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

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

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

 

 

Smoothies for Your Smile

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What You Eat and Drink Can Deteriorate or Fortify Teeth

Not all smoothies are created equally. It is very easy to make a smoothie that is loaded with sugar, and while it may taste good, can contribute to tooth decay, cavities, gum disease, and an array of other health problems.

Here’s three great smoothies for a healthy and happy smile:

The Super Bright Smile Smoothie

This smoothie will not only make you smile because it tastes great, but it will also give your entire mouth a healthy boost. The apples in this recipe contain as much fiber as a whole serving of bran cereal. Apples are also mildly acidic, so they act as an astringent by gently killing bacteria and whitening teeth.

Avocados are also great for your smile, containing an average of 18mg of calcium ensuring that your teeth stay strong. They’re also packed with vitamin B6, another essential nutrient for good oral health.
The mint leaves aren’t there just for good looks! They’re natural breath fresheners and have been shown to whiten teeth as well.

3 Apples

2 Kiwis

1 Avocado

1 Orange

3 Mint Leaves

The Healthy Gums Smoothie

This smoothie is great for maintaining healthy gum tissues because of the high levels of Vitamin C found in the kiwi and mixed berries. Kiwis contain more vitamin C than any other fruit for their size, including the Vitamin C packed orange. But just in case, we’ve added an orange to this recipe as well! Research has shown that high levels of vitamin C is essential for healthy gums and helps to fight off periodontal disease.

The creamy consistency of this smoothie comes from the addition of Greek yogurt, which is itself a dental super food. A Japanese study of 1,000 adults revealed that the healthiest gums were found in those that consumed the most yogurt. Yogurt has also been shown to strengthen teeth and fight bad breath.

1 Kiwi

1 Banana

½ Cup Frozen Berries

1 Cup Strawberries

½ Cup Orange

8 oz. Greek Yogurt

The Tooth Strengthening Smoothie

Like the previous smoothie, this great tasting snack contains a huge amount of Vitamin C. But the real tooth strengthening benefits come from manganese, which is found in high quantities in pineapple. Manganese is a trace element that helps to build strong bones. One serving of this smoothie gives you a full daily supply of recommended manganese.

There is one important item to note, however. The high acid level of pineapple along with the sweetness of added honey means that you shouldn’t neglect your regular brushing routine just because the nutrients in this smoothie are good for your teeth. Of course, you’re careful to brush twice a day for at least two minutes, right?

2/3 of 1 Whole Pineapple
1 ½ Tbs. Honey
1 Peach
½ Cup Frozen Pineapple/ Mango
1 Banana
1 Orange

 

 

Sources: HealthySmoothieHQ.com, IncredibleSmoothies.com

 

 

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

 

 

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

 

 

Is Dark Chocolate Good for Your Teeth ?

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Cocoa Beans Are Packed With Good Things Like Tannins, Polyphenols and Flavonoids

If you’re like most Americans, you’re a fan of chocolate. More than half of Americans eat chocolate daily and as a nation, we consume 3.3 billion pounds of chocolate annually. But all that chocolate isn’t necessarily good for the health of our teeth, is it? Actually, if some of those treats are made of dark chocolate, they can actually be good for your teeth! Yes, you read that correctly -- chocolate can prevent tooth decay. However, not every kind of chocolate is dental dynamite. The cocoa bean is what houses the good stuff - not the chocolate itself - so the closer the confection is to the bean, the better.

Cocoa beans contain tannins, polyphenols and flavonoids, each of which is a type of strong antioxidant that benefits your mouth and teeth. Tannins are what give dark chocolate it's slightly bitter taste and are responsible for the sweet's dark pigments. More importantly, they help prevent cavities by inhibiting bacteria from sticking to your teeth. Polyphenols limit the effects of bacteria, meaning they work to neutralize the microorganisms that cause bad breath, prevent infections in your gums and battle tooth decay. Flavonoids work to slow tooth decay, among other things.

Of the three kinds of chocolate (dark chocolate, milk chocolate and white chocolate), dark chocolate is the least processed and closest to the cocoa bean, which makes it the healthiest option of the three. For best results, the chocolate should be around 70 percent cocoa. Hershey's Extra Dark Chocolate contains 60 percent cocoa, so it's a pretty good choice, but Ghirardelli's Twilight Delight is a better option at 72 percent. Other bars are even more beneficial, such as Ghirardelli's Midnight Reverie and Lindt's Cocoa Supreme Dark, which contain 86 and 90 percent cocoa, respectively. You should be able to find tooth-friendly dark chocolate at your local grocery store, and many bars advertise their cocoa percentage clearly on the label. Also, in case you needed another perk, dark chocolate contains less sugar than other varieties, so it's slightly better for your waistline, too.

So how, exactly, is dark chocolate good for your teeth? There's a bacterium in your mouth called oral streptococci, which produces acid that eats away at your tooth enamel. The antioxidants in dark chocolate prevent the bacteria from turning into damaging acids by acting as a sort of antibacterial compound. Also, the cocoa butter coats your teeth and prevents plaque from sticking to them.

Because chocolate has tons of antioxidants (about four times that of green tea), it can not only inhibit the production of plaque but also reduce inflammation in the body and work to prevent periodontal disease, a symptom of which is swelling of the gums. The bacteria associated with periodontal disease can also enter the bloodstream and cause heart disease and other cardiovascular problems, so periodically consuming dark chocolate is beneficial to your heart health as well.

It's important to remember, however, that munching on a piece of dark chocolate is not like downing a plateful of veggies. It has some important health benefits, but it's far from a healthy food. Like any confection, dark chocolate should be consumed in moderation. It still contains ample amounts of sugar and fat, each of which comes with its own set of health issues. Also, like all chocolates, dark chocolate isn't exactly low in calories. The recommended intake is 1 ounce per day, which is equal to about six Hershey Kisses (don't worry, they're available in a dark variety). Even this small amount, however, contains as many as 150 calories, and since it tastes so good, it's hard not to indulge.

So get your hands (and teeth) on some dark chocolate today to enjoy what is arguably the most delicious but still beneficial food on the planet. Just remember to practice portion control so the health risks associated with an expanding waistline don't overshadow the benefits to your pearly whites.

 

Source: TLC

 

10 Foods That Naturally Whiten and Brighten Your Smile

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What You Consume Directly Influences Your Oral Health

As the saying goes, “you are what you eat.”  But when it comes to healthy teeth, “you are what you chew.”  According to the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD) certain foods naturally cleanse, brighten, and defend against bacteria that can harm your teeth and gums.

Because your teeth and gums mirror what’s going on in the rest of your body, what you consume influences the health of your smile.  In contrast, some foods and lifestyle habits such as drinking coffee and tea as well as smoking can cause discoloration or the yellowing of your teeth.

Let’s face it, most people are very interested about having a healthy, bright smile.  According to an AACD survey, virtually all adults (99.7%) surveyed believe a healthy smile is socially important, and nearly three-quarters (74%) of adults feel an unattractive smile can hurt their career success.

To deliciously achieve a healthier, whiter smile, try these 10 foods suggestions from the AACD:

Pineapples can help whiten teeth.  Research shows that the enzyme bromelain in pineapples acts as a natural stain remover.  Bromelain also helps break up plaque, the sticky film of bacteria that accumulates on your teeth.  The bacteria in plaque produce acids that can erode the enamel of your teeth and lead to dental caries.

Ginger acts as an anti-inflammatory to support healthy mouth tissue.  Since periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease that causes the loss of bone and supportive connective tissue in your mouth, ginger can spice up your foods while also acting as an anti-inflammatory.

Carrots contain vitamin A, which is needed for healthy tooth enamel.  Eating them raw stimulates saliva, your mouth’s natural cleanser.  In fact, chewing any crunchy vegetable will naturally cleanse your teeth.

Basil is a natural antibiotic that reduces bacteria in the mouth.  Basil's essential oils, rosmarinic acid, linalool, and oleanolic acid inhibit the growth of bacteria in the mouth.

Cheese is rich in protein, calcium, and phosphorus, all of which can help buffer the acids in your mouth.  Calcium and phosphorus also assist in the remineralization or repairing of your teeth.  Enjoy reduced fat cheese to minimize heart-unhealthy saturated fat in your diet.

Sesame seeds help “scrub” away the plaque on your teeth.  Chewing nuts can also provide this coarse, scrubbing action.  Sesame seeds also contain bone and teeth-strengthening calcium.

Shitaki mushrooms contain a compound called lentinan, which inhibits bacteria from growing in your mouth.

Onions contain the sulfur compounds, thiosulfinates and thiosulfonates, which reduce bacteria that cause tooth decay.  Eating them raw is a must as cooking will destroy these tooth-friendly compounds.  Don’t like onions?  Garlic also contains these sulfur compounds.

Salmon not only provides calcium but also vitamin D, another nutrient needed for healthy bones and teeth.

Broccoli contains iron which helps form an acid-resistant film or barrier that can protect the enamel of your teeth.

SOURCE: Boston.com