Apple cobbler, pumpkin pie, fudge brownies – oh my!
‘Tis the season for incredible sweets and frosted delights. Statistically, the average person gains anywhere from 7-10 pounds between Thanksgiving and Christmas – and no wonder! Sugary treats are an integral part of holiday tradition, and not just in the United States either.
Sugar and even excess carbohydrates can cause harm to little teeth! Even if you do a good job of monitoring your child’s treat intake intake this time of year, there will be so many times exceptions are to be made. Family parties, cookie decorating with friends, and the constant aroma baked goods coming from the kitchen at grandma or auntie’s house. These various occasions take place virtually only once a year and with family members rarely visited.
Whatever the traditions in your home, and the homes of your loved ones, these are often recipes that have brought family together for generations.
Instead of bagging these traditions, you can always create new ones in the midst of them. Here are some amazing, healthy, and fun foods to make – that are no less Christmasy! These can be excellent alternatives when you are unhappy with your number on the scale or concerned about your children’s constant “sugar highs” that they can be more prone to this time of year.
(***Please note that not every option is 100% free of processed sugar. All recipes have been credited to their various authors.)
- Grinch Food Kabobs (via Clean and Scensible)
Tiny marshmallows, green grapes, thin banana slices, and strawberries, arranged on a toothpick. Be sure to cut off the top and bottom in the strawberry, and use the scraps for a fruit salad to avoid waste! Makes for a great afternoon snack, and easy to eat on the go. Can be refrigerated for later.
- Pita Tree Appetizers (via Betty Crocker)
Ingredients: 4 pita folds or pita bread roughly 6” across, pretzel sticks (halved), ½ cup of fat-free sour cream, ½ cup guacamole, 2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley, ¼ teaspoon garlic-pepper blend, ¼ cup diced red bell pepper.
First, be sure to toast each piece of pita bread, and then slice it into eighths. Insert pretzel sticks halfway through the bottom of each pita triangle. Mix sour cream, guacamole, parsley, garlic-pepper blend, and spread onto squares. Sprinkle the diced red peppers on top and refrigerate to store. Pita Tree Appetizers – perfect for any Christmas party!
3. Fruit Candy Canes (via Nourishing Minimalism)
Very simple, with so many variations! For a traditional looking candy cane, thinly slice strawberries and bananas at a slight angle. Keep rounded ends of each fruit and put them off to the side. Create a curved cane by alternating fruit and top each end off. Serve on a plate and enjoy!
4. Rudolph Pancakes (via Kitchen Fun with My 3 Sons)
Totally straightforward! You will need pancake mix (whichever recipe you prefer), creamed whip in a can, strawberries, preferred bacon, and chocolate chips. Maple syrup optional. Create two round pancakes of different sizes and stack them as pictured. Then pour 2 ear-shaped tiny pancakes and set them to the sides of the bigger pancake. Take two full strips of bacon for the antlers, then cut a third bacon strip in half to “branch” off of the original antler. Add more if desired. For the face, spray 2 dollops of whipped cream and top it off with 2 chocolate chips to create the eyes. For the red nose, add a strawberry or raspberry at the center of the smaller pancake. Perfect for a Christmas breakfast!
5. Dipped Apple Slices (via PartyCity)
Cut green and red apples into thin slices. To prevent slices from browning, first add lemon juice. Take melted chocolate (or white chocolate) and dip each slice halfway, then set it on wax paper to cool. While chocolate is still liquid, add festive sprinkles to stick and harden. Arrange in a row or in a circle and serve!
For more ideas, visit Pinterest and be sure to swap recipes with other moms! They will definitely appreciate the ideas to go easier on the sugar this year!
It is not every time that we use our mouth for something that we ask, “is this actually okay for my teeth?” Whether it be eating, speaking, gum chewing, or holding something in our mouth while our hands are full, what can we absolutely afford NOT to do?
Our most prominent orifice, the mouth is not only one of our primary forms of expression (speaking), but how we receive over 90% of our nutrients (from food). If you are going to take extra care of one area of your body, make it your chomper! Did you know that almost every fatal disease has an oral symptom? Both the mucous lining and saliva glands work together to keep the mouth lubricated and the absorbing qualities of the mouth tissue alive. What is then gleaned from lamina propria (the connective tissue) is absorbed through what is called the facial vein. This means that whatever properties go into your mouth can enter into your bloodstream without even having to be swallowed.
Here are some simple things you can avoid doing to protect your pearly whites. Encouraging your children to do the same and stopping bad habits now (especially nail-biting) may save a lot of grief down the road. Although most of these do not cause immediate harm, many can affect your smile over time. We have already talked about a lot of these habits in previous articles, so feel free to click on them for further reading.
Bruxism is just the scientific word for teeth-grinding. Despite the fact that tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the body, it can obviously still wear out. This can be attributed to the fact that the human jaw is incredibly strong – up to 150 lbs of power! If you are in the habit of grinding your teeth every night, this can eventually take its toll. Those who are diagnosed do not know they even had the condition until a parent or spouse tell them. Talk to your doctor about a mouth guard that repositions the jaw so that air is still passing through. Often bruxism is caused by not being able to breath properly during sleep. The most common symptoms are molars that appear to be worn down, as well as jaw and tooth pain. If the problem persists, talk to your doctor or dentist and they will have a preferred solution that they would recommend.
This could mean acid contact firsthand; found in consumables like soda pop, citrus fruit, coffee, or even stomach acid if you suffer from heartburn or are prone to vomiting. Acid wears down the enamel, the outer protection of the teeth, which can cause cavities and decay. However, eating sugar and carbs excessively and neglect can do this as well. Why? Because when these particles come into contact with saliva they break down into glucose and fructose. This gradually turns to plaque if it is not brushed away, which can also cause decay.
Very common in infants, prolonged thumb-sucking as well as extended use of a pacifier can cause teeth to grow in crooked. Although doctors and child care professionals disagree on the best time to wean these habits, it all comes down to whether or not it is negatively affecting baby teeth in their growth. Baby teeth create a “path” for adult teeth to grow in. If they are misaligned, so the adult teeth can be.
4. Chewing on ice
It may seem harmless, right? Regardless of the fact that it is sugar and carb free, ice is still an incredibly hard substance which, when chewed can cause chipping or damage to existing dental work. Doctor Richard Price of the American Dental Association on the matter of chewing ice reminds us that “even your blender needs special blades to crush ice.
Do not pick at your teeth with any sharp, metal or otherwise hard object (toothpicks and things of that nature are fine, as long as they do not hurt your gums). It may seem like a no-brainer but only the dentist should be poking around with a periodontal probe or dental hook. These are stainless steel and can cause serious harm. Dentists have special training in this, so don’t try this at home!
6. Using them as a tool
Doctor Price also says, “Teeth are not pliers, teeth are not hooks.” Out of sheer laziness we commonly rely on our mouths to do a job that would require reaching for the scissors or into the toolbox to do. This cannot only cause chipping, but cracking as well which can be very painful. Our teeth are not designed to bit and clench down on hard plastic or metal. This also goes for nail-biting as well!
7. Brushing too hard
If you tend to go a little heavy-handed on the brushing, you may need to invest in a toothbrush with softer bristles. These usually cost the same as a regular toothbrush. Brushing too hard can irritate the gums and even wear down enamel, leading to more issues down the road. The bristles dragging across the gums repeatedly can cause small abrasions on the gums which can also get infected and cause sores.
While these seven appear to not be of any issue at first glance, they can definitely cause problems if made a regular occurence. Be aware of these and be on the lookout for your children potentially developing these habits. It is all to maintain a lifelong, healthy smile!
When taking care of our mouths (and our children’s!) it is important to understand how having a healthy mouth contributes to one’s overall quality of life. Good diet and exercise are vital ingredients to a strong body; in the same way brushing and flossing are a recipe to secure a lifelong smile.
Gums have absorption qualities that our skin does not. This is why when chewing tobacco is placed in the inside of the cheek or lip, the nicotine is absorbed through the gums and into the bloodstream, making it addictive. What many people do not realize is anything that remains inside the mouth has the potential to be absorbed into our blood, even if it is not swallowed. Harmful bacteria left behind from plaque and gingivitis is often culprit of infiltrating our blood and causing a lot of problems. This is why periodontitis (gum disease) and cardiovascular (heart) disease are directly correlated. Plaque between the teeth builds up to the point of being absorbed by gums causing infection and inflammation. This can cause hardening of the arteries or even infection in the lining of the heart itself, which is called endocarditis. Not good!
Because we breathe through our noses and mouths, oral health affects respiratory health too! Just imagine breathing in microscopic particles of decay-causing bacteria directly into your lungs over a long period of time! Pneumonia can be developed from continual exposure to harmful bacteria.
In some cases, gingivitis and later periodontal disease are known to cause dementia and Alzheimer’s. Harmful bacteria can be received by the nerve receptors in the head as they travel through the bloodstream. It is also for this reason that gum disease can affect your blood sugar and people with diabetes as well.
Despite the fact that these ailments are primarily found in the elderly, it goes to show that you will never stop taking care of your teeth! A tooth is the only mechanism in the body that cannot heal itself! If anything, as our bodies start to deteriorate as we age, we must be relentless in the care of our mouths – it is our source of speech and communication, receives most of our nutrients (through eating), and enables breathing far more than the nose.
As you can see, mouths are a unique part of our body because they are responsible for so much. Our main orifice and also the most exposed – the mouth requires a meticulous grooming that is entirely its own. Medicine has come so far in 2016 that practicing doctors hundreds of years ago would have never imagined. Although, even the cultures considered more primitive in ancient times had some concept of the importance of oral care.
It is therefore universal that the care of the oral cavity is caring for the entire well-being of the body. Who knew that ignoring dental problems could create such problems down the road? You may never have considered how paramount keeping regular dentist visits and developing a proper daily dental hygiene regimen could be. Save your smile – save your life!
As of late, many home-based Millennial blogs have exploded with the implementation of an age-old remedy into a dental hygiene routine known as oil-pulling. Albeit probably several thousands of years old and originally from an Ayurvedic Indian technique, the idea was not brought to the Western world until the early 21st century. In 2008, Bruce Fife, author and certified nutritionist, wrote “Oil Pulling Therapy: Detoxifying and Healing the Body Through Oral Cleansing”. From there the concept grew steadily and gained quite a following. The trend made a comeback in 2014, where many female millennial bloggers (like a domino effect) brought it forth into the modern eye once more.
After it was discovered to have some viable testimonies, oil-pulling quickly became a well-known sensation.
How Do You Do It?
The idea is to take 1-2 tablespoons of unrefined organic coconut, sesame, or olive oil and swish it around in your mouth for 15-20 minutes. Many regular “pullers” like to spend this time answering emails, folding laundry, or showering – basically any 20-something minute activity that involves no speaking. When finished, one spits into a trash can and then continues their daily oral regimen as normal (brushing and flossing). The objective is to rinse the mouth of plaque similar to what a mouthwash will do – but instead of disinfecting the surface areas of the mouth with alcohol and harsh chemicals, toxins are supposedly “pulled” and plaque is loosened from the teeth and gums (NEVER recommended for kids).
Testified Benefits vs. Science
Because every mouth and oral health history can drastically differ from one person to the next, these “cures” are not one-size fits all, nor have all been verified by clinical studies. Here are some reported (not proven) health betterments from oil-pulling advocates representing all walks of life.
- Natural teeth whitener
- Strengthens gums/teeth/jaw (stronger jaw muscles can be attributed to the amount of mouth-movement it requires to swish that long every day)
- Hangover and migraine cure
- Helps with tooth grinding/tooth sensitivity
- Improves halitosis or bad breath
- Prevents cavities/tooth decay (sadly there is not much you can do to cure cavities other than having them removed by a dentist)
- Alleviates mouth pain
- Balances hormones
- Clears up acne & even eczema on the scalp
The list goes on and on! Yet the truth is that less than half of these healing properties can be traced back to any scientific data. As there are so many different factors that could interfere with studying the oil-pulling effects on the rest of the body (diet, body weight, uncontrolled environments, family medical history, etc), really the only way to reduce variables is to test that which takes place inside the mouth. Many of us would like to believe that fitting an additional 20 minutes into our daily routine could be a cure-all to nearly every aspect of our physical problems. While it generally would not be, any medical professional will tell you regardless that oral health and overall health are directly linked. Every life-threatening disease has an oral symptom or origin. For example, individuals with heart disease more often than not have some level of gum disease. Therefore, if oil-pulling has obvious oral benefits, it is only logical that there would be additional outward benefits.
Although not typically dentist recommended, controlled scientific studies have reassured us that, unless swallowed, oil-pulling is not harmful in any way. Swallowing oil permeated with bacteria can be known to cause upset stomach and diarrhea. In incredibly rare cases, when small amounts of oil are inhaled by mistake, it can cause lipoid pneumonia (one of the main reasons it is not recommended for children).
Mouthwash, (which much of society uses daily) is advertised as being able to eliminate 99% of germs – that includes the good germs, too! An organic oil can swish out enamel-eroding bacteria but enable healthy bacteria to live. Therefore coconut or sesame oil can be arguably a better alternative to mouthwash. In addition, it can remove plaque because of the intense pushing of fluids around in the mouth, and this can lead to visibly whitened teeth and most certainly reduce chance of cavities.
If oil-pulling works for an individual, and perhaps has more remedial effects outside of the mouth, more power to them! Again, just because it has never been proven that oil-pulling can or cannot improve any one aspect of oral health, does not mean it can’t. The practice should always be accompanied by brushing and flossing and never used by itself as a treatment. Built-up plaque is the cause of most dental problems, so eliminating this is half the battle. Doing so can have enormous oral and therefore bodily health benefits, regardless of how you choose to do it.
Have you ever had a canker sore? They are not fun, and can appear at the most random and inconvenient times! What is more, it can make simple tasks like eating and brushing pretty painful. Nearly everyone has experienced at least one canker sore in their lifetime, and they are definitely a pain in the mouth! Usually identified by a small, round white bump with redness and tenderness surrounding it, they are classified as small, shallow ulcers. These sores are much different than cold sores and can last up to a week.
What Causes Them?
Canker sores are not caused by any one thing, nor do they target any specific gender or age group (although they do seem to affect those between the ages of 10-20 more). Statistics say that 20% of people report having one at least once a year. So while they do not appear to be a constant occurrence, what does cause them?
Random sores appearing can usually be traced back to a small abrasion in the gums or the mouth. This can be caused by a dental instrument, accidentally biting your tongue or cheek, or brushing too hard. Sometimes these wounds are so minuscule they go unnoticed. From there the minor cut or scrape can become infected with oral bacteria which forms a sore.
Canker sores can also appear in times of emotional stress, certain hormonal changes, and even sensitivity to foods containing acid and citric acid like oranges, lemons, tomatoes, strawberries, coffee, etc, which can erode the inside of the mouth. It can also come from vitamin deficiencies in your diet, such as vitamin B, zinc, and iron.
Wait, Aren’t Cold Sores the Same Thing?
Nope! Cold sores are caused by the herpes virus and are incredibly contagious (luckily, canker sores are not). They also occur on the outside of the mouth, whereas canker sores only appear on the inside. Cold sores are commonly referred to as “fever blisters” since they usually are accompanied by illness. Prior to the cold sore developing there is usually some redness and tenderness where the outbreak will be. Children with cold sores typically experience more severe sickness than adults. They are so named “blisters” because the cluster of painful bumps that form burst after a couple of days. They can last significantly longer than a canker sore and be of course more noticeable than one too.
Natural home remedies can include swishing with mouthwash or saltwater. Both will help to disinfect and dry up the sore, speeding up the healing process. Natural aloe vera and black tea bags can both cure canker sores when applied directly.
Despite the fact that canker sores tend to almost resemble pimples, they should not be popped or poked with a needle. This can cause them to worsen or spread. If you have an outbreak of two or more canker sores at a time and they do not go away on their own and persist after a few weeks, be sure to see a doctor for a specific remedy or even prescribed medication. If continual canker sores persist, try switching to a softer bristled brush to reduce abrasions in the mouth. If you suspect the sores could be diet related, reduce the amount of acids and citric acids you consume.
We have all been in this situation: we are deep in a discussion with a friend, family member, co-worker, etc, and a ghastly smell wafts from their mouth. Once the smell is detected, it is hard to continue the conversation! Bad breath plagues on average 65% of Americans. For the individual in question it can be a truly embarrassing condition, and even create a fear of speaking aloud if there are no breath mints or chewing gum on hand.
In general, all bad breath is caused by an accumulation of bacteria in the mouth that is not properly removed. To contrast this idea, a similar bodily process can be found in sweat. Sweating is our body’s way of cooling us off and releasing toxins. However, when sweat is not washed off properly by bathing, it can begin to smell, and become what is known as “B.O.” or “body odor”. Inside our mouths, salivating has a similar purpose. Saliva glands in our mouths are used to wash away bacteria and continually replenish the mouth. Yet when proper oral hygiene is neglected, bacteria can flourish and the mouth can produce a nasty odor.
The Three Types of Bad Breath
1. Eating Those Potent Foods
The most obvious type of bad breath is the type that is completely situational, and that is whenever we eat something with a strong taste. Foods like garlic, onions, coffee, and certain spice-laden meals can seemingly cling to every inch of our mouths after eating them.
Luckily, a quick rinse with mouthwash or a teeth brushing can eliminate these odors fairly quickly after the fact.
2. Morning Breath
Nearly everyone has it, especially if you can be hasty in your nightly dental routine or forget to brush entirely. One of the best ways to prevent morning breath is to scrape your tongue before bed. Most bacteria that breeds overnight when the mouth is closed for up to 8 hours, and overall oral bacteria in general, can be found on the tongue. Another tip is to swish coconut oil before bed. It sounds strange, but this is actually an ancient practice known as oil pulling.
For about 15-20 minutes, swish around a tablespoon of organic pressed coconut oil and do not swallow it! It is said to “catch” bacteria and toxins in a disposable trap more effectively than an alcohol based mouthwash. For real life testimonies and the exact science, research oil pulling online. You will be astounded!
Lastly, the peskiest form of bad breath is known as Halitosis; a chronic condition that is persistent despite brushing and flossing. The cause can be trickier to locate, as there are many possibilities. If you are brushing and flossing consistently and it is not making a difference, chances are it is a problem you may have to consult a dentist about. Chronic bad breath can usually be traced back to two very broad categories: poor dental hygiene (at some point in your life), poor diet – and sometimes, both. When your daily oral regimen (brushing flossing, and rinsing) is not totally thorough on a regular basis (like remembering to brush, yet never flossing), it can lead to all kinds of dysfunction in the mouth that needs to be treated by a dentist: gum disease, cavity, tooth decay – all of which can be prevented. Diets high in sugar and carbohydrates, sugary and carbonated drinks, as well as habitual tobacco use can be the cause of most oral ailments especially when made a practice. In fact, most people that use tobacco products daily have bad breath, and if they do not have oral health issues now, chances are they will later in life! Remember to moderate your alcohol, soda, and tobacco use to only special occasions.
A healthy diet and lifestyle benefits your whole body, which includes your mouth. If you believe you may have halitosis, consult your dentist and they will be able to locate certain stages of decay or gum disease. They can also give you tips to improve your habits and specific diet changes you can make.
Overall, remember to visit your dentist twice a year, and to brush twice daily – because breath mints won’t always cut it!
(Please note all facts have been taken from other online sources)
- Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body. (But that doesn’t mean we should use our teeth to open lids or packaging!)
- It takes 43 muscles to frown, but only 17 to smile.
- Babies in the womb start developing teeth under their gums at six weeks gestation. That’s amazing!
- 78% of Americans have had their first cavity by age 17.
- 51 million school hours and 164 work hours per year are lost because of dental related illness. It goes to show that brushing 2 minutes in the morning and 2 minutes at night can save a lot more time and money down the road!
- There is more bacteria in a human mouth than there are people on the earth.
- Kids only have 20 teeth, but adults have 32 teeth.
- It is incredibly rare, but a baby can actually be born with teeth already broken through the surface of their gums.
- On average, women smile 62 times a day, where the average man only smiles 8! Kids smile up to 400 times a day. Smiling relieves stress because it releases endorphins in your brain, which in turn can boost your immune system and prevent sickness!
- Wisdom teeth are so named because they come in when one is “older and wiser.” 35% of people are born without them!
- More people use blue toothbrushes than red ones.
- 47% of people report that the first thing they notice about someone is their smile.
- The tooth from an elephant can weigh up to six pounds!
- The tooth is the only part of the body that cannot repair itself.
- Are you left handed or right handed? Left handed people tend to chew on the left side of their mouth, while right handed people tend to chew on their right hand side
- 90% of life threatening conditions have oral related symptoms. This is why it is said that flossing regularly can extend your life expectancy up to six years!
- Just like fingerprints, no two people have the same exact set of teeth or tongue print. Even identical twins have different teeth!
- Saliva has so many purposes. If our mouths were completely dry, we would not be able to distinguish the taste of anything.
- It was common practice in the middle ages to kiss a donkey to cure a toothache.
- The first bristles on toothbrushes were said to be made from cow hairs. Good thing modern day toothbrushes have nylon brushes!
- When you choose to just brush and not floss, that means you are only cleaning two thirds of your tooth surface. Imagine if we only cleaned two thirds of our bodies! That could get pretty yucky over time!
- You produce enough saliva in your lifetime to fill 2 swimming pools – up to 25,000 quarts!
- In Italy and France, they do not have a “Toothy Fairy”, but a “Tooth Mouse.” Imagine putting a tooth under your pillow to await the Tooth Mouse!
Mouthwash can be one of the most refreshing steps of a daily routine. It removes excess bacteria, strengthens enamel, whitens teeth, and provides instant fresh breath. Mouthwash is the step in a dental oral hygiene regimen that can provide extra protection beyond brushing and flossing. At the Kidd’s Place, we specialize in being able to recognize the different needs presented with kids’ teeth. Here are some things you need to know about your kids using mouthwash.
Fluoride is a mineral commonly used to strengthen teeth and to prevent cavities from forming. It is primarily found in toothpaste, mouthwash, and even most water systems in the U.S.! However, it is not recommended that a child uses fluoride toothpaste regularly until after age 2 (except for a small smear on their toothbrush), and mouthwash until after age 6. This is due to the risk of fluorosis.
Fluorosis is something that can happen in the process of children’s teeth developing. It occurs when there is an overexposure to fluoride. It can cause the outer texture of the tooth to become bumpy, or white or brown spots to appear on the teeth. While fluorosis only causes issues in appearance and can be easily prevented, it can be difficult to remove.
Knowing When the Time is Right
Despite mouthwash not being recommended until age 6, every child is different. That being said, age 6 is just about the time adult teeth are starting to come in and certain baby teeth are beginning to loosen. When introducing a child to mouthwash for the first time, it is most important that they have the self-control and awareness to not swallow it automatically as they would a beverage.
To know whether a child is ready to use mouthwash without swallowing, there is a simple test: using a cup of water by the sink, ask the child to swish it around in their mouth and to spit it out. If they are able to do this without swallowing, then they will most likely be able to do it with mouthwash. Make sure it is used after brushing and flossing. It is not recommended to allow children ages 6-12 use mouthwash unattended.
For additional practice, try supervising your child in the form of a game. Use a mouthwash recommended for children that does not have that strong or harsh taste. With a stopwatch in hand, say “Go!” and time your child for exactly a minute as they swish and rinse. Feel free to cheer them on and have fun with it. When it reaches a minute yell “Stop!” and have them spit. This is excellent practice that engages parents and kids and allows them to adjust to the sensation of swishing.
Mouthwash & Braces
For young teens, braces can be immensely time-consuming when cleaning. Mouthwash is an excellent tool because it can reach places that plaque can build up that is perhaps difficult to reach with floss or a toothbrush alone. It can also loosen very small bits of food that can get lodged in the braces. This does not mean flossing or brushing should ever be neglected; mouthwash is meant as an additional cleaning agent and should not be used exclusively on its own for cleaning, especially since braces present such an opportunity for bacteria and plaque to flourish.
The Long-Term Benefits of Mouthwash
For adults and kids alike, mouthwash is designed to boost the effects of brushing twice daily, and flossing once daily. Talk to your child’s dentist whether a fluoride mouthwash is something that should be introduced to his or her oral hygiene regimen. Most dentists will even have a specific brand or type they would recommend. Instilling these habits early on can ensure a lifelong healthy smile!
As much as we love our patients at the Kidds Place, visiting the dentist for a filling can be uncomfortable! Luckily there are more specific ways to keep your teeth healthy and clean besides the obvious. We have all heard it before: brush twice daily, floss, go to the dentist, and do not eat too much sugar. It sounds simple, but does it truly guarantee a filling-free mouth? Every mouth is different, and even the best brushers can still experience decay. But there’s more steps you can take towards cavity prevention for a lifelong healthy smile.
How Does a Cavity Even Form?
Cavities are formed when plaque buildup weakens the tooth enamel, causing it to soften. Plaque is a sticky substance that forms on teeth when sugar from food has been solidified over a period of time by the bacteria in our mouths. Enamel is a natural hard coating of the tooth made up of minerals such as calcium. If the plaque sticking to the surface of the enamel is not brushed away, it begins to eat away at it. When this occurs, acids begin to penetrate and diminish the tooth itself, causing the dark or black spot where decay has occurred. This is called a cavity because it is a literal chasm that has formed in the tooth itself. It is recommended that children as well as adults receive a teeth cleaning twice yearly. These remove plaque build-up and keep teeth polished and smooth. However, here are some measures you and your family can take outside of the dentist chair.
Foods to Avoid & Foods to Eat
What is the common phrase? “Don’t eat too much sugar, or your teeth will rot!” While it’s true that excess sugar can harm your teeth, there is little point trying to scare kids out of eating sugar so they wont have to “go to the dentist and get a shot”, because while sugar can cause plaque, so can anything high in carbohydrates. This is because all carbs are eventually broken down into simple sugars, such as glucose and fructose. The solution is simply ensuring that plaque formed from these types of food is properly removed, so no permanent damage can be done to teeth.
While we are all taught to moderate certain foods, did you know there are foods that actually help strengthen your enamel? Any foods rich in calcium – milk, cheese, yogurt, can make the enamel stronger and therefore develop a thicker shield against cavities.
Eat apples! It is said that they can actually clean your teeth. The fleshy fibers found in the white of the apple can act as tiny little “toothbrushes” that scrub at your teeth as you chew. It goes to show that “an apple a day” can keep the dentist away too! (Although, don’t skip out on your twice yearly cleaning). If your kids like celery, it too is known to have a similar effect!
Drink lots of water. Most water systems in the U.S. contain fluoride – one of the minerals commonly used to strengthen teeth. What is more, drinking water ultimately produces more saliva, which can wash away bacteria in the mouth between brushing.
Dentists recommend brushing for two minutes, twice daily – once in the morning and once at night. If your child likes to be speedy and brushes too quickly, practice setting a timer for 2 minutes to ensure they reach every area of their mouth. Remember also that if kids cannot yet tie their shoes, studies show that they have not yet developed the coordination or strength to brush their teeth on their own.
Flossing and rinsing with mouthwash every day can seem like a lot, but try to develop the habit of flossing with the morning brushing, and rinsing with the evening brushing. Floss can reach the pesky plaque that a toothbrush can not – in fact, did you know brushing only cleans two-thirds of our teeth? Floss gets between and cleans the one-third a toothbrush cannot. Imagine if you went your whole life without flossing! There would always be a third of your teeth that never got cleaned. To round it off, mouthwash kills excess bacteria all over the mouth, not just teeth, but gums, tongue, cheeks and roof of mouth where germs can also spread. Using all three can help your kids to be cavity free!
School is almost out! That means that kids will be spending a lot more time eating at home or out on vacation with family. A lot of times this season can get us off our regular schedules and sometimes even our crucial daily habits! It can also bring about more opportunities to indulge in tasty summertime favorites that can cool us off, but contain a LOT of sugar- ice cream, slushies, popsicles, etc!
Luckily, there are ways to satisfy your little one’s sweet tooth without taking a chance of cavities and without the “sugar crash” later. The best way to eat sweets AND take care of your teeth and body is to eat fruit!
The best time of year to eat fruit? Summer! Warmer weather makes seasonal fruit (pineapple, watermelon, mango, etc) more readily available and ripe to consumers, allowing you and your family to expand your options.
***Please take note that the saying “too much of a good thing” still applies here! While fruits are most likely the least harmful sweet treat they can still be overdone!
A classic favorite, with endless variations. Set aside fruit you want to use for smoothies and store them in the freezer. For whole fruits, such as mangoes, pineapples, bananas, etc, make sure you peel the skin and chop them up before freezing! As for berries, make sure they have been cleared of stems and leaves.
First, choose fruits that are complimentary. Strawberries and blueberries go well with almost anything, as do bananas. Try to avoid mixing all citrus fruits (too acidic), or all tart fruits (too sour).
Next, pick your base. The juice inside the fruit is not enough, otherwise your smoothie will be too thick! For a creamy flavor, use coconut, almond, or regular milk. For an added citrus flavor, use orange juice. Add water for the purest taste. If it is still too tart, add a tablespoon of honey to your mix.
Finally, make sure that the base you have picked fills up the blender enough to just barely cover the top of the fruit before blending. This will ensure the smoothie will not be too thick or watery. Blend and enjoy!
A new trend – fun and very pretty! Boil sticky or sushi rice (1 cup rice to 1 ¼ cups water). Then, mix 1 ¼ cup coconut milk, and add ¼ cup sugar (this is the only added sugar in the recipe, and you may use less if desired).
On a sushi mat, spread out the rice flat into a square, covering the mat. Cut desired fruit into thin, lengthy strips. Roll tightly, chop into pieces, and viola!
If a sushi mat is not something you have at have at home, you can try a variation of Fruishi that looks like sashimi. Roll balls of sticky or sushi rice into ovals, and thinly slice fruit to lay on top. It looks so fancy and the kids will love the taste.
3. Fruit Kabobs
Easy, simple, and relatively self-explanatory. Use berries and chop fruit into bite-sized pieces and stick onto a wooden or plastic kabob. This can be fun for kids because they can create patterns of fruit and add however much they want of each fruit onto the skewer.
For more visual appeal check out this caterpillar grape kabob. They’re cute, and its something kids can create as well!
Using red and/or green grapes, spear each grape on its short side. For eyes, use miniature chocolate chips and attach with very small amounts of vanilla frosting. For easy placement, simply dip the flat edge of the chocolate chip into the frosting before sticking it to the end grape.
You will need: a popsicle mold, popsicle sticks (optional), 2 kiwis, 1 cup of chopped watermelon, 1 cup of chopped mango, 1 cup of blueberries, 1 cup of chopped strawberries, and 1 cup raspberries.
In small food processor, use the “puree” setting for each portion of fruit. Be sure to rinse between uses.
Next, take only 1 cup of pureed fruit and fill the bottoms of a popsicle mold in equal portions. Freeze overnight or until solid. Then, repeat using different fruits. For the second layer, remember to add a wooden popsicle stick (some molds come with reusable ones too so this step may not be necessary.)
Keep adding layers and freezing until full. Once the last layer is added and solid, remove from the freezer and dip the bottom of the mold in warm water for an easier release of the popsicle. Remove and enjoy!