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)

 

 

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

 

 

Think Before You Gulp That Sports or Energy Drink

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They Rehydrate and Recharge but Wreak Havoc on Your Teeth

You just finished a strenuous workout or you’ve got a long day ahead – so what do you reach for? If you’re like a lot of people, you chug a sports drink or gulp down an energy drink. It may make you feel better short-term, but your teeth definitely won’t feel better long term. Research has shown that prolonged consumption of sports or energy drinks could lead to erosive wear on teeth, according to studies by the International Association for Dental Research and Academy of General Dentistry

The studies found that an alarming increase in the consumption of sports drinks, especially among adolescents, is causing irreversible damage to teeth—specifically, the high acidity levels in the drinks. With a reported 30 to 50 percent of U.S. teens consuming energy drinks, and as many as 62 percent consuming at least one sports drink per day, it is important that parents and young adults know about the downside of these drinks. Research looked specifically at the way sports drinks affected dentin, the dental tissue under enamel that determines the size and shape of teeth.

Studies found that sports and energy beverages can damage tooth enamel more so than soda -- due to a combination of acid components, sugars, and additives. Any beverage that has high acid content can weaken the enamel, making the teeth more susceptible to bacteria that can sneak into the cracks and crevices in the teeth. Sugar can exacerbate the situation, encouraging the bacterial growth. Sugar is bad, and acid is bad and many of these drinks have both. The combination can cause irreparable damage. 

Harmful effects include:

 

Tooth enamel erosion, corrupting the glossy outer layer of the tooth.

Sensitive teeth to touch and temperature changes.

Susceptibility to cavities and decay.

The researchers found that damage to enamel was evident after only five days of exposure to sports drinks, although energy drinks showed a significantly greater potential to damage teeth than sports drinks. Bacteria convert sugar to acid, and it's the acid bath that damages enamel, not the sugar directly. By incorporating a high acid load in a drink, we are just cutting out the middleman on the way to tooth decay.

If sports drinks become your soft drink of choice (your fluid), you run the real risk of very significant effects because they are very acidic. You could see etching on teeth which is actually eroding the dentin if you have exposed roots.

There may be a role for sports drinks for rehydration among endurance athletes under intense training conditions, but they make little sense for anyone else.

Athletes and even sports enthusiasts don't have to give up their sports drinks completely. The most important factor is exposure. Drinking a sports beverage in one sitting is not as damaging to your teeth as sipping on one throughout the day.

How to displace harmful Sports Drink effects:

 

Sip through a straw to help bypass tooth surfaces.

Drink plenty of water to flush the mouth. 

Wait at least an hour to brush teeth, otherwise you will be spreading acid onto the tooth surfaces, increasing the erosive action.

Energy drinks are the worst culprits. The acidity levels vary among brands and flavors of energy drinks, but caused twice as much damage as the sports drinks.

The big misconception is that energy and sports drinks are healthier than soda for oral health. Sugar may rot your teeth, but acid in energy and sports drinks will also do some irreversible damage to those pearly whites, say researchers. Science tells us that individual susceptibility to both dental cavities and tooth erosion varies depending on a person's dental hygiene behavior, lifestyle, total diet and genetic make-up.

If you are absolutely unable to give up these drinks, the best advice is to minimize drinking and rinse with water afterwards.

 

Sources: KnowYourTeeth.com, Web MD, CNN

 

 

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

 

Bad Bites That Can Harm Your Teeth

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Foods That Are a Treat to Eat Often Can Do Serious Damage

Your mouth is a busy place. Especially for bacteria – tiny colonies of living organisms are constantly on the move on your teeth, gums, lips and tongue. Having bacteria in your mouth is a normal thing. While some of the bacteria can be harmful, most are not harmful and some are even helpful.

Bad Bacteria Basics

Certain types of bacteria, however, can attach themselves to hard surfaces like the outside covering of your teeth called enamel.  Enamel is very hard, mainly because it contains durable mineral salts, like calcium. Mineral salts in your saliva help add to the hardness of your teeth. Mineral salts, however, are prone to attack by acids. Acid causes them to break down.

If bad bacteria are not removed, they multiply and grow in number until a colony forms on the tooth enamel. Eventually, the bacteria colony becomes a whitish film on the tooth called plaque. If it doesn’t get washed away by saliva or brushed away by your toothbrush, it produces acid.

Acid Produces Cavities

This acid is produced inside the plaque and can’t be easily washed away by your saliva. The acid dissolves the minerals that make your tooth enamel hard. The surface of the enamel becomes porous and tiny holes appear. After a while, the acid causes the tiny holes in the enamel to get bigger until one large hole appears. This is a cavity.

 

THE SEVERITY OF SUGAR

Sugar plays a harmful role in tooth decay. The bacteria that form together to become plaque use sugar as a form of energy.

They multiply faster and the plaque grows in size and thickness. Some of the bacteria turn the sugar into a kind of glue that they use to stick themselves to the tooth surface. This makes it harder for the bacteria to get washed away with your saliva.

Sugar is sugar whether it’s refined white sugar, brown sugar or honey. It’s not the amount, but how often you eat it. The acidic environment in your mouth created by sugar persists for about two hours after it’s consumed. If you eat or drink a little bit of sugar every few hours, your teeth will be continuously bathed in the acid, which directly dissolves tooth enamel. 

Hard Candy. While hard candies may seem harmless, eat too many and the constant exposure to sugar damages teeth. Hard candies also put your teeth at risk because in addition to being full of sugar, they can also trigger a dental emergency such as a broken or chipped tooth. Included are:

  • Suckers
  • Hard Candies
  • Breath Mints
  • Cough Drops

Tasty Tip: They might soothe your symptoms, but many cough drops have as much sugar as hard candy, experts warn. And because you suck on them for several minutes, and tend to pop them all day long when you have a cold, dental damage can be hefty. Skip the drops in favor of soothing your throat with herbal tea and water, or opt for sugar-free drops if necessary.

Chewy Candy. Sticky candies get stuck between braces and teeth, allowing plaque to build up. Plus, a chewy candy in the wrong place at the wrong time can easily take a filling or a whole tooth out. Beware of:

  • Taffy
  • Caramels
  • Sugary Gum

Tasty Tip: Chew sugarless gum that carries the American Dental Association Seal. 

Carbohydrates. Carb-heavy foods are processed as sugar when digested and food particles tend to linger by sticking in the grooves of teeth, creating a breeding ground for acid. The simple sugars quickly dissolve inside the mouth, causing a surge of acid that can erode tooth enamel. These include:

  • White Bread
  • Pasta
  • Potato Chips

Tasty Tip: They might go in your mouth light as air, but the texture of potato chips (crunchy at first, then gummy post-chewing) means they tend to linger in your mouth. When chip particles get stuck between teeth, acid-producing bacteria indulge in a snacking attack that ups your risk of tooth decay. And since we tend to chomp on chips over a long period (hey, no one can eat just one), that means a non-stop period of acid production. If you choose to indulge in snacks like these, take extra care when you floss that day to remove all the food particles that can lead to plaque build-up.

Citrus.  Citrus fruits are great sources of vitamin C for healthy gums, but they’re also high in enamel-damaging acid. Because of the acidity it adds, even putting lemon slices in water can be a danger. Look out for:

  • Oranges
  • Kiwis
  • Lemons
  • Grapefruit

 Tasty Tip: Continue to eat fruit for the vitamin content, but enjoy these foods in moderation to minimize their impact on your teeth. Also, drink a glass of water when you consume fruit – it will wash away the acid as you enjoy your snack.

 

SIP SMARTLY

Sugary Drinks. Be especially cautious of drinking them over a lengthy period of time, which promotes prolonged exposure to sugar and acid. Even something as innocent as lemonade is a destructive combination of acid and sugar that leads to tooth decay and cavities. These include:

  • Soda
  • Fruit Juices
  • Energy Drinks
  • Sports Drinks

Tasty Tip: Sports drinks sound healthy, don’t they? But for many sports and energy drinks, sugar is a top ingredient. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, while sports drinks can be helpful for young athletes engaged in prolonged, vigorous physical activities, in most cases they are unnecessary. Before your next sip, check the label to make sure your drink of choice is low in sugar. Not sure? Drink water instead.

 

Fortunately, foods like candy and soda that don't always play nice with our teeth are generally harmless in moderation.  It’s important to see your dentist before a cavity forms so that the plaque you can’t reach with your toothbrush or floss can be removed.

 

SOURCES: Healthyteeth.org, besthealthmag.ca, prevention.com

 

19 Habits That Wreck Your Teeth

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Find Out How to Stop Damaging Your Smile

The decisions you make can seriously impact your oral health and damage your teeth. Some of the items on our list are pretty obvious – most of us have learned that chewing ice can chip or crack our teeth – but others are rather surprising. 

Chewing on Ice

It’s natural and sugar free, so you might think ice is harmless. But munching on hard, frozen cubes can chip or even crack your teeth. And if your mindless chomping irritates the soft tissue inside a tooth, regular toothaches may follow. Hot foods and cold foods may trigger quick, sharp jabs of pain or a lingering toothache. Next time you get the urge for ice, chew some sugarless gum instead.

Playing Sports With No Mouth Guard

Whether you play football, hockey, or any other contact sport, don't get in the game without a mouth guard. This is a piece of molded plastic that protects the upper row of teeth. Without it, your teeth could get chipped or even knocked out when the action gets rough. Self-fitting mouth guards may be purchased at a store, or you can have one custom made by your dentist at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs.

Bedtime Bottles

It’s never too early to protect teeth. Giving a baby a bedtime bottle of juice, milk, or formula, can put new teeth on a path to decay. The baby may become used to falling asleep with the bottle in his or her mouth, bathing the teeth in sugars overnight. It's best to keep bottles out of the crib.

Tongue Piercings

Tongue piercings may be trendy, but biting down on the metal stud can crack a tooth. Lip piercings pose a similar risk. And when metal rubs against the gums, it can cause gum damage that may lead to tooth loss. The mouth is also a haven for bacteria, so piercings raise the risk of infections and sores. Bottom line, discuss the health risks with your dentist at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs first.

Grinding Teeth

Teeth grinding, or bruxism, can wear teeth down over time. It is most often caused by stress and sleeping habits. This makes it hard to control. Avoiding hard foods during the day can reduce pain and damage from this habit. Wearing a mouth guard at night can prevent the damage caused by grinding while sleeping.

Cough Drops

Just because cough drops are sold in the medicine aisle doesn't mean they’re healthy. Most are loaded with sugar. So after soothing your throat with a lozenge, be sure to brush well. Whether the sugar comes from a cough drop or a hard candy, it reacts with the sticky plaque that coats your teeth. Then bacteria in the plaque convert the sugar into an acid that eats away at tooth enamel. Hello, cavities.

Gummy Candy

All sugary treats promote tooth decay, but some candies are harder to bear. Gummies stick in the teeth, keeping the sugar and resulting acids in contact with your enamel for hours. If your day just isn't the same without a gummy critter, pop a couple during a meal instead of as a separate snack. More saliva is produced during meals, which helps rinse away candy bits and acids.

Soda

Candy isn't the only culprit when it comes to added sugar. Sodas can have up to 11 teaspoons of sugar per serving. To add insult to injury, sodas also contain phosphoric and citric acids, which eat away at tooth enamel. Diet soft drinks let you skip the sugar, but they may have even more acid in the form of the artificial sweeteners.

Opening Stuff with Your Teeth

Opening bottle caps or plastic packaging with your teeth may be convenient, but this is one habit that makes dentists cringe. Using your teeth as tools can cause them to crack or chip. Instead, keep scissors and bottle openers handy. Bottom line, your teeth should only be used for eating.

Sports Drinks

There's no doubt a cold sports drink is refreshing after a good workout. But these drinks are usually high in sugar. Like soda or candy, sugary sports drinks create an acid attack on the enamel of your teeth. Drinking them frequently can lead to decay. A better way to stay hydrated at the gym is to chug sugar-free, calorie-free water.

Fruit Juice

Fruit juice is loaded with vitamins and antioxidants, but unfortunately most juices are also loaded with sugar. Some juices can have as much sugar per serving as soda. For example, there are only 10 more grams of sugar in orange soda than in orange juice. Fruits are naturally sweet, so look for juice that has no added sugar. You can also reduce the sugar content by diluting juice with some water.

Potato Chips

The bacteria in plaque will also break down starchy foods into acid. This acid can attack the teeth for the next 20 minutes -- even longer if the food is stuck between the teeth or you snack often. You might want to floss after eating potato chips or other starchy foods that tend to get stuck in the teeth.

Constant Snacking

Snacking produces less saliva than a meal, leaving food bits in your teeth for hours longer. Avoid snacking too frequently, and stick to snacks that are low in sugar and starch -- for example, carrot sticks.

Chewing on Pencils

Do you ever chew on your pencil when concentrating on work or studies? Like crunching on ice, this habit can cause teeth to chip or crack. Sugarless gum is a better option when you feel the need to chew. It will trigger the flow of saliva, which can make teeth stronger and protect against enamel-eating acids.

Drinking Coffee

Coffee's dark color and acidity can cause yellowing of the teeth over time. Fortunately, it's one of the easiest stains to treat with various whitening methods. Talk to your dentist at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs if you're concerned about discoloration of your teeth.

Smoking

Cigarettes, as well as other tobacco products, can stain teeth and cause them to fall out as a result of gum disease. Tobacco can also cause cancer of the mouth, lips, and tongue. If you were looking for one more reason to quit, think of your smile.

Drinking Red Wine

The acids in wine eat away at tooth enamel, creating rough spots that make teeth more vulnerable to staining. Red wine also contains a deep pigment called chromogen and tannins, which help the color stick to the teeth. This combination makes it easy for the wine's red color to stay with you long after your glass is empty.

Drinking White Wine

You might think sticking to white wine would spare your teeth. But the acids still weaken the enamel, leaving the teeth porous and vulnerable to staining from other beverages, such as coffee. Swishing with water after drinking or using toothpaste with a mild whitening agent can fight the staining effects of red and white wines.

Binge Eating

Binge eating often involves excessive amounts of sweets, which can lead to tooth decay. Binging and purging (bulimia nervosa) can do even more damage to dental health. The strong acids found in vomit can erode teeth, making them brittle and weak. These acids also cause bad breath. Bulimia can lead to a variety of serious health problems, so be sure to talk to your doctor if you have been purging.

 

 SOURCE: WebMD

 

 

Is Sugar the Only Food That Causes Cavities?

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No, All Carbohydrates Can Impact Oral Health

Many people assume that only sugar causes cavities. Reduce or eliminate sugar from your diet, and you are safe from cavities. That’s actually not correct. You see, cavities occur as a result of tooth decay, and tooth decay occurs when foods containing carbohydrates (sugars and starches) such as breads, cereals, milk, soda, fruits, cakes, or candy are left on the teeth. So exactly how does that deliciously wonderful slice of bread that you had this morning turn into a tooth-killer cavity? It’s really a quite simple (and deadly) process that involves five steps:

  1. You eat something containing carbohydrates (remember, both sugar and starches fall into this category).

  2. Bacteria that live in the mouth digest these foods, turning them into acids.

  3. The bacteria, acid, food debris, and saliva combine to form plaque, which clings to the teeth.

  4. The acids in plaque dissolve the enamel surface of the teeth.

  5. Once the enamel is dissolved, holes form in the teeth and are called cavities, or caries.

However, the real issue is not the amount of sugar or starch in a particular food, but how long it tends to remain on your teeth. For example, some of the most damaging foods are those that mash into the tops of the molars at the back of the mouth and don't dissolve quickly -- like gummy candy or starchy chips and crackers. Lollipops, juice, and soda are also major offenders since they douse teeth in sugar for minutes at a time.

To reduce the impact of carbohydrates on your teeth and to head off the five-step process that leads to cavities, try these simple approaches:

  • Water, water and more water. Drink water with every meal and be sure to actively swish it around your mouth at the end of the meal. This will wash away the acids that formed and help remove debris.
  • Chew a piece of sugar-free gum at the end of your meal – it helps produce saliva, which aids in naturally cleaning your teeth, and it also will often remove food debris from the meal.
  • Avoid really sticky foods that stay on your teeth for hours.
  • Brush twice a day and floss daily.
  • Make sure to drink water with fluoride to strengthen your teeth – this is especially important for kids.
  • Give your kids calcium-rich cheese. It is a great cavity-fighting snack, since it can actually stimulate the flow of saliva (a natural tooth cleaner) and neutralize the mouth acids that wear away enamel.