Eating and drinking to promote healthy gums

by MikeMeehan 11/28/2018 3:50 PM

Nutrition is vital for your entire body, even when it comes to your gums. In honor of Good Nutrition Month, take a moment this November to learn which nutrients help prevent periodontal (gum) disease. To get the full picture, it’s good to know why periodontal disease occurs. When plaque and tartar stay on teeth for an extended period, the bacteria can inflame gums, resulting in gingivitis. Symptoms of gingivitis include red, swollen, tender or bleeding gums. When gingivitis isn’t treated, it can advance to periodontitis (gum disease), meaning “inflammation around the tooth.” Pockets or spaces form as gums pull away from teeth and then become infected. This can cause damage to structures that support teeth and can eventually lead to tooth loss.  More immediate symptoms include persistent bad breath, tender or bleeding gums, pain while chewing, tooth sensitivity and even loose teeth. Depending on the severity, treatments range from deep cleanings that remove plaque and tartar to more involved dental surgeries.  In addition to good oral health habits and regular dental visits, nutrition is an important factor for preventing or recovering from periodontitis. Without proper nutrients fueling your body’s natural processes, you may not be able to fight off infections as easily. This can make you more vulnerable to quicker progression and harsher severity of periodontitis.  Some of the nutrients that encourage gum health include vitamin C, vitamin B12, folic acid and calcium. These key nutrients are easily accessible on a daily basis. Check out some of the richest sources of each. Vitamin C: bell peppers, strawberries, broccoli, tomatoes, snow peas and kale Vitamin B12: fish, beef, fortified cereals (watch out for the sugary kinds!), fortified tofu, low-fat milk, Swiss cheese and eggs Folic acid: edamame, lentils, asparagus, spinach, avocados, mangoes and lettuce Calcium: milk, yogurt, cheese, kale, broccoli and fortified cereals (we recommend whole-grain varieties) Always make sure to brush for two minutes twice a day and floss once a day. It’s also best to avoid or quit smoking, which is one of the most significant causes of periodontitis and can decrease your chances for successful treatment.  

Tricks to outsmart your sweet tooth

by MikeMeehan 10/24/2018 10:02 AM

It’s Halloween night, and your kids have returned from trick-or-treating with their sugary loots. Before digging in, consider the cavity-causing effects that candy can have on teeth. Enjoying sweets in moderation and managing your cravings can help you avoid tooth decay. Start taming your sweet tooth by learning how much sugar is OK to eat. The Food and Drug Administration recommends no more than 12.5 teaspoons, or 50 grams, daily for those over the age of 3. Because the sugar contents of fun-sized candies vary from 2.4 grams to 14.5 grams, there’s no general rule for how many you can eat each day. Check the packaging and brand websites to calculate the number of candies you should limit yourself to. And remember to factor in the added sugars from all the other foods and drinks you consume. It adds up fast! If you reach your daily limit but the candy bowl is still tempting you, try these tips to defeat the craving:  1. Chew sugar-free gum. Popping in a stick of sugar-free gum instead of a bonbon helps in a couple ways. A study by Louisiana State University found that chewing gum may reduce snack cravings. It’s also useful for cleaning your mouth. Gum washes away leftover food particles and reduces acids that threaten tooth enamel.  2. Distract yourself when a craving hits. Taking a walk has been shown to reduce the urge to eat treats. Plus, it gets you away from the candy bowl. You know what they say – out of sight, out of mind. And if you don’t feel like taking a stroll, do an activity like giving yourself a pedicure. Pick something fun that rewards you for skipping the sweets.  3. Keep healthy substitutes close by. When you really want something sweet but already ate too much sugar, choose naturally sweet foods like fruits and vegetables. Apples, cherries, bell peppers, carrots and others will give you the taste you want along with the nutrients you need. 4. Eat at consistent intervals. You might have heard the saying, “You’re not you when you’re hungry.” Well, that’s especially true when choosing foods. If your tummy’s grumbling, you might make unhealthy decisions like reaching for a candy bar instead of a nutritious snack. Eat every three to five hours to keep blood sugar in check and maintain a level head. 5. Power up with protein. Low protein levels can cause you to start craving sugar. Your body wants an energy boost and sugar is a quick source. Plan to get protein throughout the day with foods such as beans, eggs, nuts, fish and lean meats.  Even with moderation, good oral health habits are still essential for avoiding cavities. Clean your teeth and gums after consuming sugar by brushing for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste and flossing. If you aren’t able to sneak away to the bathroom, chew sugar-free gum and drink plenty of water.  

Calming your kids at the dentist

by MikeMeehan 10/10/2018 9:09 AM

One of the most important ways to keep your kids cavity free, especially during the season of sweets, is to see the dentist regularly. Routine checkups and cleanings are completely covered by most dental plans, so there’s no reason to skip a visit.  There’s one deterrent, though, that you might run into – kids getting spooked by the dentist. If this happens to your children, check out our tips to help make their next appointment a little easier.  Start early. The American Dental Association recommends children visit the dentist within six months of their first tooth or by age 1. Early visits give kids a chance to become familiar with the dentist and may help reduce anxiety down the road.  Lead by example. If you’re nervous about the dentist, your kids might pick up on it and adopt the same attitude. According to a study in the International Journal of Pediatric Dentistry, adults can transfer their dental fears to family members. Make a conscientious effort to demonstrate a positive attitude toward the dentist while articulating the value of regular visits. By modelling relaxed behavior, you can let your kids know there’s nothing to be afraid of.  Leverage entertainment. Reshape their attitudes with the power of the page. Pick up library books that explain dental appointments in kid-friendly language. Popular options include Curious George Visits the Dentist by H.A. Rey, Just Going to the Dentist by Mercer Mayer and Open Wide: School Tooth Inside by Laurie Keller. To build even more positive associations with the dentist, try bringing their favorite toy or game to appointments.  Take baby steps. Stop by the dental office beforehand so your kids learn what to expect in a lower-pressure situation. Introducing them to the dentist and staff without the stakes of an actual appointment can help them feel more comfortable in the environment.  Practice beforehand. Create a mock dental visit in your own home to remove any confusion they have about what happens in the dental chair. Pretend to clean your child’s teeth while explaining how visiting the dentist helps keep their smiles in tip-top shape.  Use relaxation techniques. If you’ve tried everything and your kids still get the heebie-jeebies in the dental chair, don’t fear! Try calming them down with some simple relaxation exercises. Instruct your child to inhale and exhale slowly and steadily. You can also try a technique where they tense different muscle groups as tight as can be, then release.  It may take some time, but helping your children feel comfortable at the dentist will make lifelong dental care much easier in the long run. 

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