As the summer season comes to a close, and the daily school routine ensues, have all the items on your back to school checklist been ticked off? Whether you are heading back-to-school or college, or have young ones heading back to receive the pearls of education, maintaining optimal oral health can go a long way towards a successful year ahead. Keeping prevention in mind and making informed decisions are key to maintaining good overall health. Here are some helpful hints from Dr. Chohan and your dental team here at Dentistry on Dusk, to help keep your smile and those of your loved ones, bright and healthy for the year ahead!
- A BALANCED AND CAVITY FIGHTING DIET
A well balanced and healthy diet goes a long way towards cavity prevention. Packing lunches or snacks that are rich in cheese, natural grains, raw vegetables and calcium rich sugar-free yoghurts may have protective properties that promote healthy teeth. Research has shown that casein, a naturally occurring protein found in cheese products, in combination with higher calcium levels found in saliva after diary product consumption, can help re-mineralize and reharden weakened enamel and prevent cavities from occurring. The consumption of natural whole grains which are intrinsically rich in B vitamins, iron and magnesium, can further assist in maintaining good gum health and aid in healthy bone and tooth development. Raw vegetables that are rich in fibre, are another key component of your cavity fighting diet, that have the stimulatory effect of increasing salivary flow, creating mineral defenses against future tooth decay.
- CAVITY FIGHTING SUGAR-FREE SNACKS
Put down those sugary snacks for sugar-free gum instead! It has long been understood that “xylitol”, a naturally occurring sugar substitute, is very effective in cavity prevention. The cavity causing bacteria, Streptococcus Mutans, is unable to metabolize and utilize xylitol to grow and multiply. This not only prevents the production of cavity causing acidic by-products from harmful bacteria, but also further reduces the bacterial load of harmful bacteria in the mouth. Chewing Xylitol after each meal, or substituting sugary snacks for Xylitol sweetened sugar-free candy can help reduce your risk of future cavities!
- PICK UP THE STRAW
The consumption of sugar rich and acidic carbonated beverages (such as sodas), can quickly result in the accumulation of undesirable calories and further increase your risk of tooth decay. Whilst such choices can often affect your overall health over the long term, they can also have the cumulative effect of erosion, or the wearing away of the outer protective enamel structure of your teeth. The obvious choice would be to avoid consumption of such beverages all together, but when unavoidable (or when your will power does not allow), pick up the straw. Studies out of Temple University in Philadelphia have shown that by using a straw to prevent the direct contact of soda with teeth, you can help minimize damage to healthy teeth. Additional preventative measures when consuming carbonated drinks can include, reducing consumption time (avoid bathing your teeth in sugars for an extended period of time), rinsing your mouth with water after consumption and not brushing your teeth for a period of 3 hours after drinking soda’s, to help prevent the brushing away of softened enamel.
- GREEN AND BLACK TEA
A recent study from Kenyon College has revealed that the leaves of the Camilla Sinensis plant found in green and black tea, have cavity fighting properties. By having both inhibitor properties that prevent bacterial proliferation, in addition to preventing plaque build-up on teeth, these leaves can reduce your risk of forming cavities. Do not consume these teas with sugary sweeteners, milk or cream as this negates all of their beneficial effects.
- SEAFOOD AND LEAN MEATS
Studies have shown that a balanced diet which include lean meats and seafoods can be beneficial in fighting gum disease. Whilst it is common knowledge that animal fats can be bad for your heart, recent research shows that oysters, beef and lamb are rich in zinc, which is a mineral that is not only immunity boosting, but also have anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Vitamin B6 that is found in seafood can further help fight gum disease.
- BEWARE OF GUMMY VITAMINS
Young parents wish nothing but the best for their growing children. Giving them their daily dose of vitamins is thought to be an important contributor to their growth and development. Over the past decade Gummy vitamins have received growing popularity. They can, however, be detrimental to your child’s teeth. The sticky texture that is filled with refined sugars attract cavity causing bacteria, that can start the cavity forming process in as little as 20 minutes after consumption. Some gummy vitamins can contain more than 1 gram of sugar in each capsule, and are often recommended to be taken three times a day. It is always prudent on the parent to read the packaging for carbohydrate content prior to purchase and minimize your child’s exposure such refined sugars, especially for an extended period of time. Mattel Children’s Hospital at UCLA recommend in getting your vitamins from real food sources whenever possible.
- FILL YOUR BACK-TO- SCHOOL DENTAL BACK PACK
The prevention of tooth decay, can thwart your child from enduring dental pain and disease that can lead to missed hours at school this upcoming year. Difficult in eating, sleeping, playing and learning that can occur with the progression of undiagnosed and untreated dental disease, can be reduced and even eliminated through early intervention and regular dental care. Regularly changing your toothbrush ( ie. with every report card/ or after mid-terms) and the use of fluoride treatments, dental sealants, flossing and regular brushing with fluoride toothpaste, are all good methods to help further reduce your cavity risk. To reduce the risk of dental trauma and damage to your pearly whites, it is recommended that when playing any contact sports (ie. whether in PE classes or in the sports arena), that a properly fitted mouthguard been worn at all times.
The above article was written and researched by Dr. Gurpreet Singh Chohan for the benefit of improving overall health and empowering patients through his preventative driven dental philosophy. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, so be well informed.