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!
Is your baby teething? Pediatricians have stated that infants typically feel their very first tooth emerge anywhere between 4-8 months, the average being around 7 months. There are many symptoms for teething, but luckily can be easily remedied!
While some symptoms of teething are very common, such as slight temperature, crankiness, biting, loss of appetite, and drooling, some babies can even develope a facial rash, begin to nightwalk (as teething can cause restlessness), rub their ears, and appear to have bruising under the gums. According to the magazine What To Expect, these are nothing to be worried about, and can be a sure sign that a little one is going to get their first tooth soon.
How to Soothe Your Infant During Teething
Teething rings, gum rubbing, or any kind of chewing is called counter-pressure, and can help gently break down gums so the tooth can break through. As a parent, it is encouraged to massage the place on your baby where the teeth are coming in and to use foods like popsicles or frozen fruits during this time – not only does it help the child to chew more, but the cold temperature can relieve those areas of sensitivity.
Infant Tylenol or Acetaminophen can be effective when extreme discomfort occurs, but do not use before consulting your pediatrician.
Whatever the old wives’ tales say, do NOT dip your child’s pacifier in whiskey! Even the smallest amount can sedate the baby which can be very dangerous.
How to Care for Baby Teeth
Infant teeth may be temporary, but they can still decay and rot like adult teeth can! Between the ages of 1-3 years old a child will grow 20 teeth. After that, most children won’t lose their baby teeth for quite a few years, which means they need to be cared for to last. Once an infant’s first teeth have emerged, begin gently brushing and flossing their teeth at least once a day until they are old enough to brush on their own. This will help condition them to establish good dental hygiene habits – a daily practice that will last a lifetime. Dentists recommend using tap water with infants as it contains fluoride. It is not recommended to use fluoride toothpaste until age 2 because too much of it can lead to brown and white spots appearing on teeth.
Make sure your child does not fall asleep with a bottle or sippy cup full of juice or milk as it can also be damaging if it sits in their mouth for hours at a time (plaque buildup which can lead to cavities).
Be sure take your child to their first dental exam by age 1 (we recommend the Kidd’s Place!) Twice yearly teeth cleanings are highly recommended by all dentists for children and adults alike.
There are two types of toothbrushes on the market today – manual and electric. While there are benefits to both, the brushes themselves can wear out and accumulate bacteria. Manual brushing enables full control from the amount of pressure and movements applied to teeth, which perhaps an electric toothbrush cannot allow because of its rapid and mechanical vibrations. The benefits of electric toothbrushes are quite obvious; when in use, the bristles are able to do more than a regular toothbrush, such as massaging gums and pulsating in between the tight cracks between our teeth, giving us that “straight-from-the-dentist” clean feeling.
Whether you prefer this modern way of dental hygiene or a more traditional, inexpensive method, our teeth still take their toll on these devices and wear them out. What’s more, some researchers show that 10 million germs can be living in our toothbrush! A toothbrush can become a breeding grounds for harmful bacteria if it is not properly stored.
For best results, most experts say to replace your toothbrush every three months (if you use an electric, that means replacing the “head”, or the attachment of the toothbrush). Children may need to replace theirs more frequently because they tend to apply more pressure when brushing. Kids may grow attached to their toothbrush (especially if it has their favorite Disney character on it!) but once the bristles start to bend outwards, dentists say the toothbrush is no longer effective, and should be thrown away.
Care of Your Toothbrush & Good Habits to Form
Because the bristles of our toothbrush wear out so quickly, the American Dental Association recommends rinsing your toothbrush under the faucet between brushings to wash away saliva and toothpaste residue, and to store it upright so the bristles can air dry. If you’re a parent that is extra cautious of bacteria, soak it in rubbing alcohol when not in use, then rinse with water thoroughly.
It can be a difficult task to keep track of how long it has been since each toothbrush in the house has been replaced, especially if you have more than one kid! But remember that your child will receive a new brush with each dentist visit, and these visits occur (at the very least) every 6 months for cleaning. That means you only have to replace it once again, somewhere along the midpoint, between each visit.
*Tip: Instead of remembering to put them on the shopping list every so often, keep your bathroom cupboard or closet stocked with unopened toothbrushes. (Many stores have value packs you can purchase which contain several in a pack). This will make the transitions more convenient for you and your family.
While brushing and flossing alone reduces the amount of bacteria in your mouth, did you know that over 50% of oral bacteria sit on your tongue? This bacteria is often responsible for bad breath and can also contribute to tooth decay, so properly removing it can greatly reduce the occurrence and keep breath fresh, for much longer. Caring for your tongue is just as important as the teeth and gums, so don’t leave it behind!
Why it’s important
The mouth is one of the main gateways for pathogens into your body and is also the beginning of your digestive tract. Your tongue is actually the first organ of digestion, aiding food down the esophagus as you swallow. It is also a mode of detoxification and is part of the first line of immune defense. Since up to half of oral bacteria can sit on your tongue, if you’re only brushing teeth and gums, you are leaving behind quite a bit of bacteria in your mouth as well as swallowing some of it, sending it back into your body. Bacteria isn’t the only thing on your tongue either. Food debris and dead skin cells often find their home on the surface of your tongue.
Bacteria buildup on the tongue can begin to look quite obvious. Have you ever noticed a coating on your tongue or that of your child’s? This coating is an accumulation of mostly bacteria and toxins from the body’s cleansing and detoxifying process. During sleep, the body works to eliminate toxins and waste in your system, some of which deposit on the surface of your tongue. This is often why you can see this coating primarily in the morning.
Kids generally have pretty clean, pink tongues. As we get older though, we consistently develop this coating on the back of the tongue which can vary in color from yellow, white or even orange. Breast or bottle fed babies can also develop a coating as well.
When this coating isn’t removed, not only can we reabsorb the bacteria and toxins, but it often results in bad breath, increased risk for cavities and gum disease. This coating also Keeping your mouth and tongue clean is not only important to your oral health, but also that of your digestive and immune health.
Why buy a scraper?
Dental research has long concluded that scrapers are far more effective at removing bacteria and toxins than a toothbrush. Tongue scrapers are uniquely shaped to fit in the back of the mouth, where the coating generally accumulates the thickest. They are made of metal in a long, flat, and thin “U” shape. It is designed for ease of use and to clean more thoroughly than scrubbing with a toothbrush. Many modern toothbrushes are designed with raised rubber or plastic scrapers on the backside of the bristle head as well.
You may also use the edge of a metal spoon or the backside of a butter knife. Using a toothbrush to scrub the tongue not only takes far more time and work to accomplish, but is also quite prone to cause gagging, which no one is too fond of, and can be difficult to clean out of the bristles. You can find scrapers at most health stores or drug stores in the oral hygiene section.
How to do it
Scraping is best done daily before brushing and flossing in the morning hours, say, after breakfast before you brush and floss for the day.
- Whether you are doing this yourself or you are doing so for your child, with a scraper in both hands, hold out your tongue or ask you child to and gently press the scraper on the tongue and pull lightly in a downward motion, but enough to pull the coating off. Repeat as needed until the tongue is clean and clear.
- Rinse the scraper and store in a clean place.
- If you are using a built-in toothbrush scraper, a spoon, or butter knife edge, you may need to repeat several times to cover the surface of the tongue.
Many young toddlers and babies become interested in the fun gadgets tucked away in the kitchen cabinets, rather quickly. You might have caught your own little one rummaging through your freshly washed and stacked pots and pans. A child’s curiosity is an opportune time to teach them about the world around them, how things work, and how they can play a part in it. Did we say play? Yes, and as a matter of fact, play in the kitchen is a perfect time to introduce your child to the valuable, and rather necessary art of food preparation and cooking. Whether your child is just 1, 5 or 10 years old, there is likely something with the kitchen preparations they can participate in.
While it may cost you more time in the kitchen, cooking skills are a vital part of life and children definitely need to learn the basics about how to prepare food and meals for themselves and eventually their own families someday! Studies have shown that children who help with cooking and food preparations are far more likely to eat healthier, which in turn could mean healthier, happier smiles too. Here, we would like to give you 10 suggestions for kitchen duties and food items your kids can easily help with, which will lay a great foundation to build upon as they grow and are able to handle more difficult preparations in the kitchen.
Baking is one of the most popular firsts for children’s involvement in the kitchen. It comes at no surprise, sweet treats are always a fun delight to make! Have them help you measure out your ingredients such as flour, butter, salt, sugar, chocolate chips, etc. Depending on their age and ability, ask them things like, “the recipe calls for 1 cup, but we are using a half cup, what can you do?” Color coded measuring cups can help your kids distinguish sizes and plastic measuring saucers will prevent any breakage in the case of drops and tip-overs.
Make their Lunch or Breakfast
Whether you are a stay at home parent, working parent, or have school age children, every kid needs a lunch, plain and simple. As a parent, you already have many things to do on your plate, pun intended. From Kindergarten on, most kids are capable of making their lunches, maybe with a little guidance and supervision at first. You can make a list of things they can prepare and walk them through it a time or two. Let this be a time for them to ask for help and also to figure it out on their own. If your child isn’t quite ready to rummage the fridge on their own, line up the items they need, in the fridge and on the counter, and use pictures with words as their list for things to make for lunch. Give them a choice of two or three options they can make for themselves.
Rice, oatmeal, grains, and noodles
For most grains, the water:dry good ratio is usually 2:1, pretty simple. If you have a rice cooker or even just a pot, have your kids, measure, rinse, pour and cover things like rice, quinoa, oatmeal, beans, and noodles. You can turn on the oven or allow older children to do this also, and set the timer. Keep a little list of what cooks for how long, and how high the temperature. Supervise and assist as necessary!
Pressing, mincing garlic and Pressing lemons and Citrus fruits
If you don’t have a garlic press or mincer, consider getting one! This can be one of the most enjoyable activities for kids to do and saves a lot of time trying to manually peel and chop garlic. This can quickly become a game of strength between siblings too! Season veggies, meats, pasta sauces and make garlic bread. Pressing lemon or orange juice is also a great way for them to enjoy some fresh squeezed juice or use for recipes.
Toast is one of the most simple things to “make” and it can be dressed in so many ways for any kind of meal. For breakfast, add bananas and honey with some cinnamon. Lunch, butter it and serve with soup or make BLT’s. For dinner, make some garlic bread or serve stroganoff on top. Show your kids where to adjust the time the toast broils and tell them to try their best not to jump when the toast pops up!
This could sound a bit scary, but there are several safer options you can give older children to use, such as crinkle cutters, to chop veggies into a neat shape they may eat! Kitchen scissors are also an option to cut foods like quesadillas, pizza, and carrot tops.
Often a tedious task, this can be fun and entertaining for kids. If you don’t wash your produce, you should! Supermarkets often have produce wash in the produce section but you can also make your own with equal parts vinegar to water or use Castile soap.
Stir things up
When you are in the middle of putting a soup, salad, or cookie batter together, recruiting one of your kids for stirring duty while you continue on another dish or collect ingredients could be a great option for you both! Mashing potatoes is a fun chore too!
Meal Planning and Shopping
Perhaps one of the greatest ways to get your kids involved in the kitchen is planning meals together. This can help you get to know their tastes and teach them about a balanced diet. Sit down with a pen and paper to write out some meals and a corresponding shopping list together. Bonus: Take them grocery shopping with you! Another valued skill is teaching kids how to pick out delicious, ripe produce, spot sales, and shop to budget. Young kids can help collect things like canned goods (watch for stray items!) while older kids can help you find the right aisel and cross items off your list.
Last but definitely not the least, cleaning up the kitchen. After all the fun is done, have kids help you collect dirty dishes, pots, leftovers, trash, and take care of it. Young kids can easily load the lower dishwasher rack (with some help perhaps) and older kids can grab a stool or chair and help out with the dirty work in the sink, wipe counters, put away food and leftovers, sweep, mop, etc.
Recruiting your little ones into the kitchen can be a fun and enjoyable experience. Your kids won’t forget it, neither will you, and the time spent together is time spent well. In teaching your children about food and cooking preparations, you are creating a positive, healthy perspective in them toward food and home duties as well as preparing more than just a meal; you prepare them for their own future and leave them with great memories, messes and all.
Immunity, we know why we need it
The human body has an incredible defense system that works systematically to keep foreign invaders and nasty illnesses at bay. The immune system is this line of defense, but there are really several systems that play a role in your body’s immunity. Like just about everything, the immune system isn’t perfect and it can fail, and often does for some. There are many health conditions that can weaken immunity, along with poor health and lifestyle habits.
At this time of year, illness is much more common and frequent. The idea of boosting your immunity with this supplement or that drink mix seems enticing and makes a great marketing tool, however, we need to understand that the immune system is a bit more complex, as it isn’t a single function, but rather exactly as it is named: a system. For the immune defense of your body to do it’s job well, it needs balance and harmony. The immune system is made up of a network of cells, tissues, and organs that all need to be in good health in order to contribute their role in keeping you healthy and thriving. In this article, we hope to help you understand that immunity “boosting” is really a lifestyle and that some of these tips can help you make wise choices for your family healthy and wellness this season. Keep reading!
Sleep is not overrated!
We were all born with the basic, physiological need for sleep, and for a great reason, without it, our bodies will shut down. It is common knowledge that a lack of sleep, especially on a regular basis, contributes to a box-full of health problems.Tests and studies have found that lack of sleep causes an inflammatory response which can then lead to an array of problems in itself. Also, it has been found that adequate sleep is critical to training the immune system’s response following vaccinations. Have you ever noticed that one of the symptoms of illness, with just about every kind you can get, is sleepiness? This is because our immune system is informing the brain to sleep more in order to strengthen itself to fend off the infection. Sleep is strength, and for many reasons, we need it! aim for 7-8 hours of sleep per night, and for kids, 9-10. Luckily, with our shorter hours of daylight and fewer activities due to weather, this can more easily be done!
Sugar is sweet, but it isn’t nice!
Sugar is something we all know by now isn’t good for us, but do you know why? Let’s talk in regards to immunity, because we could be here all day with this one. Sugar can reduce your immunity up to 40% for about 7-8 hours following a moderate consumption. That’s quite a blow! Sugar seems to be squeezed into a large amount of our food products, so be careful about what you eat and start incorporating more fruits, but even more vegetables and proteins into your family diet. One of the best ways to incorporate more vegetables would be in soups, perfect for this time of year. Beans, onions, carrots, celery, spinach, kale, potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc. Make a big pot of soup with bone broth, garlic, seasonings, beans, rice, noodles, different meats… you get the idea!
For breakfast, you can make bowls of oatmeal and top with diced fruits and yogurt. Avoid breakfast cereals since they contain a lot of added sugar, not to mention the sugar content in milk combined. Though a natural, digestible and useable sugar, fruit is still sugar so try to limit your daily amount. If you get a sweet tooth, opt for naturally sweetened foods and try some of your own recipes at home and use less sugar than the measured amount. There are many great options for reducing sugar consumption and making healthier choices without opting for “no sugar” processed options which contain artificial sweeteners. Pinterest is a great tool for finding such recipes!
Exercise is a key player in building and maintaining your immune army. Sweating is one way the body eliminates toxins from the body, of those we eat, drink, and breath. Exercise is vital for so many reasons, but especially in immune function since movement promotes the circulation of lymph, also part of the immune system. Lymph moves rather slowly and requires movement to get going. Get your kids going by taking them to the park while the weather is tolerable, or take them to some indoor parks or gyms so they can move around with you. Aim for about 30 minutes a day, or even several times a week at the least.
There is no supplement for a poor diet, plain and simple. You are what you eat, as commonly said. Start by implementing a lot of plant foods, whole grains and proteins. Dark, leafy greens contain a lot of minerals and vitamins including magnesium, which is vital for bone and muscle health. It can be tough to get kids to eat vegetables, but soups might be your golden ticket here! While a good diet is a pillar to good health, sometimes we need help getting all the necessary nutrients our bodies need. This is where high quality supplements can be useful and sometimes necessary. It is always advised to seek medical advice on what supplements are needed for your family members, so please see your doctor.
Vitamin D – In our area of the Northwest, people are generally deficient in Vitamin D, most of the year. There is very little in food and there are only two ways we can get it, from the sun and from supplementation. Our bodies cannot produce it. As a fat soluble vitamin that can build up in the system, consult your doctor about yours and your family’s level and supplement accordingly.
Vitamin C – For immunity, Vitamin C is quite well known for getting over illness more quickly. Many vegetables such as colored peppers, oranges, kiwis, broccoli, and tomatoes are high in vitamin C. Orange juice isn’t a great source since it contains high amounts of sugar and is commonly made from concentrate, not real juice. If you can find real juice with no additional sugar, moderation is key!
Probiotics – are necessary for gut health, which makes up about 70% of our immune system! Good and bad bacteria are both present in the colon and need to remain balanced for good health. Taking a probiotic can keep the balance and eliminate some of this bad bacteria which improves the overall health and immune response of your body. Talk to your doctor about what probiotics are good for you and your kids.
As a parent, the healthy of our kids is always a forethought, especially now that fall is here and cold weather is settling in. While working on these 4 S’s is a good practice for improved health, all year, it isn’t a guarantee for a sick-free season. We still get sick, but when you do and your health is relatively good, chances of remaining sick are far less! Stay tuned for our next article about some habits you can teach your kids to stay healthy and happy at school!
If you haven’t heard of oil pulling, you may be thinking it sounds a little contradictory. Many of you probably know that oil is more of a slippery substance with little ability to really “pull” anything, but that is not the case with this type of oil pulling. Despite the advanced technology we have today, this ancient practice of oil pulling has come back from the old days to spike popularity and usefulness once again.
What is Oil Pulling?
The oil used for this process is typically coconut, sesame, sunflower, grapeseed, vegetable, or olive oil; it will work with whichever you choose. So what exactly do you “pull” with oil? Well, oil pulling isn’t what it seems, in fact, it is basically the use of oil as a mouthwash! The term “pull” is just another word for swishing liquid in your mouth, pushing and pulling it between your teeth.
This ancient ritual originated in Indian culture as a folk remedy for healing oral diseases and maintaining oral health, after all, tooth brushes and anti-cavity pastes have not been around forever! So what did people use to keep their mouth clean? Some discovered the powerful properties of rinsing oil in the mouth, particularly coconut oil. Of all the oils you can use, coconut oil has been studied and proven to be the most beneficial to your oral health. This is because it is high in fatty acid known as Lauric acid, which has antimicrobial and antifungal properties. Coconut oil is best unrefined, as is any oil you decide to use for oil pulling, since this is the purest, most natural form.
How Does Oil pulling Benefit Your Oral Health?
Did you know that your mouth is full of bacteria, good and bad? The truth is, there are a lot of germs in your mouth and they tend to sit on your teeth throughout the day between brushings. Certain bacteria can cause harm to your teeth, resulting in plaque buildup, the gum disease gingivitis, and cavities. Bacteria creates a film know as “biofilm” on your teeth which hardens and turns into plaque. Plaque must be scraped off your teeth at your routine dental cleanings and can cause many problems for your gums if too much of it is allowed to build. So you may be wondering, what part does oil have in the improvement of oral health? Interestingly enough, oil has the ability to “catch “ bacteria and act as a disposal trap. Coconut oil, compared to others, is preferred for pulling since it has antibacterial properties which add effectiveness to the practice. It also tends to taste better than that of olive or sesame oil.
Does It Really Work?
There are many testimonies from people who have tried oil pulling for themselves, with a vast majority containing positive feedback! In case you prefer the scientific evidence, there are also plenty of studies that have proven the claimed results of oil pulling. Here are a couple to get you started:
A study published in 2008 by the Journal of Indian Society of Pedodontics and Preventive Dentistry has shown: 20 adolescent boys who used oil pulling (using sesame oil) caused a reduction in the number of Streptococcus Mutans (bacteria responsible for tooth decay) in the plaque in as little as 2 weeks.
Another study compared oil pulling and regular mouthwash in 20 adolescents with plaque-induced gingivitis. Both oil pulling and the mouthwash were effective against their gingivitis.
How Does it Work?
Each time you swish the oil around in your mouth, it removes bacteria and has even been proven to remove plaque on and between the teeth.
An additional benefit to adopting this practice is that oil pulling also reduces bad breath. The chemical gases produced by the bacteria in your mouth are greatly reduced when you oil pull and, in a study of 20 adolescents, oil pulling reduced bad breath just as effectively as regular mouthwash!
So Why Not Give it a Try?
If you are curious and convinced that this could work for you, its really quite simple!
Choose an oil that is unrefined or organic, these tend to work the best.
Take about one teaspoon and put it in your mouth, begin to swish it around. Coconut oil is a butter-like consistency with a low melting point of about 78 degrees, so it will turn to oil rather quickly.
Swish the oil for about 15-20 minutes.
Spit out all the oil and brush your teeth
It is best to do your oil pulling on an empty stomach before you brush your teeth. Some of you may think that 15-20 minutes is a long time to swish slimy liquid in your mouth, but if you do it in the shower, while you make breakfast, or get ready for the day, it will be over before you know it. Relax your face and jaw and gently “push and pull” the oil around in your mouth to prevent your jaw from becoming sore. Be sure to spit out all the oil since it will contain plaque and bacteria from your teeth! Oil pulling is not recommended for young children since they are susceptible to swallowing the oil.
Give this practice a week or two and watch how it can whiten your teeth, freshen your breath, and help prevent cavities! If you have dental problems such as cavities or sensitivity, try oil pulling and see how it can help your teeth. Oil pulling is effective and beneficial to your oral health, so why not give it a try?
Everyone knows that a balanced diet is helpful in ensuring good general health. However, very few people realize that a balanced diet is also responsible for good oral and dental wellbeing. This is because the oral cavity serves as the gateway to the digestive system, and all the ingested food first passes through the oral cavity where it is partially digested. Furthermore, the type of diet we have plays a vital role in determining our dental and general health. Children of all ages are especially at high risk of having carious teeth or developing other medical and dental problems if the parents are not conscious about their dietary intake.
What Not to Eat?
Carbohydrates and Fats
Any diet that is rich in carbohydrates and certain fats should be avoided. Children are especially fond of eating candies and chocolates, all of which contain an excessive amount of processed sugar. Furthermore, bakery products such as breads, pastries, cakes, and pasta, which contain refined carbohydrates, are even more dangerous for the children’s teeth. Research has shown that partial fermentation of the oral cavity starts right from the oral cavity, and as a result the local pH of the mouth is excessively reduced. This acidic environment is highly conducive for the growth and multiplication of caries-causing bacteria, and results in the appearance of widespread carious lesions in the oral cavity (cavities), particularly if the oral hygiene measures are not satisfactory.
Acidic foods and drinks such as lemon, grape and orange juices tend to remove the outer protective layer of the teeth known as the dental enamel, which results in tooth sensitivity every time a hot or cold drink is taken. Similarly, carbonated drinks which have been found to be highly acidic and possess surplus amounts of processed sugars, are detrimental to the integrity of the enamel. Hence, acidic soft drinks and beverages should not be a routine component of our daily diet. When they are consumed, however, the teeth should be brushed promptly.
Deficiency of some minerals such as Zinc, Calcium and phosphate in the daily diet is likely to reduce our body’s resistance to curb infection. Studies have shown that mineral deficiency can enhance to chances of periodontal and gingival infections within the oral cavity.
What to Eat
Dietary milk products such as milk, cheese and yoghurt are a rich reservoir of Calcium and few other essential nutrients. Dietary calcium, is highly beneficial in strengthening and development of bones and teeth. Some dairy products, such as yogurt, contain probiotics which are the good bacteria vital for both oral and digestive health. Look for brands that contain Less sugar, real sugar, and probiotics.
A protein rich diet such as meat, eggs, fish and milk are the best sources of phosphorous, which in conjunction with calcium, forms the building blocks for healthy teeth and bones.
Fruits and Vegetables
Almost all fruits and vegetables contain abundant quantities of vitamins and minerals such as Vitamin A and Vitamin C, that are essential not only in preventing oral infections, but also enhancing salivary flow which has antibacterial and anti-caries properties. In addition, natural sugars present in fruits and vegetables have been found “less harmful” than artificially sweetened products. The body is also able to process natural sugars found in fruit, opposed to artificial sugar which can be stored as fat.
The “Good Fats”
Omega 3 fatty acids, in contrast to other fatty diet components, are considered a beneficial dietary constituent, and not only improve general health, but also enhance resistance against periodontal. Gingival and other maxillofacial infections. Good fats can be found in milk, eggs, avocados, olive oil, and peanut butter.
A Final Word
A healthy diet is essential for maintaining an excellent physical and dental health. Apart from that, meticulous oral hygiene maintenance through regular tooth brushing and flossing is required to prevent incidence and progression of dental caries.
We all know how important water is for our health, especially in the summertime when we are at the highest risk for dehydration. But if you’re a parent, particularly of toddlers, you know how difficult it can be to get your children to drink anything less tasty than juice!
It is a fact, water is the best liquid we can drink for hydration at any time of the year; so much that The American Association of Pediatrics has recommended that children and teens drink water for hydration. They also recommend keeping a distance from drinks that have sugar and/or caffeine like energy drinks, sports drinks and sodas, since these are primary culprits for tooth decay. So when kids are less than thrilled to drink water during the hot summer days, and would rather gulp down a Capri Sun or some apple juice, try some of these tips to not only encourage your child to drink more water, but make it fun and taste great!
First and foremost… be a good role model!
Children imitate example more than they practice what they are told. If your children see you drinking your recommended 8 glasses of water a day, chances are, they will also!
Cold or Room Temperature?
Everything tastes better cold! Right? Not always. If your child has a tooth sensitivity, they may not enjoy the same ice cold water that you do. If this is the case, let water sit to room temperature and then try to give it to your child. On the other hand, many kids like cold water, especially when it is hot, Keep an accessible water dispenser, bottles, or a pitcher in the fridge so that your kids can access it when they are thirsty. Just be careful not to let small children have ice cubes since it can be a choke hazard.
Most fruits such as strawberries, watermelon, peaches, and raspberries already contain a mass amount of water in them. Oranges, grapefruit, and melons such as honeydew also contain a lot of water. Watermelons alone are made up of 90% water! Fruits like these can add a tasty twist to a plain cup of water, especially if you live in a city with unpleasant tap water. Freeze berries to make “ice cubes” for those hot days! You can even get some ice cube trays that have fun shapes, such as hearts, stars, or some other fun shape. You can get even more creative and use juice for these ice cubes to give the water a little flavor.
Like the above, put pieces of fruit in a popsicle tray (or use a dixie cup and a popsicle stick) and fill it with water. Let it freeze and serve to your kids like popsicles. You can even let the fruit stand for awhile prior to freezing and allow it to flavor the water.
Use fun cups and straws
This is especially effective for toddlers, give them water in a cup they love and you’re sure to see them drink up! Try a cute sippy, a cup with a crazy straw, or one that your child can decorate! You can actually use their favorite piece of artwork, a picture, or have them design something super special. Taking the time to sit with your child and decorate this cup will make it special for them and they will be apt to use it more! When you are at the store, let them pick out a cup they like and use it to give them water. Also, straws almost never fail! Kids love straws and they come in a wide variety of colors and shapes.
Make some bubbles
If your kids get a thrill from carbonated drinks such as soda and sparkling water, then make your own! Some kids may prefer sparkling to still water. Try a naturally effervescent mineral water — which will give you the added benefit of minerals. You can also try bubbly seltzer, a carbonated water. You can add fresh fruit or natural juice flavors to it, or look for naturally flavored seltzers at your local market.
All shapes and sizes
Get some ice cube trays that have fun shapes, such as hearts, stars, or some other fun shape. You can get even more creative and use juice for these ice cubes to give the water a little flavor.
Steer clear of drink mixes!
Try to avoid drink mixes since they tend to include a lot of added sugar, even those that are “sugar free” contain aspartame, an artificial sweetener.
Children love to have independence and learn to help themselves. Get little sippy-top water bottles to keep in the fridge on the door or bottom shelf where they can access them. Many kids thrive on given independence!
Limit the options
Limiting the choice of fluids in your home will help to keep your child from craving the sugary drinks. Water and milk are great options, and if you decide to have juice, half it with water, especially when introducing it to your toddler. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that juice is introduced to toddlers, and if you decide to introduce it to your baby, they should be at least 6 months and the juice should be 50/50 with water. Juice is not bad, but it should be an occasional treat since it has a lot of sugar. Have your child drink a small glass of water before they can have juice or other beverages, this way they have a little control and can decide when to drink.
Water is vital to our health, especially that of growing children. Keep you and your family hydrated this summer, without adding calories and sugar to their diet. If your child is particularly difficult about drinking water, make it a game! Offer them a prize, even if it is a little juice for every cup of water they drink up. Remind them that water is important to grow strong and make sure they see you drink plenty yourself! Cheers!