Category: Tooth Protection

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.

 

 

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.

 

Acid Reflux: Hard on Your Teeth, Too

Acid Reflux is a condition that occurs when intestinal fluids escape your stomach into your esophagus and even your mouth. It can cause heartburn, bad breath, sinus infections, and difficulty swallowing. Fatty foods, or foods high in acid such as tomatoes or citrus fruits, can trigger reflux, as can caffeine and alcohol.

What many people may not realize is that reflux can negatively impact your dental health as well.

What Does This Have to Do with Teeth?

Gastric Acid

Increased acidity in your mouth can weaken and erode tooth enamel, particularly rear molars. In fact, your dentist may be the first to notice reflux concerns, as heartburn isn’t a symptom for everyone.
If you do experience reflux, avoid brushing your teeth immediately after an episode, as brushing could further damage teeth weakened by stomach acid. Instead, rinse your mouth well with water, or (even better) with a baking soda solution to reduce the acidity in your mouth. Chewing some sugar-free gum can help too, if rinsing for some reason isn’t immediately practical.

Experiencing Reflux?

Over-the-counter medications can ease reflux symptoms, but if you have concerns about acid reflux, you should speak to your physician.

You should also be sure to keep twice-yearly dental appointments to help identify dental and other health warning signs. We can also provide recommendations for mitigating enamel erosion and other dental issues—Meyer & Johns is always here to help.