With the Holidays fast approaching, many of us are making plans for great festive meals to share with family and friends. I thought it would be a good idea to write this week about some food choices you can make when they are out there on the coffee or dinner table! There are some obvious and also some “not so obvious” foods that can wreak havoc on our teeth, increase tooth sensitivity or even damage dental crowns and bridges. I really want you to have a great time this holiday season but just try to be a bit cautious when presented with your choices of holiday treats! Dried Fruits or Fresh Fruits?? Because the water is taken out (hence the word “dried”) in dried fruits, the sugars are concentrated and these are mushy and sticky. You will also notice that dried fruit is smaller than its equivalent fresh fruit so you will tend to eat more of it! (That’s more sugar AND more calories!!). If the dried fruit was packaged to begin with – guess what—the manufacturer almost always adds even more sugar! The bacteria in our mouths feast on these sugars and this can lead to decay and loosen dental restorations. Enough said. So what about fresh fruit? Well, because fresh fruit is fibrous and requires that we chew it well, it stimulates the flow of saliva in our mouths. The saliva washes away the particles of food and decreases the acid levels in our mouths. The best fruits to eat are pears and apples. There have also been studies that show that cranberries may reduce the ability of plaque to stick to teeth because they contain chemical structures called polyphenols. Polyphenols prevent the bacteria in our mouths from being so harmful. Watch out for cranberry products however that are loaded with excess sugars! (easy on the canned cranberry sauce!) So fresh fruit wins this battle!! (Also try to avoid canned syrupy fruits as well). Candy or Chips?? This is an interesting choice – Hard candies cause several problems because they contain sugar, are sticky (and so they remain in the grooves of our teeth longer, and they are HARD so they are capable of chipping teeth and fillings or restorations! Chocolate on the other hand, is the better choice for a candy since it will not remain on the teeth as long. So what about the chips?? Pretzels and potato chips may actually be worse than chocolate for your teeth! This is because these treats are cooked carbohydrates which really stick on the teeth and generate higher acid levels. So what do I munch on during the game?? Okay- Here’s the good stuff for your teeth- – Cheese! High in Calcium, low in sugar, low in acid. Celery! – It’s right there in that platter! So fibrous that you’ll be salivating with the best of them! Those strands actually help to clean the teeth! Nuts! Go for them! These have plant proteins and are loaded with good nutrients for teeth especially almonds and brazil nuts. Sesame seeds are real high in calcium and may actually remineralize enamel. Eat nuts and seeds instead of chips! Tea or Coffee?? Black and Green Tea also contain polyphenols that keep bacterial infections at bay. Long-range studies have shown that tea drinkers have less plaque buildup! Alcohol – Alcohol decreases saliva and so is not good for teeth, and if mixed with juice the added sugar spells trouble—Have a drink to celebrate the holiday (as long as you’re not driving) just not too many!! Tap water – In most places tap water contains fluoride which is of course good for our teeth. It’s a good idea to have a glass of water to wash away the treats left in our teeth. So I hope this helps you make some choices on the holidays! Have a great time and I’ll see you soon— All the best for a safe and healthy Thanksgiving! Yours In Health, Dr. Gary Sherman and Team
November 17, 2014
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