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Summer Fruit: How to keep your teeth just as healthy as your diet

fruits acids and teeth
You know to avoid sugary drinks, but even some fresh fruits can impact your teeth.  

Today, June 20, marks the Summer Solstice, signaling the peak season for outdoor activities, including picnics and cookouts. All those smells and tastes may bring back fond summertime memories. But did you know that juicy tomatoes and fresh-squeezed lemonade contain acid that can be hard on your teeth?

While most any fruit or vegetable is a healthy food choice, you should be aware of the effects on your tooth health. Those foods that have high acidity could be damaging, since acid can remain on teeth and break down your tooth enamel, the protective layer on exterior of your teeth.

Fruit Acid

Acid content is measured its pH value, with 7.0 indicating neutral acidity. These pH levels are ranked on a descending scale, so a pH level of 0 indicates the highest acid level. The higher numbers (from 7.0 -14.0) are lowest pH, also classified as “alkaline”, or non-acidic.

The FDA ranks the average acidity of foods, and it turns out that many summer staples made the wrong end of the list. Several of our Meyer & Johns staff’s favorite fresh seasonal fruits are in the Top Ten most-acidic foods, according to Colgate:

  •    Lemon Juice – #1
  •    Limes – #2
  •    Grapes – #5
  •    Blueberries – #8

Click here for the full rankings of acid content for common fresh fruits and vegetables, as published by the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

 

Solutions

The good news is that there are  easy remedies for reducing the residual acid on teeth.

  • Drink – The simplest solution is the most important – for both physical AND oral health. Drinking plenty of water ensures that any remaining food particles, plaque-causing sugars or residual acids are flushed away. Drinking enough water is also critical for proper hydration during the sweaty summer months.
  • Dairy – Besides naturally reducing acid in your mouth, milk, cheeses and other dairy products contain calcium and casein (milk protein). Both of these help strengthen teeth and protect your enamel.
  • Brush – As always, we recommend brushing after meals or sugary snacks. This may not be easy at picnics, cookouts or the lake, but it’s still the most effective way to keep a healthy smile.

 

If you have questions about how different foods affect your overall oral health, contact us or ask during your next regular visit.

 

 

Manual vs. Electric: Toothbrushes Go Head-to-Head

manual vs. electric toothbrushes
Manual vs. Electric: Which is right for you?

Did you know? The earliest recorded use of toothbrushes occurred in China in the 7th Century, A.D. They utilized bamboo for handles, and bristles made from hog’s hair specially sourced from Siberia for its coarser, stiffer texture. Eww…

Toothbrushes have come a long way since then. Some of today’s modern innovations include prototype models that use mild electrical charges to dislodge plaque from teeth. With numerous traditional and electric toothbrush products available, as well as brush stiffness options, consumers face a lot of choices. We’ll help you break them down:

Manual

The most obvious benefit of traditional models is simplicity – pick it up, apply toothpaste and go. Additionally, manual toothbrushes are relatively inexpensive (or even free with checkups at Meyer & Johns Dental!) The main drawback of manuals is human error, with the most common mistakes being inconsistent cleaning of all tooth surfaces, and using too much/too little pressure.

Electric

There are many benefits to electric toothbrushes. Both oscillating (rotating head) and sonic (vibrating head) models offer superior cleaning, removing an average of 21 percent more plaque than traditional brushes, according to Consumer Reports. Electrics were also recommended for arthritis sufferers or others with dexterity issues that prevent effective manual brushing. Additionally, use of an electric model was shown to reduce gingivitis by 11 percent, likely due to the more consistent brush-on-tooth pressure that they allow.

Cost is the primary drawback to electrics. In addition to the base unit, users must purchase more-expensive replacement brush heads, which must be changed roughly as often as traditional brushes. Additionally, they must remain charged, and the corded bases are less compact, which may be cumbersome for frequent travelers.

For Kids

Children’s electrics offer the best of both worlds. Besides delivering enhanced plaque removal, nearly all models include an automatic timer. This supports development of good brushing habits by notifying the child when they’ve finished the recommended two-minute brushing time.

 

Consumer Reports dental adviser Jay W. Friedman, D.D.S. noted that – regardless of toothbrush model – the important thing is to keep brushing. But he also warned against over-brushing, which can degrade enamel and cause gums to recede.

Whatever your choice, Meyer & Johns Dental wants you to BRUSH! Ask us the next time you schedule your regular check-up, and we’ll help you choose the brushes that are best for your family’s unique needs.

Spring Sports Protection

Mouthguards protect young athletes' teeth
Spring means warm weather and outdoor sports. Protect your athlete’s teeth!

On a sunny summer afternoon on a dusty baseball diamond, the crack of a line drive rings out. As the infielder stoops to make the play, a ripple in the dirt causes a bad hop and the ball ricochets up, hitting them in the mouth. This player is lucky – the result is just a bloody lip, but other times the damage can be more serious.

As the weather turns warm and kids migrate back outside for play, activities or sports, parents may need to consider a mouthguard to protect young athletes. As with most parenting decisions, the choice is highly individualized and subjective, and should be based on;

  •   risk potential (contact vs. non-contact sports)
  •   the competitive environment, and
  •   the intensity at which your athlete performs.

 

The Best Defense is…

Though there are variable factors, the risks are very real. A 2014 report on the National Institutes of Health website notes that sports injuries account for 13% of all childhood dental trauma, and boys are twice as likely as girls to be injured. The long standing-recommendation has been the use of a protective mouthguard to prevent external and tooth-on-tooth damage from impacts during competitive play. Of course, special precautions must be taken for players with braces or other orthodontic devices.

However, most guards represent a delicate balancing act between comfort and safety. Some offer excellent protection, but it’s due to their thick material or bulky design. Those factors may make them uncomfortable, and can cause athletes to avoid or “forget” to wear them. And the 1st rule of any protective equipment is: it’s only effective if it’s used. So make sure your athlete is involved and comfortable with the choice.

There are three main types of mouthguard, each with benefits and drawbacks.

Custom Dental

Custom mouthguards protect the best, but can be pricey. 

Customized guards are the most precise-fitting devices, created with molds made from plaster casts of the patient’s own teeth. These are also the most expensive option, but provide superior protection, quality, and comfort. Their custom nature accommodates unique mouth dimensions and tooth irregularities, while maintaining optimal thickness across all surfaces. The fitting of a custom mouthguard must also be overseen by a dental professional.

Boil-and-Bite

boil-and-bite mouthguard
Self-fitting mouthguards offer economical protection.

Recent advances in over-the-counter consumer products allow at-home fitting with self-molding kits. These packages cost a fraction of the custom price, and are available in most sporting goods stores and online retailers. The process consists of dipping the device in boiling water to soften the composite plastic, cooling it briefly to avoid burns, then biting into the gel to mold the guard to the patient’s teeth. While not as comfortable as custom guards, this option can be viable for patients with braces, and provides superior protection to traditional rubber guards.

 

Traditional 

Basic guards are fine for most low-impact sports

Designed mainly to protect chipping caused by tooth-on-tooth contact, these one-size-fits-all guards do little to protect teeth against exterior impacts to the mouth, chin or jaw areas. The upside is that they are very inexpensive, making them an affordable option for low mouth-risk sports or forgetful athletes who are prone to losing things.

Broader Benefits

Regardless of the sport or possible dental injury, active kids are healthy kids. Get them up, move them outdoors, and keep them playing – the benefits of exercise far outweigh any potential risks for most kids and teens. And if you have concerns about choosing a mouthguard for your young athlete, contact us with questions and we’ll be happy to discuss the available options.

 

Revenge of the Peeps – Winning the holiday candy battle

brushing teeth fights candy residue
Holidays like Easter are great times to reinforce healthy brushing habits with children.

According to CNBC, Easter barely edged out Halloween in 2016 as the most candy-ful holiday in the U.S., with $823 million in sales. But if you’re a parent, all the numbers boil down to one thing – your little one probably has jellybeans and marshmallow Peeps stuck in their tiny teeth this week.

Easter is a great opportunity to teach or reinforce good brushing habits with your kids. It’s also good time to establish expectations about consuming candy and sweets. This is important for not just their dental health, but also for overall nutrition and healthy eating habits.

Too Early?

Parents can begin brushing from the appearance of baby’s first teeth. You should continue to brush and/or supervise the child’s daily mouth care routine until they are ready for elementary school. The American Dental Association recommends that by the time your child can tie their own shoes, they should also be able to brush and floss their teeth by themselves.

Some standard guidelines for brushing kids’ teeth;

  •    Children should use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and not swallow it
  •    Clean all tooth surfaces – inside, outside, and tops – all the way to the gum line
  •    Brush gently, back and forth
  •    Don’t forget to brush that tongue!

You can begin flossing and letting children help brush their own teeth at around age four. Of course, you should supervise and help form healthy brushing habits from the beginning. Additionally, candy-heavy holidays like Easter, Halloween and Christmas are the perfect opportunity to teach kids where, when and how much candy its appropriate to consume.

If you need additional tips or help teaching your kids how to brush their teeth, let us know in the message section when you schedule your next check-up.