How to Care for Your Teeth During the Holidays
The holidays are upon us! What a whirlwind of a season, as we dash from one event to the next. Many of these events are full of rich foods and sweet treats, and there’s often no time to think about much beyond the next thing on the calendar. Whatever you do during the holidays, take care not to neglect your dental care. Here are some tips for keeping your teeth fresh, clean, and healthy, all the way into the new year!
- Make sure you’ve got healthy food in the mix. While you’re nibbling, munching, and feasting, intersperse healthy snacks with your decadent treats. Crunchy fruits and vegetables are great for your teeth, and so are cheese and whole grains.
- Take care not to overdo the sweets. This time of year, temptations are omnipresent! Popcorn balls, candy canes, and other sticky sweet treats are particularly bad for your teeth, but that doesn’t mean you have to forgo them entirely. Just stick to one dessert and then brush your teeth, to reduce your risk of tooth decay.
- Don’t use your teeth as tools. Cracking nuts, pulling out wine corks, opening packages, and all the other ways you can use your teeth instead of heading to the toolbox or kitchen drawer for a more suitable tool should be outlawed. The last thing you want to do this holiday season is end up with a broken tooth, so use your teeth only for eating and smiling.
- Drink plenty of water and keep your drinks light. Water is good for every system in your body, and it can help fill your stomach so that you don’t overeat. What’s more, it’s extremely helpful in washing away bacteria before plaque can form on your teeth. If you want to drink something other than water, steer clear of sugary beverages and choose drinks that are light-colored, as well. You’ll be doing your teeth a favor by keeping them clean and white.
- Stick to your routine. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, even if you’re on the go. Facilitate this by keeping a toothbrush and small tube of toothpaste handy at all times, in your purse, briefcase, or car, so that you can take care of your teeth even if you’re away from home.
- Don’t wait to fix any dental issues. Even if you’re out of town, don’t let a broken tooth or lost filling go without treatment. Call a local dental office for an emergency appointment; most dentists are prepared to accept visiting patients at this time of year.
- Schedule a cleaning for after the holiday season. You want to start the new year with a gorgeous smile and a healthy mouth, right? Go ahead and make your post-holiday checkup now, so that as soon as this hectic season draws to a close, you can get back into the swing of taking care of yourself.
Tricks for the Treats: Keep Your Smile Shining During the Holiday Snack Season
Once the Halloween candy appears on grocery store shelves and in the dish on your co-worker’s desk, you know that sweet tooth season has arrived. From the candy cavalcade of October to the hors d’oeuvres, dinners parties, cocktail hours and gift exchanges of November and December, the holiday season is overflowing with tasty treats — not to mention plenty of coffee, red wine and between-party snacks.
All of the sugars, starches and acids from these festive foods and drinks can be damaging to your sparkling smile. But with everything we’ve experienced this year, the Said Dental team isn’t about to tell you to forego all your faves. Please, treat yourself! Then remember to treat your teeth to a little extra care with these tips.
Dental Care On the Go
Whether it’s your Aunt Cathy’s pumpkin pie or your morning pumpkin spice latte, enjoying sweet and starchy foods — especially several over the course of the day — can be taxing for your teeth. That’s because these carbohydrates stick to your teeth and release small amounts of acid as they break down, causing damage to tooth enamel and over time leading to cavities.
Here are some ways to combat the effect of holiday snacking and rebalance your mouth’s pH when you’re away from home:
- Brush or floss to remove excess food particles. Even brushing without toothpaste helps! Pack a travel toothbrush for a quick refresh between parties.
- Time it right. Wait at least 30 minutes after eating before brushing. Brushing too soon could just spread the sugars and acids around your mouth instead of getting rid of them.
- Trip to the buffet. Crunchy-textured foods like raw fruits and veggies can give your teeth an extra brush while you chew. And some studies show that consuming dairy after eating can make your mouth less acidic. Crudite platter and cheese plate, here we come!
- Bring along Moon Oral Care’s stain prevention teeth wipes. These individually wrapped textured wipes are naturally flavored with peppermint and are perfect for wiping away stains from that evening glass of wine or your morning tea or coffee. (P.S.: These are a great solution if you wear aligners, too!)
- Apply WineBlock stain prevention balmto your lips and teeth before you sip. All-natural acid-blocking ingredients keep stains off your teeth while coconut oil gently moisturizes your lips.
Maintain Healthy Habits
The best way to keep teeth healthy through the holidays is to keep doing what you do — brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, floss daily and make regular appointments with your dentist at Said Dental
Of course, in the busyness of the season, we can all use a little help to stay on track. If you find that late nights and packed schedules are wrecking your routine, consider downloading a toothbrushing app like Brushout (for iOS) or Brush Teeth Reminder (for Android). Both will remind you to brush, time your brushing and track your progress.
Start Your Day Off With A (Healthy) Smile!
If there’s one meal that can claim the title of “Sweetest Meal of the Day,” it’s almost certainly breakfast. Sugary cereals, syrup-covered waffles, oatmeal with honey, cinnamon toast (which is literally sugar poured on toast)—it’s hard to imagine another menu even coming close. But you’re trying to keep your diet as healthy as possible. What to do?
First, no need to deprive yourself of the occasional pastry or stack of pancakes. The real problem with breakfast isn’t so much sugar as it is added sugar.
Just a Spoonful of Sugar? What’s So Bad About That?
Nothing! Many healthy foods have natural sugars. Milk contains lactose sugar, and it also contains calcium and is enriched with vitamin D-both of which are essential for strong bones and teeth. Fruits get their sweetness from a sugar called fructose, and deliciously provide vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber to our diets.
Even processed sugar is surprisingly low in calories. In fact, a teaspoon of white sugar has only about 15 calories. But this teaspoon is also rich in nutrients for cavity-causing bacteria. The oral bacteria in plaque use sugars and carbohydrates from food particles as a fuel source to produce acids. These acids erode enamel and lead to cavities.
Choosing breakfast foods without additional sugars, then, is an easy way to reduce the number of empty calories in your diet while safeguarding the health of your teeth. We have a few suggestions.
Be Selective with Cereals
If the word “sugar” or “honey” appears on the box, that’s a hint that your favorite cereal is heavy on the sugar. But there’s a more scientific way to tell just how much sugar is in that spoonful.
While the colorful packaging and playful mascots are eye-catching, check the black-and-white panel with nutritional facts found on every box. If one serving equals 27 grams, and the sugar in that serving equals 15 grams, you know you have a problem. And cereals marketed to children are especially “rich” in added sugar.
But luckily, you don’t need to give up your morning bowl. Many cold cereals are available that offer whole grains, protein, and fiber without a lot of added sugar. Spend some time in the cereal aisle comparing, or, to make life easier, there are many online sites which recommend the best (and worst) cereals in terms of sugar content.
Use Your Judgment with Juices
Fruits are packed with important nutrients. Not only do they provide essential vitamins and minerals, they’re a great source of water and fiber. If you drink 100% fruit juice, you are getting the benefit of most of the vitamins and minerals found in fruit. (You’re also getting less of the fruit’s natural fiber, and more of the fruit’s natural sugar, so consider fresh fruit as an option occasionally.)
But when fruit juice comes with “cocktail,” or “punch,” or “ade” attached to the end of it, there’s often something else attached—added sugar. For natural fruit flavor and the least amount of sugar, stay with 100% unsweetened fruit juice.
Search Out “Surprise” Sugars
Remember the childhood excitement of searching through your cereal box for the prize inside? Fun! What’s not so much fun? The surprises you might find when you search through the labels on your favorite breakfast items—because added sugars make their stealthy way into many of our morning favorites.
When you compare plain, Greek, and low-fat yogurts, for example, the low-fat options are often higher in added sugar. A container of low-fat yogurt can provide 19 grams of sugar—that’s a tablespoon and a half!
And while you’re at it, be sure to compare the sugar content in granola bars. Some are full of nuts and grains, and some are full of added sugar.
Going out for a breakfast smoothie? Those can contain 70 grams of sugar and more. Making your own at home might be a little more time-consuming, but if you use fresh fruit as your sweetener, you can make sure that what you’re not consuming is added sugar. If you’re on the go, check out all-fruit options at your favorite smoothie shop.
Dr. Said and our team aren’t asking you to eliminate sugar from your breakfast diet altogether. (Everyone loves a doughnut now and again.) But substituting some alternatives for your regular menu choices can reduce the amount of added sugars by tablespoons every meal. That’s another great reason to greet the morning with a smile!
How Often Should I Brush My Teeth?
As human beings, we’re not perfect and know that being forgetful can happen to the best of us. In fact, July 2nd is declared as “I forgot” day! If you are one that finds yourself forgetting to brush your teeth, you may be asking, “How often should I brush my teeth?”.
Your Dentist’s Recommendation
Let’s start here. The American Dental Association® recommends brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing and rinsing with alcohol-free mouthwash once a day, and chewing sugar free gum between meals in order to reduce the build up of bacteria that can lead to cavities and gum disease. Your dentist agrees with this.
In addition, you should let a professional “brush your teeth” at least twice a year. In other words, makes sure you are seen in a dental office at least twice a year for x-rays, cleanings and for preventative care, and as needed if you have pain or any dental or oral concerns. A healthy mouth is created from lifelong habits in good oral care, but, what if you forget?
I Forgot To Brush My Teeth!
If you forget to brush your teeth sometimes, you are not alone. We all forget things. If you do forget to brush your teeth, do it as soon as you think of it. If it becomes a habit, sadly, your teeth and gums will suffer. Often it is children who lament their forgotten habit, but it can be a problem for adults too. Here are some tips to help you remember and keep your oral care a priority.
Task it. Make it part of your every day grooming routine to brush your teeth. Wake up, use the bathroom, brush your teeth, shower. When it becomes part of a routine, it is easier to remember.
Set a timer. Use your phone to remind you when it is time to brush your teeth. Usually in the morning and evening make the most sense, but maybe with your schedule you need it to be right after breakfast and right before bed. Whenever you determine is the best time to brush, alert yourself and do it.
Remind yourself. There is a saying: “out of sight, out of mind”. Help yourself remember by setting out your toothbrush or even posting a note somewhere you are sure to see it. Keeping it top of mind will help you integrate it into your everyday habits.
Substitute sometimes. Carry sugar free gum and/or a sample size mouthwash with you in your bag or purse. When you can’t brush your teeth, take some time for a quick swish of mouth wash or pop some gum in your mouth. This is not a true substitute for tooth brushing, since it does not remove plaque, but it can help.
What Your Tongue Can Tell You About Your Health!
Our tongue, it’s one of those things we all take for granted! As children we explored the world with our tongues, licking everything in sight, sticking it out at our siblings and parents just to get their reaction. As young adults we learned there was more to our tongue while exploring our first kiss and exotic foods.
But the tongue is more than just a random body part, our tongues play a key role in our ability to taste and swallow food. And believe it or not, your tongue can also provide your dentist with clues to both your oral health and your overall health. In fact, you might be surprised what your tongue can tell you about your health. Get ready to say, “Ahhhhhhh!”
What Your Tongue Can Tell You About Your Health
White Coating on Tongue:
Your tongue is supposed to be a lovely shade of pink. If parts of your tongue appear to be coated with a white substance, this could be oral thrush, a yeast overgrowth that occurs inside the oral cavity. Of course, it could just be whitish from not brushing your tongue every time you brush your teeth. You do that, don’t you? If the white brushes away, you’re good to go.
White Patches on Tongue:
Leukoplakia is a condition that can happen if the tongue has been irritated, such as with smoking or tobacco use. Every medical professional will advise you to quit that tobacco habit, but it’s ultimately up to you. If you see white patches, though, book a dentist appointment to be on the safe side and to rule out oral cancer.
Overly Red Tongue:
While an overly red tongue can be a symptom of a Kawasaki disease, it’s much more commonly associated with a vitamin deficiency, such as folic acid or B-12. The solution could be simply adding a vitamin supplement to your morning smoothie. That’s not so bad, right?
Irregular Red Bumpy Patches:
If your tongue looks like a roughly drawn map of irregular red and bumpy patches, this isn’t a fortune-teller sign that you’ll be going on a trip soon. You might be suffering from a high fever, in which case, taking a long journey overseas is the last thing you should be doing!
Tender, Sore Tongue:
If your tongue is overly sensitive in one spot or all over, you could have a food allergy or a developing canker sore. Don’t worry about it, unless it doesn’t go away for a time. After that, time to call in the dentist for a professional opinion!
Yep, sounds strange, but sometimes a protein build-up can cause small bumps to become elongated trapping food resulting in what looks like strands of hair on your tongue. Usually a good brushing or tongue scraping will take care of it, but if it doesn’t, a trip to the dentist is in order.
Your dentist is the first line of defense against both serious and benign health concerns. So, stick out your tongue at the dentist and be ready for a comprehensive oral checkup. You never know what your tongue might be telling you about your health!
Worried about your tongue or just need to schedule a dental check-up.
5 PORCELAIN VENEER CLEANING AND MAINTENANCE TIPS
There’s no better way to quickly and drastically improve your appearance than by fixing cosmetic dentistry issues with porcelain veneers.
You have to take care of your veneers if you want them to last. Just as you have to clean and maintain your natural teeth in order to keep them bright and beautiful, you must also take steps to ensure that your porcelain veneers continue to enhance your smile for years to come. Otherwise you could start to see plaque and tartar buildup, staining, and other unsightly deterioration.
With proper care, your veneers can last 10 years or more and continue to look just as good as the day you got them. Here are just a few tips to help you clean and maintain your veneers in order to enjoy the greatest longevity.
If you already brush, floss, and rinse with mouthwash after every meal, or at least twice daily, you’re on the right track to keep your dentures clean and well maintained. However, you may need some pointers from your dentist to ensure that you treat your porcelain veneers with proper care.
The biggest problem many people face is learning how to brush and floss with veneers. If you tend to be somewhat aggressive when it comes to cleaning your teeth, you could end up damaging veneers by causing chips or cracks. When veneers have been applied, your dentist can give you a tutorial on how to properly brush and floss around your new dental hardware.
Switch up your toothpaste
In addition to changing your techniques when it comes to dental hygiene, you might want to consider switching your toothpaste after veneers are applied. The reason is because porcelain can be damaged by abrasive substances, including gritty toothpastes meant to polish away surface stains on teeth.
When your dentist chooses veneers, he/she will carefully match them to surrounding teeth so they blend seamlessly with your smile (which is why many patients undergo whitening before getting veneers). A whitening toothpaste can help to prevent your natural teeth from staining and looking different from your veneers over time. It could also help to prevent surface staining on veneers.
Avoid potentially harmful foods
All kinds of foods could end up being harmful to your veneers, as well as your natural teeth. For example, chewing on ice or hard candy could be equally damaging to both, causing unsightly chips and cracks.
On the upside, foods that are known to stain natural teeth, such as coffee, tea, wine, blueberries, and food dyes, just for example, should not adversely affect your veneers. The only problem is that they can stain natural teeth next to veneers, causing a noticeable color difference over time, and you probably want to avoid this.
Kick bad habits
You know that using tobacco products is bad for your health in general, but it can be particularly harmful to your oral health. In addition to the many dangers cigarettes and other tobacco products pose for your health, however, they can also cause damage to natural teeth and veneers due to yellow staining. If you want to protect the appearance of pearly veneers and avoid potential health concerns, kicking tobacco is a good plan.
Visit your dentist regularly
You have a lot of power to preserve your veneers, as well as your natural teeth and your oral health in general. With proper oral hygiene and awareness of how different substances can damage veneers, you can take strides to keep your smile looking fantastic for years.
That said, you still need to see your dentist regularly for cleaning and examination. Even though veneers won’t suffer the same types of deterioration and decay as teeth, you still need to maintain healthy teeth and gums to support long-lasting veneers. Dental professionals not only preserve your natural smile and additions like crowns and veneers, but they can help you determine when you’re ready for replacement products.
Fluoride Treatments In The Dental Office
Instead of visiting the dentist to face the drill, imagine going in for a quick and painless treatment that helps prevent cavities. Sounds pretty great, right? Learn more about fluoride and how these treatments can benefit you.
Fluoride is a naturally-occurring mineral that helps rebuild tooth enamel and reverse early signs of tooth decay. Your body takes in fluoride in two ways: systemically and topically. Systemic fluorides are swallowed, including fluoridated water (most tap water) and dietary fluoride supplements. Topical fluoride is applied directly to the teeth via toothpaste, mouth rinses and treatments at the dentist’s office.
Fluoride helps repair weakened tooth enamel by replenishing lost calcium and phosphate — minerals naturally present in saliva. These minerals also make your teeth more resistant to future decay.
Fluoride treatments applied by a dentist are especially good for people with a higher risk for tooth decay or erosion. If you have dry mouth, weak enamel, poor oral health or if you have crowns, ask your dentist if applying a fluoride varnish would help protect your teeth.
Children can begin getting fluoride treatments at the dentist once their first tooth appears. However, be aware that children under two years old should still use a fluoride-free toothpaste. If too much fluoride is ingested as a young child, before the adult teeth have erupted, it can lead to dental fluorosis.
Don’t worry; the fluoride varnish applied by the dentist is safe to help prevent tooth decay in children. They only use a small amount of fluoride, and hardly any fluoride gets swallowed.
Professional fluoride treatments usually only take a few minutes. The fluoride might come in the form of a gel, foam or varnish. It can be applied with a swab or brush or placed in a tray held in the mouth for a few minutes.
After the treatment is applied, don’t eat or drink for at least 30 minutes to allow your teeth to absorb the fluoride and help repair microscopic areas of decay.
Depending on your oral health, Dr. Said may recommend fluoride treatments every 6–12 months. If you’re at a higher risk of developing tooth decay, Dr. Said might also recommend other preventive measures, such as over-the-counter or prescription fluoride mouth rinses or gels, or an antibacterial mouth rinse.
Ask Dr. Said about the benefits of fluoride treatments, and keep up your daily dental hygiene regimen. They’re both excellent ways to help maintain your strong, healthy smile.