Making Halloween Healthy For Your Teeth
HALLOWEEN IS ONE OF the most highly anticipated holidays of the year, and it’s almost here! This holiday sees kids, teens, and even adults consuming far more sugar than they would any other time, coming in second only to Easter. The problem with this is that sugar is the favorite food of the harmful bacteria living in our mouths, which means eating all these treats is very bad for our oral health.
Halloween Treats Versus Our Teeth
Any time we consume sugar, that bacteria in our mouths gets a big tasty meal, after which it excretes acid onto our teeth. If you’ve ever noticed an unpleasant sour taste or gritty feeling a little while after eating dessert, that’s why. The acid can do a lot of damage to our tooth enamel, because even though enamel is the hardest substance in our entire bodies, it is very vulnerable to acid erosion.
Fight Back Against The Sugar Attack
We can, of course, do things to minimize the harmful effects of sugar on our teeth. If we eat small amounts of candy throughout the day, then we aren’t giving our saliva time to neutralize the acids and wash away the sugar, so it’s actually better for our teeth to eat all the candy we want in one go.
Drinking water can help get rid of leftover sugars after eating a treat, and there are also other foods that work as natural cleaners and oral health boosters. Apples, bananas, vegetables, and even dark chocolate help scrub teeth clean and also supply important vitamins and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins C and D!
Another essential component of the battle against enamel erosion is a good brushing and flossing habit. Just make sure to wait half an hour after eating candy to brush, so that your saliva has time to neutralize all that acid first.
5 Delicious, Healthy, And Spooky Alternatives
Just because there are ways to minimize the effects of sugar on your teeth doesn’t mean it isn’t still better to choose healthier options for your spooky treats to begin with. Here are a few of our favorite options:
Colby Jack-o’-Lanterns. The cut-out jack-o’-lantern face in the bread and the yummy, calcium-rich cheese in the middle make this one a great, healthy snack!
Monster Apple Bites. Apples are full of fiber and water that help clean our teeth as we eat them, so why not make your apple slices look spooky for Halloween?
Boo-nana. This one is easy. All you need are a few chocolate chips (preferably dark chocolate) and a banana. Bananas are good for the teeth because they are loaded with potassium and magnesium, which help keep teeth and gums strong.
Spooky Spider Eggs. Eggs are great sources of vitamin D and our teeth need it to absorb calcium in order to stay strong.
Clementine Pumpkins. Simply peel the fruit and add a stem! Clementines have a lot of vitamin C, which promotes good gum health.
We Can Help You Protect Your Teeth!
We hope every member of our practice family has a great Halloween filled with sweets and scares, but oral health should always be a priority. After you finish eating all your healthy treats and brushing and flossing your teeth, another great way to protect your teeth is to bring them in for their six-month checkup! We look forward to seeing you!
Wishing all our patients a happy Halloween!
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
How A Nail Biting Habit Affects The Teeth
NAIL BITING IS A HABIT shared by between a quarter and a third of children and nearly half of teenagers. Compulsive behaviors don’t always have negative effects on a person’s physical health, but this one definitely does. In addition to leaving the nails torn and uneven and doing damage to the nail beds, nail biting can lead to a variety of oral health complications.
Nail Biting Versus Teeth and Gums
You might think that your teeth are much tougher than your fingernails, but over time, nail biting can cause significant damage to both teeth and gums. Here are some of the biggest ways this happens:
- Erosion, chipping, and cracking: the grinding friction of teeth against nails can gradually wear the enamel away, or even cause teeth to chip or crack.
- Malocclusion and gaps: biting nails doesn’t just damage the teeth, it can also cause them to move, leading to malocclusions (problems with the bite) and gaps.
- Root resorption: possibly the scariest thing nail biting can do to teeth is cause the jaw bone to reabsorb the roots, weakening them and leaving them more vulnerable to falling out. This is an even greater risk for people with wire braces.
- Gingivitis: a lot of dirt and germs get trapped under our fingernails, and when we chew on them, that all gets transferred to our mouths, which can result in gum disease.
- Bruxism: a nail biting habit can increase a person’s risk of developing a chronic teeth-grinding habit, which comes with even more oral health problems, along with headaches and soreness.
Why Does Nail Biting Happen?
If nail biting has such unpleasant consequences, then why do so many people do it? It isn’t fully understood yet, but studies have indicated that it can be an effect of anxiety, boredom, or perfectionism. Similar repetitive behaviors include skin picking and hair pulling. Often, people may not even notice themselves doing it, and this can make it much harder to stop.
Tips to Help Break the Habit
Until more is known about nail biting and what causes it, it can be difficult to know the best things to do to break the habit, but here are a few strategies that can help:
- Trim your nails regularly so you don’t have anything to bite.
- Paint your nails with bitter-tasting polish so biting becomes associated with a nasty taste.
- Get a manicure! If your nails are pretty, you’ll be more motivated to keep them that way.
- Swap the nail biting habit with a more harmless way to fidget, like silly putty or a stress ball.
- Figure out your triggers. When you know what sets off the nail biting, you can plan ahead and do something different.
- Make stopping a gradual process. Choose one nail at a time to stop biting, and maybe cover it so you physically can’t bite it. Add more fingernails to the bite ban until there aren’t any left!
We're Rooting for You!
The oral health of our patients is of course our highest priority, and that means we’re here to help you overcome habits that threaten your teeth and gums! If you need help kicking your habit, don’t hesitate to enlist ours!
We're here to help you keep your oral health on track!
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
Good Tooth Brushing Technique
BRUSHING OUR TEETH is something we can get so used to doing that we don’t really think about it, but are we doing it the right way? It can be easy to get into some bad tooth-brushing habits, and the result can be that your teeth aren’t getting cleaned properly and you could be doing damage to your gums. So let’s take a moment to go over good brushing technique.
What to Avoid When Brushing Your Teeth
A few of the things we should avoid when we brush our teeth are brushing too hard, only brushing up and down or side-to-side, and always starting in the same place. Brushing too hard can damage our enamel and our gum tissue, which is why we should also avoid hard-bristled brushes.
When we only brush up and down or side-to-side, we tend to miss the spaces between teeth, which allows plaque to build up and leads to tooth decay. Because brushing our teeth is such a routine thing to do, it can be very easy to do it the same way every time, but when we always start brushing in the same place, we tend to pay unequal attention to the first teeth we brush compared to the last. Try mixing things up so that your whole mouth can get the same level of attention!
Brushing Your Teeth the Right Way
The first rule of good brushing is one you’ve likely heard all your life: brush twice a day every day for at least two minutes. Do whatever you need to do to make brushing your teeth an unskippable part of your morning and evening routines. You could even play music so you know how long to keep brushing!
However, brushing isn’t just about quantity; it’s also about quality. For the best cleaning action, hold your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle and focus on the gum line. Use gentle circular motions to brush the outsides, insides, and chewing surfaces of every tooth. And don’t forget to brush or scrape your tongue before you’re done! Like daily flossing, tongue-scraping is another crucial step for getting rid of harmful bacteria (and it will help keep your breath fresh!).
Timing is also important. Our teeth often feel unpleasant after a meal, but as much as you want to clean them, make sure you wait at least half an hour after eating before you brush. The acids in our food and produced by oral bacteria soften our enamel right after we eat, and it takes about half an hour for our saliva to restore a neutral pH. If we brush too soon, we can actually brush away some of our enamel!
Fighting Back Against Oral Bacteria
A BATTLE IS CONSTANTLY raging inside your mouth for the fate of your teeth. The only one who can turn the tide and make sure your teeth win this battle is you.
The Defenders and the Attackers
Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body. It’s like the castle walls, protecting the softer dentin and pulp inside each tooth. Unfortunately, it is porous and vulnerable to erosion by acids.
When the enamel loses minerals to acid exposure (a process called demineralization), it weakens the teeth and leaves them more susceptible to decay. However, we can fortify that enamel by getting enough minerals and nutrients, remineralizing our teeth. This is the battle our mouths are fighting every day: demineralization versus remineralization.
The invaders in this battle are bacteria. They feed on sugar and carbs left in our mouths after a meal, and they excrete enamel-eroding acid onto our teeth. Luckily, we have a natural defense against the bacteria, and that’s our saliva. If enamel is like castle walls, then saliva is like the moat. A lot of harmful bacteria falls into this moat and gets washed away instead of being able to attack the castle walls.
To learn more about what harmful bacteria can do, check out this video:
Which Side Will you Fight On?
One thing you can do to fight back against harmful bacteria is cut back on junk food. Sugar-filled treats and drinks and other processed foods supercharge the bacteria that lead to tooth decay, but foods like apples, cheese, eggs, carrots, celery, fish, and dark leafy greens promote remineralization of your enamel. Choose your snacks with your teeth in mind!
You can also prevent demineralization by brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste. Fluoride remineralizes your enamel too, and it also reduces bacteria’s ability to produce acid.
Never Give Up! Never Surrender!
You are the most important part of the battle for your teeth, so make sure to do everything you can so that your teeth can win the fight. Your reward will be a healthy smile for life. Keep up the good work brushing, flossing, and eating a mouth-healthy diet, and don’t forget that you can always schedule a dental appointment to give your teeth’s defenses a boost!
We're grateful for our awesome patients!
What Makes Our Smiles Unique
EVERY PERSON IS BORN with their own unique smile. Some smile with all of their teeth, some only show the top row, and some don’t show their teeth at all, and a smile can come in all shapes and sizes and still be genuine. We can also end up with smiles that look a lot like our family members’ smiles even if we have very different faces. How does this happen? What gives our smiles their shapes and makes them shine?
The Structure of a Smile
Part of the way we smile is of course based on our personalities. Some people laugh easily, while others maintain an unbreakable poker face. Some people’s smiles light up their whole faces, spreading from ear to ear and changing the shape of their eyes. Others are less dramatic, even if their smiles are sincere.
Another component is our genes. We inherit facial features and even the some of the shapes of our facial muscles (which control our expressions) from our parents. We also all have unique teeth, which is why people can be identified by their dental records. Nobody else has teeth shaped and aligned exactly the way yours are!
The Role of Oral Health
Essentially, our individual smiles are one part personality, one part genetics, and one part oral health and hygiene. The color of our teeth plays a big role in the impression our smiles make, as does the health of our gums.
When we know our teeth and gums look good, it makes it easier to unleash our full smiles because we aren’t worried about how people will react. Taking good care of your teeth and gums by maintaining good oral health habits like brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits will ensure that your smile always looks its best!
Gummy and Toothy Smiles
In some cases, smiles are either very “gummy” or very “toothy.” This can happen because of the way our lips pull back over our teeth and gums, which is perfectly normal. However, some gummy smiles are the result of abnormal eruption of the teeth, leaving an undesirable tooth/gum ratio.
Likewise, some toothy smiles are the result of gum recession, where the jaw bone wears away and the gum tissue draws back, exposing the roots of the teeth. There are many options for patients with gummy or toothy smiles, including same-day laser treatments, surgical lip repositioning, braces, surgical sculpting of the gum tissues, and gum grafting.
Check out this video for a few tips on getting the most out of your smile:
What Can We do for Your Smile?
If your teeth are stopping you from sharing your smile as much as you want to, come see us. Whether the problem is overgrown or receding gums, tooth decay, or misalignment, together we can make a plan to get your smile to what you’ve always wanted it to be!
Make someone’s day by sharing your smile!
MOST PEOPLE WILL develop a total of twenty baby teeth that are gradually replaced by a total of thirty-two adult teeth. Sometimes those teeth don’t all appear, a condition called hypodontia. In even rarer cases, all the normal teeth will be present, plus at least one extra! These extra teeth are supernumerary teeth, and the condition is called hyperdontia.
Why do Extra Teeth Form?
There are two main competing theories about what causes supernumerary teeth. One possibility is that an individual tooth bud might divide abnormally and result in two teeth instead of one. Another is that extra teeth could result from hyperactivity in the dental lamina (the tissue in our jaws that forms tooth buds). Heredity might also play a role.
Supernumerary teeth can come in various forms. They might be conical (peg-shaped), tuberculate (with multiple cusps), supplemental (duplicates of normal teeth), or odontoma (a mass of dental tissue that doesn’t quite form a tooth).
Who's Most Likely to Have Them?
Hyperdontia affects far more men than it does women. One study done in Southern China showed that only 2.7 percent of children had supernumerary teeth, with a ratio of 6.5 affected boys for every 1 affected girl. They’re also more common in permanent teeth than baby teeth. Several developmental conditions increase the likelihood of having at least one extra tooth, such as cleft lip or palate and Gardner syndrome, but there’s still a lot of debate about what actually causes hyperdontia.
How Do These Teeth Affect Oral Health?
The most obvious effect of a supernumerary tooth is on the appearance of the person’s smile, but not all of the concerns are cosmetic. They often remain impacted in the gum line and can cause crowding and alignment problems for the normal series of teeth, sometimes making it harder for them to erupt. In serious cases, they can cause root resorption in the surrounding teeth.
Treatment for Hyperdontia
Sometimes, an extra tooth won’t cause any problems for the rest of the teeth, in which case it can remain where it is. If it is causing problems, however, the typical treatment is simply to extract the extra tooth or teeth so that the normal teeth will have enough room.
Let Us Take Care of You
If you or someone you know is experiencing oral health problems because of supernumerary teeth, give us a call! We’ll be happy to take a look and determine whether or not extraction is necessary. In the meantime, keep on brushing and flossing to keep your teeth healthy, no matter how many you have!
Remember to Smile! It's Contagious!
Consequences of Crooked Teeth
There are many different ways crooked, crowded, or misaligned teeth can negatively impact a person’s health and quality of life. Let’s take a look at a few of the big ones.
Difficult to Clean
When teeth overlap each other in ways they aren’t meant to, they can be much harder to clean with brushing and flossing than straight teeth. If teeth aren’t getting cleaned as effectively, then they become more vulnerable to tooth decay.
Impede Clear Speech
Underbites, severe overbites, and other teeth alignment problems can interfere with a person’s ability to speak clearly, leading to lisps and other distortions in articulation.
Interfere with Healthy Digestion
Chewing is a critical part of the digestion process. Our saliva begins to break food down on a chemical level while our teeth break it apart into more manageable pieces. Crooked teeth can make it difficult or even impossible to chew food enough, which forces the rest of the digestive system to pick up the slack. This can lead to a number of unpleasant GI consequences, and it can even make it harder to lose weight!
Can Interfere with Healthy Breathing
If your teeth don’t fit comfortably together, you might keep them apart instead of closing your jaws when resting. This can lead to mouth breathing, which has many negative health effects. The two most connected to oral health concerns are chronic bad breath and dry mouth.
Can Cause Jay Problems
If there’s something wrong with your bite, that can result in temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome. Symptoms include a clicking jaw joint, jaw pain, and frequent headaches.
Do Your Teeth Need Straightening?
Having straight teeth eliminates or greatly reduces all of these problems. This, paired with the cosmetic advantages and the boost in confidence, makes orthodontic treatment a very worthwhile investment. If you think you could benefit from orthodontic treatment, our practice can recommend a great orthodontist for you. In the meantime, keep brushing, flossing, and scheduling your regular dental appointments!
You Deserve the Best for Your Teeth!
Impress Your Friends With Dental Trivia
MOST PEOPLE OUTSIDE of teeth-related professions probably only think about their teeth when something’s wrong, like when there’s something stuck between them in the middle of a date, they’re sore from a toothache, or they’re stained after drinking coffee or juice. That’s why we thought our patients would appreciate an opportunity to think about teeth in a more fun and interesting context. So get ready, because it’s time for some dental trivia!
You Probably Didn’t Know…
These are seven of our favorite pieces of dental trivia! How many of them did you already know? If you know any cool dental facts we didn’t include in our list, feel free to share them in the comments!
- A Lifetime Of Brushing: If you brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day, that means you’re spending a whole day brushing your teeth for every year of your life! Keep up the great work!
- First Impressions: After your eyes, your smile is what people notice most about you, so make sure you’re taking care of it!
- Teeth Tattoos: It is possible to tattoo your teeth, though technically the tattoo is on a cap or crown that covers the tooth, not the tooth itself. (We probably wouldn’t recommend this one!)
- Super-healing: The mouth heals faster from injuries (like a bitten cheek or burned tongue) than any other part of the body. This is because of the ample blood supply, the simplicity of the tissues in the cheeks, tongue, and gums, and the healing properties of saliva.
- Congenitally Missing Teeth: Most of us will have 20 baby teeth and between 28 and 32 adult teeth (depending on how many wisdom teeth we have) in our lifetime, but for 3-8 percent of the population, some of those teeth might never develop at all!
- Baby Teeth: One in about 2,000 babies are born with at least one tooth already erupted! These are called natal teeth (or neonatal if they erupt within the first month).
- Ice Age Dental Fillings: Archaeologists have discovered evidence of crude dental fillings in teeth from 13,000 years ago in northern Italy!
For a few more weird dental facts, check out this video:
Let’s Take Care Of Those Teeth!
There are plenty of weird and fascinating things we can learn about teeth, but if you ever notice anything about your own teeth that strikes you as unusual, come see us. It’s always better to make sure nothing out of the ordinary is going on, and your teeth will thank you for doing so earlier rather than later.
Remember to keep brushing and flossing!
A NEW YEAR A NEW YOU!!!
When To See The Dentist
BECAUSE PREVENTION IS such a major part of good dental care, it’s critical to visit the dentist for regular checkups. In most cases, two regular dental cleanings a year will be all you need, but not always. So what are the signs that you shouldn’t wait until your next scheduled appointment to come back? For this blog post, we’ve listed the top five.
1. Aches Of Any Kind
If you’re experiencing tooth pain, that could mean a cavity has gotten to the point where the dental pulp is getting infected. Don’t tough it out thinking it’ll just go away on its own. Other types of pain you should bring to the dentist are an aching jaw and frequent headaches. These are often connected to oral health issues such as bruxism (teeth-grinding), and the dentist can help!
2. Mouth Sores And Bleeding Gums
Mouth sores usually go away on their own, but they can also be a sign of infection or disease, so it’s important to get those looked at when they appear. If you notice that you’re bleeding after brushing or flossing, it’s time to come see the dentist, particularly if you’re already using a soft-bristled toothbrush. Bleeding gums are one of the first symptoms of gum disease, so don’t ignore the signs!
3. Previous Dental Work
If you’ve had dental work done in the past and there’s a problem with it now, don’t wait until a regular appointment to get that fixed, because it will likely get worse. A cracked or chipped crown needs to be repaired quickly so that infection doesn’t set in. Worn-out fillings need to be replaced to prevent bacteria from thriving in the gaps between the tooth and the filling.
4. Serious Medical Concerns
Serious conditions such as diabetes, eating disorders, and gum disease affect our oral health more than we realize, and sometimes the treatments have negative impacts too. Many medications cause dry mouth, which can seriously jeopardize oral health. That’s why if you are diagnosed with a chronic disease and/or have new medications prescribed to you, your dentist needs to know about it.
5. Bad Breath
Few things are as mortifying as being in a social situation and realizing you have bad breath, but did you know that bad breath is sometimes a symptom of gum disease or other health problems? If you find yourself having an unusually hard time keeping your breath minty fresh, it’s a good idea to visit the dentist so we can discover the underlying cause.
Keep Up Your Regular Visits!
While we hope you come to see us right away if you notice any of these signs, we want to reemphasize the importance of scheduling regular appointments. Most dental health problems appear gradually, and an appointment every six months is enough to catch these problems before they become serious.
Thank you for trusting in us to take care of all your dental concerns!
Alternative Ways To Get Calcium In Your Diet
CALCIUM AND MILK go together like fluoride and toothpaste. Without the former, it can be hard to find the latter. And, like fluoride, calcium is essential to our oral health.
How Calcium Benefits Your Oral Health
We all know that calcium is the main component of our teeth and jaw bones, but our mouths are also made up of gum tissue, muscles, nerves, and blood vessels. Calcium is important for these things as well because it helps them function as they should.
How Much Calcium Do We Need?
The range of calcium intake recommended for the average person on a daily basis is between 1000-1300mg from ages four to 70+ yrs. Children younger than four need about 700mg or less. The numbers vary based on gender and age.
Getting less than 500mg of calcium a day puts you at greater risk of developing gum disease, and the scary thing is that most people don’t meet their daily recommendation. Take a look at the foods you’re eating and make sure you’re including at least 800mg of daily calcium to keep your teeth and oral health in great shape!
Non-dairy Calcium Sources
Most people can get their daily calcium from milk and other dairy products, but some don’t have that option. Luckily, there are many alternative sources of this crucial mineral, and we’ve made a list of them to help out our dairy-averse patients.
- Canned fish with the bones in. The bones of small, canned fish are an excellent source of calcium, and they’re soft enough to eat! It’s up to you whether you eat them straight from the can or mix them into a larger meal.
- Dark leafy greens. Starting at 180mg and reaching about 350mg, kale, spinach and collard greens are the three leafy greens with the highest calcium content.
- Beans and black-eyed peas. Legumes such as beans and black-eyed peas contain an impressive amount of calcium, with 350mg to 515mg in just one cup!
- Fortified drinks. Fortified orange juice contains around 1500mg and soy milk has 340mg per cup.
- Tofu. Most tofu has added calcium, giving it about 860mg per half cup, but you’ll still get between 100-200mg per serving with no calcium added!
- Broccoli and broccoli rabe. Broccoli rabe (rob) has about 80mg of calcium per 2/3-cup serving and broccoli has about 100mg per 2cup serving.
- Edamame. With 98mg in just one cup of cooked edamame, it’s a good source of calcium as well as protein!
- Almonds. Out of all the nuts, almonds contain the highest level of calcium, with 8% of the recommended daily intake in a single ounce.
- Dried Figs. Figs have a sweet, dessert-like flavor, so eating the half cup it takes to get the calcium from them will feel like indulging in a treat!
We Can Help
If you think you may be prone to gum disease or have further questions about how you can improve your daily calcium intake, we’d love to talk to you about it, so schedule a visit with us today!
We love helping our patients keep their teeth healthy and strong!
How Diabetes Affects Oral Health
THE AMERICAN DIABETES ASSOCIATION estimates that 23.1 million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes (whether it be type 1, type 2, or gestational). At least another 7 million remain undiagnosed, and that doesn’t include the additional millions who are considered pre-diabetic. But what does diabetes have to do with oral health? Unfortunately, quite a lot.
Diabetes And Gum Disease
Diabetes is a chronic disease that either means the pancreas doesn’t produce insulin (type 1) or that the body doesn’t use it effectively (type 2 and gestational), both of which cause elevated blood glucose. The most serious impact elevated blood glucose has on oral health is that it simultaneously weakens the immune system and provides more food for the bacteria that attack teeth and gums.
This two-pronged attack is why 22% of diabetics also have gum disease, whether in the early stages of inflammation (gingivitis) or in the advanced stages (periodontitis) that threaten the teeth, gums, and supporting bone. The bacteria that causes gum disease can also travel through the bloodstream and make it even harder to regulate blood sugar.
In addition to increasing the risk of gingivitis and periodontitis, uncontrolled diabetes can also lead to a variety of other oral health problems, such as:
• Dry mouth
• Burning mouth syndrome
• Impaired or slower healing
• Increased severity and frequency of infections
• Fungal infections
• Salivary gland enlargement
What You Can Do
Now for the good news: even with diabetes, good oral health is within reach. Even better: keeping your teeth and gums healthy will also make the diabetes easier to manage! Make sure to brush twice a day for two minutes with a soft-bristled brush and fluoride toothpaste, floss daily or use a water flosser or interdental brush, use a non-alcoholic mouthwash, and don’t smoke. Carefully regulating your sugar intake is a major factor as well.
The Dentist’s Role
If you’ve been diagnosed with diabetes, the standard two dental exams per year may not be enough. To stay on the safe side, we recommend that you increase the number of yearly visits to three or four. It is also crucial for us to know how you and your doctor are working together to get it under control. Likewise, your doctor needs to know how we are working with you to keep your teeth and gums healthy.
We can help you win the fight for your dental health!
Cooking For A Happy, Healthy Sweet Tooth
MOST OF US find ourselves craving something sweet every once in a while—or perhaps more often than that! Unfortunately, as good as sweet treats taste, they can have a big impact on our dental health.
Sugar And Your Teeth
There are many ways that sugar is bad for our overall health, but it’s also specifically bad for our teeth. Our mouths are diverse microbiomes containing dozens of species of bacteria, both harmful and beneficial, that can reproduce multiple times per day. Sugar may taste good to us, but harmful bacteria love it. They eat the sugar that sticks to our teeth and excrete acid that dissolves tooth enamel, leading to tooth decay.
Brushing twice a day and flossing once a day is usually enough to keep the bacteria populations under control, but your teeth will thank your for avoiding excess sugar. So how can we satisfy a sweet tooth craving without also satisfying the cravings of millions of harmful bacteria? By cooking sugar-free desserts, of course!
Healthier Sweet Options
There are a few ways you can cut down on sugar without cutting down on sweets when you’re cooking. Some of them can be pricey, so your budget might play a role in determining which one you use.
Rebaudioside A is a polyol or sugar alcohol produced by Stevia, a leafy South American plant. The FDA has approved rebaudioside A as a safe food additive, which means we can cook with it. But what makes it better for our teeth than sugar? Well, all those hungry bacteria in our mouths can’t digest sugar alcohols. We get to enjoy the sweet taste, but they don’t! The only downside is that it can leave a bitter aftertaste if you use too much. Since you only need one teaspoon to match the sweetness of a whole cup of sugar, it’s easy to overdo it.
Xylitol and Erythritol
Xylitol and erythritol are two more sugar alcohols that serve as excellent sweeteners. You may be familiar with xylitol, because that’s what sweetens sugar-free gum. While it’s even better for your teeth than other sugar alcohols–which is why dentists recommend it–it might not be the best to cook with, as it can cause digestive discomfort if you eat too much of it. Erythritol doesn’t have that drawback, but it can be pretty expensive.
Fruit is another great sugar substitute. If you’d rather work with ingredients you already know, unsweetened applesauce, bananas, dates, and figs are four great replacements for table sugar that you can use in many recipes. You’ll end up with desserts that are still sweet and moist, but which contain far less sugar, which your teeth will appreciate. Fruits are sweet because they contain fructose, a type of sugar, but you’ll use less sugar overall by using pureed fruit instead of table sugar.
Need some extra inspiration for a sugar-free treat? Check out this sugar-free cheesecake recipe below!
Keep Up With Your Oral Health Basics
Even if you completely cut out all foods that are bad for your teeth out of your diet, it’s still crucial to maintain good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day, floss once a day, and come see us for a cleaning appointment every six months! Be sure to bring your favorite sugar-free dessert recipes the next time you come!
Your Dental Health Is Our First Priority!
EVERYONE KNOWS that snack time is one of the best times of the day! Getting a tasty treat in the middle of the workday or grabbing a snack after school can be just the pick-me-up you need to tackle the rest of your day with a smile.
But before you reach for the chips or chocolates, we have a few smile-friendly suggestions!
Eat More Of These
Leafy Greens: Dark, leafy greens like kale, spinach, and collard greens have calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin B2, and magnesium; all essential for healthy teeth and gums.
Cheese, Milk, and Yogurt: Dairy is a delicious source of calcium, which supports strong bones and teeth.
Kiwi, Oranges, And Other Vitamin-C-Rich Foods: Vitamin C boosts your body’s ability to fight infection that causes gum disease.
Eat Less Of These
Soda And Energy Drinks: These acidic, sugary drinks attack and gradually deteriorate your protective tooth enamel.
Sticky Candy, Gummies, And Dried Fruit: These foods stick in your teeth and continue to bathe your teeth in sugar for hours after eating.
Highly Processed Carbs: This includes crackers, white bread, and pastries, which feed decay-causing bacteria in your mouth.
WANT TO HELP your kids get in the habit of brushing their teeth for two minutes twice a day? Try playing a few of these family friendly songs to help make tooth brushing fun!
Smile-Friendly After School Snacks
AS MANY PARENTS KNOW when your child comes home from school, they often run straight for the pantry!
We understand that kids can be a bit hungry after a long day in the classroom and we want to help you provide snacks that won’t only fill their bellies, but will benefit their smile as well!
Try These Smile-Friendly Snacks!
Consuming a lot of starchy and sugary treats in the afternoon can do a number on a child’s teeth—not to mention ruin their appetite for dinner! Sticky, sugary snacks can adhere to your child’s teeth for long periods of time, potentially causing harmful cavities. In order to avoid snack-induced cavities and other oral health concerns, try these ideas instead:
Leafy Greens and Fresh Veggies
Dark, leafy greens like kale, spinach, and collard greens have calcium, vitamin A, vitamin B2, and magnesium–all essential for healthy teeth and gums. Veggies like broccoli and celery are great too! In addition to being rich in vitamins, broccoli has been shown to create an acid-resistant teeth “shield.” As for celery, because of its fibrous material, it massages gums, cleans teeth, and encourages saliva production—making it a natural tooth scrubber!
If your kids like a little crunch in their snack, you could even try making homemade veggie chips! You can use anything from kale and spinach to sweet potatoes and carrots. Simply mix your veggies with enough olive oil to coat them, add any spices you’d like (garlic or pepper is always good!), and bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes, flip your veggies, and then bake until crispy!
Cheese, Milk, and Yogurt
Dairy is the go-to dental snack for a reason! Few other foods give such a great boost of calcium. Cheese and yogurt even help cut acidity, helping protect your child’s teeth from erosion caused by acidic fruit juices.
If your child doesn’t just want plain yogurt, fruit and yogurt parfaits are a great option to add some flavor and healthy vitamins to their snack.
Fruit High in Vitamin C
A lack of vitamin C can break down the collagen network in our gums, making them tender and more susceptible to bacteria and gum disease. Citrus fruits such as oranges, grapefruit and kiwi are great sources of Vitamin C.
To make their citrus snack fun, you can make fun kabobs with some citrus, berries, and some of their favorite cheeses.
If you’d like some healthy and creative school lunch ideas, check out these tips from Martha Stewart!
Thank you for your trust in our practice!
February Is Children’s Dental Health Month
THE CDC REPORTS THAT 1 in 5 children (between ages 5 and 11) in the US have untreated tooth decay. Not only should tooth decay be treated in regular dental appointments, it should be prevented! Tooth decay is 100 percent preventable with effective personal care and regular dental cleanings.
In honor of Children’s Dental Health Month, we’re spreading the word about children’s dental health.
YOU Can Help Little Ones Have Healthier Smiles!
1. Encourage them to brush for two full minutes: Pick a song about two minutes long and sing it to them during brushing time.
2. Set reminders to brush twice a day: Brushing after breakfast and just before bed are the best times for preventing bacteria growth from food.
3. Show them flossing is fun, not harmful: Be gentle at first when doing it for them. A bad experience can stop them from flossing on their own.
4. Be persistent: Don’t let fussy children off the hook. Be motivating! Kids may gladly brush for a sticker or star if you make it an activity.
5. Set their first dental appointment before age 1: Having positive dental experiences early will make dental visits easier and less frightening when older.
6. Help Us Spread The Word!
7. Share this message with your friends and family, and especially with the children in your life. If you have any questions about children’s dental health, don’t hesitate to ask us!
4 Tips For A Younger Looking Smile
THERE ARE COUNTLESS methods we use to try and turn back the clock on our appearance. Whether it’s hip wardrobes and hairstyles or costly cosmetic surgeries, people go to great lengths to recapture the look and feeling of their youth.
Despite all of these anti-aging fads and gimmicks, studies show your smile can do more to make you look younger than anything else!
Good Oral Hygiene Keeps Your Smile Looking Younger, Longer
The simplest thing you can do to keep Father Time at bay is to practice good oral hygiene habits. Brushing twice a day and flossing regularly promotes healthy teeth and gums and keeps your smile looking and feeling clean. If we ignore these simple habits, we put our smiles at risk of harmful bacteria which can lead to unsightly effects such as:
• Tooth discoloration or tooth loss,
• And periodontal disease.
Maintaining good oral health throughout your life doesn’t just preserve the appearance of your smile, but it can preserve your overall health too. Bleeding gums caused by periodontal disease can allow bacteria from your mouth to enter your bloodstream and affect other parts of the body. Research suggests gum disease can increase our risk for serious health problems, including…
• Endocarditis and cardiovascular disease
• Alzheimer’s Disease
For a few tips on how to floss properly to fight off that harmful bacteria, check out the video below!
Brighten Your Smile With Professional Tooth Whitening
Even when you take good care of your teeth, over time they naturally yellow. Micro-fractures, thinning enamel, and built-up stains all make your teeth look duller and older. But, that can be changed with tooth whitening!
There are several tooth whitening solutions, each with their own unique benefits. From over the counter whitening strips to in-office whitening treatments, we can help you decide which whitening solution is best for your smile.
Cosmetic Dentistry Can Give You The Look You Want
Whether you need just few touch-ups or would like an amazing dental makeover, cosmetic dentistry can provide exactly the look you want. Cosmetic dentistry has both therapeutic and aesthetic benefits. Treatment can repair your teeth and correct your bite, and at the same time give you the gorgeous smile you’ve always wanted!
Be Confident In Your Smile
One of the best ways to appear more youthful is to smile more! This can start a wonderful cycle too! Smiling more can actually make you happier, and make you want to smile more.
We love our patients and love seeing your bright shining smiles each day. If you have any questions about how we can give you a healthier, more beautiful smile, give us a call and set an appointment to visit our practice or let us know in the comments below!
Thank you for brightening our day.