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Is dark chocolate good for your teeth?

July 16th, 2015

When you want to “treat yo’self,” dark chocolate might be the best answer. There has been plenty of debate over whether dark chocolate is actually good for your teeth. While it is generally true that candy generally doesn’t mix well with keeping teeth healthy, dark chocolate can actually be a cavity fighter. But the issue isn’t so black and white.

The short answer

While milk chocolate contains the combination of sugar and milk that can contribute to tooth decay, studies have shown that when it comes to satisfying your sweet tooth, the ingredients in dark chocolate can actually be beneficial your oral health. Just remember to eat it in moderation.

Keep it real

A key takeaway from this debate is that when it comes to your chocolate choice, “real” chocolate is better. In other words, dark chocolate, which is 70% cocoa, is much better for your oral health in the long run than milk chocolate, which contains more sugar and milk to sweeten it.

The best choice is “real” dark chocolate with less than 6-8 grams of sugar per serving – organic if possible. Raw chocolate is even a better choice, as it is less processed, and more of the antioxidants are left intact. Be aware that chocolate is a calorie-rich food, so modify your calorie intake accordingly.

The benefits of dark chocolate

“Real” chocolate has a good source of polyphenols, natural chemicals that can limit oral bacteria. They are also able to neutralize microorganisms that cause bad breath and prevent some bacteria from turning sugar and starches into acid, which love to wreck havoc on your teeth.

Dark chocolate also contains a flavonoid compound called epicatechin. Flavonoids, a group of plant-based antioxidants, have been shown to slow tooth decay.

Tannins are plant compounds that give dark chocolate its slightly bitter taste and dark color. They have been shown to help stop bacteria from sticking to teeth because their molecules bind to bacteria before plaque has time to form. At the same time, however, those tannins can stain your teeth. If you’re using whitening strips, keep in mind they can weaken your enamel, so eating something with a lot of tannins in it, like chocolate, can undermine your efforts!

Antioxidants are a group of molecules that keep your body healthy on a cellular level. In fact, dark chocolate can contain up to four times the level found in green tea. High amounts of antioxidants in saliva have been shown to fight periodontal disease.

Sound too good to be true? Here’s what one study says:
Consuming a cocoa-enriched diet could diminish periodontitis-induced oxidative stress, which, in turn, might suppress the progression of periodontitis.
- J Periodontol. 2009 Nov; 80(11): 1799-808.

The bottom line

If you’re going to eat chocolate, make it dark chocolate. Like any sweet treat, it should be consumed in moderation—: about one ounce (150 calories) per day. And of course, a chocolate bar is no excuse to skip brushing for at least two minutes twice a day!

The American public is flooded with health news every day. Some of it is sensationalist, some of it is valid, and others should be taken with a grain of salt. Do your research, and don’t change your health habits based on one headline. If you have questions about what is or is not good for your teeth, it’s best to give our office a call at 541-548-8175 and get the answers you want straight from the source.

Tips for a healthy smile this summer

June 25th, 2015

Tips-for-a-healthy-smile-this-summer

Summer is here! Which means it’s time to enjoy all your favorite outdoor sports and activities in Central Oregon. From biking and paddle boarding to softball leagues and summer camps, sports can be a great way to have fun and stay active. However, some popular sports can expose your teeth to danger. Here are a few tips to be aware of in order to keep your teeth happy and healthy all summer long.

Swimming

Frequent swimmers (more than 6 hours a week) may be at risk for developing “swimmer’s calculus” -- yellowish-brown or dark brown stains on front teeth. Pool water contains chemical additives, which give the water a higher pH than saliva. As a result, salivary proteins break down quickly and form organic deposits on teeth.
→ Swimmer’s calculus can normally be removed by professional dental cleaning.

Diving

Scuba diving can lead to jaw joint pain, gum tissue problems, or “tooth squeeze” -- pain in the center of the tooth. These symptoms can lead to “diver’s mouth syndrome” (barodontalgia), a condition caused by the air pressure change involved in scuba diving and by divers biting too hard on their scuba air regulators. Tooth squeeze is caused by the change in air pressure, particularly if a diver has a big cavity, a temporary filling, gum disease, periodontal abscess or incomplete root canal therapy.
→ Diver’s mouth syndrome is best avoided by visiting your dentist before diving to make sure your dental health is in good shape.

Contact Sports

Sports like soccer, baseball and basketball do not require mouthguards, but they are definitely recommended. The Academy of General Dentistry (AGD) estimates that mouthguards prevent more than 200,000 injuries each year. Using a mouthguard can prevent damage to braces or other orthodontic work, as well as prevent mouth cuts, jaw injuries and tooth damage.
→ Most sporting goods stores sell stock mouthguards and mouth-formed protectors, but custom-made mouth protectors from your dentist are the safest and most effective way to go. Although they are the most expensive option, a custom mouthguard offers the best protection, fit and comfort level because it is made from a cast to fit your teeth.

Summer sports are a lot of fun, but having teeth problems and injuries can be a huge bummer! By keeping these easy preventative tips in mind, you can be sure that you’ll be able to keep enjoying your favorite activities for the whole summer. And if you have questions about a specific sport, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Settling the toothbrush debate: Power or manual?

May 18th, 2015

Settling-the-toothbrush-debate-Power-or-manual

Wondering if that fancy-looking electric toothbrush is actually better than the one you get for free at the dentist? If the increased amount of space taken up on store shelves is any indication, electric toothbrushes are growing in popularity. But the effectiveness of the different kinds is debated. We’ll go through the different kinds of brushes, pros and cons, and some studies in order to get to the bottom of this.

Different kinds of toothbrushes

According to Oral-B, there are 3 different kinds of toothbrushes.

  1. Rechargeable Electric Toothbrush: This is the kind you plug into the wall to recharge, keeping the handle and replacing the brush head every three months. Rechargeable electric toothbrushes differ among the kind of cleaning technology they use, such as oscillating-rotating (3D Cleaning Action) or sonic technology.
  2. Regular Manual Toothbrush: Regular manual toothbrushes are the basic toothbrushes you’re probably accustomed to with a plastic handle and various nylon bristle designs on the brush head.
  3. Battery Power Toothbrush: These use an AA battery. While similar in design to regular manual toothbrushes, battery power toothbrushes have just enough vibration to add some extra cleaning action, but not as much as rechargeable electric ones.

What the experts say

In one study by Oral-B, more than 16,000 patients were asked by their dentists or hygienists to use a Braun Oral-B powered toothbrush. Dental professionals said the powered brush had a positive effect on the oral health of more than 80% of the patients. Most participants reportedly said their oral health was better after using the device.

So many patients have been asking their dentists about which kind of toothbrush to choose that the American Dental Association (ADA) has issued several news releases on the matter.
In the end, they said manual toothbrushes can be just as effective as powered ones.

Pros of power toothbrushes

  • Can be fun for children and inspire them to brush their teeth more
  • Can help people who have trouble physically moving their brushes around their mouth to clean all teeth surfaces, including anyone with a motor disability or arthritis
  • Less work and easier to use: At 6,000 to 30,000 strokes per minute, it takes less time to do a thorough job with the electrified version
  • Built in timer that automatically stops the toothbrush once 2 minutes are up

Cons of power toothbrushes

  • Manual brushing still only takes 2 minutes and you can still keep your teeth at a grade A+ level
  • Manual brushes have many styles, bristles, heads and colors to choose from
  • Manual brushes are easier to travel with: All you need is a toothbrush case and you’re all set to go for your trip. No need to worry about batteries or charging outlets
  • Manual brushes are inexpensive and often free whenever you make a trip to your dentist

The bottom line: It’s not what you use, but how you use it

While the effectiveness is still debated, what we do know is the key to preventing tooth decay lies in the way a toothbrush — electric or otherwise — is used. Just keep brushing and flossing every day and you’ll be good to go no matter what! And if you’re still undecided, don’t hesitate to ask us.

Which kind do you use and why? Comment and let us know.

10 easy things you can do to help the planet on Earth Day

April 15th, 2015

10-easy-things-you-can-do-to-help-the-planet-on-Earth-Day

Earth Day is right around the corner. And while every day is a great day to make a positive contribution to our planet, the holiday still serves as a great way for our community to come together to make the world a better place. Here are 10 simple ways to show your mother Earth some love.

1. Reduce plastic consumption
Pack your lunch in a reusable container instead of plastic sandwich bags, bring your own cloth bag to the grocery store, and reuse/recycle the plastic bags you already have. You can also carry your own water bottle, rather than buying a new plastic bottle every time--a single plastic bottle can spend between 100-1000 years in a landfill.

2. Plant a tree
This may be the most obvious one, but it really does make a difference. Over a 50-year lifetime, a tree generates $31,250 worth of oxygen, provides $62,000 worth of air pollution control, recycles $37,500 worth of water, and controls $31,250 worth of soil erosion. It also provides shade that keeps homes and cities cooler!

3. Walk, hike, or ride a bike
If people in the U.S. would occasionally ride a bike for a short errand instead of driving a car, over 70 million gallons of fuel could be saved each year--not to mention the added benefit of enjoying the fresh air and exercise.

4. Recycle your paper
Only 27% of newspapers in the U.S. are recycled. If they were all recycled, it would save one quarter of a billion trees every year. Buy recycled printer paper and print on both sides instead of just one.

5. Switch out your cleaning products
Cleaning products that contain chlorine or petroleum distillates expose your family to toxins and then end up in the ecosystem. Choose nontoxic, naturally derived cleaning products, which are proven effective but won’t cause long term damage to the Earth.

6. Opt out of junk mail
Not only will you save paper, but you'll also save time by not having to fish through a sea of junk mail every day. Just pull out the pre-paid stamped envelope in your junk mail, write "please remove" on the envelope and send it back to them - on their dime. In the long run it helps everyone -- they don't have to pay for future mailings and you are no longer buried in piles of junk mail you don’t want.

7. Swap out your light bulbs
Compact fluorescent light bulbs use less energy than regular light bulbs and provide the same amount of light. They also last up to ten times longer, ultimately saving you money in energy costs - more than $30 in the lifetime of one bulb. And if you needed even more reason to switch out your bulbs, fluorescent lights generate less heat than other bulbs, making home cooling costs significantly less in the summer.

8. Turn off lights and unplug cell phone chargers
Did you know that your chargers are using electricity even though your electronic devices are not connected to them? Walk around your house and unplug any cell phone chargers, mp3 player chargers, etc. that you’re not currently using. While you’re at it, turn off any unnecessary lights.

9. Eat less meat
The UN has found that meat production is responsible for about 18% of global CO2 emissions. This doesn’t mean you have to go vegetarian, although it does help. But simply cutting down on meat consumption will make a big difference, even if your direct individual impacts aren’t apparent.

10. Shop local
Support your local economy. Buy from the farmers market, or even commit to the challenge of only eating food in a 100-mile radius. Visit neighborhood thrift stores. Keeping money and resources in the community significantly reduces the pollution caused by the production and transportation of things like food and clothing.

What are you doing for Earth Day? Comment on our Facebook page and let us know!