Wednesday, May 28, 2014

True or False? Dark Chocolate is Good for Your Teeth…

Since it most often falls into the “sweets and candy” food group, chocolate is usually considered something to avoid when it comes to choosing healthy snacks. Surprise! Among the three types of chocolate-milk, white, and dark, the dark chocolate choice has a slew of health benefits.

One of the most publicized is the fact that dark chocolate is loaded with antioxidants. They help the body by eliminating free radicals, which can cause cell damage, in the form of aging and possibly cancer. Along with its anti-oxidant properties, dark chocolate has been proven to increase HDL levels, which are known as “good cholesterol”. It has also been shown to lower blood pressure, improve cognition, plus it’s high in Magnesium, Copper, Potassium, and Iron.

Recent information has revealed that dark chocolate can be good for your teeth and even prevent tooth decay! The key is in choosing chocolate that is truly dark, which will be those containing between 70 and 85% pure cocoa. The magic in the mix is due to the fact that cocoa beans contain tannins, polyphenols and flavonoids, each of which is a type of powerful antioxidant that benefits the mouth and teeth. Here’s how they help:

  • Tannins prevent bacteria from adhering to the teeth, which helps nip cavities in the bud! Tannins are also what give dark chocolate its dark color and bitter taste.
  • Polyphenols work to neutralize the microorganisms linked to bad breath, ward off gum infections and fight tooth decay. 
  • Flavonoids keep harmful dental plaque from gaining a stronghold on tooth enamel, thus, preventing cavities.

Those three heavy hitters mean that dark chocolate has about four times the amount of antioxidants contained in the much praised beverage-green tea. Hmmm-rich dark chocolate or a cup of pale green tea…which would you choose? Even better, the cocoa butter in dark chocolate coats the teeth and once again, fights plaque.

Before indulging, please keep in mind that enjoying dark chocolate should be done in moderation. Just one ounce a day is recommended, which is equal to 6 Hershey’s Dark Kisses. Be aware that the calories, fat, and sugar are still there, so use a little will power and just one ounce a day, please! Of course, brush and rinse thoroughly after all meals and snacks-even those that are good for you!

Time for a cleaning and oral health check-up? Simply call 919-782-0548 to schedule an appointment.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Not Sure About Fluoridated Water?

Around 60 years ago, cavities and tooth decay were common problems. Thankfully, numerous advances in the field of dentistry have changed things. The use of fluoride has been proven to reduce cavities and help repair very early stages of tooth decay.

When it was discovered how dramatically just a small amount of fluoride could change a person’s smile for the better, communities across the country began supplementing water supplies with the nutrient. It is important to understand that fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral found in all water sources, including the ocean. As it works with the hydrogen and oxygen found in drinking water, fluoride is effective in preventing and reversing the early signs of tooth decay. It acts by making the tooth structure stronger, which makes the teeth more resistant to the harmful effects from the acids that are found in many foods, including soft drinks, candy, and fruit. When those acids are not removed, they join forces with the bacteria in plaque and weaken dental enamel.

Fluoride acts to repair those teeth that are in danger of decay. It does this through a process called “remineralization” which can stop the decay process in its tracks! Fluoride also performs as a shield or armour by creating a surface on the teeth that makes them resistant to decay.  Of course, using fluoridated toothpaste is effective. However, the combination of fluoridated toothpaste and drinking water is even better!
If you are not sure about your community’s drinking water and the level of fluoride it contains, there are ways to find out. The best bet is to contact the local utilities department or your county health department. This information may also be found online.

The Environmental Protection Agency maintains a website with a map of the U.S. that provides water quality reports. Access it here:

Another helpful site is the Centers for Disease Control’s “My Water’s Fluoride”-see it here:

For those who drink well water, a certified laboratory should test it periodically. Contact your local or state health department for information about where you can have a water sample tested.

If you find out that your water supply is not fluoridated-don’t worry! There are still ways to get the right amount of fluoride for adequate protection. Your dental professional or health care provider should be able to prescribe fluoride supplements in the form of drops, lozenges, or tablets. They are especially geared towards youngsters between the ages of six months to 16 years who do not have access to fluoridated water. This age group is at higher risk for developing tooth decay. Please note that the American Dental Association has stated, “It is important to note that fluoridated water may be consumed from sources other than the home water supply, such as the workplace, school and/or day care, bottled water, filtered water and from processed beverages and foods prepared with fluoridated water. For this reason, dietary fluoride supplements should be prescribed by carefully following the recommended dosage.”