Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Summer Time is Snack Time - What’s Your Game Plan?

School’s out and millions of Americans are busy making plans for road trips, vacations and relaxation. Busy parents are likely trying to figure out how to streamline their responsibilities and free up more time for fun. Before heading to the warehouse club or super market to stock up on “grab and go” snacks for the kids, rethink that shopping list!

Sure, it’s nice to have lots of tempting things on hand during the summer. Keeping a ready supply of favorites like ice cream, popsicles, cookies, and soda will surely make your house a popular neighborhood stop. Plus-it’s super convenient to have packaged snack foods in the car for those long road trips. For working parents, who frequently get the call, “There’s nothing to eat in this house!”-routinely stocking up the fridge, freezer, and pantry with kid-friendly options is a life-saver.

Just make sure that the foods you are offering will not sabotage your children’s dental health. It only takes a little extra planning to come up with tempting choices. With inspiration from the folks at “Eat This-Not That” here is a list of typical snack choices and a better option:

Popsicles vs. Homemade Ice Pops
Make your own with a combination of real fruit juice and pureed fresh fruit. In season fresh fruit allows you to make colorful, hard to resist versions, like watermelon lime, strawberry banana, mango peach, or blueberry lemon-YUM!  Because so much of the fresh fruit choices are quite sweet enough on their own, there is usually no need to add sugar. For a creamsicle twist, mix ½ to 1 cup of unsweetened coconut milk or 8 ounce carton of vanilla Greek yogurt into the puree.

Canned Soda vs. DIY
Isn’t reading the long list of unpronounceable ingredients on the average soda can enough of a wake up call? Walk away from these products that are loaded with sugar, chemicals, artificial flavors and colors. Instead of canned soda, make your own with seltzer water. Just combine a ½ cup fruit juice and ½ can of seltzer with a splash of lemon or lime for one of the healthiest and most refreshing beverages you’ll have all summer!

Chocolate Chip Cookies vs. Nut Butter Rice Cake with Chocolate Chips
Just as it sounds-spread a little peanut or almond butter on a rice cake and sprinkle on a few chocolate chips. This swap also brings fiber and protein to the table. Yes-chocolate chips contain sugar, however, not nearly as much as cookie dough.

Fruit Roll-Ups vs. Dried Fruit or Tortilla All-Fruit Pinwheels
Most fruit roll-ups have more corn syrup and artificial flavoring and colors than fruit. Invest in dried natural fruits instead, such as mango slices or apples. For a variation on the same theme, spread all-fruit, low sugar jam onto a 8-inch flour tortilla-roll and cut into pinwheels. These may also be chilled and put on skewers for easy eating.

High-Sugar Mainstays (yogurt and granola bars) vs. Smarter Alternatives
For those that think yogurt and granola bars are super healthy choices-read those labels. Some of the best-selling brands of yogurt have as much sugar as two scoops of ice cream.

The same is true for granola bars-many brands have as much sugar as a candy bar. For yogurt and granola bars, choose those that have 9 grams of sugar or less per serving.

A few more ideas:

  • Water is the beverage of choice-make it fun with a few new BPA-free water bottles to keep filled and chilled in the fridge
  • Fruit on a stick or ready made fruit cups
  • Steamed edamame (in the shell)-it’s portable and can be eaten hot or cold-great high protein snack that is very similar to boiled peanuts
  • Hummus with whole grain bread sticks or veggies
  • Veggie cups and dip-Ranch dressing, peanut butter, or salsa
  • Nuts-healthy and wholesome
  • Popcorn-air-popped or bagged low calorie choices, like, “Skinny Pop”

Remember that sugary foods are problematic because of the way they bond with bacteria in the mouth to produce acids that erode the enamel and lead to decay. Look for ways to avoid sugar filled foods and when baking or cooking, try adding less than what is called for. Help prevent cavities by ensuring that all family members brush every morning and evening and in between meals with a fluoride toothpaste. Floss daily! Also discuss how eating crisp fruits and vegetables will help keep everyone’s teeth clean and healthy.

Even though it’s finally summertime, remember to visit your dentist every six months for a checkup (Call 919-782-0548 to schedule!) and help with removing plaque and calculus that you may have missed before cavities can develop.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The Link Between Oral Health and Overall Health

If the eyes are the windows to our soul, then our mouths are the portals to our physical well-being. Are you aware that your oral health can impact the rest of your body? There is a very intimate connection between what goes on in your mouth and its “trickle-down” effect.

In addition to killing germs and keeping plaque, tartar, bad breath, and bacteria at bay, proper dental care impacts other bodily systems as well. Of course brushing and flossing help keep the teeth and gums healthy, however, such positive practices also boost your overall health. For example, the oral bacteria and inflammation that accompany gum diseases, such as periodontitis, may spread into the circulatory system. There are also diseases that can put a patient’s oral health in jeopardy, such as Diabetes and HIV. Here is a look at a few conditions where oral health can both be impacted or play a significant role:

Patients have a reduced resistance to fight infection, which puts them at risk for gum disease. In fact, gum disease appears to be more frequent and severe among people with diabetes. The research also shows that individuals with gum disease have a harder time controlling their blood sugar levels.

Unfortunately it is quite common for these patients to have oral problems, such as painful mucosal lesions.

This condition causes bones to become weak and brittle and may contribute to periodontal bone loss and tooth loss.

Alzheimer's disease
It has been revealed that tooth loss before age 35 could be a risk factor for Alzheimer's disease.

An infection of the inner lining of the heart, Endocarditis usually occurs when bacteria or other germs from another part of the body, such as the mouth, spread throughout the bloodstream and attach to damaged areas around the heart.

Cardiovascular disease
Some research suggests that heart disease; clogged arteries and stroke might be linked to the inflammation and infections that oral bacteria can cause.

Pregnancy and birth
Did you know that Periodontitis has been linked to premature birth and low birth weight?

These are more good reasons that you should protect your oral health every day by:

  • Brushing your teeth at least twice a day and preferably after every meal
  • Flossing daily
  • Eating a healthy diet full of fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Making water your beverage of choice
  • Using a soft bristle toothbrush, Fluoride toothpaste and replacing your toothbrush every 3 months
  • Scheduling regular visits to the dentist (Call 919-782-0548 to schedule!)

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Surprise! These 5 Foods Can Spell Trouble for Dental Health

In the quest towards better overall health and especially dental health, Americans are reaching for more natural, less processed foods. They may have an abundance of benefits, yet some may pose unexpected risks to the teeth and gums. According to a recent Good Morning America online article, here are five such foods to be aware of:

Citrus Fruits
Although they contain beneficial Vitamin C and collagen, too much citrus fruit can wear down tooth enamel. Eating too many oranges or grapefruit, along with sucking on lemons and limes should be avoided. The acids and naturally occurring sugars can soften and erode tooth enamel. The GMA piece also cited a 2011 study by the British Journal of Nutrition that stated, “Grapefruit juice is nearly as corrosive as Coca-Cola”.

To prevent dental harm from citrus, just drink 8 ounces of water, wait 20 minutes and then brush your teeth. This amount of time should allow the acids and sugars to be safely eliminated.

Whole Almonds
Yes-nuts are a wonderful snack-high in vitamin E and a good source of fiber and protein. However, where teeth are concerned, they can spell trouble for some patients. Sometimes, snacking on hard nuts can cause already compromised teeth to crack.

Instead of munching on whole almonds, try slivered almonds instead. Pistachios, pecans and cashews are also good choices, and not quite so tough. Of course-NEVER attempt to crack unshelled nuts of any type with your teeth! That would be a recipe for disaster.

Low calorie/low fat, and yes a nice way to perk up a sandwich or end a meal, but be careful. The acid from the vinegar and sugar used in the pickling process can take sabotage vital minerals and contribute to the start of decay within the teeth.

Counteract the questionable effects of pickled foods by following them with a bite of cheese. The calcium helps to neutralize the vinegar that make pickles-pickles in the first place. Another quick fix is to chew a gum that contains xylitol. The substance reduces the acid and encourages the flow of saliva, which helps to naturally rinse out the mouth.

Dried Fruit
This nature’s candy certainly beats those processed, sugar laden choices. However, the dehydration process leaves the fruit sticky and apt to adhere to the teeth. Also, since the fruit has been dried, the natural sugars are more concentrated.

After enjoying that little box of raisins or baggie of dried mangoes, make a point to swish with water and then brush your teeth within 20 minutes. This should help keep those sticky deposits from trapping bacteria and wreaking havoc in your mouth!

Since the 15th century, folks worldwide have enjoyed this rich, anti-oxidant filled beverage. It may go down easily, but not without consequences. Coffee along with tea, is a huge culprit when it comes to staining our pearly whites. It may be a worthwhile trade-off for some, however, stained teeth are magnets for bacteria!

Avoid this cycle by cutting back on your coffee intake and sipping your java through a straw. Rinsing and brushing immediately after consumption will also be a great deterrent for both decay and discoloration.

Keep your teeth looking and feeling their best with regular cleanings. Overdue? Give us a call at 919-782-0548 to schedule an appointment.