March is national nutrition month—a good time to look at the connection between diet and oral health. You probably know that sugar is a major culprit in dental problems. This is because bacteria feed on sugars and create acid that can lead to tooth decay and gum disease. Avoiding sugary foods and drinks as much as possible is a good rule of thumb, but there are some food choices that actually benefit your oral health. Here are nutrition tips that will help keep your smile healthy for life:
Say cheese. Dairy products such as milk, cheese and yogurt contain calcium and phosphorus to build teeth and strengthen the supporting bone. And cheese neutralizes acid in the mouth to help fight cavities and gum disease.
Choose lean proteins. Lean meats, poultry, fish, milk and eggs help strengthen teeth. They are rich in protein and phosphorous, which is essential for building strong bones and teeth.
Eat a rainbow. Fruits and vegetables provide many key nutrients, including vitamins necessary for healing, bone strength, and healthy gums. Besides being nutritious, fruits and veggies scrub your teeth while you chew and stimulate the production of saliva, which is necessary for neutralizing acid and rebuilding enamel.
Nibble on nuts. Nuts contain protein, fiber and healthy fats. They also contain essential vitamins and minerals to keep teeth strong and gums healthy. Further, chewing nuts stimulates saliva production, lowering the risk of tooth decay.
Go for the grains. Studies have shown that eating too many refined carbohydrates such as white bread and sweet bakery items can lead to chronic inflammation, which is a factor in gum disease, heart disease, stroke and other conditions. In contrast, eating complex carbohydrates such as whole grains may reduce inflammation in the body.
What you put in your body can play a big role in preventing tooth decay and gum disease, so choose foods that provide the right building blocks for optimal dental and overall health.
Is a chipped tooth big news? It is if you’re Justin Bieber. When the pop singer recently posted a picture from the dental office to his instagram account, it got over 2.6 million “likes.” The snapshot shows him reclining in the chair, making peace signs with his hands as he opens wide; meanwhile, his dentist is busy working on his smile. The caption reads: “I chipped my tooth.”
Bieber may have a few more social media followers than the average person, but his dental problem is not unique. Sports injuries, mishaps at home, playground accidents and auto collisions are among the more common causes of dental trauma.
Some dental problems need to be treated as soon as possible, while others can wait a few days. Do you know which is which? Here are some basic guidelines:
A tooth that’s knocked out needs attention right away. First, try and locate the missing tooth and gently clean it with water — but avoid holding the tooth’s roots. Next, grasp the crown of the tooth and place it back in the socket facing the correct way. If that isn’t possible, place it between the cheek and gum, in a plastic bag with the patient’s saliva or a special tooth preservative, or in a glass of cold milk. Then rush to the dental office or emergency room right away. For the best chance of saving the tooth, it should be treated within five minutes.
If a tooth is loosened or displaced (pushed sideways, deeper into or out of its socket), it’s best to seek dental treatment within 6 hours. A complete examination will be needed to find out exactly what’s wrong and how best to treat it. Loosened or displaced teeth may be splinted to give them stability while they heal. In some situations, a root canal may be necessary to save the tooth.
Broken or fractured (cracked) teeth should receive treatment within 12 hours. If the injury extends into the tooth’s inner pulp tissue, root canal treatment will be needed. Depending on the severity of the injury, the tooth may need a crown (cap) to restore its function and appearance. If pieces of the tooth have been recovered, bring them with you to the office.
Chipped teeth are among the most common dental injuries, and can generally be restored successfully. Minor chips or rough edges can be polished off with a dental instrument. Teeth with slightly larger chips can often be restored via cosmetic bonding with tooth-colored resins. When more of the tooth structure is missing, the best solution may be porcelain veneers or crowns. These procedures can generally be accomplished at a scheduled office visit. However, if the tooth is painful, sensitive to heat or cold or producing other symptoms, don’t wait for an appointment — seek help right away.
Justin Bieber earned lots of “likes” by sharing a picture from the dental office. But maybe the take-home from his post is this: If you have a dental injury, be sure to get treatment when it’s needed. The ability to restore a damaged smile is one of the best things about modern dentistry.
If you have questions about dental injury, please contact our office or schedule a consultation. You can read more in the Dear Doctor magazine articles “Repairing Chipped Teeth” and “Porcelain Crowns & Veneers.”
I thought I’d take a break from teeth & talk a little bit about the history of our cherished Thanksgiving Day holiday.
There is no historical evidence that turkey was eaten at the first Thanksgiving dinner. It was a three-day party shared by the Wamponoag Indians and the pilgrims in 1621. Historians say they likely ate venison and seafood.
According to National Geographic, the dinner at the Plymouth colony was in October and included about 50 English colonists and 90 American Indian men. The first Thanksgiving dinner could have included corn, geese, and pumpkin.
Today, turkey is the meat of choice. According to the National Turkey Association, about 690 million pounds of turkey are consumed during Thanksgiving, or about 46 million turkeys.
The Side Dishes
The green bean casserole became popular about 50 years ago. Created by the Campbell Soup Company, it remains a popular side dish. According to Campbell’s, it was developed when the company was creating an annual holiday cookbook. The company now sells about $20 million worth of cream of mushroom soup each year, which is a major part of the recipe.
While there were likely plenty of cranberries for the pilgrims and Indians to enjoy, sugar was a luxury. What we know today as cranberry sauce was not around in those early Thanksgiving days. About 750 million pounds of cranberries are produced each year in the US, with about 30 percent consumed on Thanksgiving.
Since Thanksgiving did not become a national holiday until Lincoln declared it in 1863, the annual parades were not yearly events until much later. The biggest parade that continues to draw crowds is the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. Beginning in 1924 with about 400 employees, they marched from Convent Avenue to 145th Street in New York City. Famous for the huge hot-air balloons today, it was actually live animals borrowed from the Central Park Zoo that were the stars of the show then.
However you choose to spend your Thanksgiving holiday, everyone here at Dental South wishes you a safe, happy and healthy holiday with those you love.
Even though your teeth get most of the focus when it comes to your smile, your tongue plays a very important role. To help you not take your tongue for granted, here are some fun facts about your tongue and taste buds:
- No one’s tongue is alike. Your tongue is like your fingerprint; no one else has the same exact size, shape or taste bud as your tongue.
- The tongue is NOT the strongest muscle in your body. The tongue is all muscle, but not just one muscle — it’s made up of 8 different muscles that intertwine with each other creating a flexible matrix, much like an elephant’s trunk. Your tongue muscles do have amazing stamina and are used constantly for eating, talking, and swallowing. The tongue just never seems to get tired!
- Tongue cleaning can prevent overall health issues. Studies show that those who regularly clean their tongue with a toothbrush or tongue scraper have less heart attacks, pneumonia, premature births and diabetes.
- Your tongue can get fat! If you gain weight, so does your tongue! The human tongue has a high percentage of fat, and there is a correlation between tongue fat volume and obesity.
- Your taste buds aren’t just on your tongue; they’re on the roof, cheeks and back of your mouth.
- More of what we experience as taste is actually smell.
- You can’t taste what your saliva can’t dissolve: Saliva dissolves the chemicals in food allowing the receptors on your taste buds to detect taste. Without it, obviously, food is tasteless. To see (or taste) for yourself, dry your tongue with a paper towel and attempt to taste dry foods consisting of sugar and salt. It’ll be as if you were devoid of the sense altogether!
- As taste senses both harmful and beneficial things, all basic tastes are classified as either aversive or appetitive, depending upon the effect the things they sense have on our bodies. Sweetness helps to identify energy-rich foods, while bitterness serves as a warning sign of poisons
- Taste perception fades with age; we lose almost half of our taste receptors by the time we turn 20!
- Ageusia is the complete loss of taste. The opposite, hypergeusia, is a heightened sense of taste.
- Flies and butterflies have taste organs on their feet, so they can taste anything they land on. Catfish have taste organs across their entire bodies.
- Memories can affect taste! Recalling a positive memory about eating a certain food will make a present experience with it more enjoyable.
Did you know that Halloween hasn’t always involved trick-or-treating for candy? Actually, Halloween used to be undertaken as The Festival of Samhain, which celebrated the harvest and the Celtic New Year – which started on November 1st. So, how did Halloween turn into an all out candy grab? Well, it started right here in America, believe it or not.
Trick-or-treating evolved from an old tradition called “going a-souling” that originated in England and Ireland. “Going a-souling” occurred when children in early 20th century Europe would celebrate the Festival of Samhain by soliciting food door to door. Kids would knock on a neighbor’s door and offer to pray for the souls of their deceased relative in exchange for gifts. They would be handed food, coins, ale and other trinkets in exchange for their kind thoughts. The “souling” tradition made its way to America in the early 1900s, when the United States welcomed a large influx of European immigrants.
From Trinkets to Treats
Trick-or-treating gained popularity in the 1930s and 40s, as cities and towns pushed to emphasize getting to know your neighbor and becoming more communal. However, as Halloween and trick-or-treating became more popular, parents felt unsafe allowing their children to accept unwrapped food from strangers. Some of the most popular homemade treats were cookies, cakes, fruit, popcorn balls and muffins. They argued that the treats could be tampered with and potentially harm their children. Combine this risk with how expensive and time consuming it is to make treats from scratch, and the spooky holiday had a conundrum: high demand without steady, reliable (cheap and quick) supply.
During the 1950s, Halloween became incredibly popular and a holiday celebrated nationwide. However, parents were still concerned over what their children were being served. Candy producers saw this as a golden opportunity to satisfy a need with their product. Candy producers created large advertising campaigns promoting the safety of prepackaged candy. They argued that it was safer for children to eat packaged candy, because it couldn’t be altered without visible marks on the wrapper. As the number of trick-or-treaters swelled, it became much cheaper to buy candy and hand it out to the entire neighborhood.
Remember to Brush
Did you know that the average Jack-o-lantern can hold 250 pieces of candy and roughly 9,000 calories? That’s a lot of calories, and it mostly comes from sugar. This is why it’s so important that your children brush their teeth after trick-or-treating. Remind your little ghouls and goblins to brush after they’re done eating candy so that they can prevent cavities and tooth decay. Visit our office if your child begins experiencing sensitive teeth. We will thoroughly evaluate the state of their oral health, and provide a treatment solution that best fits their circumstances.
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