Is Chocolate Bad for Your Teeth?

This may first appear as a silly question to ask your dentist in Hyde Park. Popular opinion would answer it with a resounding, “Yes, chocolate is bad for your teeth. Obviously.” However, our Hyde Park dental office has a slightly different position when it comes to chocolate and your oral health.

Chocolate’s Secret Benefit for Happy Teeth

For years you’ve been hearing dentists talk about avoiding sweets or enjoying them in moderation since they tend to wreak havoc on your teeth. While still mostly true, recent research has suggested that dark chocolate, specifically, may defy this outdated rule. In fact, studies conducted in the United States, England, and Japan are changing the way the world views dark chocolate.

Dark Chocolate: A Serious Cavity Fighter

When we eat anything that has a high sugar content, including dark chocolate’s counterpart milk chocolate, that sugar is left to hang around on teeth. The bacteria in the mouth love this and start to feed on the sugars. What happens next is where the trouble begins. The feeding bacteria produce an acidic byproduct. This acid, if not neutralized or removed, is what causes tooth enamel to break down and leaves teeth at risk for decay and cavities. However, ingredients and compounds found in dark chocolate don’t allow this to occur, which makes it an a-ok treat in our book.

How Does it All Work?

If we eat a piece of dark chocolate, we’re still exposing our teeth to the sugar content. However, the compounds found in the cocoa bean husk, which is a primary ingredient in dark chocolate, help counteract the damaging effects of sugar. These special compounds fight off both the bacteria that would normally feed on the sugar and produce acid as well as any plaque. In fact, some studies suggest that the compounds found in dark chocolate may be more efficient at defending against decay than fluoride. However, more research is needed to test this theory.

Remember, Dark Chocolate is Good Chocolate

While we’d love to be able to tell you eating all types of chocolate is beneficial for your oral health, it’s just not true. These studies that support the health benefits of chocolate are dedicated specifically to dark chocolate. So before you load up on your favorite candy bars, try to make the switch to organic, dark chocolate for the best protection.

Following a well balanced diet of fruits, veggies, grains, and dairy is also important for not only oral health, but whole body health too. But the good news is that we now have a delicious and healthy option for dessert or quick sweet tooth fixes.

To maintain optimal oral health, don’t forget to visit our dental office in Hyde Park twice a year and properly brush and floss your teeth at home.

The Effects of the Common Cold on Your Teeth

‘Tis the season of stuffy noses, persistent coughs, and sore throats. It’s officially cold and flu season. And even though the team at our dental office in Hyde Park is committed to keeping our patients and neighbors healthy, there are just some things we can’t fix. The common cold being one of them. But while we may not have a cure, we do have some tips on how to keep your teeth healthy as you treat that pesky cough.

The Secret Dangers of Cough Medicine

Many cough syrups and lozenges do wonders in easing the effects of the common cold. However, their ingredients can be damaging to teeth and oral health. Some of the most popular over-the-counter medicines contain sugar and alcohol — both of which can leave your teeth at risk for decay and damage.

Sugars

Even though the sugars found in many cough syrups and cough drops don’t necessarily have medicinal benefits, they do still have a purpose. Many medicines add sugar to make them taste better so that people can tolerate drinking or sucking on them. But these sugars give the bacteria in the mouth something to feed on, and that’s concerning for your Hyde Park dentist. As bacteria feed on sugars they release an acidic byproduct. This acid wears away the protective layer of tooth enamel and leaves teeth exposed to decay.

Alcohol

Normally our mouths produce enough saliva to rinse away sugar and the acid caused by bacteria that feed on it. However, alcohol is known to cause dry mouth. When a mouth is dry, there is not enough saliva to wash away the damaging sugars and acids that lead to tooth decay and cavities.

Ease the Effects

We’re certainly not suggesting that you don’t take any medicine to help you cope with your cold, but there are ways you can reduce the effects of the damaging ingredients found in most cough medicines and cough drops. First, avoid taking medicine after your nightly brushing before bed. This will help keep the sugar and alcohol from hanging around damaging your teeth all night long. Next, try taking medication with meals. Our mouths produce more saliva as we eat, and that extra surge in saliva will help rinse away any dangerous ingredients. Lastly, consider a pill form of cough medicine to keep the sugars and alcohol away from teeth altogether.

All of us at our Hyde Park dental office hope you can avoid catching a cold or the flu this season. But if you happen to come down with a sickness, follow the tips above to help you feel better and protect your smile at the same time.

Good for the Body, Good for the Mouth

What we put into our bodies can certainly affect how we feel and how healthy we are. But eating the right foods to fuel your body goes beyond enhancing overall health. During this National Nutrition Month, your Hyde Park dentist wants to let all of our patients know how proper nutrition can also benefit your oral health.

What Exactly is Proper Nutrition?

The basics of eating right include reducing your fat and sugar intake while upping the amount of nutrient rich foods. But how much of what things should you be eating? That’s where things aren’t so simple. Ever since the original Food Pyramid Guide was published by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) in 1992, nutritional recommendations have shifted two more times. The current standards are reflected in MyPlate and vary depending on age, gender, height, weight, and daily activity level. However, most of the common rules of thumb remain the same including focusing on eating plenty of:

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole Grains
  • Lean Proteins
  • Dairy

What’s the Link Between Nutrition and Oral Health?

The body’s response to eating “bad” foods and drinks increases the likelihood of someone experiencing oral health issues and diseases. Let’s look at foods that are high in sugar, for example. Sweets and beverages like soda and even juices packed with sugar attack tooth enamel. If they’re not rinsed away or are left exposed to the teeth for long periods of time, they will work away at and erode the protective tooth layer. Without this barrier, teeth are more susceptible to cavities and sensitivity. Although almost every food contains some amount of sugar, even the good foods we’re supposed to eat, try your best to stay away from items that have added sugars and remember to read nutritional labels.

Beware of the Hidden Sugars

Sugar content in the sweeter foods that you choose for you and your family isn’t the only thing your dentist in Hyde Park is wary of. There are hidden sugars everywhere, even in places that don’t taste sweet. Foods that contain a lot of carbohydrates can actually raise blood glucose levels and effect the body the very same way actual sugar does. Since these carbs end up breaking down into simple sugars, they put teeth at the same risk for decay as eating a sweet treat.

Eat Well, Protect Your Smile

At our dental office in Hyde Park, we strive to keep our patients healthy by being a key member of their health care team. Encouraging a healthy, well-balanced diet is a great way to ensure not only a healthy body, but also a healthy mouth. If you’re looking to become a healthier version of yourself and get your smile in its best shape yet, we welcome you to schedule an appointment with us today.

A Closer Look at Sugary Snacks

Most of us know that sugar is bad for teeth. So it should come as no surprise that our dental office in Hyde Park encourages our patients to limit their sugary snack intake in order to keep teeth healthy and decay-free. But sometimes it’s not so easy know just how much sugar is in the foods we eat. We’re here to help take a closer look…

How Much Sugar is Recommended?

Before we dive into some foods that are high in sugar we should talk about how much sugar we typically need every day. While sugar intake limits vary person to person, the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends the following maximum of added sugars daily:

  • Men – 150 calories per day (or 9 teaspoons)
  • Women – 100 calories per day (or 6 teaspoons)

A Quick Note on Added Sugars

There two types of sugars found in food — natural sugars and added sugars. Natural sugars occur naturally in foods and added sugars are, well, added in. While both can negatively affect teeth, added sugars are worse for oral health and overall health.

Sugar-Packed Snacks

As we look at some snacks that are high in sugar, there may be some that surprise you. Remember, you don’t need to avoid these snacks entirely, but try to limit your intake of added sugars and do all you can to follow a well-balanced diet. To try to put the sugar content into better perspective, we’ll be using teaspoons for reference.

Yogurt

Yogurt is usually considered good for you, but certain types can contain loads of sugar. Varieties that have added fruit or flavors are particularly guilty. Some may even top out at more than 6.5 teaspoons of sugar in only a 6 ounce cup.

Granola Bars

Here’s another snack that normally finds its way onto the healthy list. Granola bars can be a quick and easy snack, but there can also be a lot of sugar hiding in these handheld treats. In fact, some may have nearly 3 teaspoons of it.

Soda

This one should come as no surprise. Certain types of soda can have as much as 11 teaspoons in a 12 ounce can!

Candy

Another pretty common sugary snack comes in the form of candy. And while different types of candy pack a different sugar punch, most of them contain at least 7 teaspoons and some have as much as 17 teaspoons!

When it comes to nutrition and snacking smart, read the labels on food carefully and pay attention to serving size to truly know how much sugar (and other stuff) you’ll be putting into your body. If it helps you to picture sugar content by the teaspoon, keep in mind that 4.2 grams is equal to 1 teaspoon.

As always, when it comes to keeping your smile healthy and your teeth in tip-top shape, make sure you brush them twice a day, floss once a day, and see your dentist in Hyde Park biannually.

We’re always accepting new patients at our Hyde Park dental office and welcome you to schedule an appointment with us today.

“I’ve Lost a Filling, What Do I Do?”

Dental fillings are super-strong restorations that help fill the space left over after we remove decay. But sometimes things happen that can cause a filling to come loose or totally fall out. Whether it’s from crunching down on a popcorn kernel or grinding your teeth while you sleep, a lost filling may cause worry. The team at our Hyde Park dental office is here to help relieve some of the worry by providing you with a few tips on what you can do if you were to lose a filling.

First Things First

The best thing you can do if you lose a filling is call your dentist in Hyde Park as soon as you can. Many offices, like ours, leave appointments open for situations just like this so we can fit patients in if needed. At the appointment, we will probably talk about what happened and check out the area. Then we’ll recommend the best treatment to restore the filling and your tooth.

Treatment Options

Recommended treatment will depend on the location of the filling and the amount of damage. In many cases the filling can simply be replaced with another filling. However, if the filling was covering a large area, a crown may be more appropriate. Dental crowns fit over the entire tooth and provide a strong protective cap.

What You Can Do at Home

Sometimes we can’t fit you into the schedule that day, or perhaps you lost your filling on a Saturday afternoon when a dental office isn’t open. But that doesn’t mean you need to suffer. There are a few things you can do on your own to help protect your tooth and reduce pain if you have any.

  • Keep it clean by gently brushing the area after eating to remove any food particles that may have become trapped in the groove.
  • Swishing with salt water will also help loosen food and rinse away bacteria.
  • Use a pain reliever to reduce sensitivity.
  • Place temporary filling material made from zinc oxide into the space. This can be found at most pharmacies. Remember, this is a temporary fix and it’s still important to have the tooth restored.

Reduce Your Risk

Nobody wants to lose a dental filling, and the best thing you can do to protect your dental restorations is to avoid things that can damage them. This includes limiting your intake of chewy, sticky foods as well as hard, crunchy snacks, treating any grinding with a mouthguard, and seeing your dentist regularly to monitor all your dental work. If you’ve lost a filling, don’t wait. Call our dental office in Hyde Park.

Surprising Cavity-Causing Snacks That Are Worse Than Candy

Our dental office in Hyde Park wants to share a secret with our patients and neighbors. Did you know that there are snacks out there that are worse for your teeth than candy? You heard us right. Candy may not be the scariest thing for your oral health. It’s no trick. Just the truth. Let’s take a closer lookout some of the other foods that cause cavities.

A Note on Sugary Sweets

While we’re here to talk about surprising snacks that are dangerous to oral health, it is worth mentioning that candy is still a concern for your dentist in Hyde Park. But it’s not really the sugar itself that’s the problem. It’s what happens to the sugar when you eat it. Bacteria that live in the mouth love sugar and will feed on it every chance they get. This keeps the bacteria full and healthy. But what’s more concerning is what happens when these bacteria digest sugars. Like all living things, bacteria have to release waste. They just so happen to release an acid that wears away tooth enamel and increases the likelihood of cavities. Because of this, it’s still important to enjoy sugary foods in moderation.

It’s Not Only About Sugar

Even though sugar gets a bad reputation when talking about keeping teeth healthy, there are other treats that can be just as damaging, if not more so.

Crackers & Chips

The high starch content found in crackers and chips can be more of a concern than sugar. While these snacks don’t necessarily taste sweet, the starches can affect the body very much the same way sugar does. This is because chips and crackers have a high glycemic index. Foods with a high glycemic index are known to increase blood glucose levels as the body digests them. This means that even though there’s low sugar listed in the ingredients, the starches will feed mouth bacteria the same way sugar does. This also means that bacteria will release more of the acidic byproduct and leave teeth at risk for decay. But that’s not all.

When chewed, chips and crackers form into almost a paste-like consistency. This makes them very sticky and they can easily get stuck in between teeth and in tooth grooves. The longer the starches are left in the mouth like this, the more they’re feeding the bacteria and the more acid is getting released.

Keeping Your Teeth Safe

Just like we recommend limiting the amount of sugary foods you eat, we also suggest snacking on starchy foods such as chips and crackers in moderation. But no matter what you choose to treat yourself to this Halloween, be sure to pair eating with drinking water. This will help wash away food particles, bacteria, and neutralize acid.

How Treating a Cold Can Cause Cavities

More than 3 million Americans get the common cold every year. That’s a lot of sneezes, running noses, and coughs that many of us will treat with over-the-counter medications. Even though these medications can help us feel a little bit better and relieve us of our symptoms, even temporarily, there are some reasons why your dentist in Hyde Park recommends using cough and cold medicine carefully.

Risks of Cold Medicine on Oral Health

It’s easy to load up on cold medicine, especially when it helps stop a cough or unstuff a nose. After all, there’s no reason you should have to suffer through your cold when there are medications out there that can help you feel better. But some of the most common cold medicines contain some ingredients that can put your smile in danger. Most notably, the sugars and alcohol found in many over-the-counter cold remedies.

The Dangers of Sugars

Most medications that help with cold symptoms contain sugar. This is because, without it, medicine can taste pretty bad. But as everyone knows, your dentist in Hyde Park really doesn’t like sugar, which includes those found in medications. Sugar is one of the top contributors to tooth decay. When we eat sugary foods, suck on cough drops, or take liquid cough medicine, the bacteria in our mouths feed on the sugars. These bacteria release an acidic byproduct that can wear away tooth enamel. Tooth enamel is the outside protective layer of teeth that protects it against decay. Without it, teeth are at increased risk for decay and cavities.

Alcohol

The other common ingredient found in many cold medications is alcohol. Even though there’s not much of it, alcohol in medicine can still be a concern for your Hyde Park dentist. Alcohol can easily cause dry mouth. Normally, dry mouth is alleviated naturally by saliva. A healthy mouth typically produces between 0.5 and 1.5 liters of saliva each day. This saliva helps neutralize acids and wash away bacteria. But those with dry mouth produce much less saliva which means those dangerous bacteria and acids are left behind and can increase the risk for tooth decay.

Reduce the Risk

We understand that asking you to avoid medicine during a miserable cold is, well, miserable. So we’re certainly not suggesting that you don’t take medicine at all. What we do recommend, however, is that you take medicine at the right time and the right way to reduce its oral health risks.

Try taking the medication as a pill instead of a liquid. Many medicines are available in both liquid and pill form. Pills or capsules will lower the teeth’s exposure to sugar and alcohol and reduce the risk of decay.

Take medicine, and then brush your teeth. Brushing your teeth AFTER you take cough syrup, rather than before, can help remove the sugars and alcohol from your mouth and teeth.

Eat something with your medicine. Eating food increases saliva production which will help wash away sugar and alcohol.

If you do happen to catch a cold, try these tips to not only feel better but also protect your teeth in the process.