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.  

Better breakfasts for brighter smiles

by MikeMeehan 9/6/2018 1:32 PM

Before rushing off to school in the morning, many kids sit around the table to fuel up with the most important meal of the day. Unfortunately, one of the more common breakfast options – cereal – might have some unintended consequences for teeth. Too much sugar at breakfast time isn’t a great way to start the day, and some cereals have more sugar than you might think. A report by the Environmental Working Group noted that 2 out of 3 cereals marketed to children had more than a third of the recommended daily sugar intake in just one serving. When these refined sugars come into contact with teeth, dental plaque reacts with them to create acids. Over time and with enough exposure, those acids can cause cavities.  The good news for parents is that there are lots of ways to avoid this cavity-causing effect. Opting for healthier cereals is a great place to start. Look for low-sugar options, preferably with four grams of sugar or less in one serving. You should also choose varieties made from whole grains to maintain nutrients like fiber, which stimulates saliva flow to help keep teeth clean. To navigate through the multitude of options, read the packaging, paying close attention to the valuable nutrition information that is typically on the back or the sides. Regardless of which cereal you choose, there are ways to minimize the effects it can have on your teeth. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, drinking milk after eating sugary breakfast cereals can help decrease your risk of cavities. It can also help to brush after your meal, to avoid drinking fruit juice and to only eat cereal at breakfast time instead of snacking throughout the day.  If you choose to limit the amount of sugary cereals you eat, make sure you’re still enjoying a hearty breakfast. Take a look at our list of alternatives that’ll give you the boost you need without hurting your teeth: Fruit – apples, berries, cherries, melons and pears  Dairy products – yogurt, cottage cheese and cheese slices Protein – chicken, ground turkey and fish Eggs – sunny-side up, omelets and crustless quiche Smoothies and smoothie bowls (but avoid using sugary fruit juices) Whole-wheat toast and whole-wheat bagels With slight adjustments to your morning routine, you can start off the day on the right note while curbing your risk for tooth decay. 

5 Ways to Keep Your Sweet Tooth Healthy This Holiday Season

by MikeMeehan 12/13/2017 2:58 PM

Your December calendar is filling up quickly with work celebrations, school concerts, and family and friend gatherings. Despite your busy schedule this time of year, don’t let the season put the health of your smile in jeopardy. I’m going to enjoy the tradition of holiday cookies, and I want you all to enjoy too! Let’s just make sure we don’t skip our twice daily brushing during the frenzy and flurry. Here’s five ways to keep your oral health safe through this sugar-filled season. When you’re indulging in sweets, enjoy with a meal When indulging in the holiday cookies and candy, enjoy with a meal. Choose not to make the sweet treat a stand-alone snack. If you eat with other foods, the foods will stimulate saliva, which will help to wash the harmful sugars and acids away from your teeth and gums. Drink water after eating candy and cookies If you’re eating holiday sweets, drink more water. Drinking water will wash away the leftover food in your teeth and mouth. Also, do your best to avoid sugary beverages. Don’t let your good habits hibernate It’s the holidays, and it’s fun to celebrate with special foods and treats. Now counterbalance that by keeping up your usual good oral health habits like brushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing daily. It doesn’t hurt to throw in an additional brushing a day with the extra intake of sugar. And even when the holidays are over, and you want to hide away from the cold, don’t let the inactivity mean laziness when taking care of your teeth. Be prepared with a toothbrush and floss Since you’re keeping up those good oral health habits, remember to pack your toothbrush and toothpaste when you’re traveling to see family and friends over the holidays. Even though you aren’t in your daily routine at home, keep up the daily habits of brushing and flossing, no matter where you are during the holidays. Try to limit the snacks Overall, though there will be lots of temptations put out at work, during your visiting, and all the other special places you may go. Try to stay away from the between-meal snacks like pretzels and crackers. Though the sugar-filled food like cake and cookies are highlighted during the season, snacks like chips and pretzels still contain sugar and starch that can stick to your teeth. Instead reach for the other snack options like carrots, celery, nuts and cheese. Fresh veggies and these other options are a better choice for your smile. With a few extra precautions this holiday season, you’ll keep your smile healthy and bright for the new year.

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