As we are in the middle of the Holiday season there are lots of tempting treats to pick on. Most are okay in moderation but some are likely to create problems for your dental health. Issues that could be created include tooth decay and even fractured teeth. Below are a listing of some to be careful of:
1. Popcorn. An old favorite usually enjoyed at the movies but around holiday time regular old popcorn becomes coated in caramel. Normally popcorn presents challenges for teeth due to biting on popcorn kernels and popcorn husks getting stuck between teeth. Those pesky popcorn kernels have been known to cause broken teeth and fracture fillings. Add the caramel and it is a recipe for disaster as the caramel masks the kernels and sticks in and around your teeth. This can break a tooth, or create an environment ripe for development of tooth decay. So think twice and beware if indulging in this holiday favorite.
2. Dried Fruit. Seems like this would be a healthy snack but the sugars in the dried fruit are concentrated and their dry texture makes them stick longer to teeth. This allows acid producing bacteria in your mouth to have a chance to work on your tooth enamel. Be smart, and floss after or chose fresh fruit instead.
3. White Flour Crackers. We love these crackers with cheese spreads as a pre holiday meal snack. Did you know the bleached white flour turns almost immediately into sugar, which is food for the bacteria in your mouth to create an acid filled environment for tooth decay. Choose whole grain versions of these favorite crackers for better dental health as well as general health.
4. Candy Canes. A traditional favorite that can also cause fractures to teeth if you choose to bite into them. Sucking on hard candy makes the sugar acids linger longer in your mouth. Break off a small piece, and drink water after.
5. Christmas cookies and fudge.These are hard to pass up, especially at a party! Remember that very high sugar content, white flour and the stickiness are the contributors to tooth decay. Try eating some carrots or celery directly after you partake in these sweet treats.
6. Peanut brittle. Some peanut brittle is harder or stickier than others. You can pull out a crown or filling or break a tooth. Try moistening a small piece in your mouth to soften it before chewing. You will certainly need to floss after this snack!
Dental Hygiene Tips for Holidays
-Drink Water. Plenty of it to swish and rinse your mouth.This will reduce the acid producing sugars and food debris from holiday snacking.
-Crunch on raw veggies. They will help clear the stickiness and stimulate salivary flow.
-Brush and Floss After Snacking. Brushing and flossing after snacking will neutralize the acid build up and not allow the tooth enamel to be broken down.
Enjoy the Holidays, just use your judgement to make good choices. You can still eat the special foods you love, just do it wisely. Remember, smiles are contagious, spread some holiday cheer with your beautiful smile!
At home dental hygiene is often neglected due to our busy schedules. While many are diligent in maintaining good oral health at home others let it slide. The recommended daily regimen is brushing in the morning after breakfast and again before bedtime. Is it helpful to brush more often?
Tooth Brushing Frequency
The answer to the above question is YES and NO! It is definitely possible to over brush our teeth. It is estimated that approximately 80% of us are over brushing. Some of us become obsessed, but we are brushing incorrectly and we are brushing with the wrong type of toothbrush. There is definitely such a thing as too much of a good thing when it comes to brushing your teeth.
Brushing your teeth too frequently and too aggressively can damage the structure of our teeth as well as wear out the tooth enamel. Toothbrushes are designed to last around 3-4 months before they lose their soft bristles. However, frequent usage of the toothbrush would wear down the bristles and leave the bristles jagged and sharp, with serrated edges. When this happens, your toothbrush can then wear away the enamel and dentin from our teeth.
As a result, you should replace your toothbrushes before the bristles splay so that you’re reassured that your toothbrush would not wear away your tooth structure. You also should choose toothbrushes that will not hurt your gums and teeth. It is recommended that a soft bristle toothbrush is used unless recommended differently by your dentist.
Proper Brushing Technique
1. You should always try to choose a toothbrush with soft bristles. Tooth brushes can be chosen on individual preference. Basically, choose one that you are comfortable with. Also size of brush head is important. If the toothbrush is too large to fit properly in your mouth, you will be unable to reach the further most areas. For many an electric toothbrush will work best. Our office recommends the Rotadent (made by Zila) electric toothbrush but any would be fine if it is effective for you.
2. Rinse your brush before using it. A small amount of tooth paste is enough for brushing. You do not need to cover all the bristles with toothpaste. Just want enough on there for the paste to do its work.
3. Hold the tooth brush angulated at 45 degrees to your teeth towards the gums. Do not hold the brush flatly against your teeth. You want to be able to have the brush go all the way down to the gum line where most of the plaque resides. Paying extra attention to the gum line, hard-to-reach back teeth and areas around fillings, crowns or other restoration.
4. Start from the back of the upper jaw. You need to ensure you are cleaning all surfaces of the teeth effectively. There are three surfaces…..
1. The chewing surface of teeth.
2. The outer surface of the teeth facing the cheek.
3. Inner surfaces of the teeth.
Start with 3 teeth at a Clean on all 3 surfaces of the teeth. Use gentle pressure with short back and forth movements. Avoid using vigorous pressure as it is unnecessary. Let the brush and paste do the work for you.
5. After cleaning the 3 back most teeth, move on the next 3 teeth…..and so on.
6. After you have completed brushing your upper teeth, move on to your lower teeth and complete brushing in the same way as the upper teeth.
7. After brushing your teeth, brush along the gum line gently to remove any lodged food particles. Also, brush your tongue. Brushing your tongue will remove bacteria and buildup there to help with bad breath.
Tooth Brushing Recommendations
1. It is necessary to brush your teeth at least twice a day. Most people do this once every morning upon waking up, and before they go to bed at night. You can also brush your teeth after your midday meal or snacks.
2. Use short, gentle strokes to clean your teeth. Brush the outer and inner surfaces, as well as your tongue. If you have to clean in between your teeth, then use vertical brush strokes.
Then, you should brush your teeth for at least two minutes at a time. This would ensure that you have adequately removed all the plaque, food residue, and bacteria that may be in your mouth.
3. Remember to floss each night before going to bed to ensure that there is nothing stuck in your teeth.
One last tip, would be the use of a plaque disclosing solution. This would give you a visual aid to see what areas you are missing or need work on.
Toothbrushing Can Keep Away Tooth Decay
Above all, you should visit your dentist every six months for a professional dental cleaning to remove any tartar or plaque build up. These regular visits would ensure that your mouth is as healthy as it can be. Your dentist would also use this opportunity to clean your mouth thoroughly to get rid of the tartar and plaque buildup.
With the proper toothbrush, brushing techniques, and regular visits to your dentists, you are on your way to having a perfect, flawless smile. Just remember to regularly brush your teeth – and to brush them for at least two minutes!
Xylitol is a sugar alcohol sweetener used as a sugar substitute. Unlike other sweeteners, xylitol is actively beneficial for dental health. It has been shown to reduce tooth decay to a third in regular use.
How does Xylitol Work for Better Dental Hygiene?
There have been numerous research studies that have shown the benefits of chewing gum sweetened with Xylitol after meals and snacks. Xylitol makes an excellent sweetener, as it has many of the same properties as regular table sugar (sucrose). However, unlike table sugar, xylitol reduces tooth cavities.
Xylitol is a natural sweetener derived from the fibrous parts of plants. It contains far fewer calories than table sugar and has less of an effect on the bodies overall blood sugar levels. Xylitol has a low glycemic index of 7, compared to sugar’s level of 83. It also does not break down like sugar and can help maintain a neutral pH level in the mouth. Xylitol has the ability to inhibit the creation of acid in the mouth. By lowering the acid content in the mouth, this in turn lowers the risk of tooth decay.
Tooth decay happens when bacteria in your mouth consume the sugars we eat. When you eat food containing ordinary sugar (sucrose), it gives bacteria on your teeth energy, allowing them to multiply and start making acids that can eat away the enamel on the teeth. This acid attack causes tooth decay and cavities to begin to form.
Products sweetened with xylitol create an unwelcome environment for bacteria. They simply cannot stick to teeth in a xylitol rich environment. This is how it protects the teeth from tooth decay. With Xylitol, the acid attack that would otherwise last for over half an hour is stopped. The bacteria in the mouth that are causing cavities are unable to digest xylitol, their growth is greatly reduced. The number of acid producing bacteria may decrease by as much as 90%. No acid is formed because the pH of saliva and plaque does not fall. After taking xylitol, the bacteria do not stick well on the surface of the teeth and as a result, the amount of plaque decreases. Many people are not aware of this ancillary benefit because such a claim makes xylitol into a drug. This crosses a legal boundary not allowed by the Food and Drug Administration.
It has been recommended that you chew a piece of xylitol gum after every meal or snack to gain maximum benefit to your teeth. Xylitol is recommended by dentists and physicians worldwide as a sweetener for anyone concerned with dental health, upper respiratory health, and sugar consumption, in general.
Can Xylitol Repair Damage to Enamel Too?
Research has also shown that the use of xylitol helps repair damage to the enamel. Saliva protects the mouth and teeth. Stimulated saliva in particular contains all the components needed to repair early tooth cavities. If sugar is only taken a couple of times a day, the saliva can do the job alone. But most people take sugar so often that the mouth’s own defensive tools are not enough.
Saliva that has xylitol is more alkaline than saliva stimulated by other sugar products. After taking xylitol products, the concentration of basic amino acids and ammonia in saliva and plaque may rise, and plaque pH rises as well. When pH is above 7, calcium and phosphate salts in saliva start to move into those parts of enamel that are weak. Therefore, soft, calcium deficient enamel sites begin to harden again.
Xylitol can help maintain a healthy oral environment, but does not replace dental hygiene!
Xylitol can be an excellent adjunct to normal brushing and flossing coupled with regular dental visits and professional cleanings. The best part is it is quite easy to incorporate xylitol into your daily routine.