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How Do Your Food Choices Affect Your Oral Health?

January 8th, 2019

 

Unhealthy, sugary foods are easier to access than ever, with sweet treats like sodas, fruit juice, and ice cream available at every drive-thru window. Although convenient, sugary foods and beverages and foods lacking nutrients can take a serious toll on oral health.

Sugar and Tooth Decay

Two people holding ice cream cones

The mouth is home to over 70 different types of bacteria, most of which are naturally occurring and harmless. One type, called Streptococcus mutans, secretes acids when it comes into contact with sugar. That acid attacks teeth for the next 20 minutes or more. Over time, this strips enamel of minerals in a process called demineralization, which can soften the enamel enough to cause cavities and decay. Sugary food isn’t the only cause of tooth decay, but every sugary snack or beverage leaves teeth more vulnerable.

Nutrients and Oral Health

The mouth, like other parts of the body, has its own nutritional needs, especially in young patients. A few nutrients playing important roles in oral health include the following:

  • Calcium, which hardens enamel and promotes strong teeth and jawbones.
  • Vitamin D, which helps in calcium absorption and boosts bone mineral density.
  • Vitamin C, which strengthens gums and soft tissue while protecting against gingivitis and gum disease.
  • Vitamin A, which prevents dry mouth, keeps mucous membranes healthy, and promotes healing and fighting infections.
  • Vitamin K, which supports bone growth and helps shield teeth from acidic substances that cause decay.

A diet lacking these and other essential nutrients can make the mouth more vulnerable to periodontal disease, a serious infection of the gums.

Choosing the Right Foods

Dental patients, especially children, should maintain a balanced diet with foods from each of the major food groups. Snacking should always be limited, but raw veggies, cheese, and plain yogurt are good options when necessary. It's best to choose foods offering plenty of the above nutrients. A few good choices include the following:

  • Milk, cheese, salmon, and leafy greens for calcium.
  • Fatty fish, portobello mushrooms, and orange juice for Vitamin D.
  • Citrus fruits, leafy greens, and potatoes for Vitamin C.
  • Fish, egg yolks, carrots, sweet potatoes, and liver for Vitamin A.
  • Leafy greens like spinach, kale, and broccoli for Vitamin K.

Talk to Your Dentist

At your next appointment, spend a few minutes talking with your dentist about your diet to determine if the foods you eat regularly offer the nutrients you need for optimum oral health. Dr. Kozica at Kozica Dental understands the importance of diet when it comes to oral health, and our team can recommend which foods you should eat for a healthy mouth. Request an appointment or call Kozica Dental today at (508) 755-0751.

Tooth Protection and Winter Sports

January 4th, 2019

Just because it’s cold out there doesn’t mean you’ll give up keeping fit and active! Winter is the season for some of our favorite team sporting activities, and when you’re donning your protective gear, don’t forget to protect your teeth as well.

  • Basketball

This sport actually tallies one of the highest counts of dental injuries. Running, jumping, and diving for the ball on an unforgiving court can lead to tooth and jaw injuries.  And for every ten men on the floor, it seems like there at least 50 flailing elbows in the paint.

  • Hockey

Notorious for the toll it takes on teeth, hockey is a game of sticks, ice, and whizzing pucks. And when your sport’s penalties include the terms hooking, slashing, and tripping, the more protection, the better.

  • Skiing

When you are flying down the slopes, combining powdery snow and speed, mouth protection is a good idea. This also applies to snowboarding and other snow sports.

  • Wrestling

Grappling and pinning in close quarters can lead to unintended injuries after accidental contact with the mat or your opponent.

Different uniforms, different equipment, and different playing fields, but all these sports have one thing in common—the easiest way to protect your teeth while playing them is with a mouth guard.

Mouthguards generally come in three forms:

  • Over the counter, ready-made appliances. These are available in drugstores and sporting goods stores, but might not be a comfortable fit as they are pre-formed sizes.
  • The “boil-and-bite” option is a mouthguard form placed in hot water. You then bite down to shape it to your mouth and teeth.
  • Custom mouthguards can be fabricated just for you through our Worcester office. These appliances are designed to fit your individual mouth and teeth, so provide a better fit and better protection. They are also usually more durable and more comfortable. If you wear braces, you definitely need a custom mouthguard to prevent an injury to your mouth or braces caused by an ill-fitting appliance.

Whether you play on a team or pursue individual athletic activities, keeping safe as you keep fit is your first priority. We would be happy to discuss your mouthguard options for any sport, any time of year.

New Year's Eve

December 28th, 2018

Watching the clock tick down the final seconds until midnight, many of us- Kozica Dental included- feel nostalgic about the passing year and hopeful about the new one to come. New Year’s Eve is one of the most widely celebrated holidays in the world, with over-the-top celebrations taking place in dozens of countries. The Gregorian calendar, which is widely used in Western nations and around the world, was implemented in 1582. Since that time, December 31st has marked the final day of the year, with midnight heralding the beginning of a brand new year. In the United States, New Year’s Day is a public holiday; government offices, schools, public organizations, and many businesses are closed for the day. Ponder the following fun facts as you think about your plans for the holiday:

  • Approximately one billion people watch the New Year’s Eve ball drop in Times Square, New York City. This televised event is one of the most iconic New Year’s celebrations in the world. For many years, watching the ball drop meant tuning in to Dick Clark’s Rockin’ New Year’s Eve, an iconic television special dear to the hearts of many viewers.
  • The idea for the New Year’s Eve ball came about because of a citywide ban on fireworks. Before 1907, when fireworks became illegal in New York City, celebrations included an elaborate fireworks show. The large, glittering, illuminated ball was developed as an alternative. Although the first ball was heavy at 700 pounds, the modern New Year’s Eve ball is made of Waterford crystal and tips the scale at six tons!
  • The top five New Year’s resolutions are: to lose weight, quit smoking, get a new job, return to school, or increase personal savings. However, approximately 88% of New Year’s resolutions fail. But don’t let that discourage you! Resolutions are most likely to succeed when they are clear, achievable goals. Setting out a concrete plan to achieve your resolution also boosts your chances of success.
  • Eating black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day is said to bring good fortune in the new year. Collard greens, cabbage, and ham hocks are also considered lucky foods to enjoy. Just steer clear of the chicken or turkey dinners; eating poultry is a bad omen for the year to come.

Whether you plan to stay in Worcester, or head out into the crowds to watch the ball drop in Times Square, New Year’s Eve is a time to enjoy friends and family. Send your loved ones well wishes for the New Year, and look for that special someone to share a midnight kiss with for good luck!

The Secret to Keeping Your Teeth for Life

December 21st, 2018

The secret to keeping your teeth for life involves more than one secret. The first is that there is no secret; and in fact, there really is no difficulty involved. Follow this simple four-step process – brush, floss, rinse, and visit our Worcester office regularly – and you will have healthy teeth for life!

Brush

You should brush your teeth twice a day, preferably once in the morning and once at night. Three times a day will not hurt. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and light pressure; you do not want to scrub away your gums or tooth enamel.

Brush for a minimum of two minutes, and carefully clean all tooth surfaces. Three minutes is better. Use quality toothpaste; Dr. Kozica and our staff can recommend the best type for your needs. Keep your toothbrush clean and replace it about every three months.

Floss

Make flossing part of your daily routine, at least once a day. Flossing is important for more than just removing food particles between your teeth. The process also helps to remove bacteria that you cannot see. Bacterial build-up turns into plaque, or calculus: a cement-like substance that cannot be removed by brushing alone.

Use floss gently; you do not want to cut your gums. There are many different types of flosses and flossing tools. Dr. Kozica and our staff will be happy to help you find the style that works best for you.

Rinse

Mouthwash does more than freshen your breath. Rinses help kill the bacteria that lead to plaque formation and gum disease. This extra step can go a long way toward having healthy teeth for life.

Keep your appointments

You should have a professional cleaning at Kozica Dental twice a year. Some patients benefit from more frequent cleanings. Your hygienist will remove any plaque build-up to prevent gingivitis, which left untreated becomes full-blown gum disease. Periodontitis leads to tooth loss.

You also need to see Dr. Kozica twice a year for a teeth and mouth exam. We can find problems such as cavities, and treat them before the situation becomes critical. Ask our Worcester team any questions you have; together we can make your teeth last for life.

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