Holiday Treats That Are Good for Your Teeth

The holidays mean time spent with family and friends, fun traditions, and maybe even some presents. They also mean lots of food, and often not the kind that are good for your oral health. For those looking to stay healthy and cavity-free this holiday season, we’ll discuss some holiday treats that are good for your teeth.

three gingerbread man cookies good for oral health

Gingerbread Cookies

Yes, some cookies are not bad for your oral health! The key is finding those that don’t require a lot of sugar. Your typical sugar cookies often have more than a cup of sugar, while gingerbread cookies call for about half that. Another benefit is that gingerbread is high in fiber and ginger is an anti-inflammatory.

Cheesy Reindeer

Want a snack that’s as healthy as it is cute? Look no further than cheese reindeer! Cheese is good for your teeth because it’s packed with calcium to make your tooth enamel stronger. To make cheese reindeer, simply take a wedge of cheese cut in a triangle for the face, use black olives for the eyes, a round chunk of red pepper for the nose, and pretzels for the ears.

Oatmeal Cookies

Another healthier cookie, oatmeal cookies are good for your oral health because they are also much lower in sugar. In fact, they can be made with even less sugar if you substitute applesauce for a lot of the sugar in the recipe. Applesauce is a more natural sweetener that will also keep the cookies moist for longer. Better for your teeth and better for your tastebuds!

Pumpkin Pie

Another holiday treat you don’t have to feel too guilty about is pumpkin pie. High in fiber and Vitamin A, pumpkin strengthens your teeth’s enamel and works to keep gums healthy. Pumpkin pie recipes also don’t often call for too much sugar. Just be sure not to pile on the whipped cream!

Sweet Potatoes

Naturally sweet without being packed with sugar, sweet potatoes are a great holiday treat. They’re high in vitamins A and C which are vital to maintaining healthy gums. Just make sure that you pass on the sweet potato casserole that’s topped with marshmallows and brown sugar.

Chocolate Hazelnut Meringues

Instead of Hershey’s kisses, which are filled with sugar, make your own drop cookies with chocolate and hazelnuts. It’ll save your teeth from a lot of sugar, but will be so delicious that you won’t miss the Hershey’s kisses.

If you have any other questions about healthy holiday snacks that are good for your teeth, or if you need to schedule a checkup, contact us today!

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5 Tooth-Friendly Sugar Substitutes

sugar cubes on a black background
Sugar makes some food taste good, but that’s the only good thing about it.
Sugar is suspected to be a major factor contributing to many significant health problems, including heart disease, diabetes, Alzheimer’s Disease, and cancer.

And of course everyone knows it also wreaks havoc on our teeth. Actually, sugar alone is not the cause of cavities. Rather, cavities are caused by the acid released by the combination of sugar and bacteria. The acid destroys tooth enamel, which creates decay.

Fortunately, there are numerous sugar substitutes which do not react with bacteria to cause acid, and therefore do not lead to cavities. In this article, we offer a list of 5 such substitutes that you might want to try, if you haven’t already. All of them are available under various brand names, and are also marketed by numerous manufacturers under their generic names.

1. Sucralose

Sucralose, which is best-known by the brand name “Splenda,” is one of six sugar substitutes that are approved by the FDA. The others are saccharin, aspartame, acesulfame potassium, neotame, and advantame. Of all the FDA-approved sweeteners, sucralose is one of the most extensively researched, having been the subject of more than 100 safety studies.

Sucralose is a general purpose sweetener that can be found in a variety of foods including baked goods, beverages, chewing gum, gelatins, and frozen dairy desserts. Unlike some other non-sugar sweeteners, it is heat stable, making it suitable for use in cooking.

2. Stevia

This sweetener is derived from a plant native to parts of South America, where it has been used for hundreds of years. It is categorized as “GRAS” by the FDA, which means it is “Generally Regarded As Safe,” and therefore does not require premarket FDA approval like other food additives. However, the raw stevia leaf itself is not considered GRAS and is therefore not permitted for use as a sweetener.

3. Monk Fruit

Technically known as Luo Han Guo, Monk Fruit is a type of gourd that’s native to Southern China. Like Stevia, the sweetener derived from Monk Fruit is categorized as GRAS by the FDA. It has the additional benefit of being rich in antioxidants with their associated anti-inflammatory effects.

4. Xylitol

This is one of several sugar alcohols that are classified GRAS by the FDA. Commercially produced from sugars and starch, sugar alcohols are used primarily to sweeten sugar-free candies, cookies, and chewing gums. Among the sugar alcohol sweeteners, Xylitol is unique in that it actually prevents decay by inhibiting the growth of cavity-causing bacteria. It also may aid in teeth remineralization. As a result, Xylitol is increasingly popular as a sugar-free sweetener for chewing gum. It is sold under several brand names, including Ideal, Polysweet, and Xylosweet.

5. Erythritol

Erythritol, another sugar alcohol, occurs naturally in fruits such as melons, pears, and grapes. Zerose and ZSweet are probably the best-known Erythritol brands.

When it comes to avoiding cavities, sugar substitutes are a reasonable substitute for the real thing. However, there’s no substitute for good oral hygiene and professional dental care! So if you’re overdue for a checkup, contact us at Mint Dental Care and set up an appointment with Dr. McCord or Dr. Knox today.

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5 Tips for Fighting Cavities

Aerial view of a pink, blue that is missing a bite, and brown donut, covered with colorful sprinkles on a wooden counter

If you have ever had a cavity, you’re in the majority: it’s estimated that nine in ten American adults have at least one cavity.

What Are Cavities?

A cavity is a small area of decay on your tooth, usually in the form of a small hole. They’re not easy to detect yourself, which is why it is so important to see Dr. McCord every 6 months so that he can determine if you have them. Common signs of cavities include tooth sensitivity and pain, along with bad breath. Cavities are easily treatable in their early stages, but if you don’t get them treated right away, the decay will spread and you may be required to have a root canal or a tooth extraction in the future.

What Causes Cavities?

Tooth decay occurs when you have too much bacteria on the surface of your teeth and are not doing enough to curb their growth. Eating a diet that is rich in sugar and carbohydrates is a leading cause of cavities, because when bacteria on your teeth break down leftover sugar, they release acid that can actually eat away at the protective layer of your teeth. Additionally, poor oral hygiene leads to cavities.

5 Tips to Prevent Cavities

Even though they’re quite common, cavities are actually easily preventable! Follow these 5 tips to be completely cavity-free.

  1. Eat a Healthy Diet
  2. A well-balanced diet will balance acid levels in your mouth, making it harder for bacteria to grow. Having a proper mix of vitamins and nutrients will also help remineralize, or strengthen, your teeth every time you eat. Protein, calcium, and fiber are especially important for your teeth, so don’t be shy to incorporate more dairy, leafy greens, nuts, and fresh fruits and vegetables into your diet!

  3. Use Fluoride
  4. Using dental products that contain fluoride and drinking fluoridated water is a great way to ward of cavities, since fluoride prevents cavity-causing bacteria from multiplying. Just be careful not to use too much, because it can cause staining on your teeth.

  5. Brush & Floss Every Day
  6. Brushing your teeth twice a day for 2 minutes each time and flossing at least once per day is the best way to prevent cavities and gum disease. It only takes a couple of minutes each time!

  7. Stop Smoking
  8. Smoking negatively impacts your health, and because it weakens your immunity, it makes it even easier for the bacteria that is normally not so harmful to your teeth to overtake them and cause infections.

  9. Visit Your Dentist Regularly
  10. It’s very important to have Dr. McCord examine your teeth twice per year to make sure that either you don’t have cavities at all or are able to have them treated.

Don’t let cavities get the best of you! Visit us at Mint Dental Care for a clean bill of health. Contact us today!

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What Happens If I Leave a Cavity Untreated?

Brunette young woman outside hides her mouth with the collar of her brown knitted sweater

It’s always a little unnerving to hear that you have a cavity, especially if you generally take good care of your teeth. Since cavities develop below the surface, it’s hard to notice if you ever even had one at all prior to visiting your dentist. While a filling is the best way to take care of the problem, what happens if you just don’t do anything about it at all?

Why Cavities Develop

A cavity is a source of tooth decay. If you don’t brush and floss your teeth twice a day, you’re allowing bacteria on the surface of your teeth to multiply. When these bacteria consume sugars and starches left behind on your teeth, they release acid that destroys the enamel on your teeth. A cavity forms when acid eats away at the enamel inside, rather than on the very surface of, your teeth.

Cavity Treatment

The best way to treat a cavity is with a filling. Your dentist will clear the decay from your tooth and fill the area with a material to prevent further decay. In the past, dentists used metals like gold, silver, mercury, and zinc to fill teeth, which can be easily detected if you smile. Today, there are more natural-looking fillings made of resin or porcelain so that they are virtually unnoticeable!

What Happens If I Leave a Cavity Untreated?

If you decide to leave a cavity untreated, here is what you can expect:

  • Tooth Sensitivity — Your tooth will feel sensitive to heat and cold exposure, making it difficult to eat and drink your favorite foods.
  • Tooth Pain — Not only will your tooth become more sensitive, but the act of chewing or even talking will become increasingly painful. You will likely feel radiating pain whenever you talk or eat.
  • Tooth Decay — As the bacteria and decay grows down to the root, you may need a root canal or even a tooth extraction in the future. If you do require an extraction, you will have to consider ways to replace your tooth.

Cavity Prevention

Prevention is always better than cure, and that applies to cavities! Brush and floss diligently twice a day, limit your sugar and carb intake, and visit your dentist twice a year for thorough examinations. If you do need a filling, don’t worry. They are quick and can be completed in just one visit, so there’s no need to let a cavity go untreated. Doing so will mean that you will have go through more pain and money to find relief in the future!

From cavity prevention to cosmetic and restorative services, we at Mint Dental are here to help you have the smile of your dreams. Contact us to schedule an appointment today!

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