When Milk Doesn’t Do a Body Good: Calcium-Rich Alternatives for Strong Teeth and Bones

Calcium is an important mineral essential for the development and maintenance of strong teeth and bones. The FDA recommends getting between 1,000-1,200 mg of calcium every day depending on your age and activity level. In the past, cow’s milk was touted as the be-all and end-all way to get the calcium your body needed. But what do those with lactose intolerance, vegans, and people watching their weight do when dairy is no longer a possibility? Fortunately, there are many other (and sometimes healthier) choices out there.

Here are 6 non-dairy choices so you can keep your bones strong and healthy:

Beans- A favorite substitute for meat, beans are high in protein, fiber, and also pack an incredible calcium-rich punch.

Bone Broth- While this option is off the table for vegans, bone broth is an amazing and flavorful way to get calcium. Boiling and simmering chicken, lamb, beef, or fish bones over long periods of time allows the calcium and other minerals to dissolve into the water. Bone broth is also high in the amino acids proline and glycine which are important for skin health, the nervous system, digestion, and cellular turnover.

Calcium-Fortified Foods- Nowadays cereal, orange juice, soy milk, and energy bars come with added calcium. Be sure to check the label, though, because these foods can also be highly processed and may contain added sugars and fats.

Seeds- Many seeds not only provide protein, fiber, and healthy fats, but seeds like chia, sesame, and poppy also pack a lot of calcium. Sprinkled on salads or blended in your morning smoothie, seeds are a great way to add calcium to your diet.

Canned Fish- Canned sardines and other fishes are a great way to up your calcium intake, but be sure your canned fish includes the bones because that’s where most of the calcium lies. Anchovies’ salty, briny, nutty flavor can be a great-tasting addition to many recipes instead of adding more salt.

Kale- Kale and other dark leafy greens are not only high in calcium but so versatile you may never get bored with eating them. Kale, collards, and spinach to name a few are also high in fiber to fill you up without adding extra calories to your diet.

This short list just scratches the surface of amazing calcium-rich alternatives to dairy products. Even if you do eat cheese and enjoy the occasional glass of milk, the above choices are a great way to add variety and flavor to your diet while making sure your teeth and bones stay strong and healthy for life.


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Why Healthy Teeth Are So Important

After you eat, sugar bugs go crazy over the sugar on your teeth, like ants at a picnic. The sugar bugs turn the sugar into acids that eat away tooth enamel, causing holes called cavities. The sugar bugs also cause gingivitis, which is gum disease that can make your gums red, swollen, and sore. Your gums are the soft pink tissue in your mouth that hold your teeth in place.

If you don’t take care of your teeth, cavities and unhealthy gums will make your mouth very, very sore. Eating meals will be difficult. And you won’t feel like smiling so much.

How You Can Keep Your Teeth Healthy

Kids can take charge of their teeth by taking these steps:

Brush at least twice a day — after breakfast and before bedtime. If you can, brush a third time after lunch or after sweet snacks. Brushing properly breaks down plaque.

  • Brush all of your teeth, not just the front ones. Spend some time on the teeth along the sides and in the back. Have your dentist show the best way to brush to get your teeth clean without damaging your gums.
  • Take your time while brushing. Spend at least 2 or 3 minutes each time you brush. If you have trouble keeping track of the time, use a timer or play a recording of a song to help pass the time.
  • Be sure your toothbrush has soft bristles (the package will tell you if they’re soft). You should get a new toothbrush every 3 months. Some toothbrushes come with bristles that change color when it’s time to change them.
  • Ask your dentist if an antibacterial mouth rinse is a good fit.
  • Floss your teeth, which is a very important way to keep them healthy. It feels weird the first few times you do it, but pretty soon you’ll be a pro. Take a length of dental floss and wrap it around your pointer fingers leaving a small section between unwrapped. Slip the dental floss that is unwrapped between your fingers between each tooth and along the gum line gently once a day. The floss gets rid of food that’s hidden where your toothbrush can’t get it, no matter how well you brush.
  • Brushing your tongue can also help keep your breath fresh!

Quick Tips For Parents

Help Make Brushing and Flossing Fun and Easy:

  • Brush your teeth together, taking turns brushing each others teeth
  • Use toothbrush featuring a familiar cartoon character
  • Sing the theme song from your child’s favorite cartoon or a nursery rhyme, while you brush their teeth
  • Use toothpaste and mouth rinse that have pleasant flavors for sensitive taste buds
  • Use syllables like “ahhhh” or “eeeeeee” to help your child open their mouth or move their lips away from their teeth while brushing.

When you teach a child something new at a young age, he will learn the task and continue it well into adulthood. Brushing and flossing has never been more important. Bring your child in to see their dentist as early as the first signs of teeth. Children, depending on their oral hygiene, should have dental appointments once every six months to one year.


Hey kids, learn about dental health by downloading this free E-book by clicking on the image above.

A Caregiver’s Guide to Keeping Your Loved One’s Mouth Healthy

There comes a time when the tides change, and we become a caregiver to those that raised us, drove us to soccer practice, dance recitals, and music lessons. They helped us brush our hair and taught us to brush our teeth. Now we are the ones helping with shopping, shuttling loved ones to doctor’s appointments, assisting with errands, and balancing checkbooks. One often overlooked (but just as important) task is helping your loved one maintain their oral health.

As a caregiver, our job is to help our loved ones stay healthy and safe. A large piece of that puzzle is to make sure they brush their teeth and continue to have regular exams and cleanings. As we age, some of us develop arthritis and lose the dexterity needed to brush our teeth properly. Some of us develop age-related memory issues making it easy to forget to care for mouths.

A broken tooth or denture can be painful, and if your parent or family member can’t effectively express what they’re feeling, they may start trading healthy foods for soft, carbohydrate-laden bread and cakes that offer little nutritional value.

But raiding their cabinets and brushing their teeth for them can strip them of what little control they still have over their lives which can result in low self-esteem and depression. With a little investigative work and patience, you can help your loved one stay healthy while allowing them some freedom.

Here are some tips for caregivers helping an elderly family member:

  • Keep up with regular dental exams – Even if your family member doesn’t have any natural teeth, it’s important for them to see a dental professional every six months. Receding bone levels can alter the fit of a denture, and many oral cancers don’t hurt. A professional exam can make sure everything looks A-OK.
  • Make brushing easy – If standing is difficult, let them brush their teeth where they’re most comfortable. Maybe sitting at the kitchen table is easier. Have your family member brush their teeth and rinse out in a bowl of water.
  • Remember to floss – It might be easy to forget, but flossing is important regardless of age. If holding dental floss is difficult, try an interdental brush (proxabrush) or floss threader to make cleaning between the teeth a little easier. Just be sure not to force an interdental brush between the teeth, or you could do more damage than good.
  • Use special toothbrushes – A quick Google search brings up many large-handled toothbrushes that make holding a toothbrush easier for someone with arthritis. Electric toothbrushes are also an excellent choice since they require less dexterity and usually have larger bases too.
  • Don’t forget the dentures – If your loved one has dentures, don’t forget to brush them! Bacteria love to grow in dark, wet places and if dentures aren’t removed and cleaned often enough, an already compromised elderly immune system might not be able to fight off an infection. While they are being brushed, inspect them for cracks, chips, and other signs of damage that might rub or create a sore spot in your family members mouth.
  • Do a breath check – One of the many symptoms of gum disease or an infected tooth is bad breath. Regularly check your loved one’s breath discreetly. If their breath smells rancid, make an appointment for an exam.
  • Limit snacks and sugars – This might be tricky, but if you help with shopping, try to encourage fruits and vegetable over sweets and candy. An occasional treat is fine, but a heavy diet of sugary, starchy foods isn’t healthy for anyone.

Becoming a caregiver is both an honor and a significant life change. It can be overwhelming but knowing that you can keep your loved one at home a while longer is a great reward. Remember that change can be hard for the elderly, too, especially if they have a cognitive impairment like dementia or Alzheimer’s. With these tips, helping your aging parent or family member keep their mouth healthy is one less thing to worry about.

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Non-Candy Treats for a Healthier Halloween

Trick-or-treating is a much-loved tradition and one of the only “holidays” that registers on a child’s radar. Being out at night, dressing up, and the thought of pillowcases full of candy are all part of the allure of the spookiest night of the year. However, the awareness surrounding allergies and the shift toward healthier eating shows more households are choosing to offer non-candy treats.

Balancing a child’s diet is tricky enough without the added sugar from Halloween candy. Proper brushing and flossing even without the plastic pumpkin full of candy is difficult, and some families may choose to do away with all the sweets rather than raise their child’s risk of tooth decay. Candy treats may not only encourage cavities but can also exclude children with allergies. If you’re considering switching to non-candy treats or want to offer them in addition to candy, here are some ideas.

  1. Temporary Tattoos – Who doesn’t love a good temporary “I Heart Mom” tattoo? If that’s not your style, there are many choices available including many favorite cartoon characters and animals. Bonus: They last several days, so your kids can enjoy them longer than that pack of Skittles!
  2. Glow Sticks – Not only are they fun, but they’re also a great way to help your child stay visible while trick-or-treating. Nowadays there are also glow-in-the-dark necklaces, bracelets, fake eyeglasses and a bunch of other fun options.
  3. Bubbles – Halloween themed mini packs of bubbles come in fun character shaped bottles like vampires and witches.
  4. Cartoon-themed Band-Aids – It might sound strange to give out adhesive strips for Halloween, but anyone with a toddler can tell you stories about pretend boo-boos just so they can wear one!
  5. Small Bottles of Water – Some companies even put out Halloween themed bottles! A healthy choice and they help keep kids hydrated while they’re out trick-or-treating.
  6. Halloween Themed School Supplies – Pencils, pens, and erasers. Even adults love these!
  7. Crayons and Coloring Books – Many stores sell shrink-packs of crayons and mini coloring or activity books in the candy aisle and near the birthday party favors.
  8. Vampire Teeth and Spooky Jewelry – Spider rings, bat necklaces, and vampire teeth are fun for kids of all ages.
  9. Stickers – Choosing a variety of different stickers can accommodate a wide range of ages and interests.
  10. Cold, Hard Cash – If you live in an area where you don’t get many children, consider padding a child’s piggy bank and offer some change instead of a piece of candy.

If you opt to give out toys instead of candy this Halloween, consider placing a teal pumpkin on your doorstep to show you have non-candy treats available. The Teal Pumpkin Project raises awareness for children with allergies and has some excellent resources on going non-candy ideas for Halloween. If your decision to not offer candy is only based on health, a teal pumpkin will also show other like-minded families that you provide non-candy goodies, and that’s a treat in itself.

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Not Just Pulp Fiction: The Truth About Dental Abscesses

What is an Abscess?

An abscess is an infection. There are two types of dental abscesses. A periapical abscess, which happens at the root of a tooth and a periodontal abscess which happens in the gum. A periapical abscess can occur when decay gets into the nerve chamber, killing the nerve and pulp tissue. Sometimes a traumatic injury or crack in a tooth can damage the delicate nerve inside, resulting in the death of the nerve. Periodontal disease is a chronic gum infection that can weaken the bone and may result in bone and tooth loss if untreated. It can also trigger widespread infection throughout the mouth. Regardless of where in the mouth the infection occurs, if it goes untreated for too long, a pus-filled area forms and that is called the abscess.

What are the Symptoms?

Symptoms of an abscess include:

  • Severe pain and a throbbing toothache that can radiate to the jawbone, neck, or ear
  • Hot or cold tooth sensitivity that lingers
  • Pressure sensitivity
  • Fever
  • Facial swelling
  • Bad breath
  • Soreness in your neck and jaw from swollen lymph nodes
  • Rotten or sour taste in your mouth

It’s important to mention that sometimes an abscess causes no pain, or sometimes the pain goes away suddenly. The discomfort of a toothache is usually caused by the buildup of fluid or gases inside the tooth as the nerve dies. Sometimes the infection works its way into the gum, creating a bubble on the gum. Once this bubble pops, the infection begins to drain into the gum tissue and mouth, and the pain goes away. This doesn’t mean that the infection is getting better, it just means the pressure is relieved.

Treatment

Once an abscess has been diagnosed, there are a few methods of treatment. Antibiotics can be prescribed to destroy the bacteria, but the central issue of an infected tooth, dying nerve, or periodontal disease must still be dealt with.

If your abscess is due to a dying nerve, a root canal may be recommended to clean out the infected tissue, shape the canals and place a rubber-like material in the canals to seal them. A crown or cap might be put over the tooth to help preserve the remaining tooth and prevent further breakage.

If the infection has gone too far and affected the root of the tooth, an extraction might be suggested, and an implant with a crown on top may be put in its place.

If your abscess is due to periodontal disease, root planing and scaling may be done. This is a deep cleaning done with anesthetic and specialized instruments. Sometimes lasers are used to help sterilize the pocket to help prevent bacteria from reinfecting the area.

Preventing an Abcess

While you can’t always avoid a sudden traumatic impact causing a nerve to die, there are plenty of ways you can prevent decay-related infections and periodontal disease:

    • Visit your dentist for regular checkups and professional cleanings
    • Brush and floss your teeth at least twice a day
    • Replace your toothbrush every three or four months and never, ever share it with anyone
    • Drink tap water or fluoridated bottled water
    • Watch your sugar and carbohydrate intake because they are bacteria’s favorite food
    • Use a mouth rinse before bed so it can sit on your teeth overnight

With a little care, you can help prevent an abscess and periodontal disease before they develop, saving yourself the inconvenience and pain of a toothache and the expense of major treatment.

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The Unforgettable Journey

“Teddy

Parents don’t forget “first” moments in their children’s lives: A first word, the first day of school, that first drive alone. Someone once said, “Days go slow, years go fast.” A parent looking at life in the rearview mirror probably uttered those words.

Dental practices share many milestones with their patients. Whether introducing a child to their first visit or creating a brilliant new smile for mom, dental visits offer special moments for all ages. Family-friendly care sets a foundation for lifetime dental health free of anxiety and avoidance. Nothing delights a dental team like helping youngsters grow into adults that value their teeth!

As practices interact with young patients, they observe changes in growth and development that vary significantly from child to child. Recall intervals between 6-12 months allow a dental team to monitor jaw changes, keep an eye out for cavity problems, and guide good home care habits. Some kids develop cavities soon after the first teeth appear, but early preventive and educational strategies can stop this disease in its tracks. Other youngsters suck a finger a little too long and negatively influence the early growth of their upper jaw. Kids are unique in every way!

Bracing For A Perfect Smile

“Little

Most parents anticipate another first with their kids: Braces. Traditionally, brackets and wires form a rite of passage in the teen years. In many cases, the early to mid-teens often present an ideal window for teeth straightening. With the right timing, their senior yearbook photo sports an All-American smile that’s captured forever.

One size rarely fits all, and the same is true with orthodontics. It’s important to remember that orthodontics combines straight teeth with proportional upper and lower jaws. The two jawbones grow at different rates, and boys and girls may follow different timing patterns. As a result, orthodontic care may provide the most significant benefit at a younger age than parents anticipate. The opportunity to guide bone growth fades quickly, especially in early developers. In other cases, a child may just need a short course of straightening at an older age to enjoy an optimal smile.

Parents know how different their kids can be from one another. The variations make it difficult to generalize the course of dental development, too. Siblings sometimes surprise each other with their first loose tooth at different ages or with unique genetic characteristics. If you’ve ever noticed a trait, such as a space between the front teeth that a grandparent had, DNA is expressing itself. One child may show up with it, but their brothers and sisters may not.

Putting It Together

“Neon

Straight teeth look terrific and are easier to keep clean, but that doesn’t mean orthodontics is necessary for every child. It’s also not surprising to find there may be more than one way to reach the desired goal. In addition, parents mull over real concerns about time, cost, and the effect of braces on other activities. But if treatment appears likely, determining an age that’s unique to each child helps create a perfect smile, normal function, and a comfortable jaw. In some cases, coordinating care with trusted specialists forms another part of a good outcome.

Regular visits during childhood make it much easier to identify the best orthodontic steps at the right time. Whether it’s a short-term appliance, regular braces, or a clear aligner system, modern dentistry offers many ways to guide a growing smile to perfection!

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Whitening: 5 Things to Know Before Getting a Brighter Smile

Before and after whitening

One of the first things that people notice about you is your smile. In today’s youth-obsessed culture, a twenty-something with dingy teeth can appear older than a forty-something with a bright, white, sparkling smile. Here are five things to keep in mind as you embark on your tooth whitening journey to the gleaming smile you’ve always dreamed of:

1. Not all Whiteners are Created Equal. There are different strengths and even different whitening agents used depending on the way they are delivered. An at-home strip from the drugstore will have a lower concentration of active ingredients because it’s an over-the-counter product versus the dentist-made custom trays you use at home with their prescription-strength whitener. Even that whitener isn’t as concentrated as the chairside in-office treatments available on the market today.

Woman using whitening strips2. Those Strips Aren’t for Everyone. Speaking of at-home strips, they may not be the most effective choice to whiten your teeth. They work best for people with straight teeth because they are designed to lay flat across your tooth surface. If you have misaligned or crooked teeth, the strip sometimes can’t get to all the nooks and crannies of the tooth, leaving some areas lighter than others giving you an uneven look.

3. Sensitivity Issues. A common side effect of whitening is tooth sensitivity. This happens because the gel contains an agent that opens the tubules, or pores, of the teeth allowing the whitening agent to do its thing. It usually subsides after a few hours but can last longer or feel more severe if you’ve left the whitening gel on too long. Desensitizing toothpaste can help relieve the sensitivity and avoiding hot or ice-cold food and drinks until the sensitivity subsides can help.

4. It’s Not Permanent. Generally speaking, you’ll need the occasional touch-up to keep that dazzling smile bright. Some methods last longer than others, and there are ways to keep your smile whiter, longer. Limit or avoid staining food and drinks like wine, juices, coffee, tea, smoking and chewing tobacco, especially for several hours after whitening. This will help increase the time between touch-ups. Of course, if that latte is calling your name, why fight it?

Different shades of teeth5. Natural tooth shades vary. It’s important to remember that there are several contributing factors to a person’s tooth color including age, the thickness of the enamel and shade of the dentin which lies under the enamel. The dentin makes up the bulk of a tooth’s structure, and can range in shade from brown, tan, yellow, and gray, and may not lighten to that ultra-white Hollywood smile even with the most potent in-office treatments. Other factors that might prevent a tooth from lightning are fluorosis spots, the gray cast of a silver filling or a nerve that has died. These generally require a deep, internal bleaching on a tooth-by-tooth basis or a more general, permanent restoration like veneers or crowns.

Our team can answer any questions you may have, and together, armed with this knowledge, we can help you find the method of whitening that fits not only your lifestyle but also your budget. Give us a call today!

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Is A New Smile This Easy?

row of people with veneers smileing

Your smile sends messages to everyone you meet. Studies show that your teeth are the main physical characteristic that people notice first, and a friendly smile sets the tone for every relationship in your personal and business life. If you’re unhappy with the appearance of your teeth, dental veneers may offer a significant change you automatically share with everyone around you.

What are veneers?

Veneers provide the ultimate lift to a smile and offer a quick solution to many challenges that frustrate people of all ages. After we collaborate to plan your smile, ultra-thin pieces of porcelain are crafted by experienced technicians. Within a few days, your new smile is ready to share with the world… 24/7.

Today’s porcelain mimics a perfect layer of enamel, enhancing the color, shape, length, and texture of your teeth. Cracks and chips disappear, and years of wear and discoloration melt away. The ability to enjoy a stunning smile with durable, natural material has never been easier.

Dental Veneers are:

  • Ultra-thin: Blend into your smile
  • Strong: Replicate natural enamel
  • Beautiful: Ideal color and shape
  • Conservative: Preserve the healthy parts of your teeth
  • Life-changing: The smile you deserve brought to life

Are Veneers Right For Me?

different shapes and sizes of veneers

Everyone benefits from a healthy, radiant smile. Studies show that people who smile are considered more trustworthy, friendly, and kind. If you’re pleased with your smile, you feel more confident and content.

If you look in the mirror and see any of the following problems, dental veneers may be right for you:

  • Chipped, broken bite edges
  • Yellowing, staining, or discolored spots
  • Crooked, rotated, or overlapping teeth
  • Narrow or short teeth
  • A smile you just find embarrassing

Dental veneers offer one of the most effective ways to transform a list of problems into a brilliant asset you’ll enjoy every day for the rest of your life. Sometimes referred to as “instant orthodontics,” veneers leave our patients amazed at how quickly they’ve improved their lives.

If veneers aren’t the best way to create your new smile, we can explore other innovative solutions to deliver the result you want with cosmetic dentistry. Our patients have found ways to uncover the smile of their dreams they never knew were possible.

How Can Veneers Help Me?

Your smile matters. In fact, it’s one of the most significant characteristics you possess. Studies consistently show positive effects on the following:

Self-esteem: When you’re happy with the appearance of your teeth, you smile more. When you smile more, your brain produces serotonin, endorphins, and dopamine. These neurotransmitters are responsible for reduced stress and feelings of happiness.

woman holding a big picture of her smile in front of her mouth

Success: No matter how you measure it, many studies have connected a nice smile with richer rewards. Smiling salespeople produce more sales and enjoy more career success, and those who smile also appreciate better relationships and are considered more trustworthy.

Influence: Your smile directly influences the feelings of others, adding to their wellness. People shown pictures of smiles and told to frown while looking at them struggle to suppress their own smile! You can change the mood of a room with a grin.

Your Smile Solution

Dental veneers provide benefits far beyond your teeth. By transforming the appearance of your smile with today’s natural porcelains, we can help you elevate the quality of your life inside and out. Veneers have given many people an advantage in their careers and social lives while boosting their sense of wellbeing.

Don’t you deserve to explore what cosmetic dentistry can do for you? Feel free to come in, bring your questions, and we’ll help you find your smile solution!

Goodbye Cavities?

With winter upon us, the common cold shows us why it’s aptly named. Rhinoviruses, responsible for many episodes of congestion, coughs, and sore throats, transmit through the population during every season. But research suggests that this virus replicates better at a temperature a few degrees below the body’s core temperature. Plus, people tend to share closer spaces inside during colder weather. Cozy areas make virus transmission easier.

Many people are surprised to learn that tooth decay is the next most common disease afflicting the population. The bacteria that cause cavities thrive in the mouth, but babies aren’t born with them. They’re an infection that’s often passed from mothers or caregivers once teeth start to appear. Since 92% of adults report at least one cavity, dental fillings are familiar to just about everyone.

What If…

Exciting new research suggests that the way we repair teeth damaged from cavities could change in the years ahead. Consider this:

  • A British team discovered that aspirin enhances the function of stem cells found inside teeth. They found that low-dose aspirin significantly increased the expression of genes that help form dentin, the primary tooth structure usually damaged by decay. This influence helps the tooth create new structure to repair damaged portions.
  • Another research team found that a particular chemical could cause cells to heal small holes in mice teeth. Researchers placed a biodegradable sponge soaked in the drug inside the cavity. This step led to complete, natural repair of the damaged area!
  • Another study demonstrated that a small electrical current could be used to draw new minerals into teeth, producing a stronger outer layer that’s more resistant to bacterial acid.

A vaccine to prevent cavities has been explored for over 40 years. In 1972, a British team reported they were testing one on mice, but fundamental challenges remain today. In the meantime, a host of new materials that mimic natural tooth structure allow us to restore damaged teeth and create healthy smiles. Scientists continue to produce advanced porcelains and resins that can be securely bonded into place. Sometimes the most trained eye can’t discern where the tooth ends, and the filling begins!

Solutions For Every Scenario

When enough damage leads to tooth loss, dental implants offer the ultimate solution for optimal function and confident smiling. Precise 3D imaging and advanced implant components set the foundation for predictable results. Whether replacing single teeth or securing loose dentures, implants can be life-changing!

In our evolving world, dental research continues to enhance the lives of our patients. We follow and evaluate advancements in dentistry, then choose those that serve you best. We’re 

here to be a resource for you and your family, so feel free to contact your team at Kirkland Dentistry with any questions we can help you explore!.

Soda, Sports Drinks and Teeth

Every time you step into a mini-mart, you’re faced with a host of options to squelch your thirst. A rainbow of colors in plastic bottles compete for your attention, and creative marketing often transforms sugared water into a fountain of youth. When it comes to your teeth, does it matter what you choose? How does a bottle of cola or a sports drink affect your teeth and general health?

Everybody knows most of these drinks include a lot of sugar, but it’s easy to overlook how much they carry. A little quick math can help you visualize the carbohydrate burst that occurs with the first sip. The nutritional label reports the number of grams of sugar in a serving, and there are 4 grams of sugar in a teaspoon. If a bottle shows 20 grams in a single serving, picture it as 5 teaspoons.

While a 12-ounce soda used to be the norm, 20-ounce bottles are now considered standard. But many of the labels show the grams of sugar for an 8-ounce serving, and they frequently report 2.5 servings in a bottle! Calculating the numbers on a typical label indicates you’ll consume over 19 teaspoons of sugar in this soft drink. Take a look at this one:

The bacteria that cause cavities use sugar for energy and produce acidic waste that erodes tooth enamel. Syrupy drinks provide an ideal power source to keep this population thriving while instigating an insulin spike in the bloodstream. The colossal sugar load also drives the liver to convert sugar into fat. Chronically elevated insulin creates insulin resistance, a condition that contributes to a range of diseases. From cavities to cancer, sugared drinks help fuel many of the health problems afflicting people today.

An Acid Problem

Sugar forms a vital part of the formula that produces tooth decay, but it’s the acid that ultimately causes enamel to dissolve. The normal pH of your mouth rests around 7, but tooth structure begins to erode when the acidity drops to 5.5. Soda can send the pH of the mouth into a nosedive, making the mouth 1000 times more acidic than needed to start damaging teeth. A review of many ingredient labels shows citric, phosphoric, and carbonic acids in the mix. It may take 15 minutes for the mouth’s pH to return to normal after the last sip, and that means a steady diet of sugary drinks can alter the mouth for hours each day.

Diet sodas often hover around a pH of 3.2, far into the range that damages teeth. It’s a good thing that sugar is missing, but a steady exposure to high acidity can still lead to a weakening of tooth enamel. Artificial sweeteners may have long-term general health effects that we’re yet to understand fully.

Limit The Damage

The best strategy for the sake of your teeth and overall health is to enjoy fresh water on a regular basis. If you’re going to drink soda, consider the following tips:

  • Drink soda or sports drinks through a straw to minimize your teeth’s exposure.
  • Rinse with water right after drinking one of these beverages.
  • Avoid brushing your teeth for 30 minutes after drinking the beverage. This practice allows your mouth to return to normal pH before the teeth undergo the light abrasion of brushing.
  • Avoid drinks that list acids on the ingredient label. 

If you consume a sports drink during strenuous exercise or enjoy an occasional soda with a meal, there’s not a lot of reason to worry. Commit to keep sugar exposure to a minimum and drink more fresh water: Your teeth and your body will thank you!.