Substitutes for Sugary Food and Drinks for a Healthier and Brighter Smile

We all love a little sugar, but our teeth could use a little break from high amounts of sugar if we’re going to maintain good dental health. When sugar particles stay on teeth for long periods of time, they encourage plaque and bacteria growth that eat away at enamel and lead to tooth decay. The less sugar you eat, the less risk you put your teeth in and the better your smile will look.

This word of caution isn’t just for adults, but for children too! Although kids’ teeth will fall out, serious cavities and tooth decay in their baby teeth could affect permanent adult teeth that come in. Plus, starting healthy habits now can encourage better oral health in the future.

So whether you’re 4 or 44 years old, it’s always a good practice to limit the sugar you eat each day to help prevent tooth decay. To help you out, our dental office in Wasilla, AK has gathered up a few ways you can decrease your daily and weekly sugar intake to improve your family’s dental health.

More Water!

Those sugary sports drinks, juices, and sodas sound pretty tempting after a workout or when you go out to eat. But choosing a glass of water instead is something your teeth will thank you for. Drinking water after a meal will help break down sugar in your food along with plaque that may cling to your teeth.

Got Milk?

Milk is another good drink substitute for dinnertime. It contains a high source of calcium which helps enamel around your teeth grow stronger and be more resistant to decay from sugary substances.

We Love Cereal, But…

Cereal can be a great breakfast to start your day with, that is, if it isn’t high in sugar. Check the sugar content in the cereals you buy and try to find ones with lower amounts of sugar. That sugar could be hiding in high fructose corn syrup and other common ingredients in cereal. When you can, switch your morning cereal with a non-fat, low-sugar yogurt or toast with an avocado or cottage cheese spread.

Naturally Sweet

Some breakfasts, desserts, and other foods just taste so much better with a little sugar sprinkled on top. But a little extra sugar every day can add up fast and wear down teeth. When you crave something sweet to complement your meal, consider switching out artificial sweeteners or sprinkled sugar with natural sugars in fruit. Those natural sugars have great nutritional value while added sugars in processed foods only give you more calories and more opportunities for cavities to creep in.

Cook it Fresh

Many prepared or frozen meals are packed with more added sugar than you may realize. While sometimes our busy schedules don’t give us much time for cooking, making dinner from scratch a few times every week can be a great way to decrease your family’s sugar intake. It may be more work to prepare a full meal without as many processed foods, but when it comes to your oral health, it will be a worthy sacrifice.

Snacks to Hold You Over

It’s so easy to grab a quick cookie or candy as a snack between meals. Again, making the switch to healthier snacks is going to take some sacrifice. But those little snacks high in sugar eaten here and there make a big difference to your overall dental health. If you don’t have the time to cut up some fruit or vegetables for a snack, canned fruit can be another alternative. Just check that the fruit is canned in water rather than in a sugary syrup.

Less Sugar, Less Decay: Why It Even Matters

Maintaining your dental health and reducing your sugar intake will not only affect your teeth, but your entire well-being. Studies show us that eating more than the recommended daily sugar intake can be a risk factor for conditions such as obesity, diabetes, and heart-related problems on top of tooth decay.

Make the decision today to substitute healthier options into your daily diet! Your teeth will look better and feel better with such a change and experience fewer cavities and decay. Be sure to continue with regular brushing and flossing habits as well to remove plaque buildup from the other foods you choose to eat!

For more suggestions on improving your family’s dental health, contact our Wasilla, AK dentists at Meridian Dental. Come in for teeth cleanings for the whole family, another crucial ingredient to maintaining oral health! Our dental office is even open on Saturdays and Wednesday and Thursday evenings so that nothing gets in your way of a healthy smile.

How to Help Prevent Tooth Decay in Children’s Teeth

As a parent, you want the best for your children. The best schools, the best friends, the best doctors—the list goes on and on. One of the most important things you can do to help your kids enjoy healthy lives is to establish good patterns for their oral health.

Poor dental health and tooth decay can lead to further health complications that may stay with a child for the rest of their life. Yet, many families still don’t emphasize the need to take good care of teeth. In fact, over 40% of kids have experienced tooth decay and cavities by the time they reach kindergarten.

Here are a few ways you as a parent can help prevent tooth decay in your children’s teeth and improve their dental health.

Start Them Early!

From infancy to adolescence and beyond, never stop looking for those teaching moments where you can share why dental health matters. Reinforce brushing habits as early as you can by giving your children their own soft-bristled toothbrush, brushing alongside them, and making it a part of your daily routine.

For babies, give them a small, very soft toothbrush that they can begin putting in their mouth when you brush. Don’t use toothpaste, and be sure to keep them upright so they don’t begin gagging. You’ll also want to wipe down their teeth after each feeding to avoid plaque buildup before they can properly use a toothbrush.

Make Brushing Fun

You be the example and show kids that brushing their teeth can be fun! Brush with them in front of a mirror so that they can try to mimic your movements. Be sure to smile while you brush, and maybe turn brushing into a game, to indicate to your child that brushing teeth doesn’t have to be boring.

If children have a poor first experience brushing their teeth, they will be less likely to continue good brushing and oral health habits later on in life. So speak positively about it, don’t make brushing a punishment, and avoid scolding kids if they haven’t got the right techniques down yet. Work together to make brushing enjoyable.

Give a Little Assistance

Toddlers will especially need your help to brush effectively. Again, make sure that it’s a good experience, not something you’re forcing on them. Have children hold your hand and look in the mirror as you guide their toothbrush back and forth gently, but firmly. You may need to help children as old as 6 or even 8 years old before they have mastered basic brushing techniques.

Less Sugar, More Water

One of the dangers to kids’ teeth is an excess of juice or sugary drinks. These drinks break down enamel quickly, especially if children are not brushing at least twice a day. Instead, have kids drink more water! Choose tap water with fluoride when possible as a substitute to these less healthy drinks that may cause more cavities. Drinking a glass of water after a meal especially can help stimulate saliva glands and wash away bacteria and plaque from that meal.

Try avoiding sticky candy and food as well that may get stuck in between teeth allowing for more plaque buildup. Reward kids with their favorite fruit instead of candy, and buy fresh instead of dry fruit that tends to be stickier. Good nutrition is just one more way you can improve their dental health, but also overall health.

Bottles Before Bed

Many kids like going to bed with a bottle of milk or a drink in their favorite sippy cup. But children’s teeth shouldn’t be exposed to the sugars in formula or breast milk, juice, and other drinks for the entire night. If they are, they may experience baby bottle tooth decay. Give them a drink before bedtime, but clean their teeth before hopping into bed and be sure to keep the bottles out of the bunks or cribs.

Visit the Dentist

Like brushing needs to be a good experience for children to continue the habit, so should a trip to the dentist be a good experience, especially when it’s a child’s first visit. We recommend taking your baby to the dentist before their first birthday when their first tooth appears. After that, visit your family dentist every six months for dental cleanings and exams. Again, if you can be the example of regularly visiting the dentist, then your kids will get into the habit as well.

If children are anxious about dental appointments, be sure to speak positively about your own experiences at the dentist, and communicate openly about what they can expect. Find a family-friendly dentist who will happily answer your child’s questions and alleviate their concerns.

For families with children in Wasilla or Palmer, AK, visit Meridian Dental, conveniently located by several schools in Wasilla! Our family dentists will help your children feel comfortable and at ease from the moment they walk inside our dental office. We offer general and advanced dental services for the entire family! Request your appointment with our compassionate Wasilla dentists today.

6 Ways to Keep Your Invisalign Retainers Cleaner

Invisalign is a great teeth straightening treatment for adults who want to correct misaligned smiles without the hassle or notice that braces bring. Traditional metal braces can prove uncomfortable and make it difficult for many patients to clean teeth in between wires. Invisalign retainers, on the other hand, simply slide off when you eat, brush, or floss for cleaner teeth and a less painful experience.

To keep your Invisalign retainers looking and feeling clean, though, will require some work on your end. Otherwise, the clear aligners will begin to dull and may appear more noticeable. But more importantly, clean aligners will help keep your teeth healthier as you straighten them.

What can you do to ensure that each set of your Invisalign retainers stay clean and look like new? Start with the 6 simple steps below, and consult with your local Wasilla dentist for additional information.

1. Rinse Daily

Bacteria and plaque can build up along the walls of your Invisalign clear aligners quickly. Whenever you remove aligners to eat and brush, rinse them out with water. You may also want to use clear antibacterial soap, but avoid any colored soap that could stain the retainers.

2. Keep Retainers Safely Away

After taking out aligners, don’t leave them out on a countertop or table. Beyond the possibility of forgetting them when you leave, retainers can pick up more germs and bacteria out in the open than they would safely hidden in their tray container. So pack them away after rinsing them, or be sure to rinse them out again if you do leave them out.

3. Clean Before Breakfast

You know how bad your breath can smell in the morning after waking up, even without wearing Invisalign retainers? The bacteria that causes morning breath can dirty your clear aligners when worn overnight, so when you wake up, give them a quick clean for fresher breath.

4. Brush and Floss After Eating

Keeping up with a good dental health routine will also help ensure that Invisialign retainers stay clear and clean. On top of that, these habits will help prevent tooth decay and cavities from food stuck between your teeth that’s held in place by the retainers.

Start by brushing and flossing after every time you take out the clear aligners to eat. Removing food particles before putting Invisalign retainers back on will help keep that food building up and eating away at your enamel.

5. Soak in Denture Cleaning Solutions or Specific Invisalign Cleaner

One of the best things you can add into your dental health and Invisalign cleaning routine is to leave aligners to soak in a cleaning solution for around 15 minutes. This could be the Invisalign Cleaning Crystals specifically for their retainers, but other denture cleaners or Retainer Brite are other good cleaning solutions to use.

6. Leave Toothpaste Out of It

Toothpaste, however, is not a good cleaning agent for your Invisalign retainers. Teeth-whitening toothpastes especially have been known to discolor aligners and may wear them down from the toothpaste’s corroding chemicals. These materials aren’t abrasive for your teeth, but they won’t be friendly to your clear plastic retainers.

You can also avoid wearing down aligners by brushing them softly. You won’t need to apply too much pressure if you’re following all the above steps to keep aligners clean and free of bacteria or plaque.

Cleaner Aligners and Straighter Teeth

To keep your teeth and Invisalign retainers in good shape, use the cleaning techniques mentioned! Although you only wear each new set of clear aligners for a few weeks, they can have a big impact on your oral hygiene without proper care.

Talk with one of our dentists in Wasilla, AK if you have more questions about Invisalign, braces, or other cosmetic dentistry treatments for straightening teeth. Our experienced staff can help you come up with a personalized treatment plan that helps you achieve the smile you’ve been wanting.  Schedule a consultation appointment at our dental office today!