Nutrition: What You Eat Affects Your Teeth

Family eating a healthy meal

Your mouth, teeth, and gums are more than just tools for eating. They’re essential for chewing and swallowing—the first steps in the digestion process. Your mouth is your body’s initial point of contact with the nutrients you consume. So what you put in your mouth impacts not only your general health but also that of your teeth and gums. In fact, if your nutrition is poor, the first signs often show up in your mouth. read more

How to Avoid Cavities During the Holiday Season – American Dental Association

Buffet picture of food

6 Tips for Cavity-Free Holidays

Timing matters

Timing matters. While everything is fine in moderation, it helps to eat sweets and other sugary foods with meals or shortly after mealtime. Saliva production increases during meals and helps cancel out acids produced by bacteria in your mouth and helps rinse away food particles.

Source: How to Avoid Cavities During the Holiday Season – American Dental Association

Travel Tips for Dental Health – American Dental Association

Vacation marked on a calendar

8 Travel Tips for Your Teeth

Make Time for a Checkup

Even when you’re dreaming about vacation, there’s no place like home–especially a dental home base. “Prevention isn’t only taking care of your teeth,” Dr. Messina says. “It’s establishing a relationship with a dentist.” If you can, schedule your next regular visit before your trip. “Have a thorough exam so we can spot any problems before they happen,” Dr. Messina says. You’ll have peace of mind, and your dentist will have the most up-to-date information on your teeth, including x-rays.
Source: Travel Tips for Dental Health – American Dental Association

Fluoride – From MouthHealthy.org


Fluoride is often called nature’s cavity fighter and for good reason. Fluoride, a naturally-occurring mineral, helps prevent cavities in children and adults by making the outer surface of your teeth (enamel) more resistant to the acid attacks that cause tooth decay.

How Does Fluoride Protect Teeth?

Fluoride benefits both children and adults. Here’s how:

Before teeth break through the gums, the fluoride taken in from foods, beverages and dietary supplements makes tooth enamel (the hard surface of the tooth) stronger, making it easier to resist tooth decay. This provides what is called a “systemic” benefit.

After teeth erupt, fluoride helps rebuild (remineralize) weakened tooth enamel and reverses early signs of tooth decay. When you brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste, or use other fluoride dental products, the fluoride is applied to the surface of your teeth. This provides what is called a “topical” benefit.

In addition, the fluoride you take in from foods and beverages continues to provide a topical benefit because it becomes part of your saliva, constantly bathing the teeth with tiny amounts of fluoride that help rebuild weakened tooth enamel.

How Do I Get Fluoride?

Drink Water with Fluoride 
Fluoride is naturally found in most all water sources, rivers, lakes, wells and even the oceans. For the past 70 years, fluoride has been added to public water supplies to bring fluoride levels up to the amount necessary to help prevent tooth decay.

Community water fluoridation is like drinking milk fortified with Vitamin D or eating bread and cereals enriched with folic acid. Before water fluoridation, children had about three times as many cavities.  Because of the important role it has played in the reduction of tooth decay, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has proclaimed community water fluoridation one of ten great public health achievements of the 20th century. Studies prove water fluoridation continues to help prevent tooth decay by at least 25% in children and adults, even with fluoride available from other sources, such as toothpaste.  Today, almost 75 percent of the U.S. population is served by fluoridated community water systems.

Learn more about water fluoridation.

 

Use Toothpaste and Mouthrinse with Fluoride
Toothpaste with fluoride has been responsible for a significant drop in cavities since 1960. Look for one with the ADA Seal of Acceptance to make sure it contains fluoride.

  • Brush twice a day (morning and night) or as directed by your dentist and physician.
  • For children younger than 3 years, start brushing their teeth as soon as they start to appear in the mouth by using fluoride toothpaste in an amount no more than a smear or the size of a grain of rice.
  • For children 3 to 6 years old, use no more than a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.
  • Always supervise your child’s brushing to make sure they use the right amount and try to get your child to spit out most of the toothpaste.

Mouthwash with fluoride can help make your teeth more resistant to decay, but children six years or younger should not use it unless it’s been recommended by a dentist. Many children younger than 6 are more likely to swallow it than spit it out because their swallowing reflexes aren’t fully developed.

 

Visit Your Dentist for a Professional Application
If you have a good chance of getting cavities, your dentist can apply fluoride directly to your teeth during your dental visit with a gel, foam or rinse.

 

Take a Fluoride Supplement
Available by prescription only, fluoride supplements come in tablet, drop or lozenge forms. They are recommended only for children ages six months to 16 years living in areas without adequate amounts of fluoride in their community drinking water and who are at high risk of developing cavities. Talk to your dentist, pediatrician or family physician about your child’s specific fluoride needs.

Source: Fluoride – From MouthHealthy.org

Why Water Is Good for Your Teeth – American Dental Association

Bottled water and a glass of water

4 Reasons Water Is the Best Beverage for Your Teeth

It doesn’t matter if your glass is half-empty or half-full: Drinking water is always good for your health. Our bodies are made of 60% water, and staying hydrated helps your system distribute healthy nutrients, gets rid of waste, gives your skin a healthy glow and keeps your muscles moving. Sipping water is also one of the best things you can do for your teeth – especially if it’s fluoridated. Read on to find out why water is always a winner for your dental health.

It Strengthens Your Teeth

Drinking water with fluoride (called “nature’s cavity fighter”) is one of the easiest and most beneficial things you can do to help prevent cavities.

A modern-day tale of two cities shows what a difference fluoride makes, especially in community water systems. In 2011, the Canadian city of Calgary stopped adding fluoride to its water. Curious about the impact, researchers compared Calgary second graders with kids in the same age group in Edmonton, a Canadian city that has had fluoridated water since 1967. Their research, published in the February 2016 journal Community Dentistry and Oral Epidemiology, found children in non-fluoridated Calgary had more tooth decay than children in the city with uninterrupted fluoridation.

It Keeps Your Mouth Clean

Drinking juice, soda or sports drinks may help you wash down your dinner, but they can leave unwanted sugar behind on your teeth. The cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth love to eat sugar and produce acid that wears away enamel, which is the outer shell of your teeth. Many of these drinks also have added acids (phosphoric, citrus or malic acid) to make them taste less sweet, but those acids also cause trouble by eroding away enamel.

Water, however, cleans your mouth with every sip. It washes away leftover food and residue that cavity-causing bacteria are looking for. It also dilutes the acids produced by the bacteria in your mouth. You’ll still need to brush twice a day for two minutes and clean between your teeth, but drinking water through the day will go a long way toward keeping your smile cavity-free.

It Fights Dry Mouth

Saliva is your mouth’s first defense against tooth decay. It washes away leftover food, helps you swallow with ease and keeps your teeth strong by washing them with calcium, phosphate and fluoride.

When your saliva supply runs low, dry mouth may put you at risk for tooth decay. Drinking water can help cut your risk as you and your dentist work to find the best long-term solution for you.

It’s Calorie-Free

Sweetened drinks that are high in sugar and calories, create a perfect storm that puts you at risk for cavities and other unhealthy consequences like weight gain. In fact, studies have shown that drinking water can actually help you lose weight. So the next time you need a drink, go guilt-free with water to take care of your body and your smile.

Source: Why Water Is Good for Your Teeth – American Dental Association

Top Risk Factors for Oral Cancer – American Dental Association

Early oral cancer detection can happen at the dentist.

The Top 7 Risk Factors for Oral Cancer

You know your dentist is looking for cavities during regular check-ups, but you may not realize your dentist can check for cancer at the same time. It’s estimated that approximately 51,540 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer and cancers of the throat, tonsils and back of the tongue in 2018.

Regular visits to your dentist can help you detect such cancers early, and changing a few potentially harmful habits may help reduce your chances of developing them. Read on to find out the top risk factors.

Source: Top Risk Factors for Oral Cancer – American Dental Association

Mouthguards Prevent Dental Injuries – Association

Mouthguard

Mouthguards

Imagine what it would be like if you suddenly lost one or two of your front teeth. Smiling, talking, eating—everything would suddenly be affected. Knowing how to prevent injuries to your mouth and face is especially important if you participate in organized sports or other recreational activities.

Mouthguards, also called mouth protectors, help cushion a blow to the face, minimizing the risk of broken teeth and injuries to your lips, tongue, face or jaw. They typically cover the upper teeth and are a great way to protect the soft tissues of your tongue, lips and cheek lining. “Your top teeth take the brunt of trauma because they stick out more,” says Dr. Thomas Long, a private practice dentist and team dentist for the Carolina Hurricanes professional hockey team. “Your bottom teeth are a little more protected because they are further back.”

When Should You Wear a Mouthguard?

When it comes to protecting your mouth, a mouthguard is an essential piece of athletic gear that should be part of your standard equipment from an early age.

While collision and contact sports, such as boxing, are higher-risk sports for the mouth, any athlete may experience a dental injury in non-contact activities too, such as gymnastics and skating.

Types of Mouthguards

The best mouthguard is one that has been custom made for your mouth by your dentist. However, if you can’t afford a custom-made mouthguard, you should still wear a stock mouthguard or a boil-and-bite mouthguard from the drugstore. Learn more about each option:

  • Custom-made: These are made by your dentist for you personally. They are more expensive than the other versions because they are individually created for fit and comfort.
  • Boil and bite: These mouth protectors can be bought at many sporting goods stores and drugstores and may offer a better fit than stock mouth protectors. They are first softened in water (boiled), then inserted and allowed to adapt to the shape of your mouth. Always follow the manufacturers’ instructions.  CustMbite MVP and CustMbite Pro are a boil and bite mouthguards that have earned the ADA Seal of Acceptance.
  • Stock: These are inexpensive and come pre-formed, ready to wear. Unfortunately, they often don’t fit very well. They can be bulky and can make breathing and talking difficult.

Protecting Your Braces

A properly fitted mouthguard may be especially important for people who wear braces or have fixed bridge work. A blow to the face could damage the brackets or other fixed orthodontic appliances. A mouthguard also provides a barrier between the braces and your cheek or lips, which will help you avoid injuries to your gums and cheeks.

Talk to your dentist or orthodontist about selecting a mouthguard that will provide the right protection. Although some mouthguards only cover the upper teeth, your dentist or orthodontist may suggest that you use a mouthguard on the lower teeth if you have braces on these teeth.

If you have a retainer or other removable appliance, do not wear it during any contact sports.

Mouthguard Care and Replacement

Talk to your dentist about when is the right time to replace your mouthguard, but replace it immediately if it shows sign of wear, is damaged or ill fitting. Teens and children may need to replace their mouthguards more often because their mouths are still growing and changing.

  • Between games, it’s important to keep your mouthguard clean and dry. Here are some tips for making sure your mouthguard is always ready to go:
  • Rinse before and after each use or brush with a toothbrush and toothpaste.
  • Regularly clean the mouthguard in cool, soapy water. Then, rinse it thoroughly.
  • During your regular dental checkups, bring your mouthguard for an evaluation. Your dentist may also be able to give it a thorough cleaning.
  • Store and transport the mouthguard in a sturdy container that has vents so it can dry and keep bacteria from growing.
  • Never leave the mouthguard in the sun or in hot water.
  • Check fit and for signs of wear and tear to see if it needs replacing.
  • Some mouthguards have fallen victim to family pets, who see them as chew toys. Store your mouthguard and case somewhere your pet cannot get to it.

More from MouthHealthy

Source: Mouthguards Prevent Dental Injuries – Association

Foods That Affect Your Dental Health – American Dental Association

Family eating a healthy meal

Nutrition: What You Eat Affects Your Teeth

Your mouth, teeth, and gums are more than just tools for eating. They’re essential for chewing and swallowing—the first steps in the digestion process. Your mouth is your body’s initial point of contact with the nutrients you consume. So what you put in your mouth impacts not only your general health but also that of your teeth and gums. In fact, if your nutrition is poor, the first signs often show up in your mouth. Here are a few helpful things to know about how what you eat can impact your dental health.

Source: Foods That Affect Your Dental Health – American Dental Association

Cold and Flu Season: 5 Ways to Care for Your Mouth When You’re Sick – ADA

When he’s feeling under the weather, ADA dentist Dr. Gene Romo says one thing always helps him feel a little more like himself. “Brushing my teeth when I’m sick actually makes me feel better,” he says. “My mouth feels clean, and in a way, I feel like my health is starting to improve.”

When you have a cold or the flu, taking care of your body is your top priority—and that includes your mouth. “It’s important to take care of your dental health all year round, but especially when you’re sick,” Dr. Romo says.

Here are some simple ways to care for your dental health when you’re not feeling well:

Practice Good Hygiene

When you’re sick, you know to cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze. Don’t forget to keep up your dental and toothbrush hygiene as well.

According to the CDC, the flu virus can live on moist surfaces for 72 hours. “The number one rule is not to share your toothbrush anytime, but especially when you are sick,” Dr. Romo says.

You also probably don’t need to replace your toothbrush after you’ve been sick. Unless your immune system is severely compromised, the chances of reinfecting yourself are very low. “But if you’re still in doubt, throw it out,” says Dr. Romo. “Especially if you’ve had your toothbrush for 3-4 months, when it’s time to replace it anyway.”

Choose Sugar-Free Cough Drops

Read the label before you pick up a bag at the drug store with an eye to avoid ingredients like fructose or corn syrup. “Many cough drops contain sugar, and it is like sucking on candy,” says Dr. Romo. “Sugar is a culprit when it comes to cavities.” The longer you keep a sugary cough drop in your mouth, the more time cavity-causing bacteria has to feast on that sugar, which produces the acid that can leave holes in your teeth.

Swish and Spit After Vomiting

One unfortunate side effect of a stomach flu, among other illnesses, is vomiting. You might be tempted to brush your teeth right away, but Dr. Romo says it’s actually better to wait. “When you vomit, stomach acids are coming in contact with your teeth and coating them,” he says. “If you brush too soon, you’re just rubbing that acid all over the hard outer shell of your teeth.”

Instead, swish with water, a diluted mouth rinse or a mixture of water and 1 tsp. baking soda to help wash the acid away. Spit, and brush about 30 minutes later.

Stay Hydrated to Avoid Dry Mouth

When you’re sick, you need plenty of fluids for many reasons. One is to prevent dry mouth. Not only is it uncomfortable—dry mouth can also put you at greater risk for cavities. The medications you might be taking for a cold or flu—such as antihistamines, decongestants or pain relievers—can also dry out your mouth, so drink plenty of water and suck on sugarless cough drops, throat lozenges or candies to keep that saliva flowing.

Choose the Right Fluids

When it comes to your mouth and your body, one beverage is always best. “The safest thing to drink is water,” Dr. Romo says. “Sports drinks might be recommended to replenish electrolytes when you’re sick, but drink them in moderation and don’t make them a habit after you’ve recovered because unless they are a sugar free version, they contain a lot of sugar.”

You might also want something to warm you up. “When you have a cold or the flu, you may want something comforting to get through it, like tea,” he says. “Try not to add sugar or lemon if you can avoid it. Sugar can helps to fuel cavity-causing bacteria, and lemon is acidic. It’s something to keep in mind once you’re feeling 100% again, as well.”

More from MouthHealthy

5 Reasons Your Smile Is Stronger Than You Think

The right smile can leave you laughing, fill you with joy or make you melt with emotion. But, ultimately, the best smile is one that is healthy and strong. Here are some of the “tooth truths” about how tough your teeth really are – and how to keep them that way.

1. Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the body.

The shiny, white enamel that covers your teeth is even stronger than bone. This resilient surface is 96 percent mineral, the highest percentage of any tissue in your body – making it durable and damage-resistant.

2. Your bite is powerful!

Did you know your teeth can exert an average of 200 pounds of pressure when you bite down? That’s probably what tempts us to use our teeth as tools from time to time – but as your dentist will remind you, that’s one of the worst habits when it comes to preserving healthy teeth.

3. Teeth can last for hundreds of years.

Thanks to the durability of tooth enamel, our teeth actually outlast us. In fact, some of the most fascinating things we know about human history come from the study of our forebears’ dental remains. For example, we know that the first travelers to leave Africa for China set out as many as 80,000 years ago – and that early humans used a simple form of aspirin for pain relief – thanks to teeth!

4. Strong as they are, teeth can’t heal on their own.

All other tissues in our bodies have the power to repair themselves, but our teeth can’t. When damaged, they must be repaired by a skilled dentist using caps, crowns, fillings or veneers. When our teeth fall out, the only options are partial or full dentures or dental implants. (Just one more reason to take great care of your teeth every day!)

5. Healthy teeth have the power to resist decay, but they need our help.

Did you know there are more than 300 kinds of bacteria that can attack your teeth? The good news is that with healthy dental hygiene habits and regular checkups, you can protect your teeth from bacteria and other substances that can weaken teeth and cause decay.

In addition to cleaning and checking your teeth for signs of trouble, your ADA dentist and their team can help you learn what food and drink choices are good for your teeth and which ones to avoid. The professionals in your dental office are also ready to help you create a personalized plan to care for your teeth so you can enjoy good dental health for life.

 

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