Category: Food & Teeth

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.

 

 

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.

Eating for Healthy Teeth

Nutrition for healthy teethDental health isn’t only about keeping your teeth clean and having regular checkups. (Although those two things are really important.) You might be surprised how important your diet is to maintaining good oral health. Of course we all know that too much sugar can cause cavities, but the links between diet and teeth go much deeper than that.

 

The Good

Balanced nutrition is important to both your overall health and keeping your teeth healthy, but here are some specifics to consider:

  • Water – Drinking lots of water is good for you in general, and it’s good for your teeth, too. Especially if your city’s water is fluoridated, water straight from the tap can really help your teeth stay healthy.
  • Dairy – Milk, cheese, and yogurt provide calcium your teeth need to stay strong. They’re also low in sugar (unless your yogurt has added sugar—be sure to read the label!) which makes them a good overall choice.
  • Protein – Meat, poultry, fish, and eggs are rich in phosphorus and proteins that are essential for healthy enamel. (Lean options are best.) Low-carbohydrate nuts are a also great choice, since the bacteria that cause cavities need those carbs to survive.
  • Fruits & Vegetables – High-fiber, low-sugar plats are great for your teeth. Chewing these foods helps to keep your teeth clean by stimulating saliva production, and your body will thank you for the vitamins and minerals, too.
  • Grains – Whole grains are an important part of a balanced diet, and therefore they’re important for your teeth, too. Choose whole grains like oatmeal, whole wheat, and brown rice.

The Bad

Avoid sugar—particularly added sugar (even in your coffee). But beyond this first rule, here are some other foods to avoid:

  • Sticky Foods – Anything sticky can cause problems, because sticky food stays in your mouth longer, giving bacteria time to multiply with a ready food source. Be sure to brush after eating anything sticky—even healthier foods like dried fruits.
  • Soda & Sports Drinks – Drink water instead of sugary drinks. Many sports drinks are surprisingly high in sugar, and soda certainly is. Break the habit and switch to plain water. Your teeth (and your waistline) will thank you for it.
  • Starches – Crispy snacks like chips are delicious, but those starches tend to get caught in teeth, again giving cavity-causing bacteria time to grow. Don’t indulge too often, and remember to floss thoroughly to be sure you don’t leave anything behind.
  • Citrus – Although high in vitamin C, citrus fruits are also very acidic, and regular exposure to that acid can erode enamel and make your teeth vulnerable to decay. Drinking lots of water when eating citrus can help mitigate the risks.
  • Ice – Cold drinks are great, but chewing ice is really hard on your teeth. The combination of cold and stress from biting into such a hard substance can damage enamel, and even crack or break teeth in some cases.

Halloween Perils

The leaves are falling, the wind is blowing, and little ghouls & goblins (and princesses and superheroes) are soon to be making the rounds. Halloween can be a lot of fun, of course—parties, trick-or-treating, dressing up—but it’s also probably the worst time of the year for your dental health.

Halloween candy is a delicious treat, but it can be a nasty trick you unwittingly play on your teeth.

Halloween Candy - delicious but bad for your teethThe worst candies you can eat are the sticky, chewy candies like caramels for example. The candy sticks to the teeth for a long time, giving the cavity-forming bacteria in your mouth longer to cause cavities, and they are known to pull off crowns and fillings.

– Dr. Meyer

Keep Teeth Safe This Halloween

Sure, Halloween candy can be bad for your teeth, but just a couple common-sense steps can make a big difference in limiting—or even preventing—the damage before it begins.

Monitor candy intake.

Be sure you know when your kids are eating candy. For example, don’t let them keep candy in their rooms to be eaten after bedtime tooth brushing. Limit how much candy your kids eat in a day—sugar is hard on more than just your teeth—and be sure they keep their teeth clean. (Which leads to our next suggestion.)

Up your brushing regimen.

A little extra brushing never hurts. Kids want a treat? Make a post-treat brushing part of the deal. Additional attention to keeping teeth clean (including flossing) will go a long way towards keeping teeth healthy. A big glass of water after a treat helps too.

Our Favorite Treats

(Yes, dentists enjoy treats too.)

What’s your favorite Halloween treat?

  • Meyer: My favorite Halloween treat is a caramel apple.
  • Johns: Reece’s peanut butter cups or Snickers.

How do you care for your teeth after you indulge?

  • Meyer: I will brush my teeth as soon as possible after eating the caramel apple. If not able to do that, I will at the least rinse with water thoroughly.
  • Johns: After some serious candy consumption I always just make sure to scrub my teeth extra long and go over every part of each tooth many times over. I do love Halloween and all that comes with it. Can’t wait to snag a few pieces from my kids stash. Good times.

Have fun this Halloween, but be sure to remember your teeth!