Come back often to find our latest post on oral health and dentistry.
Something for everyone.
Something for everyone.
Come back often to find our latest post on oral health and dentistry.
Tips for packing a tooth-friendly lunch
Food and nutrition are complex topics that mean different things to different people. For some, “eating well” simply involves making healthy choices, while others plan their menus around specific goals like losing weight, maximizing post-workout recovery or improving concentration.
But did you know that what you put in your lunch box can have a major impact on your oral and dental health?
Know which foods to avoid
The key to maintaining strong, healthy teeth at any age is to follow a balanced diet. Whether you spend your days at work or at school, packing a lunch is a smart choice for your body and budget!
But how do you ensure your lunch box is tooth-friendly? To begin with, it’s important to know which foods to avoid. The following types of food are known to cause cavities and tooth decay:
- Sweets, candy and pastries
- Starchy carbohydrates
- Acidic foods likes citrus fruits, soft drinks and juice
- Foods that stick to your teeth (dried fruit, jellied fruit, etc.)
Choose a variety of cavity-fighting foods
Choosing the right cavity-fighting foods can help prevent future oral and dental health problems. Because cavities form in an acidic environment, your lunch should consist mainly of low-acid foods that will increase your pH levels and help rebalance your mouth bacteria.
It’s also important to rinse your mouth thoroughly with water after eating. This helps eliminate food debris that may not be visible to the naked eye.
Milk and no-sugar-added yogurt
Cow’s milk, soy beverages and yogurt are alkaline, meaning they’re good for your teeth. In addition, these products contain vitamin D, phosphorus and calcium, all minerals that help strengthen tooth enamel.
Cheese has the same tooth-strengthening properties as milk. It also contains fats and large quantities of casein, both of which reduce the accumulation of bacteria on your teeth. Hard cheese in particular stimulates saliva flow, which helps restore pH balance in your mouth.
Ideally, cheese should be eaten at the end of a meal to take full advantage of all its benefits.
Nuts and seeds
Besides occasionally getting stuck between your teeth, nuts and seeds do not pose a problem for oral and dental health. In fact, they contain enamel-strengthening minerals and lots of fibre to stimulate saliva flow.
Needless to say, it’s best to avoid candied and sweetened nuts.
Fruits and vegetables
While fruits and vegetables are naturally acidic and contain small amounts of sugar, you would need to eat very large quantities of them every day for them to cause a problem.
Enjoy fruits and vegetables raw, canned or stewed, but make sure there’s no added sugar!
Packing a tooth-friendly lunch is easy — and delicious!
From fish to tea, you’d be surprised by the variety of nutritious and tasty foods that promote good oral and dental health.
Talk to your dentist or dental hygienist for tips on tooth-friendly foods to include in your lunch box!
Whiter teeth… at any cost?
Teeth whitening is a cosmetic treatment. In most cases, it’s an indulgence. An affordable luxury. Why not brighten your smile?
It seems like an obvious choice. After all, the product’s out there and there’s a demand for it. But super white teeth shouldn’t come at the expense of your health. Let’s have a frank talk about tooth whitening.
The chemical process behind teeth whitening
All teeth whitening procedures involve the use of hydrogen peroxide. The solution breaks up dark molecules found inside tooth enamel. As these molecules fade, your teeth appear whiter.
The concentration of hydrogen peroxide in the bleaching gel varies, depending on whether you choose an at-home or in-clinic treatment. But here’s what you need to know:
- Hydrogen peroxide levels decrease the longer you leave the product on your teeth.
- Treatment times depend on your initial tooth colour, the cause of any stains, and the desired result.
- Different products are available and your dentist will help you choose the right one for your tooth condition.
Reason for caution
Hydrogen peroxide, or carbamide peroxide, can have adverse effects if misused. And while teeth whitening is performed for cosmetic reasons, it’s still a medical procedure.
If used inappropriately or too often, whitening gel can cause:
- Penetration beyond the enamel, causing inflammation
- Dentin hypersensitivity
- Irritation of soft tissues
- Premature tooth wear and weakening
- Damage to teeth with unfilled cavities
Did you know?
Tooth whitening is not recommended for children, teens, pregnant women or people undergoing other dental treatments.
Teeth whitening techniques
Many people are tempted to try the whitening strips or kits available in drug stores. The problem with these options is that they can be hard to adjust on your own and results can be uneven, especially if your teeth weren’t professionally cleaned before starting the treatment.
Or maybe you’ve considered tooth whitening at a smile bar or beauty salon. Since these businesses are not staffed by professionals, there’s a chance you could experience damage to your mouth tissue or swallow some of the peroxide gel. These health risks should not be overlooked.
Professionally supervised whitening treatments in a dental clinic are best. The advantages include:
- Carefully adjusted hydrogen peroxide concentration
- Personalized treatment duration based on your desired look
- Custom-made trays
- Careful monitoring throughout the entire treatment
- Reduced risk of side effects
Teeth whitening can be effective and safe when paired with a dental check-up and cleaning, when performed by a professional and when followed with appropriate care.
You may require occasional touch-ups to restore tooth brightness, but the results are generally long-lasting.
The next time you’re at Centre dentaire Ahuntsic, ask us about teeth whitening and whether it’s the right choice for you.
Here’s a short video that explains at-home teeth whitening.
Go easy on the lemon
Lemon water, lemonade, hot tea with lemon… With a tangy taste and plenty of Vitamin C, lemons can be hard to resist. In fact, this sunny citrus fruit is known for offering a wide range of health benefits, such as aiding digestion, keeping blood sugar in check, activating your immune system, and more.
But they also contain high levels of citric acid. Which means that over the long term, too much lemon can damage tooth enamel.
Here are some helpful tips on how to enjoy the fresh taste of lemon without putting your oral health at risk.
How to enjoy lemon water
Protect your tooth enamel by drinking acidic beverages through a straw. This prevents the liquid from coating your teeth and sticking to them.
Ideally, use warm water to make lemonade. If it’s too hot, some of the Vitamin C will be destroyed and the citric acid will be released. If it’s too cold, your body will flush it out before it can absorb the nutrients from the lemons.
Always take a drink of plain, unflavoured water after you finish your lemon water or lemonade. This will rinse any sugar and acid off your teeth.
It’s important to limit how often your teeth are exposed to acids. You don’t want to carry a bottle of lemon water and sip from it throughout the day. This isn’t a treat you should savour slowly.
And finally, hold off on brushing. Since citric acid softens tooth enamel, scrubbing it while it’s vulnerable could lead to further damage. After enjoying a lemony drink, just rinse. You can brush later.
How do lemons harm your teeth?
Lemons contain acids that trigger a chemical process in your mouth. If the pH level drops below 5.5, the hard exterior of your teeth can start to demineralize, resulting in what is called “dental erosion.” Since lemons have a pH of less than 2.7, they should be consumed in moderation.
What are the signs of dental erosion?
- Dull teeth (no shine)
- Yellow teeth (dentine is visible)
- Transparent edges
- Changes in shape
- Sensitivity to cold, heat and sugar
To prevent dental erosion, enjoy lemon water in a single sitting instead of taking sips throughout the day. And don’t make it a daily habit.
When you can’t resist a glass of lemonade, remember these tips: use a straw, rinse with plain water, and wait before brushing. When you do finally brush, give your tooth enamel a boost by using fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristled toothbrush.
There’s no need to give up lemons for good. Just keep these tips in mind so that you can enjoy the goodness of lemons without harming your teeth.
Diabetes and oral health: a vicious circle
Having diabetes can put you at a higher risk of developing certain health problems, such as eye or kidney diseases, cardiovascular disorders, or skin problems. But did you know that it can also lead to oral health problems?
There are many oral health complications of diabetes. They tend to get worse over time, creating an imbalance that can lead to tooth loss.
What’s the connection between diabetes and oral diseases?
First, diabetics have decreased resistance to microbial infections. Most oral health diseases are caused by bacteria that are naturally present in the mouth.
This is compounded by the fact that diabetics tend to have less saliva, and their saliva is slightly sweet due to higher blood sugar levels. Bacteria thrive in this sweet environment.
Diabetes also causes a decline in collagen levels and poor circulation. As a result, gums may deteriorate faster than usual or heal more slowly because nutrients have a harder time reaching these tissues.
But that’s not all. The causal relationship between periodontal diseases and diabetes goes both ways. Poorly controlled blood sugar levels can increase your chances of developing oral diseases, which in turn can make it harder to keep your diabetes in check. It’s a vicious circle!
What oral health problems are most common in diabetics?
A cavity is a hole in your tooth enamel. Cavities are usually caused by an accumulation of bacterial plaque.
Gingivitis is a benign inflammation of the gums that happens when bacteria collect around a tooth. This reversible condition is characterized by red, swollen tissues and gums that bleed when you brush your teeth.
Periodontitis is a complication of gingivitis. The initial inflammation goes deeper and affects the tissues surrounding your teeth, including the gums and underlying bone. Teeth can become loose or even fall out as a result of periodontitis.
People with diabetes are at higher risk of developing oral candidiasis (a fungal infection), chronic bad breath, saliva gland dysfunction and changes in taste.
Can these complications be prevented?
One of the most insidious aspects of periodontal disease and other conditions affecting the mouth is that there are no obvious symptoms at first. This means these conditions can sneak up on you. But the good news is that they can be prevented.
Step 1: Get your blood sugar levels under control. When diabetes is controlled, your risk of developing or exacerbating periodontal diseases decreases.
Step 2: Be meticulous about brushing and flossing.
Step 3: See your dentist regularly. Be sure to mention that you have diabetes and let your dentist know if you notice any changes in your mouth. He or she will let you know how to address the situation.
Last but not least: Make healthy choices like eating a balanced diet, getting regular exercise and stopping smoking. All these things can have a positive impact on your diabetes and, as a result, on your dental health.
Does Valentine’s Day love your mouth?
Cupid may be after your heart, but don’t let him get to your mouth! We’re not just talking about keeping your teeth cavity-free. There’s a lot more to it than just that! You also need healthy gums, pink tissues and plump lips. But how can Valentine’s Day be hazardous to your oral health?
Have you ever tried to see who could put the most cinnamon hearts in their mouth without crying? Cinnamon hypersensitivity, which is technically called contact stomatitis, can be very unpleasant. The cinnamon’s essential oils or cinnamic aldehyde cause a reaction, which is actually quite common, but sometimes goes unnoticed.
What are the symptoms of contact stomatitis?
First, red spots appear on your cheeks and/or tongue. Then you’ll see ulcers and a whitish film inside your cheek that doesn’t come off. But the hallmark of this condition is an intense burning sensation.
How to treat contact stomatitis?
Obviously, stop eating cinnamon-flavored products. If the pain is severe, your dentist can prescribe medication that will help. However, if you get a mouth lesion that doesn’t go away within two weeks, have it checked by your dentist. You need a proper diagnosis to rule out skin disorders or mouth cancer.
Oral herpes—aka cold sores—is caused by one of the sub-types of the herpes simplex virus. Roughly 90% of the population carries the virus, but only a small proportion develops symptoms.
What’s love got to do with it?
In order for a cold sore to appear, it needs to be triggered by something. For example, your immune system might not be at its best if you’re fighting a cold, if you’ve just been to the dentist or if you had a little too much to drink on Valentine’s Day.
Is the virus contagious?
Yes, the virus is contagious when the illness is active. That’s when vesicles (small pouches of fluid) are present. Direct contact should be avoided during that period. Once the cold sore has crusted over, the risk of spreading the virus decreases.
How to treat cold sores?
Seek treatment as soon as you start to feel a cold sore coming on. Your dentist can give you advice or prescribe medications that should be started right away. Many treatments are substantially less effective once the cold sore has surfaced. So if you’ve already got one, your best bet is to be patient, stay hydrated and try not to irritate it.
Got questions? We’d be happy to answer them.
Until then, Happy Valentine’s Day!
Care for something to drink?
It’s important to stay hydrated. Adults should drink 1.5 to 2 litres of water every day to flush out toxins and to ensure optimal body function.
But when thirst hits, we often crave juice, soda or energy drinks. Many people justify their choices by choosing diet, sugar-free or calorie-free options.
But are these really better choices? What do “light” beverages contain?
The heavy consequences of light drinks
A 2017 report1 published by Quebec’s national institute for public health indicated that diet soda (7.1%) ranks fourth among sweet beverages purchased in the province, right after fruit beverages (8.6%). Unsurprisingly, regular soda (16.6%) and fruit juice (13.4%) were the top two choices.
What exactly does diet soda contain? Typical ingredients are sweetener (like aspartame or stevia), sodium, carbon dioxide gas, phosphoric acid, citric acid, natural or artificial flavours, food coloring and sometimes caffeine.
So if you think sparkling diet drinks are healthy choice, think again. There are two main problems with sugar-free soda:
- It’s very acidic
- It has virtually no nutritional value
Acidic drinks can erode dental enamel. Diet soft drinks have a pH of around 2.4, while other sweet-tasting beverages (juice, fruit punch, energy drinks, wine, etc.) figure between 2.5 and 4.5.
Considering that tooth enamel starts to demineralize when it’s exposed to a pH below 5.5, it’s not surprising that regular drinkers of acidic beverages (with or without sugar) suffer from:
- Thinner tooth enamel
- Exposed dentine
- Tooth sensitivity
- Less attractive teeth
- Functional problems
Don’t be fooled by light labels
The worst thing about lower-calorie drinks is that they are marketed as healthy, leading to widespread misconceptions about them.
- Light fruit beverages still contain concentrated fruit juice, which can cause cavities and tooth erosion.
- A number of studies2 have found a close correlation between artificial sweeteners and the occurrence of metabolic conditions or illnesses such as cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis and heart disease.
- Light beverages may be lower in calories, but they’re all empty calories. Meanwhile, your brain doesn’t get a signal that you’ve reached satiety, so it tells you to eat more.
- Like sugar, artificial sweetener can affect your levels of insulin, the hormone that tells your body to store fat. This sets you up for weight gain.
Even though diet drinks account for just a small proportion of all the sweet drinks that Quebeckers purchase, 19% of adults and 30% of teens ages 15 to 17 consume them every day. And regular consumption is what leads to problems.
What’s the moral of the story? Enjoy sweet drinks, including light and diet soda, in moderation. And remember that water is always the best choice!
Gum facts to chew on!
Do you reach for gum after a meal, before a business meeting or as you head out to meet friends? Chewing gum is popular because nobody wants to have bad breath.
But not all gum is made equal: some types can cause cavities while other types can prevent them.
That’s why it’s important to read labels and choose sugar-free options. Here are the facts.
In 2014, Health Canada1 confirmed that gum that contains sugar alcohols like xylitol, sorbitol and mannitol can help reduce the risk of cavities.
Xylitol is derived from tree bark (usually birch) and has four distinctive characteristics:
- Tastes almost exactly like white sugar (sucrose)
- Produces a fresh sensation in the mouth
- Has a very limited effect on blood sugar
- Contains half the calories of sugar
What’s more, xylitol is good for your oral health for several reasons. For instance, xylitol cannot be metabolized, fermented or turned into acid by the bacteria in your mouth. As a result, this sweetener helps keep your mouth pH balanced by neutralizing acids and preventing bacterial growth.
Chewing and saliva production
Since chewing stimulates saliva production, sugar-free gum can be beneficial. And if the gum contains xylitol, your salivary glands will secrete even more saliva.
Saliva plays an important role in fighting tooth decay because it:
- Flushes away acid-causing bacteria
- Has antibacterial properties
- Promotes tooth enamel remineralization
- Regulates pH
Fact or fiction?
However surprising it may be, the science is there to prove it: sugar-free gum is GOOD for your oral health.
Health Canada and the EFSA2 (Europe’s food safety agency) agree that chewing sugar-free gum after a meal can help you reduce your risk of developing cavities. This is true for adults and children alike.
But a word of warning: Chewing gum should never replace brushing with fluoride toothpaste and flossing.
Also, chewing gum too often or too vigorously can lead to unwanted side effects such as headaches or migraines due to a strained jaw.