9 Stocking Stuffers To Brighten Smiles This Christmas

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Candy canes and chocolate are usual “go-to” items for stuffing Christmas stockings. This year, why not add some mouth-friendly items that will enhance your child or partner’s oral health and help brighten their smile?

We have nine ideas for you this Christmas that are sure to light up the faces of the recipients.

Chewing Gum With Xylitol: Putting gum infused with Xylitol in stockings will provide a double bonus. Chewing gum following a meal stimulates saliva in your mouth, and saliva is extremely efficient at acting as a buffer to acid and removing food particles from your mouth. And if the gum contains the natural sweetener Xylitol, the user will get a second benefit – studies have linked regular use of Xylitol to reduced tooth decay.

Toothpastes With Flavor: You’ve probably heard of bubble-gum flavored toothpaste, or mint-flavored toothpaste. But how about chocolate, ice cream, cupcake, or bacon-flavored toothpaste. In fact, you can even get pickle-flavored toothpaste (we say ‘ick’ to that)! Get your kids (and even adults) excited about brushing with a flavored toothpaste. Just make sure it contains fluoride, an essential cavity-fighter.

Flavored Floss: Spice up your daily oral health routine with some flavored floss. Most floss is pretty boring, but change that this Christmas by putting flavored floss in stockings. You’ll find everything from cinnamon to banana – and lots of other options. Remember, the best oral hygiene routine includes brushing and flossing. If flossing is something your family struggles to do, make it easier for them. Put floss picks in their stockings rather than regular string floss.

Fun Toothbrushes: You should be replacing your toothbrush – and your child’s toothbrush – every three to four months. Give everyone a new toothbrush this Christmas, and then replace it again at Easter and just before they go back to school in late August. Buy toothbrushes that are fun – and appropriate – for the different members of your family. Be sure to get soft-bristled toothbrushes for toddlers. There are lots of favorite characters for school-aged children, and “smart” toothbrushes that play tunes or light up to help a child keep track of how long to brush.

Colgate Wisps: These are tiny disposable toothbrushes that are perfect for when you’re on the go – at work, school or even a night out with friends. They’ve been around awhile, but are so convenient and cute that they are always a good oral health stocking stuffer.

Electric Toothbrush: This is a great alternative to a manual toothbrush. The basic models are very affordable and you can get them with oscillating, vibrating or sonic brush heads. Some even are themed for kids and play a tune for a couple of minutes to encourage the right amount of time spent brushing.

Cool Toothbrush Holder: Stuff your child’s stocking with a toothbrush holder that’s sure to get their attention. You’ll find everything from robot to animal-shaped toothbrush holders available. Many depict a favorite character of the child’s and have space for both their toothbrush and toothpaste.

Plaque-Disclosing Tablets: These are both functional and fun. You use them after brushing your teeth, and any areas that are colored red means you missed that area when you brushed or flossed, since the tablet has a red-colored ingredient that clings to plaque.

FLIX - Interdental Stick: This is another “go-to” for cleaning your teeth in-between regular brushings when you’re away from home. FLIX will remove plaque, freshen your breath, massage gum tissue, reduce odor-causing bacteria, and provide a fluoride treatment.

Sources: Delta Dental, Colgate, FLIX

 

 

These 9 Foods Can Be Tough on Your Teeth

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

Hard candies are tough on teeth

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

 Ice is best for chilling, not chewing

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

Be careful of citrus

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

Coffee can be a problem

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

Don’t get stuck on sticky foods

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

If it goes crunch, it might be a bad munch

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

Switch water for soda

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

Keep a handle on alcohol consumption

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

Beware of sugary sports and energy drinks

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

 

SOURCE: American Dental Association

 

7 Ideas to Enhance Your Family’s Oral Health

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

SOURCE: WebMD

 

11 Tips to a Happy and Healthy Mouth in 2018

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

Modifying your diet can whiten your teeth

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

Toss your toothbrush regularly

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

Eat foods that “scrub”

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

Use a natural mouthwash like apple cider vinegar

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

Brush your teeth with baking soda once a week

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

Be a boss of your floss

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

Switch your gum

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

Brush at optimal times to enhance the results

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

Twice a day keeps the dentist away

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

Moderate your sugar intake

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

See your dentist regularly

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

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

 

 

12 Significant And Quirky Facts That Make Flossing Essential!

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How important is flossing in the health of your teeth? According to the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), flossing is the single most important weapon against plaque. In fact, it can be even more important than brushing (and takes less time!) when it comes to preventing tooth loss, cavities, and periodontal gum disease.

Floss removes plaque and debris that sticks to teeth and gums in between teeth, polishes tooth surfaces, and controls bad breath. By flossing your teeth daily, you increase the chance of keeping them for a lifetime and decrease the chance of getting gum disease.

Most people cite lack of time as a reason for not flossing. However, the AGD says flossing even two or three times a week has its benefits and is far better than not flossing at all.

So let’s get right down to it! Here are 12 significant facts that make flossing essential!

·        Flossing removes plaque between our teeth that our toothbrushes miss. This is something we all know, but did you know that when you don’t floss, food that sits between your teeth is actually rotting and can be a main cause for bad breath? Gross!

·        It has been thought that flossing before brushing can help the fluoride from our toothpaste better reach between our teeth.

·        In order to floss efficiently, you need to use a piece of floss that is 18 to 20 inches long.

·        Improper and irregular flossing leads to bleeding gums.

·        You should use a clean section of your floss to clean around each tooth. This will avoid transferring food and bacteria from one tooth to another.

·        There are two main types of floss: monofilament (plastic/rubber type) and multifilament (nylon/silk floss).

·        Both types of floss mentioned above come in flavors (and unflavored) such as mint, cinnamon, bubblegum and even bacon. Yes, I said bacon-flavored floss.…

·        Flossing saves you money. It plays an essential role in maintaining healthy teeth and gums. An unhealthy mouth can lead to a number of ailments and diseases, including heart disease and diabetes.

·        Seventy-three percent of Americans would rather go grocery shopping than floss!

·        Americans spend $2 billion a year on dental products—toothpaste, mouthwash, and dental floss.

·        Men floss less than women do.

·        Brushing your teeth without flossing is like only washing 70 percent of your body.

Teeth Are Always in Style!

Flossing takes up very little time in your day, but the impact of not flossing is greater to not only your teeth, but your overall health as well! Americans are living longer and keeping their own teeth, too. Yes, it is possible: with a good oral health routine and regular dental checkups, you can have your own teeth for as long as you live!

 

Sources: ModernDent.com, DeltaDentalIns.com

 

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

 

 

Mouth Problems You Shouldn’t Ignore

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Go See Your Dentist Before These Signs Become Serious

Whether it's traces of crimson on your toothbrush or that nagging sensitivity that seems never to go away, it's easy to neglect your oral health. Persistent tooth or mouth pain generally indicates a serious problem. Symptoms could include a tooth sensitive to touch or changes in your gums. Keep in mind that even if the pain does go away after a day or two, you could still have a problem and should see your dentist.

Take the time while cleaning your teeth to look at your cheeks, your tongue and underneath your tongue to spot any changes. Basically, you’re checking for anything that wasn't there before. Any changes of color, such as white or red patches that aren’t going away and are getting bigger, or lumps that have formed in places which previously were smooth, should be investigated.

 

Bad Breath

Everyone experiences stinky breath, but brushing and flossing (including brushing your tongue) should nip bad breath in the bud. What about when it doesn’t? It could be a sign of advanced gum disease, so it’s important to talk to your dentist before this oral condition ruins perfectly healthy teeth.

Most of the time, however, the biggest bad-breath culprit is your diet. Onion, garlic, and pungent spices will produce mouth odor for hours after consumption.

 

Swollen or Receding Gums

Swollen gums are a sign of gum disease. Even if you believe you have healthy teeth, swollen gums absolutely require a visit to the dentist. Your dentist or dental hygienist will be able to tell right away if you have gum disease — but you can check for swollen gums yourself by drying your gums with a napkin or a tissue and looking in the mirror. Although your swollen gums may feel fine, if they tend to bleed during brushing, they are a sign you should see your dentist right away.

 

Eroded Enamel

During dental erosion, the surface of a tooth or teeth gradually wears away. Once that happens, you are much more susceptible to cavities and other issue. Any source of acid can erode the tooth enamel of healthy teeth, including acid from citrus fruits and soda. One of the most common sources of acid in the mouth is due to gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD, a condition in which acid from the stomach comes up the esophagus, causes heartburn, and reaches the mouth.

 

Sour Taste in Your Mouth

If you frequently have a sour taste in your mouth (which is often mistaken for bad breath), it could be another sign of GERD, especially if it’s accompanied by a sore throat, chest pain, and a hoarse voice, Besides this oral condition and dental erosion, GERD can lead to other problems such as an esophageal ulcer and inflammation of the esophagus. If you suspect you have GERD, get tested and treated as needed.

 

Dry Mouth

Dry mouth is a very common oral condition, especially as you age. There are also more than 425 medications that include dry mouth as a side effect. Dry mouth can be related to issues beyond dental health. If you have chronic dry mouth, you should be concerned and talk to your dentist.

 

Loose Teeth

Loose teeth are another dental health symptom not to ignore because this may be a sign that you have gum disease. Bacteria that grow below the gum line can cause tissues and bones to break down, leading to the separation of the teeth from the gums. As more tissue and bone is destroyed, the more likely you are to lose healthy teeth as they become loose and need to be pulled.

Loose teeth may also be a sign of infection or scleroderma, a disease of the connective tissue that causes changes in the skin, blood vessels, muscles, and organs.

 

Mouth Sores

A white or red patch on the tongue or lining of the mouth is the most common sign of oral cancer. Don’t be alarmed: Mouth sores are completely common and the chance your sore signals cancer is low. To be safe, show your dentist any sores in your mouth that don’t heal after two weeks.

 

Burning Mouth

If you’re experiencing a moderate to severe scalding sensation in your mouth, lips, or tongue, it could be an oral condition called burning mouth syndrome. When it does occur, it can be caused by a number of medications, certain specific oral conditions, or other health issues, including nutritional deficiencies, fungal infections in the mouth, and hormone changes in women.

With regular dentist visits, you should be able to keep on top of any problems that might affect our mouths. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be aware of those symptoms that warrant a quicker appointment—especially for those of us who leave more time than we should between visits.

 

Sources: Every Day Health, Best Health

Soda or Pop? By Any Name, It's Trouble for Your Teeth

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Carbonated Soft Drinks Erode Tooth Enamel and Lead to Tooth Decay

It's called "pop" in the Midwest and most of Canada. It's "soda" in the Northeast. It goes by a well-known brand name in much of the South. And in Pennsylvania, “pop” and “soda” are used depending on if you live in the eastern or western part of the state. But however people say it, they're talking about something that can cause serious oral health problems – carbonated soft drinks.

Soft drinks have emerged as one of the most significant dietary sources of tooth decay, affecting people of all ages. Acids and acidic sugar byproducts in soft drinks soften tooth enamel, contributing to the formation of cavities. In extreme cases, softer enamel combined with improper brushing, grinding of the teeth or other conditions can lead to tooth loss.

Sugar-free drinks, which account for only 14 percent of all soft drink consumption, are less harmful. However, they are acidic and potentially can still cause problems.

We're Drinking More and More

Soft drink consumption in the United States has increased dramatically across all demographic groups, especially among children and teenagers. The problem is so severe that health authorities such as the American Academy of Pediatrics have begun sounding the alarm about the dangers.

 How many school age children drink soft drinks? Estimates range from one in two to more than four in five consuming at least one soft drink a day. At least one in five kids consumes a minimum of four servings a day. Larger serving sizes make the problem worse. From 6.5 ounces in the 1950s, the typical soft drink has grown to up to 20 ounces today.

 Children and adolescents aren't the only people at risk. Long-term consumption of soft drinks has a cumulative effect on tooth enamel. As people live longer, more will be likely to experience problems.

What to Do

Children, adolescents and adults can all benefit from reducing the number of soft drinks they consume, as well as from available oral care therapies. Here are some steps you can take:

  • Substitute different drinks: Stock the refrigerator with beverages containing less sugar and acid such as water, milk and fruit juice. Drink them yourself and encourage your kids to do the same.
  • Rinse with water: After consuming a soft drink, flush your mouth with water to remove vestiges of the drink that can prolong exposure of tooth enamel to acids.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste and mouth rinse: Fluoride reduces cavities and strengthens tooth enamel, so brush with a fluoride-containing toothpaste. Rinsing with a fluoride mouthwash also can help. The dentists at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs can recommend an over-the-counter mouthwash or prescribe a stronger one depending on the severity of the condition. They also can recommend a higher fluoride toothpaste.
  • Get professionally applied fluoride treatment: Your dental hygienist can apply fluoride in the form of a foam, gel or rinse. 

Soft drinks are hard on your teeth. By reducing the amount you drink, practicing good oral hygiene, and seeking help from your dentist and hygienist, you can counteract their effect and enjoy better oral health.                         

SOURCE: Colgate