Just in Time for Halloween: Chocolate And Your Teeth

 

UNDER MOST CIRCUMSTANCES, dentists are not fans of candy. The sugar in candy is the favorite food of bacteria that cause tooth decay. However, when it comes to chocolate, certain types may actually be good for oral health!

To be clear, this is not a blog post in which we give you a free pass to eat all the chocolate you want. Only certain types of chocolate have any health benefits, and too much of even the healthiest kinds probably isn’t a good thing.

All Chocolate Is Not Created Equal

How can you tell where any given chocolate falls on the spectrum from most processed to least? It helps to know a little about how chocolate is made. The most important ingredient is the cocoa bean. After fermenting, the beans can either be roasted and made into cocoa powder, or cold pressed into cacao powder, which retains more of the original nutrients. You’ll get the most nutrients from cacao nibs or powder, but the stuff is pretty bitter and the chocolatey taste isn’t as strong.

If you’d rather stick with the chocolate you’re used to, there are still factors to consider. The main ingredients in a chocolate bar are cocoa solids, cocoa butter, sugar, and milk (if it’s milk chocolate). White chocolate is made with cocoa butter and sugar and contains no cocoa solids, so it has none of the beneficial nutrients. Milk chocolate tends to contain at most 10 percent cocoa solids, so the tiny amount of nutrients from the cocoa beans is offset by a ton of sugar. Not a healthy choice. But let’s talk about dark chocolate.

The Benefits Of Dark Chocolate

Dark chocolate, particularly 70 percent cocoa (or cacao) or higher, is where you’ll start hearing buzzwords like “superfood.” That’s because the cocoa bean is full of healthy antioxidants–specifically, polyphenols, flavonoids, and tannins–and dark chocolate has enough cocoa in it to keep most of them. Bonus points: there isn’t much sugar.

Antioxidants have all kinds of benefits for overall health, but let’s focus on oral health. Saliva is the mouth’s first line of defense against tooth decay, gum disease, and bad breath, and antioxidants play a crucial role in all of those. They help stabilize and strengthen your own oral tissues, protect against cell mutation, and make it harder for harmful bacteria to flourish.

Chocolate Still Isn’t Everything

Like we said before, this blog post isn’t a license for you to eat as much chocolate as you want. No matter how full of antioxidants it is, dark chocolate still doesn’t replace other important oral health habits like brushing, flossing, and regular dental appointments. If you love to snack, however, you might consider swapping a few items heavy in processed sugars for dark chocolate or cacao nibs. Your teeth will thank you! 

And if you do think you may have overdone it on the Halloween Candy, we can take a good look at your next dental visit.  Call any of our Dental Elements offices and we can get you scheduled right away.  

Your healthy teeth are our pride and joy!

The Daily Grind of Bruxism

The Daily Grind Of Bruxism

MOST PEOPLE GRIND OR CLENCH their teeth briefly when annoyed or in a tense situation. That level of teeth-grinding isn’t really something to worry about. It’s when you do it far more frequently, often without even realizing it (you might even do it in your sleep!), that it can potentially become a serious problem. The medical term for this kind of teeth-grinding is bruxism.

Bruxism: What and Why

Sleep bruxism (or nocturnal bruxism) can happen as a side-effect of snoring and sleep apnea, and awake bruxism (or diurnal bruxism) can happen as a side-effect of stress in your daily life. However, not everyone with a sleep disorder or a stressful life has bruxism, and not everyone with bruxism has a sleep disorder or a ton of stress. Another possible cause is improperly aligned teeth.

Because there isn’t one clear cause, treatment can sometimes be tricky, and the focus is often on the symptoms and minimizing the damage more than curing the underlying condition. Even if you aren’t aware that you’re grinding your teeth, any of the following symptoms could point to bruxism:

  • Sore jaw (with sleep bruxism, your jaw will be most sore when you wake up, whereas with awake bruxism, it’ll be most sore before you go to bed)
  • Frequent headaches from all the strain
  • Hypertrophy in your jaw muscles (because you’re giving them quite the workout!)
  • Shifting teeth
  • Flattened chewing surfaces of teeth
  • Exposed dentin and increased tooth sensitivity
  • Chipped/cracked/split teeth
  • Tooth loss

Your Next Steps

Depending on which type of bruxism you have, there are a variety of treatments or approaches to either reduce the grinding or the damage it causes.

Behavioral Therapy

With behavioral therapy or habit-reversal techniques, you can become more aware of your clenching/grinding habits and consciously work to stop. This one works better when you have awake bruxism than sleep bruxism, because it’s obviously much harder to control your jaw muscles in your sleep.

Relaxation

Particularly for stress-related bruxism, relaxation techniques such as yoga, deep breathing exercises, massages, warm baths, calming music, and a full night’s sleep can help you de-stress and stop grinding.

Wearing A Mouthguard

A mouthguard or splint serves as a pillow between your upper and lower teeth. It won’t stop the grinding, but it protects your teeth from damage.  During the month of September, Dental Elements is offering discounted fees for mouthguards.  Contact any of our offices right now to get scheduled!

Medication As Prescribed By Your Doctor

Muscle relaxant medication, as prescribed by your general practitioner, might help you unclench while you sleep. However, medicine is rarely used to treat bruxism, especially if other treatments are helping.

Check out this video for more information and a few other ideas on how to combat bruxism or minimize the damage:

We Can Help!

If you’re experiencing any of the above symptoms, it may be due to bruxism and you should schedule an appointment so we can make a plan for how to address it. You don’t want to leave it untreated until it gets to the point where it’s damaging your teeth.

Click here to contact us!

 

Looking Back On Our Summer Jobs

Looking Back On Our Summer Jobs

Whether it was during high school or college, whether the goal was to have spending money or to pay rent, most of us know the struggles and the joys of working a summer job. Because we are feeling nostalgic as summer draws to a close, we’ve collected summer job stories from members of our team!

 Worst Summer Job Ever

Sometimes we find ourselves in summer jobs where the only good thing about them is that they only lasted a summer. Do any of our team’s stories sound familiar?

 

Doctor Charity:  The job that stands out as the worst I ever had was working the appetizer station at a large chain restaurant.  Spending the evening frying potato skins, cheese, and other assorted foods left a bad taste in my mouth.  (yes, pun intended)  Although, the occasional mess up with the molten lava chocolate cake wasn’t awful.

 

Amber:  The worst job I ever had was working at a fast food sandwich shop.  The floors were so greasy I had to walk carefully so I didn’t slip and fall.  Then when I got home at night I smelled like the food even after a shower.  That one stayed with me for a long time!

 

Check out this video from Jimmy Fallon to hear about some more bad summer jobs!

 

 

The Good Times

Just as there are bad summer jobs, there are also good ones. Maybe nothing particularly dramatic happened, but they still hold a fond place in our memories.

 

Pam:  The best summer job I had was working at Handy Dan’s Hardware Store.  I basically got paid to walk around and show people where the hammers were located.  Yes…that is all I did.  The best part was that I learned about tools.  I don’t know how to use them, but I know where to find them in a hardware store!

 

Jennifer:  My most fun summer job was being a lifeguard at a water park in my hometown. I got to make saves in the wavepool, make up fun songs about saving lives with my coworkers, and get some sweet tan lines!

 

Amber:  I loved working at Great Wolf Lodge!  I got to work with children in the Cub Club.  We played outside, tie dyed shirts, I got to read them stories at bedtime and of course there was the fun mascot who the kids really loved.

 

Wacky Hijinks

Whether the summer job itself is good or bad, it’s the funny stories and the crazy moments that stand out the most.

 

Krista:  While in high school I was a nanny and I had my first experience as a dental professional.  The little one that I was in charge was jumping on the trampoline.  After awhile she got off and placed both of her two front teeth in my hand!

 

Jen:  Assisting with Root Canals on Saturdays while I was going through hygiene school. I really enjoyed my doctor and he usually treated me to bagels in the morning. At 20 years old, that was pretty awesome. He was new to the specialist world and told great stories. The patients actually enjoyed their root canals and gave us lots of compliments by the time they were finished. It was a great feeling to help get people out of pain!

 

Now, It’s YOUR Turn!

What was YOUR most memorable summer job? Share your own experiences in the comments section below or send us a message on our Facebook page!

 

Thanks for being a part of our practice’s story!

 

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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