Chocolate And Your Teeth
UNDER MOST CIRCUMSTANCES, dentists are not fans of candy. The sugar in candy is the favorite food of bacteria that cause tooth decay. However, when it comes to chocolate, certain types may actually be good for oral health!
To be clear, this is not a blog post in which we give you a free pass to eat all the chocolate you want. Only certain types of chocolate have any health benefits, and too much of even the healthiest kinds probably isn’t a good thing.
All Chocolate Is Not Created Equal
How can you tell where any given chocolate falls on the spectrum from most processed to least? It helps to know a little about how chocolate is made. The most important ingredient is the cocoa bean. After fermenting, the beans can either be roasted and made into cocoa powder, or cold pressed into cacao powder, which retains more of the original nutrients. You’ll get the most nutrients from cacao nibs or powder, but the stuff is pretty bitter and the chocolatey taste isn’t as strong.
If you’d rather stick with the chocolate you’re used to, there are still factors to consider. The main ingredients in a chocolate bar are cocoa solids, cocoa butter, sugar, and milk (if it’s milk chocolate). White chocolate is made with cocoa butter and sugar and contains no cocoa solids, so it has none of the beneficial nutrients. Milk chocolate tends to contain at most 10 percent cocoa solids, so the tiny amount of nutrients from the cocoa beans is offset by a ton of sugar. Not a healthy choice. But let’s talk about dark chocolate.
The Benefits Of Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate, particularly 70 percent cocoa (or cacao) or higher, is where you’ll start hearing buzzwords like “superfood.” That’s because the cocoa bean is full of healthy antioxidants–specifically, polyphenols, flavonoids, and tannins–and dark chocolate has enough cocoa in it to keep most of them. Bonus points: there isn’t much sugar.
Antioxidants have all kinds of benefits for overall health, but let’s focus on oral health. Saliva is the mouth’s first line of defense against tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath, and antioxidants play a crucial role in all of those. They help stabilize and strengthen your own oral tissues, protect against cell mutation, and make it harder for harmful bacteria to flourish.
Chocolate Still Isn’t Everything
Like we said before, this blog post isn’t a license for you to eat as much chocolate as you want. No matter how full of antioxidants it is, dark chocolate still doesn’t replace other important oral health habits like brushing, flossing, and regular dental appointments. If you love to snack, however, you might consider swapping a few items heavy in processed sugars for dark chocolate or cacao nibs. Your teeth will thank you!
Your healthy teeth are our pride and joy!
The Battle Inside Our Mouths
EVERY DAY INSIDE YOUR MOUTH, there is an epic battle of good versus evil being waged over the ultimate prize: your teeth! And guess what… only YOU can protect them from the destructive forces that seek to harm them.
The Good Guys And The Bad Guys
Because tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body (it is made up of mostly minerals), we automatically think of it as a tough shield that nothing can get through. In reality, tooth enamel is porous!
When tooth enamel loses minerals, teeth are weakened and more susceptible to decay–we call this demineralization. If tooth enamel is demineralized enough, a cavity will form. But here’s the good news! The enamel can also be strengthened by receiving nutrients and minerals in a process we call remineralization. This constant dynamic of tooth enamel losing and gaining minerals is the battle that goes on inside your mouth every day!
So, who are the bad guys? Although there are a lot of good bacteria in our mouths, there’s also the cavity-causing bacteria found in plaque. They feed on sugar and other carbohydrates and produce harmful acids in the process. These acid attacks demineralize, or break down tooth enamel, and if left unchecked, can lead to tooth decay.
Check out the video below to learn a little more about plaque:
But all is not lost! You have a secret weapon in your ammunition… and that’s saliva! Not only does saliva wash out food debris and neutralize harmful acids, but minerals in saliva like fluoride, calcium and phosphate can be deposited back into tooth enamel, strengthening and defending it against bad bacteria. That’s why we call saliva the unsung hero of oral health–it works around the clock to protect our smiles and keep our teeth healthy and strong!
Whose Side Are You On?
This “battle” isn’t something that just goes on in your mouth without you having any say in it. You can promote tooth enamel remineralization and help your saliva fight off harmful bacteria by practicing mouth-healthy habits. In the end, you are the ultimate protector of your teeth!
The first thing you can do to defend your teeth from cavity-causing bacteria is eat a nutritious diet. Sugary drinks and treats, crackers, bread and processed foods are just what these bad bacteria love and eating these types of foods can lead to tooth enamel demineralization. On the other hand, foods like cheese, eggs, apples, celery, carrots, dark leafy greens and wild-caught fish promote enamel remineralization. So the next time you open up the fridge or pantry, make the mouth-healthy choice!
Another way to prevent demineralization is to brush with fluoride toothpaste! Where plaque breaks down the tooth, fluoride builds it up. This cavity-fighting mineral protects teeth from bacteria by remineralizing tooth enamel and reducing plaque bacteria’s ability to even produce acid in the first place!
You Are Responsible For Your Oral Health
The battle to keep teeth strong and healthy depends on you! By eating a well-balanced diet and maintaining good oral hygiene, you can have a lifetime of healthy smiles. Keep up the good work, soldier. You’re doing great!
We’re grateful for our awesome patients!
Wisdom Teeth: Why Do We Have Them?
WHEN DENTISTS SEE emerging wisdom teeth are going to cause dental problems, wisdom tooth removal is likely in the cards.
Wisdom teeth–also known as the third molars–received their nickname because they emerge during young adulthood, when a person has a little more wisdom. But why do we wait until the late teenage years to address the issue? In fact, if wisdom teeth so often cause complications, why has nature given them to us at all?
Wisdom Teeth Have Ancient Roots
The most widely accepted theory behind wisdom teeth suggests we look to our ancestors in the distant past for answers. Early humans had a much different diet than we do today: roots, raw meat, tough plants—foods that would have required a lot of grinding. Big, wide molars were the perfect teeth for the job, and that third set of molars would have helped them immensely! They also had larger jaws to accommodate these extra teeth.
Today, we have smaller jaws and eat much softer foods, but our genes still produce third molars! When they don’t have enough room to emerge properly, wisdom teeth can begin erupting at angles of 45 degrees or more—even horizontally! When teeth grow where there isn’t space for them, they cause a lot of problems.
When Is Removal The Right Decision?
Wisdom teeth emerging at bad angles or crowding other teeth can damage oral health. They might not even emerge at all, becoming impacted below the gum surface. In either case, they can cause constant pain and infection, weaken bone structure, and undo orthodontic work.
You might ask why wisdom teeth aren’t addressed in early childhood. It’s because they actually don’t begin forming until around age 10! All teeth (adult teeth included) begin forming in the jaws during fetal development—except for wisdom teeth.
We Treat Each Wisdom Teeth Case Individually
There are the lucky few that have no problems with their wisdom teeth. It is possible for them to emerge at the right angle, with enough space, and not have to be removed.
Each case is unique, and by getting to know your unique dental profile, we will prescribe the best dental health solution—without any unnecessary treatment. From diagnosis to wisdom teeth removal recovery, we’ll be there every step of the way to provide the best in advice and care.
Thank you for choosing us as your family’s lifelong dental health partners. We treasure the trust you place in our practice!
Give Your Kids a Jumpstart on Oral Health Care!
YOUR CHILD’S BABY TEETH are just as important as their permanent teeth. Kids may not keep their first teeth forever, but they require just as much diligent care as future permanent teeth.
In fact, maintaining your child’s dental health when they are young will provide health benefits well into adulthood as well as set them on the right track of good oral health habits!
Some Children Don’t Get The Preventive Dental Care They Need
Early childhood caries—more commonly known as a dental cavity—is the number one chronic disease affecting young children. In light of this statistic, you may be surprised to learn that one quarter of children between ages three and 18 don’t visit the dentist at all!
Although common, dental diseases like tooth decay and gum disease are quite preventable, especially when healthy habits are taught during early childhood.
Start Oral Health Regimens Early
Even before your child’s teeth have erupted, an infant’s gums should be wiped down with a wet cloth or gauze after eating to protect from bacteria.
The American Dental Association recommends that children visit the dentist by their first birthday or as soon as their first tooth appears. At this visit, your dentist can teach you more about proper pediatric oral hygiene and check for cavities. As soon as your child turns two, establish a daily brushing routine.
As your child gets older, there are two specific treatments we recommend to prevent tooth decay. These treatments are:
- Topical Fluoride: By applying fluoride directly to your child’s teeth in higher concentrations than found in toothpaste or water, they will be more protected and resistant to decay.
- Dental Sealants: These are thin, plastic coatings painted onto the chewing surfaces of the teeth to prevent tooth decay. Even thorough brushing and flossing can’t always get into the depressions and grooves of the molars. Sealants form a protective shield over these vulnerable areas, keeping out plaque and food. Generally, children should get sealants on their permanent molars and premolars as soon as they come in.
We Care About Your Children’s Oral Health
Baby teeth set the stage for the permanent teeth to develop and come in correctly. By taking care of them and teaching their children correct habits, parents ensure lifelong dental health for their children. At our practice, we are committed to promoting preventive dental care to ensure lasting health and happiness for you and your children!
Thank you for continuing to be a part of our practice family!
Brightening Your Smile Is Easy!
IS YOUR SMILE AS WHITE as it used to be? Even good oral hygiene won’t prevent tooth discoloration forever. While daily brushing and flossing help keep your teeth clean and healthy, it’s normal to feel like your smile is lacking some sparkle as you get older. If you’re looking to bring that sparkle back, cosmetic tooth whitening may be the answer!
Teeth Change Color Over Time
Here are some reasons our teeth may be a bit more discolored than we’d like:
- Food and Drink: Coffee, tea, red wine, and cola are all drinks with strong color pigments that easily attach to enamel, the outer part of the tooth.
- Age: Over time, tooth enamel gets thinner, allowing the more yellow dentin to show through.
- Tobacco Use: The tar in tobacco is naturally dark, and nicotine, when mixed with oxygen in the air, turns into a yellow surface-staining substance.
Tooth Whitening Is A Simple Process
Whitening agents use hydrogen peroxide in one form or another to brighten your smile. Hydrogen peroxide acts as a strong bleaching agent that breaks up deep stains into smaller pieces, making the color less concentrated and your teeth brighter. It’s that simple!
There Are Whitening Options For Everyone
In-office bleaching is done at the dentist’s office and is a fast, effective way to whiten your teeth. You can usually get your whitening done in one to three visits, depending on the method used and the severity of tooth discoloration.
When you come in to get your teeth whitened, a substance is applied to cover and protect your gums. The whitening gel is then applied directly to the tooth surface. This gel is then activated, usually by a laser light, enhancing the action of the whitening agent. These professional tools produce the fastest tooth-whitening results.
At-home bleaching is another option! Many use at-home whitening kits to supplement their in-office whitening treatments. Ask us about our at-home whitening kits after your in-office whitening procedure to keep your newly white smile sparkling!
Over-the-counter whitening kits are also widely available for home use. These provide trays to hold whitening gel or whitening strips that stick to your teeth. Over-the-counter products contain a weaker whitening agent than the products you can get from your dentist and as a result, require a longer treatment period. Feel free to reach out to us with any questions when using at-home products and always follow package directions.
Whitening toothpaste is another simple option for those who want a whiter smile! Whitening toothpastes contain abrasives that remove stains on the enamel, helping your teeth stay clean and bright.
Put The Shine Back In Your Smile!
Whitening procedures are a fast and simple way to boost your confidence and brighten your smile. And getting that white, sparkly smile you’ve always wanted has never been easier. Give us a call or stop by. We’d love to discuss what whitening options would be best for you and your teeth!
Thank you for placing your trust in our practice!
What To Expect At The Dentist... When You’re Expecting
IF YOU’RE PREGNANT, you’re probably worried about anything and everything that may affect your baby, especially if you’re a first-time mother. But when it comes to your dental care, there’s no need to worry!
Annual exams and preventive dental care during pregnancy are not only safe, but recommended. In fact, you need to pay special attention to your dental health while pregnant, as your teeth and gums can be affected by the hormonal changes that take place during pregnancy.
Watch Out For These Things During Pregnancy
Morning sickness and increased levels of progesterone can result in some dental problems for pregnant women. Here’s what you should be on the lookout for:
- Pregnancy gingivitis—an inflammation of the gums—occurs because of changing hormone levels. Some women may experience bleeding when brushing or flossing and red, swollen gums.
- Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is caused by bacterial infection that develops below the gum line. This disease damages the fibers that hold your teeth in place and can also affect the health of your baby. Studies have shown that expectant mothers with periodontal disease are at a higher risk of premature delivery and lower birth weights.
- Dry mouth comes from a decrease in saliva caused by hormonal changes. Chewing sugarless gum can help increase saliva production.
- Erosion of tooth enamel is always a risk associated with vomiting. As morning sickness and frequent vomiting are common during pregnancy, enamel erosion on the back of the front teeth is more likely to occur.
How To Care For Your Teeth When Expecting
- Eat healthy. Nutrition is important for your teeth, as well as the teeth of your developing baby. A nutrient-rich diet is the best thing you can do for your oral and overall health.
- Brush regularly. As usual, brush at least two times a day for two minutes, and if possible, brush with toothpaste that contains fluoride.
- Floss. Need we remind you? Flossing at least once a day helps prevent pregnancy gingivitis.
- Use mouthwash. Antimicrobial mouthwash fights the bacteria that contribute to gingivitis and periodontal disease.
- Tell your dentist you’re pregnant. If X-rays, medication, or anesthetics are being considered, your dentist can weigh the risks and do what’s best for you and your baby.
- Visit your dentist. Preventive dental care while pregnant is essential to avoid oral infections. When you find out you’re pregnant, make an appointment and speak to your dentist about how you can avoid pregnancy-related dental problems.
Expectant Mothers Can Trust Our Practice
Visits to your dentist during your pregnancy are just as important as visits to your healthcare provider. We care about the dental and overall health of you and your child. So, between trips to the doctor and Babies-R-Us, don’t let visiting the dentist fall off of your pregnancy to-do list!
Is Chilly Weather Hurting Your Teeth?
WE MAY FEEL the dropping temperature in our toes, but we shouldn’t be feeling it in our teeth! Some of us experience a shock of pain as we breathe in the crisp air, or sip some hot chocolate. Tooth sensitivity tends to manifest in temperature extremes, so we notice it more during the winter season.
Sensitivity Is A Cry For Help
Tooth sensitivity is fairly common, but that’s no reason to ignore it! Tooth sensitivity could be your mouth’s signal that something is wrong. For the most part, solutions are simple. And, as with most dental problems, sensitivity is best dealt with early on.
Some Causes of Sensitivity Can Lead To More Severe Problems
Healthy teeth are guarded from extreme temperatures by the tooth’s enamel layer, and by your gums. Sensitive teeth may signal receding gums as a result of gum disease or overbrushing. Sensitivity could also be caused by damaged enamel from a cracked tooth, acid erosion, or decay.
We Can Help You Find A Solution
Whatever the cause of your sensitive teeth this season, it’s important to get it checked out by a dental professional. We can help you determine the cause, and find a solution. It may be a simple change in your dental care regime. Other times, a dental procedure can relieve your discomfort.
No One Should Suffer From Tooth Pain
We believe that no one should suffer from dental problems without hope of a solution. Please talk to us if you ever have questions about your dental health. We consider it an honor to be your trusted health partner, and to keep your teeth healthy for life.
Thanks for your trust in our practice. We appreciate you!
WE ALL KNOW it’s possible to catch a cold from someone who’s under the weather. Did you know cavity-causing bacteria can be passed from person-to-person too?
Bacteria Is At The Root Of Cavities
While sugary treats often take the blame for causing cavities, the real culprits for tooth decay are bacteria. Streptococcus mutans and Streptococcus sobrinus are bacteria which stick to our teeth and eat food particles left behind from our last meal, producing acids which threaten gum health and cause tooth decay.
And just like cold-causing bacteria, these bacteria like to travel.
Bacteria Travels From Person-to-Person
Whether it’s through sharing a drink or kissing a loved one, cavity-causing bacteria can be passed from person-to-person the same way many other bacterial infections can. Studies have shown that “catching a cavity” is not only possible, it happens far more often than you might think.
One of the most common transmissions is from parent and child. Cavity-causing bacteria is commonly passed along to a child when a mother or father tastes food to ensure it’s not too hot or when he or she “cleans” a pacifier by sucking on it before handing it over.
Take Simple Steps To Stop The Spread of Bacteria
What can you do to reduce your risk of transmitting these cavity-causing bacteria to someone else?
- Floss and brush frequently.
- Chew sugar-free gum—this promotes saliva production and washes away plaque and bacteria).
- Be mindful of drinks and eating utensils you’re sharing and the risks that are involved.
- Be aware of other behaviors which may spread these bacteria.
Trust Our Practice For Solutions
Nobody wants to inadvertently “catch a cavity.” Our practice is committed to providing you with the best information possible to help you create a healthy and resilient smile. If you have any questions about this, be sure to ask us! We love visiting about your oral health. You can also comment below and reach out to us on social media.
Thank you for reading our blog! We value our relationship with you as our patients and friends!