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Arlington, VA 22209

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Monthly Archives: October 2018

The Hidden Sugars In Our Food

WHEN WE THINK OF SUGARY FOOD, we usually picture things like candy, cake, pie, ice cream, and soda, but there is sugar hiding in many of the foods we buy at the grocery store — even foods we don’t think of as sweet! This is bad news for our oral health, because the harmful bacteria in our mouths love all that sugar, whether we know we’re eating it or not.

Sugar’s Many Disguises

Unfortunately, finding the sugar in the food we buy isn’t so simple these days, because it hides behind many tricky-sounding names. Here are some of the terms to look for when checking ingredient lists:

  • The “-ose” words: Fructose, sucrose, dextrose, lactose, maltose, glucose. All of these are scientific names for types of sugar molecules.
  • The syrups: Corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, maple/rice syrup, etc.
  • The sugars: Brown sugar, malt sugar, cane sugar, beet sugar, coconut sugar, etc. Whether brown or white, liquid or powder, sugar is still sugar.
  • The “natural replacements”: agave nectar, honey, evaporated cane juice, fruit juice concentrate, 100 percent fruit juice. While whole fruit is definitely a healthier snack than a candy bar, fruit juice isn’t any better for your teeth than soda.
  • Molasses.

While these are the most common disguises sugar may take, there are plenty more. A good clue is in the “added sugars” line on the nutrition labels. Unfortunately, these sugars can be found in everyday foods we often think of as healthy (or at least not unhealthy), like Raisin Bran, fruit-flavored yogurt, ketchup, barbecue sauce, granola, and even most types of bread! This is why it’s important to always read the labels!

Our Recommended Daily Sugar Intake

With sugar hiding in so much of our food, avoiding it entirely can be a difficult task, but our teeth (and the rest of us) will be healthier and happier if we can keep the overall amount to a minimum. The American Heart Association recommends no more than 25 grams (6 teaspoons) a day for women, 36 grams (9 teaspoons) for men. That might not seem like much, but the good news is that the longer you go with less sugar in your day, the less you’ll miss it!

Healthy Sugar Replacements

At least east as important as the amount of sugar we consume is how we consume it. The reason whole fruit is healthier than fruit juice is that the sugar in fruit comes with a lot of water and fiber, making it harder for our bodies to absorb. Whole fruit is also more filling, whereas we could drink the equivalent of several oranges in juice and still have room for bacon, eggs, and toast. That right there is the difference between natural and processed sugars!

But what about when you get those sweet cravings and fruit just won’t cut it? That’s when sugar-free sweeteners like Stevia, xylitol, and erythritol or low-sugar alternatives like applesauce, bananas, dates, and figs come in handy. You’ll also have an easier time avoiding those insidious added sugars if you stick to whole foods.

Let’s Check On Those Teeth!

Luckily for all of us, cutting down on sugar isn’t the only way we can take care of our teeth. We can also keep them healthy and bright by brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and scheduling our regular dental cleanings. If it’s been more than six months since your last appointment, don’t hesitate to schedule your next one today!

Our practice has the world’s sweetest patients!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

What To Look For In A Toothbrush

ON THE SURFACE, a toothbrush seems like just another item on the grocery list, but choosing the best one for you can be tricky. There are several factors to take into account, such as bristle softness, grip feel, head size, and whether to stick with manual or go electric. That’s why we’re here to help make your selection process easier!

Toothbrush Qualities To Look For

Have you ever noticed that the toothbrushes you bring home from dentist appointments have very soft bristles? This is no accident. Hard bristles might seem like they’re better equipped to clean away plaque, but they could be damaging your teeth and gums while they’re at it. We recommend choosing a toothbrush with soft bristles. This is particularly important for anyone with sensitive teeth or gums.

The next thing to look for is the size of the brush head. Mouths and teeth come in different sizes depending on age and genetics, which is why toothbrush heads have a range of sizes available. Find the toothbrush that matches the size of your mouth. Just like bristle hardness isn’t an indication of effectiveness, having more bristles doesn’t make the brush better if it won’t fit easily around your teeth.

You might think that a toothbrush’s handle is its least important part, but a toothbrush with the wrong kind of handle is a difficult toothbrush to use. Is your toothbrush comfortable to hold and easy to maneuver, or does it slip in your hand? The better you are able to hold your toothbrush, the better it can clean your teeth. This is a particularly crucial consideration for people with arthritis or other conditions that make it difficult to grip objects.

Manual Or Electric?

This is one of the biggest debates when it comes to choosing a new toothbrush. A lot of people swear by their electric brushes while others claim manual ones are better. Some electric toothbrushes can do a better job of removing plaque, but it’s up to you to decide if that is worth the greatly increased price tag. Electric toothbrushes can be particularly beneficial to orthodontic patients who have to brush around braces, people with dexterity problems, and even children!

Out With The Old Toothbrush, In With The New

Regardless of what type of toothbrush you have, remember to always replace it between three and six months, and store it upright somewhere it can fully dry between uses. If you still have questions about what to look for in a toothbrush, just ask us! We want to make sure all our patients have the best tools for keeping their teeth healthy and clean.

Put that new toothbrush to good use!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Making Halloween Healthy For Your Teeth

HALLOWEEN IS ONE OF the most highly anticipated holidays of the year, and it’s almost here! This holiday sees kids, teens, and even adults consuming far more sugar than they would any other time, coming in second only to Easter. The problem with this is that sugar is the favorite food of the harmful bacteria living in our mouths, which means eating all these treats is very bad for our oral health.

Halloween Treats Versus Our Teeth

Any time we consume sugar, that bacteria in our mouths gets a big tasty meal, after which it excretes acid onto our teeth. If you’ve ever noticed an unpleasant sour taste or gritty feeling a little while after eating dessert, that’s why. The acid can do a lot of damage to our tooth enamel, because even though enamel is the hardest substance in our entire bodies, it is very vulnerable to acid erosion.

Fight Back Against The Sugar Attack

We can, of course, do things to minimize the harmful effects of sugar on our teeth. If we eat small amounts of candy throughout the day, then we aren’t giving our saliva time to neutralize the acids and wash away the sugar, so it’s actually better for our teeth to eat all the candy we want in one go.

Drinking water can help get rid of leftover sugars after eating a treat, and there are also other foods that work as natural cleaners and oral health boosters. Apples, bananas, vegetables, and even dark chocolate help scrub teeth clean and also supply important vitamins and minerals such as calcium, phosphorus, and vitamins C and D!

Another essential component of the battle against enamel erosion is a good brushing and flossing habit. Just make sure to wait half an hour after eating candy to brush, so that your saliva has time to neutralize all that acid first.

5 Delicious, Healthy, And Spooky Alternatives

Just because there are ways to minimize the effects of sugar on your teeth doesn’t mean it isn’t still better to choose healthier options for your spooky treats to begin with. Here are a few of our favorite options:

  1. Colby Jack-o’-Lanterns. The cut-out jack-o’-lantern face in the bread and the yummy, calcium-rich cheese in the middle make this one a great, healthy snack!
  2. Monster Apple Bites. Apples are full of fiber and water that help clean our teeth as we eat them, so why not make your apple slices look spooky for Halloween?
  3. Boo-nana. This one is easy. All you need are a few chocolate chips (preferably dark chocolate) and a banana. Bananas are good for the teeth because they are loaded with potassium and magnesium, which help keep teeth and gums strong.
  4. Spooky Spider Eggs. Eggs are great sources of vitamin D and our teeth need it to absorb calcium in order to stay strong.
  5. Clementine Pumpkins. Simply peel the fruit and add a stem! Clementines have a lot of vitamin C, which promotes good gum health.

We Can Help You Protect Your Teeth!

We hope every member of our practice family has a great Halloween filled with sweets and scares, but oral health should always be a priority. After you finish eating all your healthy treats and brushing and flossing your teeth, another great way to protect your teeth is to bring them in for their six-month checkup! We look forward to seeing you!

Wishing all our patients a happy Halloween!

Top image by Personal Creations used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

In Case Of Dental Emergency

WHEN WE THINK OF an emergency, we probably don’t imagine it could have something to do with our teeth. However, any chip, crack, or toothache should be treated as a priority, because even if they seem like minor issues, they can lead to much worse (and more expensive) problems down the line.

Know Where To Go

Before an emergency happens, there are steps you can take to prepare yourself and your family. The first is to find a dental practice that is right for you. This way, you’ll know where to turn when something goes wrong unexpectedly, and you won’t have to waste precious time looking up dental practices. You want a dentist who is within easy driving distance, has a good reputation, is within your price range, and who makes you and your family feel comfortable.

Common Dental Emergencies

In addition to knowing where to turn when an emergency happens, you can also prepare for dental emergencies by becoming educated on what you can do on the way to the dentist. Here are the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s recommendations for three common dental emergencies:

1. A Knocked Out Baby Tooth

If a baby tooth is knocked out, contact your dentist immediately. Most likely, even if the tooth was not loose, they will not replant it because it could compromise the developing permanent tooth underneath.

2. Fracture Of A Tooth

If a tooth is cracked, chipped, or broken, contact your dentist right away because this will need treatment as soon as possible. Rinse out your mouth with water and find any broken fragments of tooth, then place them in cold milk to preserve them and bring them with you to the dentist. Do not ignore a crack or chip! If the dental pulp is exposed, it is in danger of infection unless treated quickly!

Watch this video to learn about bonding, one way a dentist may repair a chipped tooth:

3. A Knocked Out Permanent Tooth

If a permanent tooth is knocked out, head straight to the dentist. In most cases, a knocked out tooth can be saved if the dentist sees you within an hour of the accident. Before you get there, you can help preserve the tooth by replacing it in the socket and holding it in place with clean gauze or a washcloth. If it won’t go back in, store it in cold milk.

A few things you should NOT do if a permanent tooth gets knocked out are letting it dry out, handling it by the root, scrubbing it clean, or using soap, alcohol, or peroxide on it. Doing any of these things will damage the root of the tooth, reducing the chances the dentist will be able to successfully replant it.

Your Dentist Is Ready To Help!

Even if your tooth shows no external damage, a toothache is a sign that something could be wrong on the inside, and that should be seen by a dentist as soon as possible. Now, hopefully you will never have to put any of this preparation to the test, but if you do, you now know where to go! If you have any questions about what else you can do to prepare for a dental emergency, don’t hesitate to ask us.

Your dental health is our top priority!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

The Dangers Of DIY Teeth Whitening

A GOOD-LOOKING SMILE with white, even teeth is a major confidence booster and really helps make a good first impression, whether you’re going on a date or sitting down for a job interview. The widespread desire for whiter teeth in today’s society, combined with internet culture, has given rise to a number of popular do-it-yourself teeth whitening methods. While these might seem like great life-hacks to try, many of them can actually do serious damage to our teeth.

Common DIY Whitening Trends

Over the last couple of years, you’ve probably heard about some of these trendy teeth whitening approaches, such as activated charcoal, lemon juice, and oil pulling. Oil pulling is an ancient folk remedy, but there is no scientific evidence to back up the claims about its health benefits. Lemon juice is absolutely a bad idea, because you’re essentially applying a strong acid directly to your teeth. Tooth enamel is highly vulnerable to acid, and enamel loss is permanent.

Activated charcoal might be able to absorb stains and toxins, but those benefits are debatable when it comes to teeth, because charcoal is also abrasive, so it could be scraping away enamel even as it removes stains. Hold off on buying that tube of charcoal toothpaste until you see the ADA Seal of Acceptance, and definitely don’t mix up your own.

What About Peroxide And Baking Soda?

Another recent DIY whitening trend is using the baking soda in the pantry and the hydrogen peroxide in the medicine cabinet to bleach teeth. The reasoning behind this idea is that hydrogen peroxide is used in professional whitening and baking soda is present in many ADA approved whitening toothpastes, and both proven to be effective at removing stains.

While it is true that peroxide and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) are used in professional and approved whitening products, that doesn’t mean these are safe chemicals to apply to our teeth however we want. There is a delicate balance between using too little, which won’t produce much of a whitening effect, and using too much, which can damage the enamel and the soft tissues of the mouth. Only dental professionals have the knowledge, training, and materials needed to strike that balance.

Come To The Right Place For Whitening

Your teeth will thank you if you put your trust in dental professionals for your whitening needs rather than trying something risky at home, so bring your teeth whitening questions with you to your next appointment. Together, we can make a plan for how best to whiten your smile. In the meantime, the best things you can do to keep your smile healthy and bright are to keep up with your daily brushing and flossing habits, avoid foods and drinks that can stain your teeth, and don’t smoke.

We’re here to help you get the smile of your dreams!

Top image by Flickr user Rupert Taylor-Price used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
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