Is Dry Mouth Serious? 

Think back to the last time your nose was so stuffy you had no choice but to breathe out of your mouth. Do you remember what your mouth felt like? It was probably dry, scratchy, and almost sticky. This is appropriately known as dry mouth. While dry mouth is an annoying and uncomfortable feeling, it’s usually not serious when experienced occasionally. However, if you have a dry mouth that doesn’t go away, it could lead to some concerning oral health problems for your dentist in Wicker Park

What’s So Bad About Dry Mouth? 
When your mouth feels dry it means that your salivary glands aren’t producing enough saliva to keep the inside of your mouth wet and well lubricated. This can be a problem if it happens day after day. Healthy mouths need saliva in order to help fight off damaging bacteria and acids that can cause decay or other oral health problems. But when there’s enough saliva to rinse away these acids and bacteria, your teeth are at risk. 

Causes of Dry Mouth
Like many ailments, unfortunately, there’s no one cause for dry mouth. But there are a few top culprits that your Wicker Park dentist sees regularly. Some of the most common causes of dry mouth include: 

  • Dehydration – Perhaps the most common explanation behind dry mouth is simply dehydration or not drinking enough water. It’s important to drink at least eight 8 ounce glasses of water throughout the day every day to keep your mouth (and your body) properly hydrated. If you work out or just sweat a lot, you will need to up your water intake. Usually, dry mouth caused by dehydration is quickly reversed once you replenish your body with lost water. However, if your dry mouth still doesn’t go away, you should consider other explanations.
  • Medications – Medications are another common cause of dry mouth. Now, dry mouth caused by medicine doesn’t usually go away by drinking water and staying hydrated. It’s usually chronic and ongoing. Both prescription and over-the-counter medications are known to cause dry mouth. In fact, there are hundreds, if not thousands, of meds that list dry mouth as a side effect. Make sure you read the precautions and common side effects of any medicine you take, and if you notice that your medication may be causing dry mouth, talk with your dentist in Wicker Park. Never stop taking medication without talking to your doctor.
  • Alcohol & Tobacco – Those who use tobacco products or drink alcohol regularly are more likely to have dry mouth. Both tobacco and alcohol are naturally drying, and when they’re introduced to the mouth regularly, dry mouth can become a chronic condition. 
  • Disease Have you ever wondered why your dentist needs to know your whole health history and not just your oral health history? The reason behind this is because there are many ways your oral health affects your overall health and vice versa. For example, some diseases and medical conditions can cause dry mouth, and in turn, increase the risk of decay. Some common diseases that have been linked with dry mouth include diabetes, Parkinson’s, HIV/AIDS, and Sjögren’s syndrome. Make sure you’re honest with your dentist about your overall health so you can get the best dental care for you.

How Can You Treat Dry Mouth? 
Every person’s case of dry mouth is different, and that means that treatment will vary depending on what’s causing the dry mouth in the first place. Your dentist in Wicker Park will be able to help you find the best dry mouth treatment for you, but it’s also important to make sure you’re doing all the right things at home to help. Make sure you: 

  • Drink enough water 
  • Limit or avoid caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco
  • Chew sugarless gum to help boost saliva production

If you’re concerned dry mouth may be causing dental problems, or you’re just ready to get dry mouth relief once and for all, call our dental office to schedule an appointment. We’re always happy to help. 

Sun’s Out, Gums Out: How Sunshine Benefits Oral Health

sunshineWe’re heading into the dog days of summer, which typically means really hot days and a lot of sunshine. This can be great for enjoying some time in the pool, on the lake, or at the beach, but your dentist in Wicker Park wants you to know that all of this sun can also be great for your oral and overall health thanks to the extra boost of vitamin D. 

The Power of Vitamin D

The sun is a pretty powerful thing — it helps us grow food, it keeps us warm, and it prevents the planet from turning into a giant ice ball. But the sun’s benefits run even deeper. In fact, we have the sun to thank for helping our bodies stay happy and healthy thanks to a little thing called vitamin D. Vitamin D is an essential vitamin that helps our overall and oral health in so many ways, such as: 

  • Calcium AbsorptionWe all know that calcium is needed to help build strong bones and teeth. But your dentist in Wicker Park also knows that without vitamin D, the benefits of calcium don’t go as far. Calcium needs vitamin D in order to absorb properly and completely, and in order for your body to get all of the benefits of calcium. 
  • Protection Against Tooth DecaySimilarly to the above, several studies also suggest a positive correlation between vitamin D and the prevention of tooth decay. Researchers have even shown that vitamin D can lower the risk of tooth decay by 50%!
  • Immune System SupportVitamin D can also help support the immune system and help it function properly. While this connection is complex, there is proof that vitamin D helps regulate and balance the immune system to protect us from germs, viruses, and infections. 

The best way to get vitamin D is through some good old fashioned sunshine. But as we all know, too much sun can have negative effects, such as a painful sunburn and an increased risk for skin cancer. Enjoy sunlight in moderation and know your limits. Most researchers agree that anywhere between 5 and 30 minutes of sunshine a day is all it takes to get enough vitamin D. 

Good Sources of Vitamin D

Getting enough vitamin D can be difficult, especially during winter months or over several days of dreary, rainy weather. When the sun isn’t an option, you can get your vitamin D by choosing foods that contain it. Some foods that are good sources of vitamin D are: 

  • Fatty fish such as salmon or tuna
  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Fortified cereal, orange juice, or yogurt 

Knowing all of the benefits associated with sunshine and vitamin D, trust your dentist in Wicker Park when they say to get outside, enjoy the weather, and soak up some rays. Just make sure you limit your exposure to direct sunlight and wear sunscreen if you’ll be outside for an extended period of time. 

What You Need to Know About Lip and Tongue Piercings

man with facial piercingOral piercings, including lip and tongue piercings, are nothing new. In fact, they have actually been around since the Mayans. However, this form of self-expression doesn’t come without its risks. If you’re considering getting your lip or tongue pierced, read this information from your dentist in Wicker Park before you go under the needle. 

Know The Risks

Like any type of piercing, a tongue or lip piercing requires your body to undergo minor trauma as well as introduces a foreign, metal object into your body. As a result, there are a few risks associated with an oral piercing such as: 

  • Infection. One of the most common side effects of piercings is infection. While infection can happen with any type of piercing, oral piercings may be more susceptible thanks to the ideal warm and moist environment the mouth provides, along with the fact that the mouth is already home to tons of bacteria. This type of environment is the perfect place for the bacteria to flourish and cause an infection. While these infections can be minor, there is a chance of a serious, life-threatening infection, too. Some infections may cause the tongue to swell, making it difficult to breathe.
  • Tooth & Nerve Damage. You’ve probably noticed that those with a pierced tongue or lip tend to play with the piercing a lot. This constant clicking and clanking of metal against teeth increase the likelihood of tooth damage – such as chipped teeth, broken teeth, and worn enamel – which can expose teeth to bacteria and decay. Damage to teeth will need to be fixed by your dentist in Wicker Park before it leads to bigger and potentially painful problems. But that’s not all. There’s also the risk of nerve damage. Our tongues are home to a lot of nerves, and if the piercing needle hits one at the wrong angle, you may experience temporary or sometimes permanent numbness. This nerve damage can also affect your sense of taste and how you speak. 
  • Gum Disease. Teeth and nerves aren’t the only things that can be damaged by tongue or lip piercings. Gum tissue is also at risk for damage caused by a lip or tongue ring. While that may sound like a minor inconvenience, the truth is that once gum tissue is damaged, it makes it incredibly easy for mouth bacteria to work their way up under the gums and settle in, resulting in gum disease. Gum disease is a serious concern for your dentist in Wicker Park as it can lead to chronic bad breath, tooth loss, and even whole-body health concerns such as heart disease. 

Protect Yourself

We’re not here to tell you that you can’t get a tongue or lip piercing, but we do encourage you to take the necessary steps to protect yourself against the risks above. Some things you can do include: 

  • Pick a professional piercer with a good track record and high sterilization standards. If they can’t answer your questions about safety and sanitation, choose someone else.
  • After you get the piercing, clean it well and clean it often to help minimize your risk of infection. 
  • Rinse your mouth out with water after you eat to help wash away any food particles that may have gotten stuck in your piercing. 
  • Avoid playing with your piercing to minimize the chance of tooth and gum damage. 
  • Oral hygiene is even more important for those with an oral piercing so make sure you maintain great oral hygiene at home and see your dentist in Wicker Park every six months

Most importantly, know the signs of infection and seek medical care immediately if you notice swelling, redness, fever, chills, or uncontrollable shaking. 

If you have any questions or concerns about oral piercings, talk with your dentist

“Why Do My Gums Hurt?”

man examines his gumsYou probably already know that when your teeth hurt, you should see your dentist in Wicker Park as soon as you can. But what do you do if you’re experiencing gum pain? When your gums hurt, it may be a sign of something serious happening in your mouth, or it could be something minor. How do you know the difference? Here are some of the common explanations behind why your gums may hurt. 

Gum Disease

One of the most common signs of gum disease is painful, swollen, red gums. You may experience increased pain when brushing or flossing your teeth, and you may also notice that your gums bleed during those activities. Gum disease is a serious oral health condition that doesn’t happen suddenly but rather over time and often due to poor oral hygiene. If left untreated, gum disease can lead a whole host of both oral and overall health concerns such as tooth loss, heart disease, kidney disease, and even some cancers. However, if caught early, gum disease can be treated successfully. This is one reason why seeing your dentist in Wicker Park every six months is so important. 

Oral Cancer

Another possible explanation for gum pain can be oral cancer. Even though oral cancer can affect the tongue, cheeks, throat, or the gums, it’s important to talk with your dentist in Wicker Park about any changes in your mouth, especially if they cause pain or are accompanied by a sore that doesn’t go away. Oral cancer usually presents itself as a sore, but it doesn’t necessarily have to feel sore, too, so make sure to monitor any abnormalities and report to your dentist sooner rather than later if they don’t go away. Oral cancer can be treated successfully, but the earlier it’s caught, the more successful treatment tends to be. 

Canker Sores

Speaking of sores in the mouth, canker sores are incredibly common and usually no cause for concern. However, they can cause gum pain. There’s no magic treatment to making a canker sore go away, and they will usually disappear on their own. But again, if what started out as what you thought was only a canker sore doesn’t get better on its own, a visit to a dentist in Wicker Park should be the next step. 

Hormones

Now, this explanation behind gum pain only applies to women, but it’s certainly worth mentioning. During different times in a woman’s life, she goes through hormonal changes, especially during menstruation or pregnancy. One area that can be affected by these shifts in hormone level is the gums. It’s common for women to experience swollen or bleeding gums during both pregnancy and a few days before their periods. The pain is usually temporary but you should still discuss it with your dentist. 

If you’re experiencing any gum pain, it’s important to call and schedule an appointment with your dentist in Wicker Park. The pain may be minor and nothing that requires treatment, however, it’s better to get it checked out so that any potential problems are caught early and treatment can begin before the problem gets bigger. 

Migraines & Dentistry

migraine manAn estimated 39 million Americans suffer from headaches or migraines regularly. That’s about 12% of our population that experience these often debilitating, painful, and difficult-to-treat neurological conditions. However, even though this is such a widespread problem, there’s still the need for more research to determine just what causes a headache or migraine, how to prevent them and treat them, and eventually, how to cure them. That’s why every June, medical professionals, including your dentist in Wicker Park, join together to raise awareness and increase education about headaches and migraines during National Migraine & Headache Awareness Month

How to Differentiate Between a Headache and Migraine

Oftentimes, the terms headache and migraine are used interchangeably. However, they are technically two separate conditions and present themselves with similar, yet different, symptoms. Both conditions involve pain in the head and it can either be a throbbing or dull pain in both. But there are a few differences in other symptoms that can help identify whether you have a headache or a migraine.  

Headache Symptoms

  • Pain is usually spread throughout the head
  • Pain remains consistent and doesn’t tend to worsen with activity
  • Usually has the feeling of constant pressure 
  • Symptoms are localized to only the head

Migraine Symptoms

  • Pain usually affects one side of the head more than the other, but not always
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Blurry vision
  • Nausea
  • Aura symptoms such as blind spots, zig-zag lines, or shimmery, glowy patches

Are Migraines and Headaches Related to Dentistry?

We know that it may seem odd to have your dentist in Wicker Park talk about conditions that seemingly only affect the head, but the truth is, there may be a connection between chronic headaches and migraines and dentistry. After all, the head is connected to the neck which is connected to the jaw, and there are muscle groups connected to each, so it’s certainly worth a closer look. 

Numerous studies have shown a potential correlation between a poor bite as well as habitually grinding or clenching teeth and an increased risk of chronic headaches or migraines. When someone has a poor bite or constantly grinds their teeth together, the muscles in the jaw joint are under constant and abnormal pressure and may cause a painful condition known as TMD (or TMJ). But the pain may not end at the jaw joint alone. As we’ve mentioned earlier, the head, neck, and jaw are all connected through a complex system of muscles, so when pain affects one section, it can also spread to affect other areas, such as the head. The theory researchers are studying regularly is that this constant muscular pressure may just cause certain headaches or migraines. 

We always encourage migraine and headache sufferers to talk with their primary care physician, as well as their dentist in Wicker Park, to see if their pain may be caused, or a least exacerbated by, something related to their oral health. Additionally, there is no concrete cause of migraines or headaches, so intervention from your medical team is necessary to diagnose just what may be causing your individual migraines or headaches in order to determine how to treat them effectively. 

The Benefits of Xylitol

sweetenerYou’ll always hear your dentist in Wicker Park talk about the importance of brushing and flossing your teeth to maintain a healthy mouth. But it may come as a surprise to you to hear your dentist talk about the benefits of chewing gum. That’s exactly what we’re here to do. However, not just any gum will do. It’s important to check the ingredients. Does it contain sugar? It’s no good. How about high fructose corn syrup or saccharine? No, those aren’t great either. What about xylitol? Now that’s the good stuff! Let’s check out why this sweetener gets our seal of approval.

Xylitol: 101

While xylitol is yet another sugar substitute, it’s actually quite different from many others available at your local grocery store. First of all, xylitol is natural — it’s found in fruits, veggies, and even in our bodies during digestion. Second, xylitol tastes like sugar but doesn’t act like sugar once it’s in our bodies. This means you can still have a sweet treat without all of the negative side effects of actual sugar. You see, sugar is pretty harmful to our overall health. It can spike blood glucose levels and, over time, cause difficulties with your metabolism. This may result in weight gain or make it difficult to lose weight. Xylitol, on the other hand, is low in calories (it has 40% fewer calories than sugar!) and has a low glycemic index. As a result, blood glucose levels are nearly unaffected by xylitol, and bodies are protected. But that’s not all. As your dentist in Wicker Park knows, xylitol may protect oral health, too. 

The Protective Power of Xylitol

We already know that xylitol is a healthier alternative to sugar and can protect our bodies. But the oral benefits of xylitol are also plentiful. Chewing gum that contains xylitol may: 

  • Prevent tooth decay
  • Starve bacteria
  • Prevent oral inflammation
  • Reduce your risk of gum disease
  • Remineralize teeth
  • Increase saliva production
  • Reduce the acidity of your saliva
  • Help with calcium absorption 

How does xylitol do all of that? We’re glad you asked. 

Essentially, xylitol starves a dangerous bacteria commonly found in our mouths called Streptococcus mutans. These bacteria love to feed on sugar as it gives them fuel and allows them to multiply, which is a big problem. Streptococcus mutans is the main cause of plaque buildup, and when there are too many Streptococcus mutans, there’s probably also too much plaque. The result? An increased likelihood of developing cavities. But when we replace sugar with xylitol, we see a much different result. Streptococcus mutans bacteria will still feed on the xylitol, but instead of fueling the bacteria, xylitol actually starves them and they start to die. This means fewer bacteria and a lower risk of decay. 

Even though chewing xylitol gum can go a long way in protecting teeth, it is not a replacement for good old-fashioned oral hygiene. Yes, gum can freshen breath, and yes, xylitol can help prevent decay, but if you don’t brush and you don’t floss, and if you don’t see your dentist in Wicker Park regularly, chances are xylitol won’t be enough to protect your teeth. 

Asthma & Oral Health

asthma inhalerMay is Asthma Awareness Month, a time when both healthcare professionals and asthma patients come together to raise awareness of the common chronic disease, as well as share things that can improve asthma sufferers’ lives. Your dentist in Wicker Park may seem like an odd person to talk about asthma, but the truth is, there is a connection between asthma and oral health, and we’d like to do our part to help.

What’s Dentistry Got To Do With It?

Asthma affects 1 in every 13 Americans, or close to 25 million people just in our part of the world. This life-long condition affects the respiratory system and can cause shortness of breath, wheezing, coughing, and chest tightness. It’s a very serious condition that can be treated, but if it’s not treated properly or quickly enough, it can lead to death. So how exactly does this relate to dentistry? 

Mouth Breathing
People with asthma tend to have a hard time breathing and feel as if they can’t get enough oxygen with each breath. Because of this, many asthma patients will breathe out of their mouths instead of their noses, since they can get more air into the lungs this way. However, your dentist in Wicker Park wants you to know that mouth breathing doesn’t come without risks. Mouth breathing can reduce saliva amounts, as well as the body’s ability to produce more saliva, resulting in dry mouth. Dry mouth is an oral health condition that may seem like only a minor, uncomfortable nuisance, but the truth is dry mouth can increase the risk of decay, cavities, bad breath, and gum disease. Usually, saliva will rinse away bacteria and neutralize acids in the mouth, protecting teeth against their damaging effects. However, when a mouth is too dry to do this, bacteria and acids can attack teeth, resulting in decay. Additionally, when bacteria are left to linger around, it can lead to bad breath. 

Asthma Treatments

Similar to mouth breathing, many asthma treatments, such as inhalers, also cause dry mouth. As we know, a dry mouth is a perfect environment for bacteria and acids to cause damage. If patients do notice a dry mouth after taking their medication, they should talk with their doctor and dentist in Wicker Park to find ways to relieve dry mouth. Never stop taking a medication without first consulting with your physician. 

What You Can Do

There is some good news for asthma patients who are dealing with dry mouth as a result of either medication or mouth breathing. There are things you can do decrease your risk of oral health problems such as: 

  • Staying Hydrated. Water is one of the most important things for everyone, whether they’re an asthma patient or not. Drinking enough water throughout the day helps keep the mouth moist and helps to wash away bacteria and food particles as well as neutralize damaging acids. 
  • Rinsing With Water. A quick rinse of water after taking asthma medication will help get rid of any ingredients that contribute to dry mouth so they aren’t left lingering around all day. The more remnants of medication you can remove, the lower the chance of dry mouth. 
  • Talking to Your Dentist. Your dentist is a part of your healthcare team and needs to know about any health conditions you have, including asthma. Knowing your health history helps your dental team customize treatment for you and notifies them to be on the lookout for any oral health concerns that may result from other health problems in the rest of the body.

As always, the best ways to protect oral health against decay, bad breath, and gum disease are to brush and floss every day and to see your dentist in Wicker Park every six months for checkups and professional cleanings, whether you’re an asthma patient or not. 

Reduce Your Risk of a Dental Emergency

emergency room signDental emergencies can be scary and painful. Most often, these emergencies are a result of an unexpected accident, but other times they can be avoided by taking certain preventive measures. Join your dentist in Wicker Park as we share some easy ways you can reduce your risk of a dental emergency.  

  • Don’t Chew on Anything That’s Not Food. Our teeth are meant to help us chew and digest our food. But that doesn’t mean we should chew on non-food items. Nibbling on pen caps, pencils, fingernails, or other foreign objects can increase your risk of chipping or cracking a tooth, breaking a tooth, or injuring the soft tissues in your mouth. If it’s not food, keep it out of your mouth.
  • Be Careful With the Food You Chew. So, even though we talked about how your teeth are specifically designed to help us chew our food, some foods can also increase the risk of tooth damage. Be careful when snacking on popcorn, hard fruits or vegetables, and even nuts. These foods are tough to chew, and if you catch a popcorn kernel or bite into a tough nut when you’re not expecting it, you can easily crack or chip a tooth or dental restoration. Lastly, avoid crunching on ice cubes. These frozen blocks are notorious for creating chips, cracks, and fractures in teeth. 
  • Choose Water. Water is the best beverage to both hydrate our bodies and to keep our oral health in tip-top shape. Other beverages such as soft drinks, fruit juices, and sports drinks may seem refreshing, but they are packed with sugar and acid. These two ingredients are a particularly bad combination for your teeth as they can both contribute to decay and weakened enamel. 
  • Avoid Tobacco. All forms of tobacco, including cigarettes, cigars, and chewing tobacco damage teeth and can not only increase the likelihood of experiencing a dental emergency, but they can also cause long-term, serious complications to both your oral health and overall health. Tobacco users tend to be at greater risk of oral cancer, gum disease, and even tooth loss. 
  • Limit Your Snack Times. Snacking can be good for you, but constantly snacking can be dangerous to your oral health. When we snack multiple times throughout the day, we’re continuously introducing food particles into our mouths. Why is this concerning to your dentist in Wicker Park? Well, more food particles in your mouth mean more bacteria. And a constant stream of foodstuffs regularly fuels the bacteria and keeps them active. As a result, the bacteria are constantly releasing an acidic byproduct, increasing your risk of decay and cavities. 

Following the tips above won’t guarantee the prevention of a dental emergency, but they can help lower the risk and keep your mouth healthy. Of course, making sure to follow a strict oral hygiene routine at home is also important to protect your smile. Brushing twice a day, floss once a day, and see your dentist in Wicker Park regularly.*

If you think you may have a dental emergency, call your dentist to determine the best course of action for your specific needs. 

*At the time of publishing, the ADA has recommended the postponement of all preventive dental appointments. Please check your local recommendations.

Oral Health Dos & Don’ts

woman brushing teethWith all of the uncertainty in the world today, we understand that your oral health may not be the first thing on your mind. But even though we’re temporarily postponing all elective dental procedures, your dentist in Wicker Park wants you to know that we’re still thinking about you and your oral health. We’re here for you during this tough time and want to help any way we can, which is why we’ve compiled a guide of oral health dos and don’ts that can help keep your teeth, gums, and entire mouth healthy until we can see you again. 

Up First: The Dos

We like leading with the positive so let’s first focus on what you should do to protect your teeth during your at-home oral hygiene routine. 

  • Brush & FlossThe benefits of regularly brushing and flossing your teeth are undeniable, and you should continue to brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day (even if you’re not leaving the house). Cleaning your teeth and removing debris from between them goes a long way in keeping your breath fresh and eliminating bacteria. 
  • Replace Your ToothbrushYour toothbrush needs to be in good condition to do its job effectively. For this reason, your dentist in Wicker Park recommends replacing your toothbrush at least every 3-4 months or as soon as you notice the bristles starting to fray. You should also get a new toothbrush if you get sick. 
  • Store Your Toothbrush CorrectlyBelieve it or not, there is a right way to store your toothbrush — upright and uncovered. 
  • Wash Your HandsThis advice is everywhere today and one that we wholeheartedly agree with. Washing your hands several times a day helps reduce the risk of getting sick. You should also wash your hands prior to brushing your teeth or flossing. 
  • Disinfect Your ToothbrushA recent study found that 0.5% hydrogen peroxide effectively reduces coronavirus infectivity. To make this solution: 
    • Mix 1 fl oz of 3% hydrogen peroxide with 5 fl oz of water
    • Soak your toothbrush in the mixture for 10 minutes. Dump out the mixture. 
    • Rinse your toothbrush prior to brushing.

Now: The Don’ts

Just like there are things you should do to protect your oral health, there are also things that you should avoid if at all possible. 

  • Don’t Share Your ToothbrushYour toothbrush is yours and yours alone. Don’t share it with anyone, including other family members. Doing so can easily transfer bodily fluids from you to them or from them to you. 
  • Don’t Allow Family Brushes to TouchSimilarly to the above, you shouldn’t allow family members’ toothbrushes to touch while being stored. Make sure they’re kept a few inches away from each other. 
  • Don’t Bite Your NailsMillions of Americans bite their nails, but now may be a good time to work on breaking that habit. Not only does nail biting easily spread bacteria from whatever may be lurking under our fingernails to our mouths, but it can also damage teeth. 

As of the publishing date, the American Dental Association (ADA) has recommended the postponement of any preventive or routine dental care for three weeks. During this time, your dentist in Wicker Park wants to encourage you to do everything you can to take care of your smile, including following the tips above. Stay healthy, and we hope to see you soon.

National Nutrition Month

nutritionEvery March is recognized as National Nutrition Month and is sponsored by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Its purpose is to raise awareness of just how important it is to eat healthily. But good nutrition doesn’t only benefit our bodies, it can also help protect your oral health. Join your dentist in Wicker Park as we do our part in promoting good dietary habits for your oral health and whole-body health. 

Simplifying Nutrition

The truth is, eating right doesn’t sound too difficult. But fully understanding nutrition and those crazy nutrition labels can be confusing. The basics are, well, basic — don’t eat too much sugar, avoid indulging in fast food, eat more vegetables, etc. However, truly fueling your body with what it needs to perform at its best is complicated. In fact, even the Food Guide Pyramid from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has changed twice since it was created in 1992. And the current MyPlate dietary guidelines are individualized based on age, gender, height, weight, and daily activity level. Essentially, what’s right for one person may not be right for another. No wonder we’re all confused! The best way to find out the best dietary recommendations for you is to check out the MyPlate checklist to find your ideal combination of: 

  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Whole Grains
  • Lean Proteins
  • Dairy

Nutrition & Oral Health

We know that eating a healthy, well-balanced diet can certainly benefit our bodies and help keep us healthy. The same is true for your oral health. Sugary foods, carbs, and acidic foods and drinks can definitely put teeth at risk for decreased enamel protection and, as a result, more susceptible to decay and cavities. Try your best to avoid those foods in high quantities. Instead, choose some of the best foods for your smile (and your body) including: 

  • Cheese
  • Fatty Fish
  • Eggs
  • Raw Veggies – especially the crunchy ones!
  • Water

More on Sugar

It’s no secret that your dentist in Wicker Park really, really doesn’t like sugar. This is because sugar is one of the top contributors to decay. When we eat sugary foods, the bacteria in our mouths feed on the sugar and release an acidic byproduct. This acid attacks tooth enamel, weakening it, which makes it easier for bacteria to find its way into teeth’s tiny nooks and crannies. The result? Decay, cavities, and the need for dental treatment such as fillings or even a root canal. Reduced tooth enamel can also make teeth very sensitive to hot or cold or change the color from bright white to a dull, darker appearance. 

However, sweet treats aren’t the only snacks that are packed with sugars. In fact, there are foods out there that don’t even taste sweet but have the same effect. Carbohydrates have something called the hidden sugar effect. As we eat them, carbs break down into simple sugars, and we know what happens in our mouth when we give the bacteria sugar. So even if you don’t have a traditional sweet tooth, check out the nutrition labels and try to limit not only foods with high sugar content but also those with a lot of carbs. 

Choosing healthier meals and snacks for you and your family can help you all live a healthy life. Eating foods that are good for your body can also protect your teeth from the damaging effects of sugar and acid. Try to pick foods that are good for you overall. Your body, your smile, your dentist in Wicker Park will thank you for it.  

(312)818-2441
Monica Urda, DDS
1755 W North Avenue
Chicago, IL 60622
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