Posts for tag: nutrition
Did you know that what you eat impacts the health of your teeth and gums? Learn more from your St. Louis dentists!
It obviously goes without saying that what you eat affects your overall health. Processed foods and foods high in sugar can cause some serious problems down the road. Of course, what you eat can also affect the health of your smile. If you want to stave off decay and gum disease, our St. Louis, MO, dentists, Drs. Jeffrey and Jodi Johnson, offer up a list of foods that are great for your oral health.
You’ve probably heard this since at least elementary school, but milk is meant to build strong bones because of the calcium that it contains. Calcium is not only great for the development of a strong jawbone but also teeth. Having the proper amount of calcium in your diet can protect your smile from decay and prevent bone loss. If milk isn’t really a favorite, you can also find calcium from other dairy products like cheese and yogurt. If you are lactose intolerant, don’t worry. Collard greens, broccoli, kale, edamame and figs are just some of the dairy-free options that can still help you get the calcium you need.
Your diet should also have a generous helping of crisp, crunchy fruits and vegetables, as they offer an array of benefits. Besides the obvious nutrients they offer, apples, celery and carrots can help to remove and dislodge bacteria and plaque from your teeth. Also, just the act of chewing these crunchy foods stimulates salivary production, which also aids in removing bacteria from your teeth to keep your smile healthier and cleaner.
Vitamin C is one of the best vitamins for repairing tissues and wounds, as well as fighting off infection. Not having enough vitamin C in your diet can cause bleeding gums and even leave you more susceptible to developing gum disease. Oranges, red peppers, sweet potatoes and carrots are some of the foods that are high in Vitamin C. Rather than opting for fruit juices, which often contain a lot of added sugar, go with natural fruits and vegetables to get your daily dose of Vitamin C.
We know that it’s a challenge but it’s important to stay away from sugary treats and refined carbs as much as possible. White bread, gummy or hard candies, cakes and pies, and sodas are loaded with sugar, which can increase your chances of decay and gum disease. If you do consume sugar it’s always a good idea to brush your teeth immediately after to reduce the amount of plaque.
Do you have questions about your diet and how it affects your smile? Do you need to schedule your six-month cleaning? If so, then it’s time you called our St. Louis, MO, family dental practice today. What are you waiting for?
Diet sodas may be better for your waistline, but they're bad news for your teeth. Dr. Jeffrey Johnson and Dr. Jodi Johnson, your St. Louis, MO dentists, explain how diet soda can damage your teeth and offer a few tips to prevent or reduce damage.
How do diet sodas damage teeth?
Consuming sugary drinks can increase your risk of tooth decay, but sugar isn't the only cause of cavities. Sodas, whether they're diet or full of sugar, contain phosphoric, tartaric and other acids. These acids attack your tooth enamel, causing it to erode. Once tiny breaks develop in the enamel, it's easier to develop cavities, plus your teeth may become more sensitive to hot and cold foods and beverages. Drinking diet sodas frequently will also stain your teeth.
What can I do to prevent damage?
Follow these tips to reduce the damage from drinking diet soda:
- Reduce your consumption: If you can't give up diet soda completely, limiting your intake will reduce the risk of enamel damage.
- Don't dawdle: The longer the acids in diet soda remain in your mouth, the higher the chance that they'll damage your teeth. Drink sodas quickly rather than slowly sipping them over the course of an hour.
- Forget about brushing your teeth immediately: Wait at least an hour to brush your teeth after drinking a diet soda. Brushing too soon can spread acid throughout your mouth instead of removing it.
- Buy a package of straws: Keep soda away from your teeth by using a straw.
- Find a new favorite drink: Root beer doesn't contain as much acid as other diet sodas and is a good choice if you would like to gradually wean yourself off soda. Even if you can't quit drinking diet soda, it's best to alternate soda with drinks that are better for your teeth, such as milk, water, coffee or tea.
If you're a diet soda drinker, it's important to see your St. Louis dentist every six months to make sure your teeth remain healthy. Call Dr. Jeffrey Johnson and Dr. Jodi Johnson, your St. Louis, MO dentists, at (314) 427-7400 to schedule an appointment.
Tooth decay doesn't appear out of nowhere. It begins with bacteria, which produce acid that softens and erodes tooth enamel. Without adequate enamel protection, cavities can develop.
So, one of our prevention goals is to decrease populations of disease-causing bacteria. One way is to deprive them of carbohydrates, a prime food source, most notably refined sugar. That's why for decades dentists have instructed patients to limit their intake of sugar, especially between meal snacks.
Ironically, we're now consuming more rather than less sugar from a generation ago. The higher consumption impacts more than dental health — it's believed to be a contributing factor in many health problems, especially in children. Thirty years ago it was nearly impossible to find a child in the U.S. with type 2 diabetes: today, there are over 50,000 documented juvenile cases.
Cutting back isn't easy. For one thing, we're hard-wired for sweet-tasting foods. Our ancestors trusted such foods when there was limited food safety knowledge. Most of us today still have our "sweet tooth."
There's also another factor: the processed food industry. When food researchers concluded fats were a health hazard the government changed dietary guidelines. Food processors faced a problem because they used fats as a flavor enhancer. To restore flavor they began adding small amounts of sugar to foods like lunch meat, bread, tomato sauce and peanut butter. Today, three-quarters of the 600,000 available processed food items contain some form of added sugar.
Although difficult given your available supermarket choices, limiting your sugar intake to the recommended 6 teaspoons a day will reduce your risk for dental and some general diseases. There are things you can do: replace processed foods with more fresh fruits and vegetables; read food labels for sugar content to make better purchasing decisions; drink water for hydration rather than soda (which can contain two-thirds of your daily recommended sugar allowance), sports drinks or juices; and exercise regularly.
Keeping your sugar consumption under control will help you reduce the risk of tooth decay. You'll be helping your overall health too.
If you would like more information on the effect of sugar on health, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “The Bitter Truth about Sugar.”
Eaten in a fast food restaurant lately? If so, maybe you’ve noticed some changes in the big, colorful signs behind the counters. Many have begun promoting a few “healthier” selections (like salads and grilled items) and giving a more extensive listing of nutritional information. But there’s one thing you might not have noticed on those displays: a listing for soda among the beverage choices in the kiddie meal packages. That’s because they are no longer there.
Recently, Burger King quietly removed sugary fountain drinks from the in-store and online menu boards that show what you get with kids’ meals. They were following the lead of McDonalds and Wendy’s, both of which made similar moves in prior months. You can still get a soda with your kiddie burger if you specifically ask for one, but we’re hoping you won’t; here’s why.
For one thing, youth obesity has nearly tripled in the past three decades. As the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has noted, it’s now an epidemic affecting more than one in six children and adolescents. Many of the extra calories kids get are blamed on sugary drinks: According to a study by the Harvard School of Public Health, children’s daily calorie intake from these beverages rose by 60 percent in recent years. Obesity makes kids more likely to get many diseases, and can lead to problems in psychological and social adjustment.
But that’s not all. As dentists, we’re concerned about the potential for soda to cause tooth decay, which is still the number one chronic disease in children around the world. The association between sugary drinks and cavities is clear. So is the fact that tooth decay causes pain, countless hours of missed school and work, and expense that’s largely unnecessary, because it’s a disease that is almost 100 percent preventable.
While the new signage at fast food restaurants won’t make soda disappear, it does tend to make it less of an automatic choice. Anything that discourages children from routinely consuming soda is bound to help — and let’s point out that the same thing goes for other sweet and acidic beverages including so-called “sports” and “energy” drinks. It’s best to try and eliminate these from your child’s diet; but if you do allow them, at least limit them to mealtimes, and give your mouth a break from sweets between meals. That gives the saliva enough time to do its work as a natural buffer and acid-neutralizer.
What else can you do to help keep your child’s oral hygiene in tip-top shape? Be sure they brush their teeth twice and floss once every day, and bring them in for regular checkups and cleanings. But if you do suspect tooth decay, don’t delay treatment: Left alone, decay bacteria can infect the inner pulp of the tooth, resulting in severe pain, inflammation, and possibly the need for root canal treatment.
If you would like more information about children’s oral health, please contact us or schedule an appointment. You can learn more by reading the Dear Doctor magazine articles “How to Help Your Child Develop the Best Habits for Oral Health” and “Top 10 Oral Health Tips For Children.”
Junk food and between-meal sweets are a habit for many of us, even though we know it is bad for our bodies and our teeth. As adults, we are responsible for our own choices. As parents, we are also responsible for our children's choices, and for teaching them to choose wisely.
Celebrity Chef Cat Cora offers the following six suggestions for leading children to a healthy lifestyle. Cora is a star of Iron Chef America and author of Cat Cora's Classics with a Twist: Fresh Takes on Favorite Dishes, in which she reveals healthier versions of classic recipes. In her remakes she shows how to cook with a lot of flavor while reducing fat and sugar. Cora has four young sons, so her methods are not just theories — they have been practiced in real life.
1. Remember who's the boss.
“My kids have never had fast food,” Cora said in a recent interview with Dear Doctor magazine. “The parents have a choice to do that or not,” she said. “The kids are not going to the grocery store to shop; the kids are not driving themselves through fast food chains.”
2. Make your rules clear and stick to them.
“Right now my 7-year-old tries to be picky, but it's really about us being consistent as parents,” Cat said. For example, in her household pizza is served only at the weekly pizza and movie night. The kids get a healthier version of what they want, so they don't feel deprived. The evening includes air-popped popcorn without butter — and no soda, which is bad for teeth because of its sugar and other chemical ingredients.
3. Offer your children a variety of foods and tastes.
Cora made sure her children tried different foods and spices from infancy, so they are open to trying new things. It's easier to get all the nutrition you need if you eat a wide variety of foods.
4. Learn to make tasty substitutions for sugar.
When her children were babies, Cora stopped relying on bottles and sippy cups as soon as possible, reducing her children's likelihood of developing tooth decay due to sugary residues remaining in their mouths. Now that they are older, she uses tasty substitutes for sugar such as fruit purees and the natural sugar substitute Stevia.
5. Include the children in meal planning.
Kids are more likely to eat a meal they are involved in planning and cooking. For example, ask them which vegetable they would like to have (not whether they want to have a vegetable).
6. Model healthy behavior for your kids.
Parents are the best role models. This is true not only for food choices, but also for exercise and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.