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Why soda is ruining your teeth Think back to when you were a kid. Do you remember your mom and dad telling you not to drink soda because it was terrible for your teeth? Well, hopefully, you listened because mom and dad were right. Whether you drink soda, pop, soft drinks, fizzy drinks — whatever you call them — it might be time to evaluate how much of these sugary drinks you're consuming in a day. Mountain Dew Mouth (MDM) is a term that has recently been used by dentists that refers to a form of tooth decay caused by drinking excessive amounts of soda. Over the years, soda has gained a negative reputation for providing little to no nutrients and a large amount of sugar. Soda has also been linked to some of our nation's biggest health problems, such as obesity and diabetes. Despite warnings from doctors and dentists everywhere, people have continued to drink these sugary drinks. Now, dentists are seeing a much higher rate of tooth decay across all ages. In fact, cavities and periodontal diseases are among the biggest threats to our oral health. The most likely culprit? Soda. However, Dr. Bobbi Stanley from Stanley Dentistry warns that soda isn't the only offender, "Mountain Dew Mouth can also be caused by just an overall lack of dental hygiene. Since MDM is really just severe tooth decay, not brushing and flossing can also be a culprit." Processed drinks are filled with carbonated water, sweeteners, and either natural or artificial flavorings. While all these ingredients make for the fizzy, satisfying drink we all know and love, they are also packed with high-fructose corn syrup, fruit juice, sugar substitutes (in case you thought you were safe with a diet soda), caffeine, colorings, and preservatives. Soda also contains phosphoric and carbonic acid, which creates an acidic environment in your mouth, making your teeth more vulnerable to tooth decay. While Mountain Dew takes on the mantle as one of the worst drinks for your health (mainly due to its extremely high sugar content), all sugary drinks are guilty. Whether you're drinking Coke, Diet Coke, Pepsi, energy drinks, or even fruit juice, you're increasing the risk of tooth decay. So what exactly happens when you drink a can of your favorite soda? A 12-ounce can of Mountain Dew has 12 teaspoons of sugar and the drink has a pH level around 3.22 (in case you were wondering how acidic that is, battery acid has a pH level of 1). Dr. Jared Bowyer, DDS explains, “Mountain Dew (and other sodas) contain sugar and acid. The sugar feeds bacteria that live inside your mouth, and when they metabolize the sugar, it creates more acid. Both the acid from the soda and the acid from the bacteria combine to wear down tooth enamel. Symptoms of eroded tooth enamel include sensitivity, pain, and discoloration of your teeth.” The bacteria lives on a clear, sticky substance on your teeth (maybe you've heard of plaque). As the bacteria in the plaque feeds on the sugars in your food, it forms an acid. This acid then begins to attack your teeth. Every time you take a sip of soda, the acid begins breaking down your tooth enamel. Kids and teenagers are especially susceptible to tooth decay because their tooth enamel hasn't fully developed. Now you may be wondering why this is a concern today. I mean, we have some of the most technologically advanced dental procedures. However, recent studies have found that only 30 percent of millennials clean their teeth daily and the average millennial goes more than two days in a row without brushing their teeth. Why are fewer people visiting the dentist? Another major concern is that people just aren't going to the dentist. Why? 33% say they don't like the taste of the products 50% say it's too expensive 62% say they are afraid Consuming an excessive amount of sugary drinks and not getting regular dental check-ups sounds like a recipe for disaster. How can we stop Mountain Dew Mouth? Dr. Stanley suggests, "The best way to keep MDM at bay is to lay off the soda. Drinking sugary drinks occasionally is okay but it shouldn't be a daily occurrence for anyone." While quitting soda is the best solution, it's not as easy for some of us. I think the question on everyone's mind is, Do I have to stop drinking soda altogether? Dr. Stanley advises, "When you do drink soda, try using a straw. Straws keep the soda from making as much contact with your teeth, limiting the chance for future decay." Maintaining good oral hygiene and lowering your consumption of soda is the key to a healthy smile. The American Dental Association recommends that you brush your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste for at least two minutes. However, simply brushing your teeth isn't enough to keep your mouth in pristine condition, Dr. Bowyer suggests, “Cavities and periodontal disease are serious issues, but they can be easily prevented. Avoid food and drink that can harm your teeth (like soda), brush and floss regularly, and schedule regular checkups with your dentist so that they can identify and prevent dental health problems before they become more serious.” Also, remember to avoid frequent snacking and be sure to maintain a wholesome diet. Doing all these things will help keep your pearly whites healthy and strong.
It’s no secret that flossing, brushing your teeth, and routine trips to the dentist are the best way to get rid of plaque buildup and tartar — which will ultimately help prevent cavities and gum disease — but did you know that the foods we eat also have a significant impact on our dental health? A healthy diet is one of the best ways to maintain a healthy smile. While certain foods are notorious for causing permanent damage to our teeth, a number of foods do just the opposite. Here’s a list of foods that will make you and your dentist smile: Apples When it comes to our oral health, apples are a triple threat. First, the acidity in an apple is known to eliminate the harmful bacteria that fosters bad breath. Second, the apples’ fibrous content acts as a natural toothbrush and scrapes plaque off your teeth. Third, the workout your mouth gets while eating an apple is great for saliva production, which is essential for keeping your mouth moist and comfortable. Strawberries While you might not believe it at first, strawberries are a natural teeth whitener. Strawberries contain malic acid, which breaks down leftover particles on your teeth and removes stains. To get a whiter smile, crush or puree one strawberry and combine it with a ½ teaspoon of baking soda. Apply the mixture to your teeth and leave it for about five minutes. The malic acid from the strawberry will break down the stains and the baking soda will contribute to that whiter smile. However, dentists recommend that you only do this once every seven days, as overuse will lead to a breakdown of your tooth enamel. Watermelon Without enough vitamin C, the connective tissues of your gums will weaken, causing your teeth to become loose, your gums to bleed, and the chance you’ll get gum disease will significantly increase. In extreme cases, the gums will be purple in color and your teeth may fall out due to weak dentin. Watermelon is a great source of vitamin C and will keep your mouth in great shape. Cucumbers Cucumbers are 96 percent water, which might not put them at the top of the most nutrient-rich foods. However, cucumbers are filled with soluble fiber, which massages your teeth and gums to help promote that healthy smile. Avocados A study done by Ohio State University found that nutrients taken from a Hass avocado may help prevent oral cancer. Phytochemicals extracted from the avocados target multiple signaling pathways and will increase the amount of reactive oxygen within the cells. Researchers believe that phytochemicals can stop the growth of precancerous cells or kill precancerous cells without affecting our normal cells. Broccoli Whether you love or hate this green vegetable, there’s no denying it is packed full of essential nutrients. Broccoli is packed with vitamins A, B, C, and E, phosphorous, beta-carotene, and other powerful antioxidants. Broccoli also contains zinc, an important trace mineral in the body. Zinc is naturally found in saliva and is known for its antibacterial properties. A diet with the proper amount of zinc can help you fight the growth of plaque and encourage a healthy mouth. Carrots Carrots are chock-full of fiber and scrub the plaque off your teeth as you eat. Much like apples, eating carrots is notorious for stimulating saliva production, which our mouths need to neutralize acids. This orange vegetable is also packed with vitamin A, which is known to help maintain healthy mucous membranes which coat your gums and cheeks. Celery The more crunchy a vegetable is, the better it is for your teeth. Similar to apples and carrots, celery acts as a natural toothbrush. As you bite and chew on the leafstalk, you will dislodge other food particles. And since celery takes a bit more work to eat your mouth will produce plenty of bacteria-fighting saliva. Spinach The vitamin B-9 found in spinach is an essential nutrient that plays a vital role in cell growth and repair. Naturally found in plant foods as folate and in supplements as folic acid, this nutrient is known to help make your gums more resilient to plaque and anaerobic bacteria, which are two of the leading causes for gum disease, tooth decay, and bad breath. Chicken Getting enough collagen in your diet can help prevent your gums from receding. Gum recession is where your gum tissue surrounding your teeth will start to pull back, exposing more of your tooth (in extreme cases the tooth’s root). When your gums recede, gaps will starts to form between the gum and the tooth, which then allows bacteria to build up. Symptoms of receding gums will be tooth sensitivity, inflammation, and tooth decay. Chicken — and chicken skin — are both packed with collagen, making it an excellent choice to combat gum disease. Red meat A 2015 study conducted by the University of Michigan and Newcastle University found that Arginine, a common amino acid found in red meat and poultry, may be able to help people avoid cavities and gum disease. As bacteria aggregates on the surface of your teeth, it forms a biofilm. Biofilm or dental plaque are the culprits behind cavities, gingivitis, and periodontal disease. Salmon Vitamin D helps your body absorb calcium — if you’re not getting enough, you’re at risk for rickets, osteoporosis, and even periodontal disease. One study found, “a significant association between periodontal health and the intake of vitamin D.” Researchers hypothesized that “Vitamin D may be beneficial for oral health, not only for its direct effect on bone metabolism but also due to its ability to function as an anti-inflammatory agent and stimulate the production of anti-microbial peptides.” Cheese While cheese is exceptionally high in calcium and promotes strong teeth, the oral health benefits don’t stop there. Cheese is known to quickly raise the pH level in your mouth after eating sugary foods and can help prevent cavities. It takes some effort to eat cheese and the increased amount of chewing produces saliva — which neutralizes acidity and helps to restore your mouth to a balanced pH level. Additionally, dairy products contain called casein. When casein is combined with the calcium and phosphate compounds, the protein creates a film that covers the enamel and helps reduce the risk of tooth decay. Garlic Good for your teeth, bad for your breath. Allicin is responsible for garlic’s antifungal, antiviral, and antibacterial properties, but it’s also the reason you have terrible garlic breath. Studies have shown that Allicin can help prevent periodontitis (gum disease) by controlling the bad bacteria and allowing good bacteria to prosper. Yogurt It’s been said that eating unsweetened yogurt can help reduce the level of hydrogen sulfide (gas-emitting bacteria) in your mouth. One study had 24 volunteers eat three ounces of yogurt, twice daily for six weeks. At the end of the study, researchers found that the odiferous compounds (mainly hydrogen sulfide), had decreased for 80 percent of the participants. The volunteers also had significantly lower levels of plaque and gingivitis. While it’s tempting to choose sugary foods and beverages, a well-balanced diet is essential to acquiring and maintaining a healthy, beautiful smile. Try to avoid things that are sugary (candy, dried fruit, soda, etc.), acidic (pastries, ice cream, soda, etc.), and that will dry out your mouth (caffeine, alcohol, crackers, chips, and bread); as these will only make it easier for bacteria to make itself at home in your mouth. Instead, incorporate some calcium rich-foods, foods with a high alkaline level, and high fiber fruits. You can even pop in some sugarless gum if you’d like. Along with a healthy diet, be sure to practice good oral hygiene: brush your teeth at least twice a day, use a toothpaste that contains fluoride, floss at least once a day, use a mouth rinse, and visit your dentist for regular checkups and cleanings.