The Science Behind Why Veggies Are Good for Your Mouth

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We all know eating our veggies is good for us … but why exactly? Sure, they’re colorful, and taste yummy (they do, right?), but what is it about the chemical compounds found in vegetables that make them good for our teeth? And, why worry about it now? Well, because it’s Eat Your Veggies Day on June 17th, and we thought we’d share with you a cornucopia of knowledge as to what makes veggies tick. Ready? Here we go!

Protein: We tend to think of protein as something we get from meat, but ask a vegetarian (or vegan!), and you’ll find there are plenty of plant sources chock-full of protein. Protein helps strengthen our teeth, helps keep our immune system robust (good with all that bacteria we’re inhaling all day long), and aids in mucosal and connective tissue development. Favorite sources:Peas, spinach, potatoes, broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts

Calcium: Kale, broccoli, garlic, spinach and okra each pack a mean calcium-punch: an essential nutrient for healthy teeth.

Phosphorus: Like calcium, healthy teeth also need phosphorous.  Seeds and nuts are the winners here, and as you know, not vegetables. But they are healthy, so we thought we’d include them! Broccoli and garlic are the big veggie winners.

Zinc: Our immune system, as well as our mucosal and connective tissues (gum tissue) love zinc. That’s why veggies rich in this mineral are a must-have for a healthy mouth. Favorite sources: Peas, shiitake mushrooms, sun dried tomatoes and napa cabbage.

Antioxidants: Hmmm… antioxidants. How about all vegetables under the sun?! Consume away, and juice ‘em every once and a while as well. Antioxidants are great for maintaining healthy mucosal and connective tissues and, as just about everything else on this list, a healthy immune system!

Folate: Asparagus, broccoli, collard greens, peas, spinach and endive are your folate friends. Eat them with much joy and your gum tissue will thank you.

Iron: If you’re looking for more iron to boost your immune system, look no further than dark green leafy vegetables. They’re packed with the stuff, and our bodies absorb it readily when coupled with vitamin C (antioxidant!). What area of our mouth likes iron? Gum tissue!

Vitamin A: Gum tissue needs Vitamin A to remain healthy. Carrots, cabbage, collard greens, lettuce, spinach and sweet potatoes are all good sources.

Vitamin C: Peppers, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, top the favorite list of vegetables packing a lot of vitamin C. Some of these guys even have more Vitamin C than oranges! Your mouth thrives on Vitamin C for collagen development, to maintain the integrity of the periodontal ligament; mucosal and connective tissue development, as well as overall immune health.

Omega-3 fats: Yummy fat. Do veggie sources have fat? Yep! Gum tissue needs fat to stay healthy, and it helps temper inflammatory response. Of course, as with most of these, our immune system gets a boost as well. So, go ahead and eat fatty vegetables! Here’s a huge list! P.S. Avocados and olives are fruit!

Vitamin D: Do you like mushrooms? Great! Cause they’re your go-to source for Vitamin D when it comes to veggies. Healthy gum tissue, a good immune system, and enamel remineralization are the gifts they provide.

B vitamins: Like all the cells in our body, the epithelial cells in our mouths have a regular rate of turnover where old cells are replaced by new ones. Helping that process along are the B vitamins we can find in sweet potatoes, spinach, mushrooms, winter squash, lettuce, spinach and artichokes. Make a salad!
So, there you have it – tons of info on how those veggies you’re consuming contribute to your overall oral health. Eat well and be well!

We’re indebted to the Precision Nutrition’s “Dental Diet,” which served as inspiration for this article. Please visit their site for even more amazing insight into eating for your teeth!

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Spring Cleaning – For Your Child’s Healthy Smile!

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“Spring cleaning” should be part of every child’s routine, especially when it comes to their teeth! Even with regular daily brushing and flossing, routine cleanings, or “prophylaxsis” (literally “preventive treatment of disease”) at the dentist should be an important part of your child’s spring routine. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently reported the first rise in 40 years of children with cavities in their baby teeth — with kids ages 2 to 5 bearing the largest increase. In the case of professional teeth cleaning, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure — and a twice-annual examination, check-up, and cleaning can go a long way in helping your child avoid being a part of this trend.

It Makes a Difference!

Regular cleanings, including scaling and polishing by your child’s dentist or hygienist, will remove plaque and tartar (mineralized plaque) which builds up over time and is nearly impossible to remove with regular brushing or flossing. Dentists use special tools or ultrasonic sound waves to help remove plaque or tartar. Without a regularly scheduled cleaning, plaque and tartar can attack the gums, which can lead to gingivitis and a number of other complications.
Professional cleanings and regular exams can also bolster your child’s at-home dental hygiene routine and give your dentist a chance to take a close look at your child’s mouth to ensure that they don’t have any problems that have gone undetected.
On top of keeping their smile squeaky clean and making sure their oral health is in check, a professional cleaning appointment gives you the opportunity to have a conversation with the doctor about your child’s daily dental routine or any concerns you may have. Regular exams and cleanings can give the dentist a good idea of what your child’s habits are, allowing them to suggest changes you can help your child make to improve his or her oral health.  Make cleanings a part of your child’s spring routine, and get them on the right path to a longtime healthy and happy smile!

Bad Dental Habits to Break in the New Year

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We know, we know. There are a dozen things you’d rather do than fight your toddler (or teen) on brushing their teeth. And it’s often easier to let things slide so that bedtime and your morning ritual can run smoother.

We suggest using the new year to refresh your commitment to upholding a good dental routine for your kids. They won’t know it now, but establishing good habits while they’re young will reap a lifetime of benefits.

So, what are some bad dental habits your family may have grown accustomed to?

Putting off a dental visit

When was the last time your child went to the dentist?

Have they ever gone?

If you’ve been putting off scheduling an appointment, we suggest calling soon. Often, dentists can spot problems before they start, making treatment easier and less expensive in the long run.

Not brushing teeth every day

Whether you’ve got little ones who need help with their brushing routine, or older kids who say they’ve brushed when they haven’t, it’s easy to let things slide in favor of domestic harmony.

But it’s worth it to make sure they are brushing at least twice a day. If your kids are into technology, here are some apps that can help with this process!

Not flossing

The earlier you introduce flossing into the dental routine, the better! Make sure your older ones know proper flossing technique.

For your younger ones, you can start by flossing for them or showing them how to use a disposable flosser.

Chewing on household items

Do you have a chewer?

We’re not talking about the teething years. We’re talking about your middle schooler who likes to chew on pencils or ice.

Help wean them off this habit and reduce the potential for long-term dental issues.

Extended pacifier use or thumb-sucking

We know these habits can be hard to break, but both can prevent proper teeth and jaw development.

Do your best to encourage positive behaviors that replace the need for the pacifier or thumb, versus punishing each time the behavior continues. Positivity is more likely to produce the result you’re looking for, and promotes a positive parent-child relationship!

Too many sugary snacks and drinks

How many of the snacks and drinks your child consumes are sweet?

Try swapping out fruit snacks or graham crackers for string cheese, sliced apples, carrots, or nuts. The less sugar, the better.

As for sugar-sweetened beverages and juice, these are too high in sugar and empty calories to justify their use. Save a nice 100% juice for a weekend brunch; otherwise, offer water.

Now, there’s no need to feel guilty if any of these habits are alive and well in your household. But do start to think how you can curb them in this new year.

Baby steps count!

Perhaps by the end of the year, you can look back and see the habit is no longer in place. Good luck!

5 Teeth Friendly Ways to Enjoy Halloween

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Fill those candy bags, October is here! The month every kid across the land dreams could take place every day, and the only day when dressing up and eating gobs of candy is not only allowed, but encouraged. Now, that’s a good deal for a kid. But what if you’re a parent? Everyone knows healthy snacks are the way to go every other day of the year that is not Halloween, so how do you give in a bit and let your children enjoy the festivities while keeping these healthy habits top of mind? Here are five teeth-friendly habits that’ll ensure you’re still communicating the right message. Read more

When Will Baby’s Teeth Arrive? A Guide

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Before your baby can talk, it’s a guessing game to figure out what may be causing them discomfort. If they’re drooling, nibbling on hands or toys, or seem extra irritable, chances are they’re teething. Peek in that adorable little mouth and you might see some teeth sticking through those gums! Fortunately for your baby, teeth don’t all erupt at once; they typically follow a predictable eruption pattern. Read more

Should Your Child Do More Than Just Brush and Floss?

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As an adult, your oral care routine tends to remain fairly static for a large part of your life. Brush and floss. Rinse, perhaps, if you’re fond of it. And, unless you need prosthetics, that’s about all you’ll ever do. But, what about your kids? Toddlers? Adolescents? What sort of routine should they follow? Is it the same as yours? And, should it change from time to time? Since it’s February, and Children’s Dental Health month is upon us, let’s take a quick dive into “what’s-what” from toddlers to teens when it comes to oral care. Read more