Tag Archives: Diet

Limit Sugar In Your Diet

Stay Away From Sugar

sugar in a cupFrom a dental perspective, there are many reasons to limit sugar in your diet. Bacteria in your mouth interact with sugar to produce acids. These acids can destroy tooth enamel, which can lead to the formation of cavities. Cavities that are left untreated can lead to root canals, crowns, or even removal of teeth. A diet high in sugar increases the likelihood of a person developing dental problems.

In 2010, our family participated in a dental mission trip to Dominican Republic. Unfortunately for the kids we treated, they had ready access to sugar cane and little instruction on good dental health. Most of the patients we saw had numerous areas of decay. Contrast that with children we treated the following year in Kenya, where naturally fluoridated water and limited access to sugar resulted in many of the children we examined not having any decay.

ADA Article on Sugary Drinks

Mouth Healthy, a site maintained by the American Dental Association (ADA), has an informative article titled The Truth About Sugary Drinks and Your Smile.  A big takeaway from this article is that sometimes foods that sound healthy are actually bad for your teeth. A good example is fruit juice, which can contain as much sugar as a glass of soda. The article gives examples of drinks high in sugar and a list of better choices. As your dental provider, we strongly support patients focusing on the low sugar drinks!

Can Drinking Soda Increase the Risk of Developing Alzheimer’s Disease?

Newsweek recently published a article titled “Drinking Soda Could Raise the Risk of Alzheimer’s Disease According to Study.”  Researchers documented the diets of 2,226 elderly people for 7 years. A takeaway from this article: people who drank sugary soda had a significantly increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s when compared to those people who had sugar in their diets from other products.

Conclusion

Research suggests that if you limit sugar in your diet, it can be good for your overall health.  More importantly from our perspective, it’s also good for your dental health. If you have questions about your diet and any risk factors, make sure you visit with Dr. Albers or the other dental professionals in our office during your next visit.

Mouth Burns – Dos and Don’ts

Mouth Burns

Have you ever taken a bite of food or a drink of a beverage that is hotter than anticipated? If the temperature is high enough, you can burn your tongue, cheeks, or worse, the top of your mouth. What should you do if this happens? For starters, you can read this informative article with information and advice on healing mouth burns.  If you don’t have time, we’ve prepared the following summary of important takeaways from the article.

Burns on the roof of your mouth, also known as your palate, tend to heal more slowly than burns to your tongue. This is related to the fact that the tongue has the most blood supply of any organ in the body. In addition, the skin on your palate tends to be more sensitive. This, coupled with the fact that there is little fat in this area of the body, causes pain to linger longer.

The Dos And Don’ts Of Healing Mouth Burns

The article linked above includes both dos and don’ts.  The “don’t” you want to remember about mouth burns: Don’t put an ice cube in your mouth! Ice cubes can stick to a burned area and cause additional damage.

The Do’s are more extensive:

  • Spit out the hot food
  • Swish with cold water or milk
  • If the pain is intolerable, try acetaminophen or ibuprofen. Some people find relief with numbing gels
  • Stick to eating soft foods and avoid items such as nuts and chips
  • Avoid foods that are too hot or too cold. Go for room temperature foods
  • Avoid acidic drinks such as coffee, wine or pop for several days
  • Avoid spicy foods

Follow-up

Depending on size and severity, discomfort from a mouth burn should lessen within two to three days. The wound itself should heal within a week. If you have a burned mouth that isn’t healed after a week, or if pain persists, you should consider calling a dental professional.

Habits That Aren’t Good For Your Teeth

Well, it’s been awhile since our last blog post. October found me back in Nebraska two different weekends, once for a football game (don’t ask), and the second time to celebrate my dad’s 96th birthday. November found us busy with therapy dog events and kid visits.   That said, we’re ready to get back in the saddle regarding items of interest for our patients.  And, with the holidays here, we thought it would be timely to do a post on unhealthy dental habits.

Unhealthy Dental Habits

A recent article from Business Insider titled “17 ‘Healthy’ Habits That Aren’t Doing You Any Good,” caught our eye because of two dental related “habits.” Habit #5 deals with the benefits (or lack thereof) of drinking lemon water. Habit #14 talks about the detriment of brushing too quickly after meals.

Drinking Lemon Water

Unhealthy Dental Habits - Lemons

Acidic Foods Can Harm Dental Enamel

This habit caught our eye because it applies to us.  Carla and I periodically blend up a mixture of lemons, olive oil, and ginger and drink it first thing in the morning. The article notes that per the American Dental Association (ADA), exposure to acidic foods such as lemons can wear down tooth enamel over time. The ADA article titled “Top 9 Foods That Damage Your Teeth”  includes the following language:

The truth is that frequent exposures to acidic foods can erode enamel, making teeth more susceptible to decay over time. So even though a squeeze of lemon or lime can turn a simple glass of water into a fun beverage, it’s not always the best choice for your mouth. Citric fruits and juices can also irritate mouth sores. Make sure to drink plenty of plain water.

While this advice regarding acidic foods is correct, it also needs to be placed in context. If you drink an acidic beverage in a short amount of time, you can minimize any negative impact to your teeth. Where dentists tend to get concerned is when people sip acidic (or sugary) beverages over a long period of time. Constantly bathing your teeth in an acidic or sugary beverage over a period of hours is more detrimental to tooth enamel health than a quick drink of lemon water first thing in the morning.

Brushing Right After Eating

Habit # 14 suggests that brushing immediately after eating can be harmful to teeth, and also cites an ADA article titled “7 Bad Brushing Habits to Break in 2017.”  The fourth habit to break in this article deals with brushing immediately after eating. According to the ADA:

If you feel the need to clean your teeth after eating or drinking, wait at least 30 minutes before brushing—especially if you have had something acidic like lemons, grapefruit or soda. Drink water or chew sugarless gum with the ADA Seal of Acceptance to help clean your mouth while you are waiting to brush.

The Business Insider article also includes a link to a New York Times article (“Really? Never Brush Your Teeth Immediately After a Meal”)  which talks about studies on the effect of brushing too soon after eating. The article cites a study where researchers found an increase in dentin loss when volunteers brushed within 20 minutes of drinking soda. Bottom line, there is evidence to suggest that brushing too soon after eating, especially if the meal contains acidic foods, can possibly affect your teeth in a negative manner.

Conclusions?

Do we want you to avoid eating acidic citrus foods or not brush after eating? No, but we do want you to be aware of unhealthy dental habits, the potential problems they pose, and what you can do to ensure that you are protecting your teeth. If you have any questions about the issues raised here, please feel free to call our office or to ask questions the next time you are in the office.

 

Should You Brush Your Teeth? Yes, But….

Should you brush your teeth?

As a practicing dentist of 30 years, the answer from me is a definite yes. But, that comes with some qualifications in terms of scientific data, brushing that is actually harmful to your teeth, and other things besides brushing that can help you maintain healthy teeth.

I receive regular emails from the American Dental Association (ADA), including one that “compiles news stories from a wide range of sources” to keep dentists up-to-date on what seems to be of interest to the general public. Today’s email included a link to a Reader’s Digest article with this interesting title: “This is the Most Efficient Way to Keep Your Teeth Clean – Without Brushing Them.”

Reader’s Digest Article

I would encourage you to read the article because it contains interesting information about good dental care for you and your family. It is not a surprise that this article claims the best way to keep your teeth healthy is to avoid eating sugar. It explains why this is the case, but also goes further and gives information about foods that can promote healthy teeth.

Good foods include those that are alkaline instead of acidic, which help keep the pH levels in your mouth at a higher level, which is healthier for your teeth. On the flip side, foods that are too acidic can cause lower pH levels, which doesn’t promote good oral health. You can click on the link in the Reader’s Digest article to see a list of “teeth healthy” foods and explanations as to why they are good for your teeth. The list of good foods in this article includes apples, herbal teas or unsweetened fruit juice, tofu, sweet potatoes, cheese, cucumbers, stevia, and carrots.

How To Brush Your Teeth

The other important point of this article touches on proper brushing technique, or how to brush your teeth. Some patients think the harder they brush or floss, the better. What they don’t know, though, is that flossing that is done too vigorously can harm your gums. They also don’t understand that brushing too hard can actually harm tooth enamel, especially when used with some toothpastes. Almost all toothpaste includes some type of abrasive material to help with the cleaning process. Teeth whitening toothpastes tend to include a lot of this material. If you use them (we typically don’t recommend) and brush too hard, it can really cause damage to both tooth enamel and gums.

In our practice, we can also tell that some patients don’t brush their teeth long enough. We encourage our patients to invest in electric tooth brushes as they are timed for the right amount of brushing and they also help avoid problems from brushing too hard because they alert you if too much pressure is being used. There are several good brands on the market, and different staff members use different ones, but we do sell one brand in our office, at our cost, for patients of record. The better your home care, the less likely you will need to see us for fillings or other restorative services. Prevention is key!

Healthy Mouth, Healthy Body

Oral Hygiene and Overall Health

As we’ve discussed with patients during visits, oral health is important for good overall health.  An article from Everyday Health titled “Oral Hygiene and Overall Health” talks about this link.  The article discusses things that can negatively impact the health of your mouth, such as having a diet high in sugars, smoking, drinking, and taking certain medications.  Taking good care of your mouth at home with regular brushing and flossing, coupled with regular checkups with your dentist, can help maintain a healthy mouth.  And, a healthy mouth helps maintain a healthy body.

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Mark T. Albers, D.D.S.
2155 Hollowbrook Drive
Suite 20
Colorado Springs, CO
80918

(719) 634-8458

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