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Chattanooga Preventive Dentistry

Chattanooga Preventive Dentistry Eating for Healthy Gums and TeethPart of our mission for Chattanooga Preventive Dentistry is encouraging and educating patients to achieve a more balanced, healthy life in general. Poor nutrition affects oral health in ways that may not seem as obvious as usual culprits of gum disease or cavities. 

Eating for Healthy Gums and Teeth

Foods that can Damage Teeth and Gums

You’ve probably already guessed what we are going to say. The American Dental Association (ADA) has promoted the message for years: Junk Food is bad for you and your teeth. Sugars are easily the arch-nemesis of many a dentist. Cake, cookies, candies, milk, and other sugary foods may taste delicious but these can cause tooth decay. Starchy foods like pretzels and potato chips aren’t good for teeth either. The longer these carbohydrates stay on the teeth, the more damage is done.

Non-Food Consumables that can Damage Teeth and Gums

This time of year, a lot of people get a cough. Cough drops may contribute to tooth decay. The next time you have one in your mouth, run your tongue over the front of your teeth and you can feel it leaving a coating. The same concept applies to lollipops, hard candies, and mints. 

More Fruits and Vegetables = Nutritious Diets

More nutritious choices can include raw vegetables, fruits, plain yogurt, and non-microwave popcorn. Other nutrient-dense foods include salmon, seaweed, garlic, shellfish, potatoes, liver, sardines, blueberries, and egg yolks. Studies show these foods contain powerful antioxidants, can help us lose weight, lower blood pressure, and help to fight cancer. Potatoes can be very filling while also high in potassium, magnesium, iron, copper, and manganese, plus vitamin C and most B vitamins. Make lean protein choices, such as lean beef, skinless poultry, and fish. Try and vary your protein choices to include eggs, beans, peas, and legumes, too. Fortified soy drinks and tofu, canned salmon, almonds and dark green leafy vegetables all help to promote strong teeth and bones. Phosphorus, found in eggs, fish, lean meat, dairy, nuts, and beans is good for strong teeth. Vitamin C promotes gum health, so eat plenty of citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, potatoes, and spinach. 

Strategies for Better Nutrition for Improved Oral Health

It’s easy enough to grasp what’s good or bad for us, but how are we to actually put better eating habits to work? There are a few suggestions you may want to try if you’ve always wanted to eat better but weren’t sure how to make it happen…

  • Limit sugar to part of a complete meal rather than as snacks throughout the day. A sweet dessert immediately following the entrée is the best time. Why? Because mealtime usually means increased saliva in the mouth, which always makes it easier to wash food particles away from the teeth. Swallowing a beverage at mealtime amplifies this process.
  • Substitute cheese for snacks instead of sugary, sticky and chewy foods. Snacks like raisins, dried figs, granola bars, oatmeal or peanut butter cookies, jelly beans, caramel, honey, molasses, and syrup all tend to stick to teeth, whereas cheddar, Monterey Jack, Swiss, and other aged cheeses at least trigger the production of saliva to help wash food particles away.
  • Substitute water instead of milk, formula, juice, or soda. Even milk contains sugar; water doesn’t. Adding more water aids in washing away food clinging to teeth. Some sports and energy drinks contain a lot of sugar, as you’d expect.
  • Reduce the frequency of snacking to two or three times per day. That’s more important than how much is eaten per snacking session, so remember it is frequency rather than quantity. Frequent bouts of snacking, without brushing teeth after, create more opportunities for bacteria to grow, increasing the likelihood of plaque developing on teeth and around gums.
  • Sometimes the best way to make sure you eat better is to make better decisions at the grocery store. Look for foods that come unsweetened or sugar-free. Foods with the sugar substitute xylitol can potentially help to prevent cavities.
  • Check the sugar content in everything you eat or drink before buying -- spaghetti sauce, cereal, and canned fruit may be loaded with a lot of sugar.
  • While reducing unhealthy foods from your diet, add more of the ones that are better for you. Good sources of calcium like broccoli and yogurt add calcium to your diet. Calcium, as we know, is good for strengthening bones, including the teeth.
  • When all else fails and you backslide on your old dietary habits, continue to use fluoride and brush and floss teeth every day to reverse tooth decay. A fluoride mouthwash also helps.
  • Get kids in the habit of brushing between meals and flossing at least once a day. If no toothbrush is available during the day, rinse the mouth with water several times to at least remove those pesky particles between teeth and below the gum line.
  • Beware of kids’ foods loaded with sugar like many breakfast cereals, trying a whole-grain cereal instead. 

How to Transition to a Healthy Eating Lifestyle

How do you get the family to skip candy, cookies, and cake to instead munch on kale? Follow a process to gradually wean yourself of these unhealthy foods and replace them with healthier alternatives. It is important to always replace bad food with healthy food that you enjoy. For example, eat fruits as snacks, drink water instead of soda, eat whole grain bread instead of white bread, add steamed greens to dinner, focus on poultry and seafood while limiting intake of red meats, make homemade pizza instead of ordering, and snack on nuts like unsalted peanuts or raw almonds instead of potato chips. Berries can offer a sweet substitute to satisfy sweet cravings instead of sugar-loaded chocolate candy.

Regardless of how it is achieved, fruits and vegetables need to make up half of what is eaten daily, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. You don’t have to become a vegetarian to eat better, but you’ll end up healthier the more you transition away from sugary foods and starches to dishes that grow out of the ground instead of coming in a can. With these healthy eating guidelines, you can reduce your risk of enamel erosion and cavities to keep your smile looking healthier, plus you may just live longer too. 


Photo: © Evgenya Amanenko / 123RF Stock Photo

Blog © 2018 Tedford Family Dentistry: Tedford Keith DDS Ooltewah TN 37363

Published in Blog
“We’ll see you in six months for your next cleaning!” If you’ve been hearing that line from your Ooltewah dentist for as long as you can remember, you might never have stopped to question it. Or perhaps you’re one of those patients who knows they should stick to that six month appointment schedule, but find that life or anxiety gets in the way. Either way, there are several very good reasons why we hope you stick to this teeth cleaning schedule-- and it’s not just because we miss you.

You might wonder why you need to get your teeth cleaned twice a year. After all, there aren’t that many other things you have to do semi-annually-- besides certain sales at the mall, adjusting your clocks for daylight savings time, changing the batteries in your smoke detector, and get your car serviced. But just like those other matters of routine maintenance, your teeth need regular attention, too.

Even if you are a champ about brushing twice a day, flossing, and rinsing with mouthwash, you still need a proper cleaning to stay ahead of the plaque that can cause gingivitis and gum disease. Even if you never eat sugary foods and drink fluoridated water, you need to check in and make sure that no periodontal conditions are running rampant in your mouth. We want to see you every six months so that you can hopefully avoid more serious visits, like having to schedule a root canal or a tooth extraction.

Just like you want to change the oil in your car every few thousand miles to keep the engine in peak condition (and to avoid an unexpected trip to the mechanic) we want to give your teeth a tuneup. It’s easy to think that a serious dental condition will never happen to you-- especially if it never has thanks to genetics, good luck, and those regular teeth cleanings we keep on about. But without those semiannual appointments, you could be giving bacteria and plaque many extra months in your mouth, which could make them harder to evict.

If all that gunk really makes itself at home, you could be looking at tooth decay and gum disease. If those conditions progress to a severe point, you could be affecting your overall health beyond your mouth. Dental diseases can not only spread to your tooth roots and jaw bone, but even impact your heart health.

As the old saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Your twice-a-year dental cleanings might not be the favorite item on your calendar, but they’re pretty important. And if it’s been a little (or a lot!) longer than six months, another old saying applies, too. It’s better to see your dentist late than never. So give us a call at Tedford Family Dentistry in Ooltewah TN today so we can give your teeth the attention they’re due.
Published in Blog
Monday, 17 November 2014 12:01

The Effects of Sugar on Your Teeth

pediatric dentist Ooltewah TNSugar can be one of the worst foods for your dental health, often leading to tooth decay and enamel erosion. The oral bacteria, plaque, use the sugar as energy to grow and strengthen in thickness. Without a proper brushing after eating, the plaque will eat away at the enamel eventually resulting in cavities and tooth decay.

In addition to a decline in tooth health, plaque can irritate gums making them more sensitive and susceptible to bleeding and gum disease. When the gums and teeth become separated, the resulting pockets can fill with bacteria and when left untreated can destroy the bone around the tooth causing loose teeth.

Here are a few tips to increase your overall oral health:
  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet.
  • Don’t eliminate entire food groups as that can lead to vitamin and mineral deficiencies.
  • Use a straw when drinking sugary or carbonated beverages to limit direct contact with your teeth.
  • Limit sugar consumption to a maximum of 4 times per day.
  • Snack on foods that are low in sugar such as cheese, nuts, vegetables or fruit.
  • When you do drink a soda, do so with a meal as it is less harmful to your teeth.
  • To protect against tooth decay, combine carbs with other foods to help neutralize acid.
  • Drink water throughout the day to keep your mouth moist and free of food particles.
A healthy and well balanced diet is essential to good overall health. While you should limit your sugar intake, it isn’t feasible to remove it from your diet entirely. Read the labels on products and be mindful to limit foods that have added sugar.

Like the saying states, “an apple a day keeps the doctor away”, but when you find yourself needing a cleaning, give our Ooltewah dentist office a call. Written by Tiffany Hutton
Published in Blog