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Chocolate And Your Teeth

September 19th, 2017

UNDER MOST CIRCUMSTANCES, dentists are not fans of candy. The sugar in candy is the favorite food of bacteria that cause tooth decay. However, when it comes to chocolate, certain types may actually be good for oral health!
To be clear, this is not a blog post in which we give you a free pass to eat all the chocolate you want. Only certain types of chocolate have any health benefits, and too much of even the healthiest kinds probably isn’t a good thing.

All Chocolate Is Not Created Equal

How can you tell where any given chocolate falls on the spectrum from most processed to least? It helps to know a little about how chocolate is made. The most important ingredient is the cocoa bean. After fermenting, the beans can either be roasted and made into cocoa powder, or cold pressed into cacao powder, which retains more of the original nutrients. You’ll get the most nutrients from cacao nibs or powder, but the stuff is pretty bitter and the chocolatey taste isn’t as strong.

If you’d rather stick with the chocolate you’re used to, there are still factors to consider. The main ingredients in a chocolate bar are cocoa solids, cocoa butter, sugar, and milk (if it’s milk chocolate). White chocolate is made with cocoa butter and sugar and contains no cocoa solids, so it has none of the beneficial nutrients. Milk chocolate tends to contain at most 10 percent cocoa solids, so the tiny amount of nutrients from the cocoa beans is offset by a ton of sugar. Not a healthy choice. But let’s talk about dark chocolate.

The Benefits Of Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate, particularly 70 percent cocoa (or cacao) or higher, is where you’ll start hearing buzzwords like “superfood.” That’s because the cocoa bean is full of healthy antioxidants–specifically, polyphenols, flavonoids, and tannins–and dark chocolate has enough cocoa in it to keep most of them. Bonus points: there isn’t much sugar.

Antioxidants have all kinds of benefits for overall health, but let’s focus on oral health. Saliva is the mouth’s first line of defense against tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath, and antioxidants play a crucial role in all of those. They help stabilize and strengthen your own oral tissues, protect against cell mutation, and make it harder for harmful bacteria to flourish.

Chocolate Still Isn’t Everything

Like we said before, this blog post isn’t a license for you to eat as much chocolate as you want. No matter how full of antioxidants it is, dark chocolate still doesn’t replace other important oral health habits like brushing, flossing, and regular dental appointments. If you love to snack, however, you might consider swapping a few items heavy in processed sugars for dark chocolate or cacao nibs. Your teeth will thank you!

Your healthy teeth are our pride and joy!

The Coolest Teeth In The Animal Kingdom

September 12th, 2017

MOST OF US already know that sharks constantly grow new teeth, venomous snakes use their fangs like syringes full of poison, and elephants have enormous tusks. As lovers of teeth of all shapes and sizes, today we’d like to take a moment to spotlight a few lesser known bizarre teeth out there in the wild.
Crabeater Seals

Contrary to their name, crabeater seals’ diets consist almost entirely of antarctic krill, but you probably wouldn’t guess that by looking at their teeth. Where we have our molars, they have some very bizarre teeth. These teeth are like if a normal sharp canine tooth had many smaller canine teeth coming out of it. All together, they look like they’re packing deadly saws in their jaws.

Even though they look deadly, crabeater seals use their teeth in much the same way that we use strainers for pasta: they’ll take a big gulp of ocean water, then squeeze the water back out while their teeth trap all the tasty krill inside. Yum!

Beavers

You’d be horrified if you woke up with orange teeth, but that’s because you aren’t a beaver. Beaver teeth become orange over time because of the iron in the food they eat. The iron makes their teeth harder, which helps them chew through trees to construct their dams. But even iron doesn’t fully protect against wear and tear, which is why their teeth constantly grow.

Narwhals

Narwhals are often called the unicorns of the sea because of the single spiral horn protruding up to ten feet long from the males’ heads. However, those aren’t really horns. In fact, they are tusks—in this case, elongated canine teeth that grow through the upper lip. Usually only the left one manages to grow that long, but some male narwhals end up with two full-length tusks, and occasionally a female narwhal will grow one or both as well.

As recently as May of this year, scientists still weren’t sure about the tusks’ purpose, but new footage has shown narwhals using their tusks to stun fish, making it easier to eat them. There’s probably more to it than that, though, because the tusks also contain millions of nerve endings, which likely means narwhals use them to sense their surroundings.

Keep Taking Care Of Those Chompers!

We might not be able to bop fish over the head, saw through trees, or strain krill with our ordinary human teeth, but we still need them to be healthy and strong in order to chew our food, speak clearly, and share beautiful smiles with the people we love. Always remember to brush your teeth for two minutes twice a day, floss once a day, schedule regular dental appointments, and contact us if you’re having any dental problems in between appointments!

As cool as animal teeth are, human teeth are still our favorite!

Dental Sealants Have Our Seal Of Approval

September 5th, 2017

AS PARENTS, our children’s well-being is always our top priority, and their dental health is a big part of that. It’s important to take good care of their baby teeth, of course, but what can we do to ensure that their permanent teeth get off to a good start?
A Child’s Risk Of Tooth Decay

Did you know that 40 percent of children will develop cavities by the time they reach kindergarten? Poor oral hygiene habits and sugary snacks can result in severe tooth decay in baby teeth, and genetics sometimes contribute to the problem as well.

As important as baby teeth are, it’s even more crucial to protect incoming adult teeth from decay, because those are the final set of teeth your child will have, and you want them to stay healthy and strong for a lifetime. One way of ensuring that a child has a lower risk for tooth decay is applying dental sealants to the permanent molars.

Dental Sealants Protect Hard-to-Reach Areas

Most of us have deep valleys and crevices between the peaks of our molars. Those can be very difficult spots to keep clean, and decay-causing bacteria thrive there. That’s where a dental sealant material comes in. Dental sealants serve as a barrier against bacteria and food particles in those deep molar crevices. It doesn’t make up for slacking off in the brushing and flossing department, but it does make adult teeth far more resilient against decay.

The ideal time for your child to get dental sealants is shortly after their adult molars erupt, which usually begins around age six. The sooner the sealants are in place, the less of an opportunity bacteria have of setting up shop in those hard-to-brush crevices.

Sealant Application Is Simple

Applying the sealant to teeth is simple, quick, noninvasive, and painless. First, the teeth are carefully brushed and cleaned. Then they are blown dry before being painted with special gel. The clear plastic coating is applied to the deeper grooves of the biting surface of the molars next. In order to cure or harden this coating, we use a special light. Sealants can last from five to ten years, and we make sure to keep an eye on them whenever your child comes in for a dental check-up.

Sealants Are Only One Part Of The Equation

Never forget that sealants are only part of the dental health equation for any child. It’s also crucial to encourage good daily brushing and flossing habits. A healthy diet–specifically, one in which sugary treats, sodas, and fruit juices are rare–will make it harder for tooth decay to encroach as well. And, of course, bringing your child in for regular dental appointments will enable us to spot problems early on and make sure everything is on track.

We’re in the business of protecting your child’s smile

Nail Biting And Oral Health

August 30th, 2017

WE CALL SUSPENSEFUL BOOKS “nail-biters,” but the habit of nail biting itself has less exciting connotations.
The most obvious consequence is torn, uneven nails, and in particularly severe cases, nails that become dramatically shortened and deformed over time. This alone would be enough of a reason to discourage the habit, but far more insidious are the effects of nail biting on teeth and oral health.

Consequences For Teeth And Gums

Teeth should never be used as tools, and that includes using them as nail clippers. Over time, nail biting, or oncyophagia, can lead to a variety of complications.

Malocclusion and gaps

Grinding the front teeth together in order to bite through nails can gradually cause them to shift, creating a bad bite—malocclusion—or a gap between the top teeth.

Wearing, chipping, and cracking

At the same time that teeth are shifting into less than ideal positions, they could also be getting chipped or cracked, and they are certainly being worn down.

Root resorption

The pressure chewing nails places on the teeth can actually cause the jaw bone to begin re-absorbing the roots of those teeth, weakening them and increasing the risk of tooth loss. Having braces makes the risk of root resorption even greater.

Gingivitis

Fingernails trap a lot of dirt and microorganisms under them, and chewing on them introduces all of that bacteria to the mouth, which can lead to gum disease.

Increased risk of developing bruxism

People who chew their nails are more likely to develop a chronic teeth-grinding habit, which causes even more problems for the teeth, as well as frequent headaches and facial pain.

Why Does It Happen?

Compulsive nail biting has traditionally been thought of as a nervous habit, but recent studies indicate it may have to do with boredom and perfectionism as well as anxiety. It’s one of several body-focused repetitive disorders, such as picking scabs and pulling hair. Biting nails can be comforting or it can simply provide something to do. Many people who bite their nails don’t even notice they’re doing it. That, of course, makes stopping much harder.

Breaking The Habit

There are many different strategies nail-biters can use to help overcome the urge to keep chewing those nails.

•Keep nails trimmed short so there isn’t much to bite.
•Use bitter-tasting nail polish to make nail biting unpleasant.
•Get manicures so that you’re more motivated to keep your nails looking nice.
•Replace nail-biting with a different habit, such as squeezing a stress ball or playing with silly putty.
•Identify your triggers. If you know the circumstances that cause you to bite your nails, you can make plans for dealing with them.
•Stop gradually. Pick one or two fingernails at a time to stop biting (you might need to cover them to physically prevent yourself from biting them), then gradually add more fingernails until there are none left to bite!

We’re With You All The Way!

Our patients’ oral health is our top concern, which makes us your biggest ally against bad habits that put your oral health in jeopardy. If you have any questions or concerns about nail biting or would like more advice on putting the habit behind you, don’t hesitate to call us!

Our practice is rooting for you!