particular.

1)      Candy Canes: The problem with eating candy canes is the prolonged period of time that they linger in your mouth. Not to mention, the temptation to chomp on them, which can lead to cracks or chips in your teeth.

2)      Christmas Cookies: It’s tempting to overindulge when there’s an abundance of baked goods. Cookies are laden with sugar and can do significant damage to your pearly whites. We know that skipping cookies entirely may be impossible. Just enjoy them in moderation.

3)      Holiday Drinks: Eggnog, hot apple cider and hot chocolate are festive beverages that offer more than warm, holiday cheer. Eggnog boasts over 20 grams of sugar per cup, while hot cider can pack over 65 grams of sugar when dressed up with caramel sauce and whip cream. Stick to one small serving of your kid’s favorite drink.

4)      Caramels: Chewy, sticky treats, such as grandma’s famous homemade caramels are particularly damaging, because they are high in sugar and spend a prolonged amount of time stuck to teeth. The same attributes apply to all of those sparkly gumdrops on your gingerbread house.

5)      Fruitcake: Even though it’s the butt of many holiday jokes, some people actually eat the fruitcake that gets passed around at holiday parties. Oral health reasons to avoid it include the sugary cake base and the chewy, candied fruit throughout.

 

Counter Sugary Effects

Sugarless gum: Sugarless gum (especially with xylitol) is great way to keep your kids' mouths busy while boosting saliva production, which will help wash away sugar. After treat time give your kids a stick for a healthy tooth wash.

Limit sugar time: Have special treat times during the day to limit the intake of sweets and so the holidays don’t become a sugar fest. You may also want to do as the French do and make cheese a part of dessert. Cheeses, such as mozzarella sticks, are not only kid friendly, they are also known to neutralize acid in the mouth, according to the American Dental Association.

Drink water and rinse to refresh: When you can't brush, rinse your mouth with tap water to wash away food particles and bacteria.

 

Holiday Travel

Make a kid-friendly dental travel kit: Nearly everything comes in a travel size and we’ve found that the activity of putting together a dental travel kit will encourage great habits while you are away from home.  Don’t forget to pack travel-sized mouthwash, floss and a toothbrush for everyone in the family. Your kids will love their own dental kit.  Help them to pick out a special brush and mini-toothpaste just for their time away.

Schedule a visit to the dentist before you leave: Last but not least, your child probably has time off from school around the holidays. This is a great time to schedule a cleaning and checkup with your children's dentist. As always, you can ask your dentist for additional tips on how to keep your kids' teeth healthy during the holidays.

 

Keep Your Routine

 Wherever you travel and whatever you decide to let your kids eat, don’t forget their regular dental habits.  It may be tempting to just go to bed after a long day of family fun, but forgetting their routine could mean no-so-fun dental problems later on. The holidays present a special opportunity to make dental health fun. Perhaps you can buy your children a toothbrush in holiday colors or a toothbrush that is decorated with their favorite cartoon character just for the season to make it special. Colored floss is also fun!

 

Sources: KidsHealthyTeeth.com, Delta Dental, DentalPatientNews.com

 

 

10 Tricks for Dealing with Halloween Treats

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Halloween Can Be an Oral Health Learning Experience for Your Kids

Pediatric dental experts say Halloween can be a time to teach your children good oral health habits for life, without depriving them of Halloween treats (think moderation). Denying your children the Halloween experience can send the entirely wrong message -- deprivation -- and make candy seem even more irresistible, leading to other problems. They may end up sneaking sweets or eating too much candy once they're out on their own. Instead, let them have the joy of Halloween in all its sticky goodness and the experience of going to a party or trick-or-treating.

The message isn't "candy is bad," but that candy and other sweets, in excess, can lead to cavities. Children learn two important lessons:

How to control their diets.

That what they eat relates to oral health, not just physical health.

Here are some tips to help keep your children’s mouths happy so their smiles don’t start to look like the Jack-O-Lanterns on your front steps!

Eat a well-balanced meal before trick-or-treating. This helps to reduce chances children will fill up on empty calories and sugar.

Avoid more harmful candy options. Not all candy is created equal, and chewy and sour candies are amongst the worst for oral health. Chewy candies can easily get stuck in the crevices between teeth, making it nearly impossible to wash it all away. Gummies and caramel have the potential to dislodge fillings, crowns, space maintainers and orthodontic appliances. Sour candies are highly acidic and can break down the enamel on your teeth.

Beware hidden sugars and starches. Glucose, fructose and honey that appear in foods such as cereal bars, flavored yogurts, fruit bars, pureed fruit pouches and juices can be just as destructive on children’s teeth. Snacks such as pretzels, with starches that stay in the mouth longer, can also lead to cavities.

Establish a “treat time.” Snacking on candy over a long period of time can be more harmful for your children’s teeth. Limiting candy time will help you restrict the amount of candy consumed and protect their teeth from too much sugary contact. This ritual “treat time” may last long after Halloween and help promote healthy thinking about treats.

Children learn that eating sweets shouldn’t be an all-day feast. Moderation is key.

Knowing they have a specific sweet time can help make children less inclined to think about eating sweets at other times of the day.

Pick 10 treats. After your children get back from trick-or-treating or a party, go through their bags of Halloween candy together. Tell them to each pick the 10 or so (whatever number you decide, based on factors such as age) treats they want the most. Letting children help decide what is a reasonable amount of candy to keep has benefits beyond good oral health.

Get the unpicked treats out of sight. You can donate them to a food bank, save them for future “treat times” or freeze them if you can't bear to throw them out.

Choose best options for a sweet treat. These include sugar-free gum and dark chocolate. Dark chocolate contains antioxidants like tannins, polyphenols and flavonoids that can inhibit bacteria from sticking to the teeth, preventing infections in gums and battling tooth decay. Sugar-free gum made with xylitol promotes the growth of tooth-protective, non-acidic bacteria which can make it nearly impossible for bacteria and plaque to form.

Swish with water. Let’s face it - most kids don’t look forward to Halloween for the sugar-free gum and dark chocolate. And that’s ok. If kids are indulging in any kind of candy, ensure they drink plenty of water after eating the treat.  Encourage them to swish the water around in the mouth to help dislodge particles that can get stuck onto tiny teeth. Decorate a Halloween-themed reusable water bottle to encourage your child to drink lots of water.

Reinforce good brushing and flossing habits. The best way to protect your kid’s oral health from sugary sweets is to brush and floss regularly. This is especially important following your “treat times!” 

Find a healthy balance. Everyone is going to enjoy at least a couple sweets during Halloween – you don’t have to deny yourself or your children a little holiday fun! However, it’s important to balance those sugary foods with healthy ones.

Sources: AAPD (American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry), WebMD