You’ve been there — a late wake-up, rushing out the door, needing to put anything in your stomach to start the day. And the only thing available to eat that doesn’t require a plate or utensils is… Pizza. And so pizza is what you eat for breakfast.
Contrary to many opinions, that cold leftover slice isn’t really awful for you. As for your teeth, a good brushing is all that’s required to erase the evidence in your mouth… though it won’t help with your dietary guilt. And that’s true for most foods: as long as you remove excess food residue, what you eat for breakfast won’t harm your teeth.
Brushing Away OJ? Don’t.
A new school of thought has emerged that brushing before breakfast is as effective as brushing after. And provided that breakfast isn’t anything with excessive sugar (sweetened cereals, syrup, jelly/jam), this is true.
But according to the Mayo Clinic (via lifehacker.com), when you brush is even more important than what you eat for breakfast. However, the Mayo experts note that the exception to this rule is when consuming food or drink that contains high levels of acid, including fresh fruits and orange juice – both of which are breakfast staples. That’s because the naturally-occurring sugars and acid in these foods temporarily weaken the tooth enamel, and normal brushing can actually cause damage. For this reason, it is recommended that you either brush before breakfast, or wait at least 30 minutes after eating.
A Healthy Diet DOES Matter
However, there are many nutrition choices that really do matter to your mouth. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, several specific foods contribute to good dental and overall health. They recommend eating these:
Calcium-rich foods —including milk, yogurt and cheese, fortified soy products, canned salmon, almonds and dark leafy greens— help promote tooth and bone health.
Eggs, fish, lean meat, dairy, nuts, and beans contain phosphorus, which is good for strong bones and tooth enamel.
For good gum health and immune functions, eat plenty of foods rich in Vitamin C, including citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, potatoes, and spinach.
Always remember that the best plan is to brush after eating if you can – Even if it means you have to rinse away acidic food residue with water before brushing. If you have more questions about making healthy food choices for your body AND mouth, ask Drs. Meyer or Johns at your next appointment.
Do you ever wake up with a sore jaw, neck, mouth or a headache? If so, you may suffer from Bruxism – often referred to simply as teeth-grinding. If you’re married, chances are your partner may have heard or seen your jaw clenching away in the night.
… or more serious?
But it’s more than just an annoyance to spouses. Grinding can be a symptom of a bigger health issue. Sleep experts note that their studies show that both bruxism and GERD (acid reflux) have been linked to health risks including stroke, heart disease, arrhythmias and esophageal cancer.
An increasing number of mouth, nose and throat disorders are being linked to unusual cranio-facial development. Additional research is also showing that teeth-grinding may be symptom of obstructed breathing during sleep. Known as upper airway resistance syndrome (UARS), this collection of conditions can be serious. They can be a precursor to the more serious sleep apnea— where breathing actually stops for seconds at a time, dozens or even hundreds of times each night.
Regardless of the cause, bruxism has serious side affects (cracked or broken teeth, damage to existing dental work, loss of sleep) and shouldn’t be ignored. The good news is that there are numerous options that not only prevent nighttime grinding, but also help with UARS. If you find yourself clenching or grinding during the day, relax! Dr. Meyer specifically recommends a simple repetitive reminder of “Lips together, teeth apart.”
If you suspect you may be grinding your teeth, or have unexplained tooth wear or damage, talk to us. We’ll check for problems and recommend a mouthguard, splint or other solution that can help.
What if you could simply take a daily pill to reduce your risk of cavities? There’s no such Silver Bullet today, but it is a very real possibility for the future.
That prediction is based on the findings of a 2016 study by University of Florida Health. Published by the journal Applied and Environmental Microbiology, the study identified a new strain of bacteria – a form of Streptococcus, called A12. Researchers from the University of Florida College of Dentistry were originally trying to determine the causes of high pH in the mouth. But in the process, they discovered that A12 had an unexpected benefit. It combats “bad” bacteria in the mouth, specifically bacteria which cause excess acid in saliva.
The Importance of Acid
As we discussed in our last post, too-high pH levels can erode enamel and damage teeth. The discovery of A12’s acid-neutralizing powers could lead to probiotic supplements to boost its concentration in the mouth. That simple pill could balance oral pH and help keep your teeth strong and healthy.
While this new development might someday help protect against cavities, it wouldn’t replace healthy brushing habits or regular visits to Meyer & Johns Dental. If you are overdue for your six-month check-up, schedule it today!
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?
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.
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.