happy family at dinner

Healthy Foods for Healthy Teeth

Everyone knows the secret to healthy teeth and gums is brushing and flossing every day – but did you know the nutrition in your diet can also play an important role in your dental health?

When most people hear the word “diet,” they think about losing weight. But a healthy diet is about so much more! Good nutrition can lead to better moods, more restful sleep, getting sick less often, staying active when you’re older, and ultimately living longer.

What is nutrition?

Good nutrition means getting the right amount of nutrients from the foods you eat. The basic nutrients we get from food are carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins and minerals. Nutrients are very influential in the human body.

Nutrients provide our bodies with energy. When you count the calories on the box of cereal or a fast food menu, you’re counting energy. Your body needs calories to run and jump, but also to perform basic functions like breathing and pumping blood.

They build and maintain tissues, organs, bones and teeth. Proteins are present in every cell of your body and help fight off infections. Fats are like a cushions for your cells. And minerals are what make your bones strong.

Nutrients help regulate necessary body functions. Good nutrition leads to healthy temperature and metabolism regulation, lower blood pressure and better organ function.

Which nutrients are good for my teeth?

Calcium. 99% of the calcium in your body is in bones. Calcium keeps your tooth enamel strong, which can prevent decay. Most people don’t get enough calcium in their diets, which can lead to health issues like osteoporosis later in life.

Vitamin D. Often known as the sunshine vitamin, Vitamin D is generally obtained through direct sunlight. So in the winter months, a lot of people lose out on this vitamin – which is a shame because vitamin D makes you happy! It is also important in helping your bones and teeth absorb all the calcium they need.

Vitamin C. If you want healthy gums, be sure you’re getting enough Vitamin C! Without enough of it, the tissues holding teeth securely in place weaken, teeth can become loose, gums can bleed, and gum disease could develop.

Antioxidants. Did you know you already have thousands of these things in your body right now? Antioxidants naturally exist in our bodies as well as fruits, vegetables, coffee, tea, wine, and chocolate. They fight off compounds called oxidants, which are found in air pollution, cigarettes and alcohol. If you have too many oxidants in your body, it can cause cancer – so getting plenty of antioxidants will help you stay healthy longer!

Probiotics. You also have thousands of these tiny organisms swimming in your stomach too! Probiotics are healthy bacteria that benefit your digestive system.

Which foods should I eat?

Too often we hear what foods we should stay away from, like bacon, popcorn, soda, pizza and candy. But almost anything you eat is okay in moderation, especially if you have a great oral hygiene routine.

If you have a sweet tooth or love fast food, you might want to schedule a visit with your family doctor to talk about your specific health needs. But there are plenty of delicious foods you can add to your diet today that will help you have healthy teeth, while improving your overall health!

 

Blueberries

Blueberries are scattered on a wooden table

What’s inside: Antioxidants, Fiber, Vitamin C & Polyphenols

Why blueberries are good for your teeth: Blueberries have more antioxidants than any other fruit, which boost your immune system and help prevent gum disease. A cup of blueberries contains about 25% of the amount of Vitamin C you need each day and 14% of recommended fiber. They also contain polyphenols – beneficial acids that defend teeth against harmful bacteria.

 

Cheese

Different types of cheese on a wooden cutting board. Dairy products. Milk processing. Diet food

What’s inside: Calcium, Protein, Vitamin B12

Why cheese is good for your teeth: Calcium found in cheese strengthens bones and teeth. Cheese also prevents plaque buildup by lowering the acidity in your mouth and might even prevent cavities. If you’re a fan of harder cheese like Cheddar, Provolone or Colby, you’re in luck – chewing produces lots of saliva, which produces helpful bacteria that naturally clean the mouth.

 

Yogurt

Yogurt in bowl with spoon on wooden background, top view

What’s inside: Probiotics, Protein & Calcium

Why yogurt is good for your teeth: Probiotics found in yogurt may help slow the growth of cavity-causing bacteria. And the sugar-free variety like Greek yogurt is perfect for balancing the pH levels, making it difficult for harmful bacteria to live in your mouth! Yogurt is also an excellent source of calcium, so this delicious snack just about does it all – strengthens teeth, cleans your mouth and fights cavities.

 

Nuts

assorted nuts

What’s inside: Calcium, Fiber & Vitamin D

Why nuts are good for your teeth: Nuts are a wonderful source of healthy fats and protein, and different types contain different benefits. So it’s not wrong to indulge in that nut mix as a healthy snack option. Walnuts are probably the most nutrient-rich nut, with fiber, folic acid, iron, thiamine, magnesium, iron, niacin, vitamin E, vitamin B6, potassium and zinc. Cashews. almonds and brazil nuts are great at stimulating saliva glands, which help to clean your mouth naturally and prevent tooth decay.

 

Fish

Raw salmon fillet and ingredients for cooking in a rustic style. Top view

What’s inside: Vitamin D, Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Why fish is good for your teeth: Omega-3 Fatty Acids are excellent at reducing inflammation, and they’ve been linked to fighting arthritis, cancer, allergies, asthma, Crohn’s disease, diabetes and periodontal disease.

Yams or Sweet Potatoes

Raw sweet potatoes on wooden background closeup

What’s inside: Vitamin C, Vitamin A, Fiber & Potassium

Why sweet potatoes are good for your teeth: Yams and sweet potatoes are often interchangeable in recipes and can be prepared a lot of different ways — some of them more healthy than others. But at the heart of every yam or sweet potato dish is a vitamin-packed starch that is low in fat and high in nutritional value. Great at regulating blood sugar, their anti-inflammatory properties can help prevent periodontal disease. Healthy doses of Thiamine and Niacin in a balanced diet can decrease tooth decay. And Vitamin A promotes saliva production, which is crucial for cleaning away destructive bacteria and food particles from between teeth and gums.

 

Dark chocolate with cocoa on wooden table

Dark chocolate is good for your teeth.

We love dark chocolate. Whether it’s Valentine’s Day, Halloween or just an ordinary Tuesday, it seems to make everything better. But dark chocolate doesn’t just make us happy because it tastes great.

This delicious treat is one of the most complex foods we know and contains over 300 natural chemicals, including one called phenylethylamine, which arouses similar feelings to those we feel while we’re in love.

So when we say we love dark chocolate, it’s because we really might be in love with it!

Is dark chocolate healthy?

Short answer: Absolutely.

Dark chocolate is an antioxidant-rich superfood. It can improve your mood, reduce your risk of heart disease and may even help prevent cancer.

Dark chocolate may even make you smarter. One study found that eating dark chocolate every day can increase blood flow to your brain and help with cognitive thinking as you age. And we like any study that encourages us to eat more chocolate!

The best news of all, though, is that dark chocolate can help you lose weight, as long as you only eat 1-2 ounces, or 6-8 grams, each day.

So I can eat half a bar of dark chocolate every day?

We think you should talk that one over with your family doctor first. But according to everything we can find, it is perfectly healthy to eat raw cacao nibs, 1-2 ounces of an organic dark chocolate, or even half a dark chocolate candy bar you’d find at a gas station every day.

As always, we recommend you floss after and rinse with mouthwash – just to keep your smile free of leftover sugars that can stick to your teeth.

Is dark chocolate better than fluoride?

New studies show that dark chocolate is effective at fighting cavities, plaque and tooth decay.

Dark chocolate is a good source of polyphenols, natural chemicals that can limit oral bacteria. They are also able to neutralize microorganisms that cause bad breath and prevent some bacteria from turning sugar and starches into acid, which love to wreck havoc on your teeth.

Antioxidants in dark chocolate have been shown to fight periodontal disease. And research suggests it might be better at fighting tooth decay than fluoride. There’s also a compound found in chocolate called CBH that could be used in mouthwashes and toothpaste someday.

Does that mean I can brush my teeth with chocolate?

Please don’t.

Is milk chocolate good for my teeth?

Short answer: No.

If you’re used to eating milk chocolate or other artificial chocolates, it’s time to put your foot down and shout, “It’s dark or nothing!” Because in reality, it’s cacao that has so many benefits, and dark chocolate is 70% cacao.

Milk chocolate contains milk and extra sugar to add sweetness and lower the cost of production. So some bars of milk chocolate contain as little as only 10% cacao.

So let’s stick to the real thing. You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to find a bar of chocolate with around 70% cacao. And enjoy your new nightly tradition. And why not join us as we say it just one more time…

WE LOVE DARK CHOCOLATE!

Man looking through a magnifying glass

Bleachorexia & The Quest For Whiter Teeth

Teeth whitening is a billion-dollar industry. In 2016 alone, Americans spent more than $1.4 billion on over-the-counter teeth whitening products. And with the never-ending deluge of ‘grams, snaps and tabloids reminding us that our Hollywood idols have impossibly white smiles, this trend isn’t going anywhere. Some dentists have even taken to giving the obsessive quest for whiter teeth its own name – Bleachorexia.

History of Teeth Whitening

Even though whitening strips and bleach trays have only been around for 30 years, the quest for whiter teeth has been going on for millennia. In ancient Egypt, white teeth were a sign of wealth so they’d use twigs to apply a paste of wine vinegar and ground pumice stone to their teeth. Think that sounds gross? The Romans used urine to whiten theirs! In the Middle Ages, barbers acted as surgeons and dentists too, and they’d actually file teeth down before putting nitric acid on them!

Thankfully those days are behind us. Since the 1980s, dentists have been perfecting the art of whitening teeth with in-office whitening treatments and take-home whitening gels. But patients are often concerned with the cost of these treatments and will turn to inexpensive, over-the-counter alternatives which unfortunately—without the expert advice of a dentist or hygienist—can lead to some unintended dental disasters.

Dangers of Over-the-Counter Teeth Whitening

The problem with over-the-counter bleaching products is that they are not regulated by the FDA, and many people will leave trays on too long or use them too often. Using bleaching trays too often really does more harm than good because over-bleaching can remove the protective layer of your teeth called enamel. Ironically enough, teeth with less enamel are not only weaker and prone to tooth decay – they will also appear more yellow in color!

Bleaching fears are why many people turn to whitening toothpaste which—like all toothpastes—is abrasive. Toothpaste abrasiveness can be measured by its relative dentin abrasion (RDA) value, but these values are rarely printed on packaging. We always recommend talking to your dentist about which toothpaste is right for your teeth, but if you’re curious about the RDA of your favorite brand, there are many charts available online. The common belief is that toothpastes under 150 RDA are best for your teeth.

Remember that whitening products can make teeth more sensitive, as well as harm gum tissue, tooth nerves, and tooth pulp which can result in mild discomfort or severe pain. If you notice after home treatments that you have bleeding gums, extra sensitivity or discoloration, your best bet is to stop immediately and schedule a checkup with your dentist. Experts say the negative effects can be reversed, but sometimes caps and veneers will be needed to protect over-bleached teeth.

Teeth Whitening Tips

Teeth whitening, especially in-office whitening or at-home whitening gel, is very safe and effective in moderation. And our practices offer a variety of payment options to help you achieve the smile of your dreams. If you’re ready to whiten, we’ve got some tips that will help you do it right.

  1. Consult your dentist first. We understand that teeth whitening gum or inexpensive, store-bought bleaching trays might be easier on your bank account than a trip to the dentist. But in-office teeth whitening or at-home whitening gels are much safer and more effective than anything you can buy at the store. The whitening gel used by dentists is designed to absorb into teeth on the microscopic level through your naturally porous enamel layer and be retained by the tooth at the level of the dentin, where the actual color of the tooth is determined. Home kits don’t follow the same process,  and their active ingredients are generally combinations of hydrogen peroxide and/or varieties of bleach (to chemically remove stains and whiten the enamel) or abrasive pastes (to grind the stained layer of enamel off the tooth).
  2. Wait 6 months between treatments. As we’ve said, excessive brushing and over-bleaching can remove enamel and hurt your teeth over time. If you choose to use over-the-counter whitening products, please follow directions and consult your dentist about which products are best for you.
  3. Buy brand names you can trust and be skeptical of home remedies. Remember the old adage, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” Crest, Colgate and other big names in oral care have been doing this a long time whereas bloggers and online retailers have less of an obligation to protect consumers. Use your best judgment and at least talk to your dentist before trying popular DIY whitening ideas like coconut oil pulling, brushing with hydrogen peroxide or rubbing apple cider vinegar on your teeth.
  4. Take care of your overall health. Acidic foods like pickles and citrus fruits can wear down enamel. And an unhealthy diet can contribute to unhealthy teeth and gums. So if you’re interested in a brighter smile, invest some time in your overall health. Drink water. Don’t smoke. Get some exercise. And don’t forget to floss. Because—believe it or not—flossing cleans more surface area of your teeth than brushing does.
  5. Invest in an electric toothbrush (and a water flosser too). For best results, we recommend you take the leap into the 21st century and invest in an electric toothbrush and water flosser, which have both been shown to improve oral health. Our practices recommend Sonicare toothbrushes and WaterPik flossers, and we offer discounts to our patients. All you have to do is ask!
Diabetes and Oral Health

Diabetes and Oral Health

Diabetes can cause serious tooth and gum problems. 

Diabetes affects 1 in 10 people in the United States and can lead to vision loss, kidney damage, high blood pressure and problems with feet and hands. People with diabetes are also far more at risk for periodontal disease than the general population, and experience almost 3 times the rate of tooth and gum problems. Research suggests that diabetes is the primary systemic risk factor for periodontal disease.

People with diabetes are often aware of the importance of podiatric (foot) and opthalmic (vision) screenings, but many do not realize the two-way relationship between oral health and diabetes. Tooth loss, for example, is up to two times more frequent in people with diabetes than non-diabetics. Periodontal disease can affect insulin sensitivity, lead to unhealthy blood sugar levels and damage the bone and gum that hold your teeth in place.

So if you have diabetes, paying special attention to your oral health can not only improve your quality of life and overall health, but it can also save you money. Statistics show that receiving dental care reduces average medical costs by about $2800 per year.

Dental Tips for People with Diabetes

The good news is that you can keep your teeth and gums healthy. By following our simple tips, you can help prevent some serious problems in your mouth.

  1. Take control of your blood glucose. Develop a healthy eating plan and get regular exercise if you’re able. Try to eat consistently. Focus your attention on carbs, portion control, and eating lots of fiber and non-starchy vegetables.
  2. Brush, floss, rinse and chew. We call these the Daily 4. Brush your teeth for two minutes two times daily. Floss your teeth before bed. Rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash after meals. And chew gum to help your mouth produce helpful bacteria that attack plaque.
  3. Visit your dentist for routine checkups. Consider all the medical professionals in your life a kind of health management team. Start a conversation with your dentist about your diabetes and any symptoms you’re experiencing. Speak with your doctor about your oral health. Remember that health is holistic and there are many connections between your oral health and the rest of your body.
  4. Quit smoking. You can watch one of those ads here.If you’re still smoking, it’s time to stop. We know it’s difficult, but the evidence against smoking is inarguable. In fact, a federal court has ordered all major tobacco companies to begin running advertising over the next year that admits they made cigarettes more addictive and lied about the health risks associated with smoking.
  5. Talk with a diabetes educator. If you’re worried you’re not doing the best you can to manage your diabetes, you might want to consider meeting with a diabetes educator. As a member of your healthcare team, a diabetes educator makes managing your diabetes easier. They work with you to develop a plan to stay healthy, and give you the tools and ongoing support to make that plan a regular part of your life. You can find a diabetes educator near you at diabeteseducator.org.

 

Symptoms of Gum Disease, Gingivitis and Periodontitis

Since gum disease is often painless, you may not even know you have it until it becomes serious.

So if you have diabetes and want to monitor your oral health for the best results, watch out for the following symptoms. If you think you are experiencing any of these, schedule a conversation with your dentist to evaluate your gum health. Your problems may only be minor, but

  1. Swollen or tender gums
  2. Gums that easily bleed while brushing and flossing
  3. Receding gum line
  4. Difficulty chewing
  5. Chronic bad breath or bad taste in your mouth
  6. A buildup of pus between teeth and gums
  7. Loose teeth or teeth that are drifting apart

 
Taking control of your oral health can help you manage or prevent diabetes. In addition to following our tips, regular conversations with your dentist about your overall health and symptoms can help them provide the best care for your future. If you’re diabetic or experiencing any of these symptoms, we’re always just a phone call away!

Halloween celebration concept with candy corn and jack o lantern cup on wooden table.

The Worst Halloween Candy For Your Teeth

Binge-eating a pillowcase full of peanut butter cups and candy corn while you’re dressed as Wonder Woman is kind of the point of Halloween, isn’t it? But we all know that candy isn’t the healthiest snack on the block – even if you promise to brush and floss when you finally finish stuffing your face.

Sadly, the only candy out there that doesn’t contribute to tooth decay and cavities is probably sugar-free gum. But you’re not knocking on your neighbors’ doors in search of chewing gum, are you? Learn more about the negative effects your favorite candy can have on your teeth or—if you’re impatient—scroll to the bottom of the page to find out the worst!

Closeup of chocolate,peanut and caramel bar isolated on white with clipping path

Chocolate

Examples: Hershey Bar, 3 Musketeers, M&Ms & Peanut Butter Cups

If you’re a chocoholic, you’re in luck. As long as you’re eating a simple bar of chocolate without caramel or many other ingredients, you’re getting a snack that will wash off your teeth fairly easily. Chocolate, especially dark chocolate, even has some health benefits! It’s an iron-packed source of antioxidants that may improve blood flow, lower blood pressure and the risk of cardiovascular disease, and improve brain function.

Chocolate is probably the best candy for your teeth. But remember, moderation is the goal here. Too much of anything is bad for you.

Sour candy isolated on a white background

Sour Candy

Examples: Sour Patch Kids, Warheads, SweeTarts & Pixie Stix

Sour candy has a higher acidic content than other types of candy. It’s probably no surprise to you, but eating something like Pixie Stix–which are nothing more than flavored sugar you don’t even have to chew–doesn’t provide any nutritional value and can lead to cavities in addition to blood sugar issues.

If you’re going to indulge with sour candies, try rinsing with a glass of water afterward to wash away the cavity-causing acidity contained in these mouth-puckering bites.

Lollipops in a variety of colors isolated on a white background

Hard Candy

Examples: Jolly Ranchers, Runts, Lemon Heads & Lifesavers

Hard candy like lollipops and jawbreakers is just as bad for you as sour candy, and for many of the same reasons. Because we often suck on hard candy to get it to dissolve, it is in our mouths much longer than other Halloween candy. This just leaves more time for sugars to attack and break down tooth enamel.

If hard candy is a habit for you, we don’t have a lot of good news to share. Try switching to sugar-free gum when you get that urge. And of course remember to rinse after you’re finished with hard candy, even if it’s just tap water.

Gummy bears

Gummy and Chewy Candies

Examples: Gummy Bears, Swedish Fish, Bit-O-Honey & Mary Janes

Like we mentioned above, about the only candy you really want to be chewing on is sugar-free gum. The mixture of sugar and gelatin in gummy bears and worms is very acidic and will wear down tooth enamel, which can lead to exposed nerves and sensitive teeth.

Hey. We love Haribo Gold Bears just as much as the next person, but let’s try and limit ourselves to one bag a week. We can live with that, right? Hopefully. Maybe. Let’s just say we’ll give it a shot.

Saltwater taffy on a white backgroundTaffy or Caramel

Examples: Caramel Chews, Saltwater Taffy & Riesen

The worst halloween candy for your teeth is a tie between taffy and caramel. These bite-sized, sticky morsels of pure sugar get trapped in the grooves of your teeth and are more difficult to rinse away with salvia or water than the average candy. When sugar like what’s inside taffy or caramel gets stuck to teeth, it creates excess bacteria in your mouth which allows acids to thrive and develop into tooth decay. Caramel also contains small amounts of saturated fat, which increases your risk of heart disease.

The worst part of very sticky Halloween candies is that they can pull out fillings, bridges or braces! If you’ve got an orthodontic appliance or fillings, it is best to just stay away entirely.

 

Oral Care Tips for Healthy Aging

Oral Care Tips for Healthy Aging

Growing older often means facing new and unexpected health challenges. Knee pain, weight gain, vision and hearing problems – these are all normal side effects of aging. But there’s a misconception that tooth loss is in inevitable, and that’s just not true.

Depending on lifestyle and genetics, some people keep their natural teeth their whole lives. Others manage with only a few implants, crowns or a bridge. But if you take care of your teeth and gums throughout your life, you might be able to avoid complicated health issues down the road.

Why Oral Health Matters at Every Age

When people think of a healthy smile, they often think of straight or white teeth. But good oral health involves much more than a year in braces or the occasional teeth whitening.

Your mouth basically acts as a window to your overall health. Links have been found between cardiovascular disease, osteoporosis and diabetes. These diseases can manifest as gum inflammation, tooth loss or sores. Women especially should pay close attention to their gum health during pregnancy – as periodontitis has been linked with premature birth and low birth weight.

Teeth become less sensitive and more susceptible to tooth decay as you age. Following an oral care routine while improving other habits can not only improve your quality of life, but help you keep your teeth and gums healthy too. Healthy natural teeth will keep your healthcare costs down in the long run, because you’ll need fewer fillings, sealants, or more costly procedures like root canals and crowns.

5 Oral Care Tips for Healthy Aging

Follow the Daily 4

Brush. Floss. Rinse. Chew. It’s not a new concept, but it bears repeating. Brushing twice, flossing, using mouthwash and chewing sugar-free gum each day is a routine that keeps your mouth healthy. If you have trouble cleaning the spaces between your teeth near your gum line, we recommend Soft Picks from GUM®. If your gums or teeth are sensitive, talk to your dentist about toothpaste options and soft-bristle toothbrushes.

Don’t Smoke

Another one we’ve all heard time and time again. Smoking cigarettes not only stains your teeth and makes it harder to breathe, it can also lead to heart disease, lung cancer, pregnancy complications, erectile dysfunction, anxiety, poor vision and oral cancer. If you’re considering smoking alternatives like vaporizers, cloves or smokeless tobacco – don’t. None of these alternatives have been proven to be safe alternatives, and some could be even more harmful than cigarettes.

Rethink Your Drink

According to a major study, “the odds of dying from heart disease rose in tandem with the percentage of sugar in the diet—and that was true regardless of a person’s age, sex, physical activity level, and body-mass index.” And drinking sugar-sweetened beverages doesn’t just make you gain weight, it can also lead to diabetes, hypertension, cancer, and heart, tooth and gum disease. Sugary drinks eat away at the enamel of teeth, causing teeth to become weaker and thinner over time. This can lead to tooth decay, cavities and missing teeth.

You can add some flavor to your water with lemon, lime or cucumber slices. Or switch to sparkling water if you can’t live without a little carbonation in your life. 1% or skim milk is also a great choice because it includes calcium, which keeps your bones and teeth strong.

Replace Missing Teeth

If you are missing teeth, it is very important that talk with your dentist about replacing them. Your jaw is designed to operate with 28 teeth and as soon as one is out of the equation, the surrounding teeth start to drift into the empty space. This not only makes your good teeth more prone to decay and gum disease, but it can also change your appearance. The longer you wait after a tooth is extracted, the more bone volume you lose. And the more bone volume you lose, the more expensive and difficult it becomes to get teeth replaced.

If you’re interested in replacing one or more missing teeth, you have options! Talk with your dentist about dental implants, fixed partial dentures (fixed bridge) or dentures to replace your missing teeth.

Schedule an Oral Cancer Screening

Oral cancer is commonly associated with alcohol consumption and tobacco products. However, recent studies have found other causes for oral cancer as well such as HPV. An oral cancer screening uses technology to check for abnormal cells or lesion in the oral cavity. Any abnormality detected will indicate the need for more advanced screenings and tests.

Early detection saves lives. The sooner your dentist catches an abnormal lesion or cell, the better and more predictable the treatment will be – because it will be less invasive. So ask your dentist at your next checkup to screen your mouth for oral cancer symptoms.

Group of children having packed lunches

Teeth-Friendly School Lunchbox Ideas

With so much to do before kids head back to school, one of the most common details parents forget is packing a healthy lunch. A nutritious meal at lunchtime plays an important role in your child’s energy and focus at school, and could make a big difference on their report card.

Packing a teeth-friendly school lunchbox doesn’t have to be expensive or time-consuming as long as you plan ahead, get used to a little nightly chopping action, and try to make it fun. We’ve assembled the 5 friendliest food groups for your kids’ teeth and lots of tips for packing fun and teeth-friendly ideas into their school lunchbox.
 

Veggies

Fresh vegetables in colorful bowls isolated on white. Healthy party snacks. Asparagus, cucumbers, carrots, lettuce leaves and cherry tomatoes.

Crunchy vegetables—like carrots, cucumbers, celery, green peppers, lettuce and broccoli—are probably the best snack for your teeth, period. The high water content of vegetables not only rehydrates our bodies, but also dilutes natural sugars and washes away food particles while we eat.

The easiest way to liven up raw veggies is to include a dip like hummus, cream cheese or fresh salsa. But if you want to get a little fancier, try a dill cucumber dip or one of these delicious summer slaw salad recipes.

If your children aren’t very fond of vegetables in the first place, getting them to eat healthier can be a challenge. Just remember to set a good example for them with your own eating habits, introduce new foods slowly, invite your kids to cook with you, and allow them to have “sometimes” foods like sugary cereals or the occasional Happy Meal as a reward.
 

Cheese

Cheeses, White Background, Clipping path

Cheese is high in calcium and phosphorus, two minerals that help keep tooth enamel strong. Cheese increases saliva in your mouth, which acts as a natural defense against cavities and gum disease.

Cutting cheese into bite-sized cubes or squares is recommended to help your kids digest better. If you’d like to make a tasty cheese sandwich for your kids, try this cucumber, tomato and cheddar sandwich recipe we found.

Just remember if you’re packing a sandwich to use “whole grain” or “whole wheat” bread instead of white, because these contain more natural vitamins, minerals and fiber.
 

Nuts and Seeds

Nuts in the glass jar , collection, clipping path

Nuts and seeds are arguably the healthiest protein source. They’re an excellent source of healthy fats, vitamin D, calcium, fiber and folic acid. Folic acid plays a major role in preserving gum tissues and preventing periodontal disease.

Despite being rich in Vitamin E, the shape and texture of almonds put damaging stress on teeth when kids bite down. So if your kids love almonds, try to find almond slivers next time you’re at the grocery.
 

Fruits

5 varieties of apples: Granny smith, Golden delicious, Gala, Macintosh and Red delicious. Larger files include clipping path.

Fibrous fruits—or fruits high in fiber—act almost like a natural toothbrush while you bite and chew. Apples, bananas and strawberries are all a healthy substitution for dessert in addition to being relatively cheap, easy to prepare, and very fulfilling.

If your kids aren’t too keen on fruits yet, make fruits more enjoyable with a healthy yogurt fruit dip or try cutting apples into fun shapes.

However, be careful your children aren’t eating too many fruits – especially dried fruit or fruit juice, which contain lots of artificial sugars. And try to stay away from most “fruit-flavored” beverages and snacks.
 

Water

Bottles of water various sizes 1.5L, 1L, 500ml, 300ml. With clipping paths.

Growing up, we all probably drank way more juice than we should have because our parents thought it was a healthy alternative to soda. But the science is out – fruit juice is just as bad for you as soda.

Encourage your children to drink the recommended amount of water daily. Depending on their age, they should be having 5-10 glasses of water each day.

Water not only energizes rehydrates your organs and muscles, it also helps create more saliva in your mouth. More saliva means less tooth decay and stronger tooth enamel.
 

Putting it all together

We know every parent would love to feed their children healthy foods for every meal, but we also know that budgeting is a very real concern. So even if you can only afford apple slices, cherry tomatoes, a handful of nuts, cheese sandwich and tap water, you’re really helping your kids build a foundation for healthier futures.

school-provided lunch of mystery meat, instant mashed potatoes, applesauce and chocolate milk is unfortunately just not a healthy alternative to homemade lunch. And though school lunches are often provided at a discount, packing your own is possible for only $2-$3/day.

Good luck! And if you ever have more questions about teeth-healthy foods or lunchbox ideas, let us know when you’re back for your child’s 6-month checkup. Happy eating!

Healthy lunch boxes with sandwich and fresh vegetables, bottle of water, nuts and fruits on rustic wooden background. top view

group of women of different ages and ethnicity stand smiling

Women’s Oral Health at Every Life Stage

Studies show that not only are women more proactive about their oral health, but also have a better understanding about what good oral health entails along with a more positive attitude toward visiting the dentist. However, due mostly to hormonal fluctuations at different life stages, women generally have more oral health concerns to worry about. But what’s new, right?

If you’re curious about how puberty, menstruation, pregnancy or menopause affect your oral health, we’ve prepared a quick summary of how to prepare for and how to maintain great oral health throughout every stage of your life.

Puberty

Puberty occurs in girls between ages 8 to 14. In addition to developmental changes, hormones such as estrogen progesterone increase blood flow to the gums and can cause them to become red and swollen. Along with hormonal fluctuations,  microbial changes in the mouth result in in “destructive” bacteria that can lead to more plaque, cavities, gingivitis and bad breath. If your daughter is going through puberty, it’s normal for her to experience light bleeding during brushing and flossing.

Encourage her to keep a good brushing and flossing routine, in order to cut down on plaque.

Menstruation

A woman’s menstrual cycle also impacts her oral health. Hormonal fluctuations can cause swollen gums and possible bleeding while you brush or floss, especially the week before your period. During their period, many women experience dry mouth and bad breath due to a loss of saliva. Finally, thanks to increases in the mucosal lining of your oral cavity, some women are susceptible to canker sores in the days leading up to their periods.

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, try rinsing at least once a day with a nonalcoholic mouthwash.

The best time for women to schedule a dental cleaning is the week after your period. High estrogen levels before and during your period can cause gum inflammation, which can throw off the results when your dentist measures pocket depth — a measurement of gum health. Your cleaning could also be more painful around this time.

Wait to schedule your checkup for a more comfortable experience and better results.

Pregnancy

By now, you’ve figured out that you are more at risk than men for gum disease. And we’re sorry to say it doesn’t get any better when you’re pregnant. Although women were once discouraged from seeing the dentist while pregnant, it is now suggested that women schedule a checkup between four to six months. This is because the first three months of pregnancy are thought to be of greatest importance in your child’s development. During the last trimester, stresses associated with dental visits can increase the incidence of prenatal complications. Pregnant women who already have gum problems need to be extra diligent about their oral hygiene as it can worsen and turn to periodontitis, a more serious form of gum disease.

If you get a sweet tooth while pregnant, we encourage you to reach for cheese, fresh fruits or vegetables instead of soda or ice cream.

Menopause

In menopause, estrogen levels decline rapidly, which can lead to bone loss and periodontitis. Postmenopausal women are at risk for osteoporosis,  a disease that causes brittle bones and has a major impact on the jawbone supporting the teeth. Many women begin hormone therapy and taking supplements to combat estrogen, calcium and Vitamin D deficiencies as a result of menopause, but you can still lose teeth even if you are doing everything right. If you’ve lost teeth as a result of osteoporosis or menopause, dental implants have been shown to improve quality of life more than dentures.

If you are experiencing any oral health concerns during menopause, make a dental appointment as soon as possible.

Women’s Oral Health Tips

So despite taking better care of your teeth and gums than men do, your hormones are working against you and steering you toward gum disease and bone loss. But you can still do something about it! If you believe you have gum disease, schedule an appointment with your dentist to discuss your gum health and how you can improve your oral hygiene. Otherwise, be sure to follow these general tips for keeping your teeth and gums healthy:

  • Brush twice each day
  • Floss at least once per day
  • Rinse with a nonalcoholic mouthwash every day
  • Chew gum after meals
  • Change your toothbrush 3 or 4 times per year
  • Avoid artificially sweetened foods and drinks
  • If you play sports, wear a mouth guard
  • Do not smoke or use smokeless tobacco

 

Outlay of multiracial faces printed

How to Prevent Oral Cancer

Oral cancer kills someone in the U.S. every hour.

What is Oral Cancer?

Oral cancer is cancer of the mouth or throat, sometimes connected to head and neck cancer. It is more prevalent in men than in women and can develop in lips, cheek lining, salivary glands, hard palate, soft palate, uvula, the area under your tongue, gums, tongue and tonsils. Despite being mostly preventable, an estimated 49,670 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year and more than 9,700 will die of the disease.
 

Oral Cancer Risk Factors

  1. Tobacco: The greatest risk factor for oral cancer is tobacco, accounting for about 60% of oral cancer diagnoses. Smokers are 3 times more likely to lose teeth than non-smokers and people who use chewing tobacco are still at risk for cancers of the cheek, gums, and inner surface of the lips. If you are using other smoking alternatives like vaporizers, be warned – no smoking alternative has been proven to be more healthy than cigarettes.
  2. Alcohol: Oral cancers are about six times more common in drinkers than in nondrinkers. When tobacco and alcohol use are combined, the risk of oral cancer increases 15 times more than non-users of tobacco and alcohol products.
  3. Diet: Refined sugars, oils and carbohydrates and dairy products have been shown to increase inflammation in the body as well as risk for oral cancer. The main culprits are bread, pasta, crackers, cookies, muffins, cakes, boxed cereals, frozen treats, pretzels, soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages and candy.
  4. Age: 86% of the people diagnosed with oral cancer are over the age of 50, but lifestyle and environmental factors are generally the greatest risk factors.
  5. Excessive Exposure to Sunlight: Excessive and unprotected exposure to sunlight and other sources of ultraviolet radiation (UV) like tanning beds is linked with cancer in the lip area. The skin on lips is actually much thinner and more delicate than the skin on the rest of the face. Men who work outside are 5 times more likely to develop oral cancer than those with jobs inside.
  6. Human Papilloma virus (HPV): Human papilloma virus is a common sexually transmitted infection. For many people, HPV causes no harm and goes away without treatment. Only a very small percentage of people with HPV develop mouth or oropharyngeal cancer, but the risks are very real – especially for current smokers and people who are frequently subjected to secondhand smoke.

 

How to Prevent Oral Cancer

  1. Brush, Floss, Rinse & Chew Every Day: Are you doing your Daily 4? Brushing twice a day for 2 minutes, flossing once, rinsing and chewing gum after meals is recommended.
  2. Don’t Smoke or Chew Tobacco: Research has shown that ex-smokers reduce their risk of mouth cancer by more than a third.
  3. Drink Alcohol in Moderation: If you are going to drink, try to limit yourself to your one serving per day. For men on average, this means 24 ounces of beer or 10 ounces of wine. For women on average, this means only 12 ounces of beer or 5 ounces of wine. Excessive alcohol consumption is linked to many health problems, not just oral cancer.
  4. Eat More Cancer-Fighting Foods: A diet rich in fruits and vegetables reduces the risk of cancer, as well as a healthy intake of Vitamin C and calcium. Try incorporating as many “cancer-fighting” foods into your diet as you can – kale, broccoli, blueberries, sweet potatoes, turmeric, yogurt, sunflower seeds, coconut oil, mushrooms and green tea are pretty easy to find at your local grocery.
  5. Don’t Fry Foods. Bake, Boil or Steam Instead: Frying your food increases the formation of acrylamide, a cancer-causing chemical also found in cigarettes. It is most commonly found in fried potatoes. If you are eating frozen foods, it is very important to follow the cooking instructions – or replace your frozen veggies with fresh ingredients from the produce section!
  6. Use Lip Balm with SPF: If you work outside, protecting your lips should be a priority. This means you too, men! Invest in a fragrance-free lip balm with SPF 15 or higher and apply throughout the day. This also goes for people who like to spend their afternoons gardening, swimming, skiing or sunbathing – protecting your lips is one of the easiest ways to prevent oral cancer.
  7.  Practice Safe Sex: If you are sexually active, you know it’s important for you to be safe. Contraceptives do not provide 100% protection against HPV, which is why vaccines are recommended. If you have any symptoms of HPV or think you might’ve been exposed, be sure to talk with your doctor about your health.
  8. Check Your Mouth Regularly for Symptoms: Purchase a small mirror and take a look around your mouth. If you notice anything out of the ordinary, make an appointment with your dentist or doctor soon.
  9. Schedule an Oral Cancer Screening: At your next regular checkup, remember to ask your dentist about oral cancer. If you feel you have symptoms of oral cancer, make an appointment with your regular dentist for an oral cancer screening.
oral cancer colorful word with stethoscope on wooden background

Free Oral Cancer Screening

April is Oral, Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Month, and Abbeville Dentistry is offering free oral cancer screenings throughout the month! The goal of offering free screenings is both to promote awareness and education of oral cancer, and to help with early detection.

To schedule your free oral cancer screening, call any Abbeville Dentistry location today!

 

About Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is commonly associated with alcohol consumption and tobacco products. However, recent studies have found other causes for oral cancer as well such as HPV. An oral cancer screening uses technology to check or abnormal cells or lesion in the oral cavity. Any abnormality detected will indicate the need for more advanced screenings and tests.

Oral cancer is typically thought to be caused by smoking and tobacco use, but there are many other causes that are often ignored. There is a growing number of young adults that have been diagnosed with oral cancer, due to human papilloma virus (HPV). According to The Oral Cancer Foundation, close to 45,750 people in the United States will be diagnosed with oral cancer this year.

Woman having checkup at dentist

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