Surviving the Holiday Dental Woes

It’s time for good cheer, gift giving, and making merry this holiday season. There are so many things to consider such as what gifts you’ll get for friends and loved ones, what you’ll wear to holiday parties, and how to navigate family get togethers. It’s been said that the holiday season can be one of the most stressful times of the year. Indeed there’s a lot to consider. However, sometimes we forget about our health, more specifically oral health.  All those sugary cookies, desserts, and sweet treats you’ll be eating over the holidays this year can take a toll on your teeth.

Here’s are four easy steps to combat the holiday dental woes.

Step 1: Put a limit on sugar consumption (ahead of time).

We all are familiar with the infamous relationship between sugar and oral health. Sugar plays a very large role in our overall food consumption here in the United States. The effect of sugar on our overall health can be quite sobering if you dare to look into it. Consequently, sugar’s impact on oral health is staggering. The truth is sugar in and of itself does not cause harm to your teeth. Rather, it’s the unfortunate chain of events occuring after eating that delectable sugar cookie that causes the harm. You see, unhealthy bacteria in your mouth feed on sugar molecules. This process is what creates plaque buildup that eventually leads to tooth decay. Therefore, eating less sugar during the holidays would be a smart way to avoid suffering from cavities, or worse tooth loss. Put a limit on how much dessert you will eat. Eat your dessert on smaller plates so it feels like you’re eating more.

Step 2: Plan to drink more water.

Water can be described as the magic elixir of life. It can do wonders for your body including hydration, flushing toxins out of your body, and aiding in digestion. Additionally, water can help rinse your mouth out and pass any extra sugar digestive tract preventing it from sitting in your mouth and attracting bacteria. Drinking more water also helps to fill up your belly and give you a more full feeling which can deter overeating.

Step 3: Brush.

It may seem extra hard to get your twice daily tooth brushing in during the holidays. But it can make a big difference. Brushing your teeth twice a day especially after eating sugary foods and consuming acids, will help keep your smile bright and clean. Remember to make your each brushing time last for two minutes in order to reap the maximum results.

Step 4: Schedule your dental cleaning after the holidays.

Just in case you do build up extra plaque during the holidays, you can clear it out with a dental visit. Plan ahead and schedule a visit with your dentist to coincide with the holidays. Having a dental visit right after the holidays will help you to remain accountable to yourself in order to be prepared for the visit. Also, the timing of the visit right after the holidays will ensure you have a teeth cleaning done right as the new year kicks in.

You don’t have to let your oral health take a back seat during the holidays. Be proactive with yourself and your family so that you can survive the holidays with a healthy smile.

5 Foods That Can Whiten your Teeth

Most of us know that there are certain foods that can stain your teeth such as coffee, tea, and red wine. On the opposite side of the coin, there are foods that can help whiten teeth over time. These foods are not only healthy for your body, but also quite helpful for your teeth. In addition, these foods are natural and easy to come by.

Apples, Carrots, and Celery

There’s a reason why mothers tell us to eat our fruits and vegetables. Apples, carrots, and celery act as a natural stain remover. They increase saliva production which is our own personal cleansing agent for the mouth. They also kill bacteria that causes bad breath. Most importantly, biting down on these crispy fruits and vegetables causes a healthy crunching action that helps to scrub your teeth crystal clean. Other types of fruits that help to naturally whiten teeth are oranges and pineapples. The tartness found in these fruits also promote saliva production.

Strawberries

Don’t let the red hues fool you. This tasty treat actually contains a natural chemical that can clean your teeth and remove plaque. Malic acid is present in strawberries and it is said to be a ‘natural astringent to remove surface discoloration’ according to  Dr. Irwin Smigel, president of the American Society for Dental Aesthetics. Eat them in salads, desserts, and cereal or mash them up with some baking soda for an extra tooth brushing from time to time.

Seeds & Nuts

Exfoliating is good for the skin and also good for your teeth. Chewing up seeds and nuts causes a light abrasive that can be good for removing debris and plaque from your teeth. Almonds, brazil nuts, sunflower seeds and the like are a good healthy snack to grab and your teeth will love the cleaning action as well.

Baking Soda

This pantry staple is the mother of all fixings. It’s good for just about everything. Baking soda not only does wonders with various cooking recipes, but it also is a great natural cleaning agent for your teeth. There’s a good reason you’ll find this ingredient in many commercial toothpaste products. Baking soda is actually a form of salt and works really well for scrubbing off plaque and surface stains. Try switching up your morning routine by brushing with baking soda.

Water

We call it life’s elixir. We need it for our very survival. Not only does water keep you hydrated, but it can help act as a ‘rinse’ during our highly coveted coffee breaks. As we mentioned earlier in this article, coffee, red wine, tea and other dark beverages can stain the teeth, but try swishing water around in your mouth before, during and after to prevent staining. We recommend sticking with plain water instead of carbonated or sparkling water as bubbles can erode tooth enamel and actually harm your teeth.

If you’re looking for natural ways to whiten your teeth, try them all. They are tasty, healthy, and great for your teeth. While it’s important to take responsibility for your oral health and seek natural ways to promote oral health, we recommend being consistent with a dental care professional for regular maintenance and to complement and promote overall wellness and your perfect smile.

How To Achieve A Holiday-Ready Smile

The holiday season is upon us, and with it comes parties, cookie swaps, plays and plenty of get-togethers with friends and family. It’s so easy to get swept up in the gifts and the shopping and the food that you can inadvertently put your own appearance on the back burner. All that coffee and tea you’ve been swigging to get through the craziness of Black Friday is now showing its effects on your teeth. Take a good look in the mirror: do you see yellow and brown tints or spots that really detract from your smile? If so, you could benefit from some teeth whitening to get them looking more attractive. After all, you’ll be meeting and greeting lots of people this holiday season.

You spent a lot of time and effort on planning your outfits and jewelry for all the holiday parties you’ll be attending and hosting this month, and your smile should match your spectacular attire. If you think it’s too late to get a holiday-ready smile, think again. Check out these things you can do now to get a brighter smile.

Use a Whitening Toothpaste

Whitening toothpaste is good to have on hand, but it works gradually and it’s not as effective as whitening trays or strips. Definitely, use it as a complement to your oral care regimen so you can remove stains and prevent stain build-up over time.

Nix the Coffee and Soda

For all you coffee and soda lovers out there, this can be a tough one to swallow. But if you cut back, or at least sip through a straw to minimize contact with the teeth, you will reap the rewards in the form of better-looking teeth. After drinking, rinse out your mouth with water.

Eat Plenty of Vegetables and Fruits

Maintaining a healthy diet can also do wonders for your teeth. Fill your plate with celery, carrots, and apples for extra vitamin C, which works to improve your saliva production. The more saliva flowing in your mouth, the better it works to wash debris away from the teeth.

Use an At-Home Whitening Kit

Pick up a kit or some strips from the store if you have a few days or a week before that party. They’re fairly affordable and have been known to lighten stains somewhat; however, they contain a mild peroxide which works minimally at dissolving surface stains. For better results, go pro.

Schedule a Professional Appointment

If you’ve gone through all of these suggestions and they haven’t quite worked, or you need something more immediate, make an appointment with your dentist for in-office teeth whitening. This is the most effective and quick way to achieve the results you need. Prepare to see amazing effects that can brighten your teeth several shades in just one appointment.

Dr. Demetriou offers in-office teeth whitening for fast, effective, long-lasting results. Call us today at 978-794-0010 to make an appointment before all those holiday parties!

Put This In Your Smoothie to Protect Your Smile

You are what you eat: you’ve likely heard this saying many times before. But this is even more true when it comes to your smile. The foods and drinks you choose to consume have a direct impact on the health of your teeth. If you love smoothies — made with either yogurt or ice cream — you will love these suggestions on what to add for a refreshing twist. Check out these tips for making smoothies:

  • Stay away from acidic ingredients: Acidic foods like lemons and even apples attack your tooth enamel and weaken it over time. Actually, acid makes it more porous, which increases your risk for staining.

  • Use a straw: When sugar and colorful foods spend more time in your mouth, they are more apt to damage your teeth. By slurping through a straw, you’re directing the smoothie right down your throat, with minimal contact with the inside of your mouth.

  • Rinse with water: After you drink your smoothie, swish your mouth out with water. Refrain from brushing and flossing too soon after, as you can actually do more damage by rubbing stain-prone particles onto your teeth. Wait a half hour or so.

  • Try alternatives to sugar: Instead of dumping in teaspoons of sugar, try alternatives like cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and allspice to sweeten the mixture.

Recipes

Here are some smoothie recipes to try that will brighten and protect your smile.

Banana Kale Smoothie

  • 1 banana (you can even try frozen)
  • 1 handful kale
  • 8 ounces coconut water
  • 1 tsp flax seed
  • 1 tsp chia seed
  • 1 tbsp coconut oil
  • 1/2 tsp agave nectar

Blend everything together until smooth. Enjoy over ice. This smoothie is great for your smile because it contains coconut oil, which is known to stop the growth of bacteria in the mouth, preventing cavities and other infections.

Cranberry Smoothie

  • 1 cup almond milk
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup frozen mixed berries
  • 1/2 cup fresh cranberries

Blend almond milk, banana, mixed berries and cranberries until smooth, then refrigerate one hour before serving. Fresh cranberries contain compounds that prevent bacteria from bonding to your teeth.

Yogurt Smoothie

  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 cup low-fat yogurt
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup pineapple juice
  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1 tsp orange juice
  • 1 tsp milk

Blend until smooth and enjoy. Yogurt is great for your teeth, thanks to its minerals, calcium, and phosphates. These can help rebuild your teeth and keep them strong.

Green Tea Smoothie

  • 3 cups frozen white grapes
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 1 1/2 brewed cups of green tea, cooled
  • 1 avocado
  • 2 tsp honey

Blend grapes, spinach, green tea, avocado, and honey. Enjoy immediately. Green tea is chock full of antioxidants and other nutrients that are great for overall health. Polyphenols are great for your teeth specifically because they control bacteria that causes plaque. They are thought to kill bacteria on teeth and keep them from growing and producing acid that can do a number on your enamel.

Enjoy trying these smoothies and seeing great results for your smile.

10 Must-Know Cavity Myths You Need to Bust Right Away

You may assume only candy causes cavities or that kids get more cavities than adults. Truth is, though, a lot of the things you’ve heard about cavities, what causes them and how to avoid them may not be true — or as entirely true as you once thought. Let’s go over some myths and facts about cavities so you can move forward with the right knowledge to pass on to your kids.

Myth #1: Adults don’t get as many calories as kids. In fact, while you may assume because kids love candy and soda that they have way more cavities than their parents, the truth is actually the reverse. With advances in fluoride treatments every six months at the dentist as well as in the water supply, coupled with better education in schools about oral hygiene, decay in school-aged has been reduced by half in the last 20 years, says WebMD. Conversely, older adults are experiencing unprecedented cavity rates due to the prevalence of medications that tend to dry the mouth. When saliva is reduced, the protection it affords is lessened.

Myth #2: Sugars present in cookies and candy are the only culprit of cavities. Nope. cavities are actually caused by bacteria, which is a process that can be jump started by any number of foods with hidden sugar in them, including rice, potatoes, bread, fruits, and vegetables. That bacteria then produces acids that can add to the problem, especially if you’re drinking lots of acidic beverages such as juice and soda.

Myth #3: Putting an aspirin near the source of a toothache will make it go away. Nope again. You’ll have to actually consume that aspirin for it to have any pain relieving effects. Aspirin contains acids that can burn your gums and cause ulcers.

Myth #4: Fillings have a set life expectancy. While it is true that fillings don’t necessarily last forever, factors such as tooth wear and oral hygiene play a part in when you should have them replaced. Don’t let any dentist tell you there’s a certain timeline for fillings. It should depend on an individual basis.

Myth #5: No need to go to the dentist; if you don’t feel pain, you don’t have a cavity. Cavities don’t always cause pain, however, and you could be doing a lot more damage letting them fester if you don’t regularly see your dentist. At your six-month checkup, your dentist can take a look and see if anything is happening, fixing problems before they do start to hurt.

Myth #6: Once a cavity is treated, another one won’t crop up in its place. You can treat that one cavity, but lapsing back into poor oral hygiene habits may open the door for a new one to form next to the existing one or around it.

Myth #7: Tooth grinding causes cavities. This one isn’t as cut and dried. No, it can’t technically cause cavities, but tooth grinding can cause stress and wear on the enamel over time, leaving your tooth more vulnerable to decay.

Myth #8: Brushing is all you need to do to prevent cavities. In order to get into spaces between the teeth, you’ll also need to floss and use mouthwash in addition to brushing in order to fight cavities effectively.

Myth #9: Chips in your teeth don’t cause cavities. Yes they do, as they offer a great place for bacteria to hide and fester. Again, use a fluoride mouth rinse to combat decay.

Myth #10: Cavities are the only reason you need a root canal. Yes, unfilled cavities that are left untreated certainly do lead to the need for root canals; however, other things can too, such as grinding or clenching of the teeth or injury/trauma to the tooth.

Overall, it’s important to keep up with your six-month dental checkups. Call Dr. Gary C. Demetriou, D.M.D. in North Andover at 978-794-0010 today!

What Causes Bad Breath?


LET’S JUST SAY IT…
bad breath is unpleasant. And yet we’ve all suffered from it. Sometimes, however, it’s worse than others. You may wonder, what causes bad breath? And perhaps more importantly, what is the best way to prevent it?

Bad breath, or halitosis, can be caused by a number of things. Here are some reasons your breath may not be as fresh as you’d like:

Good Oral Hygiene Makes All The Difference

If you don’t brush and floss everyday, food stays in your mouth and collects bacteria. This bacteria causes bad breath. On top of that, food that remains in your mouth and in between your teeth will begin to rot and smell bad.

Brush and floss regularly and go to your biannual dental cleanings (or more, as directed). As bacteria that causes bad breath often congregates on the back of your tongue, make the tongue scraper your best friend!

Certain Foods Make Breath Worse Than Others

Watch out for foods such as garlic, onions, cheese, and soda, as they can be a major cause of unpleasant breath. Once food is absorbed into the bloodstream, it’s transferred to the lungs where it is expelled through your breath. Thus, foods with strong tastes or odors, like the ones mentioned above, can stick around longer than you’d like.

Consumption of tobacco products can also cause severe halitosis. If you use tobacco,ask us for assistance in helping you quit.

Bad Breath Can Be Linked To A Medical Disorder

Our oral health is strongly connected to other health conditions. In fact, bad breath could be the first sign of a medical disorder. Severe and persistent halitosis is a major symptom of dental diseases such as gum disease and cavities. Other maladies can negatively affect our breath as well such as diabetes, sinus infections, and liver or kidney ailments.

What’s Up With Morning Breath?

Morning breath seems to be an especially pungent offender. Morning breath gets to be so bad mainly because of dry mouth. During the day, saliva works to wash away food debris and keep bacteria in check.

When we sleep at night, our saliva production goes down, causing our mouths to become more dry and allowing bacteria to proliferate. Many people sleep with their mouths open as well, which can make dry mouth even worse.

Here’s what you can do to make your morning breath a little less offensive:

  • Clean your teeth before bed. This is a given! The less food bacteria have to munch on, the less odorous your mouth will be in the morning.
  • Keep water by the bed. When you wake up during the night, take a drink of water. Keeping your mouth moist will combat the spread of those smelly bacteria.

We’re Here To Help

For the most part, bad breath is manageable. However, chronic or extreme bad breath is not normal. If you are concerned about halitosis or have any questions, call and make an appointment with us. Our job is to find solutions for a healthier, happier you!

Thank you for being a part of our practice family!

4 Ways to Improve Your Smile

If your smile has been lackluster lately, you may have considered cosmetic dentistry to restore the brilliance of your teeth. Anything from injury to food stains can dull the look of your smile over time, but there are a few ways you can correct that! Did you know that smiling adds seven years to your life? Here are some more quick stats about smiling:

  • 88% of people say smiling makes them feel good
  • 92% of people say they smile to brighten someone’s day
  • Smiling can kickstart your immune system for better overall health

If that doesn’t make you want to reclaim your smile, we don’t know what will! Let’s take a look at some ways in which you can achieve that.

Teeth Whitening

Anything from coffee to wine to cigarette smoke can stain your tooth enamel. If you’ve already tried those over-the-counter teeth whitening remedies to no avail, try professional teeth whitening at the dentist’s office. When done in a clinical setting, you know the results will be successful, thanks to professional-grade whitening treatments done while you wait.

Dental Bonding

Have you chipped or broken a tooth? You may be a good candidate for dental bonding, which involves the creation of tooth-colored composite resin with no numbing agent required. This semi-permanent filling repairs  chips and breaks, as well as exposed roots and cavities. You get a tooth that looks just like the original, with a strong material that is sure to last many years.

Veneers

These are thin shells of plastic or porcelain that fit over your existing tooth. First, an impression will be taken of your upper and lower teeth, which will then be used to make a customized set of veneers. These are great for those with broken or chipped teeth, gaps, or permanently discolored teeth. Veneers generally last longer than bonding yet aren’t as expensive as dental crowns.

Invisalign

Many people decide to go with Invisalign over traditional metal braces, due to their less invasive design nature and increased convenience. With no need for cumbersome brackets and wires, Invisalign can correct a variety of orthodontic issues such as:

  • Crooked teeth
  • Overcrowding
  • Gaps
  • Cross bites
  • Overbites
  • Under bites

Best part is, there are no painful adjustments — only customized aligners used in succession for gentle, gradual correction of your orthodontic problem. In addition, Invisalign treatment usually takes about half the time of traditional braces, which is why so many teens and adults love this option. And because you can remove your Invisalign braces at meal and snack times, there’s no embarrassment about getting food stuck in your teeth.

Contact Dr. Gary C. Demetriou, D.M.D.

Getting a brilliant smile starts with a visit to Dr. Gary C. Demetriou, D.M.D., who has been a dentist in Andover & North Andover area since 1986. Our staff is dedicated to your comfort and prompt attention as well. Call for an appointment today at 978-794-0010. We have many convenient slots available to fit your busy schedule.

3 Quick Tips to Improving Your Dental Routine

We don’t always have all the time in the world to improve the health of our teeth. However, just a few minutes a day is all it takes to keep your brilliant smile, plus adopting a few healthy lifestyle habits in between. Check out these three quick tips to improving your dental routine that you can start today.

1. Eat Better

A healthy diet and exercise routine isn’t just good for your waistline — it’s good for your smile too. Just as important as brushing and flossing, your diet can have a major impact on the health of your gums and teeth. Instead of reaching for carb-heavy foods that also happen to be high in sugar, go for fruits and vegetables that are packed with nutrients, from apples and bananas to broccoli and kale. Nix the sodas and fruit juices, and teach your kids to do the same. Sugar breeds bacteria in the mouth, leading to decay. In order to keep cavities at bay, start eating healthier and your mouth will thank you for it.

2. Switch out your Toothbrush Regularly

Your toothbrush is your friend. However, it’s time to get a new friend every few months or whenever you notice the bristles beginning to fray. You should also get a new one after you’ve been sick with the cold or flu to prevent re-infecting yourself or spreading your germs to others. In a pinch, you can throw your toothbrush in the dishwasher to sanitize it, but this can damage the bristles over time. It’s a good idea to have a new brush waiting in the wings so you always have one on hand.

How to Find the Right Dentist for Your Family

3. Read Toothpaste Labels

Not all toothpaste is created equal. That’s why you should always take a minute to read the labels before buying a tube at the market. You’ll find a lot of the ingredients work to protect the whiteness and sparkle of your teeth, but what are all those other ingredients for? Do you need them?

Here are some you could do without:

  • Triclosan: This antibacterial agent is a common addition to many of the most well-known toothpaste brands out there, designed to prevent gingivitis. However, studies reveal antibiotic resistance and hormone disruption, while the EPA technically calls this a pesticide.
  • Dyes: It’s no secret that synthetic colors and dyes are added to toothpaste to make them look better on the shelf and more appealing to all consumers, particularly kids. These dyes have connections to allergic reactions, behavior difficulties for those with ADHD, asthma attacks, fatigue, headaches, and nausea.
  • Saccharin: This is an artificial sweetener added to improve the taste of toothpaste, but there has been a link found between cancer and saccharin consumption. It can also bring on allergic reactions, headaches, skin irritation and diarrhea.
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS): This gives soaps and toothpaste their signature bubble and foam. Although it helps dissolve plaque, it can also lead to ulcers and mouth sores, skin irritation, and an upset in your mouth’s pH balance.

Want more tips on how to improve your dental routine? Dentist Dr. Demetriou serving Andover & North Andover can help. Call us today for an appointment at 978-794-0010.