You take the time to brush and floss your teeth because you want a brighter smile. But how often do you think about ways to improve the health of your gums? Most people don’t realize that their gums play a vital role in the beauty of their smile.
If you don’t take care of your gums, several conditions could cause problems that will affect the look and feel of your entire mouth. Learn why gum health is so important and how to make your gums healthier in 5 minutes or less.
Why Do Gums Matter?
You’ve probably heard of gum disease, but do you really know what it is? This annoying infection can affect your teeth and all the surrounding tissues in your mouth. Because the disease doesn’t cause pain, many people don’t know they have it. So why does it matter? Gum disease is a leading cause of tooth loss in adults.
Gum disease occurs when plaque is not removed through proper brushing and flossing. You won’t feel any pain when you have gum disease so make sure you recognize the warning signs and get help if needed. The most common and well known form of gum disease is gingivitis. The condition involves the inflammation of the gingiva or gums surrounding the necks of the teeth, and is caused by plaque developing along the gumline. Symptoms include red and swollen gums, as well as gum bleeding, which can be seen on your toothbrush or at a dental exam.
The second-most common periodontal disease is “periodontitis.” Like gingivitis, it is caused by bacterial plaque, but it can cause loss of bone support within the teeth. It can be treated or prevented, but rarely can the damage be reversed. Periodontitis can occur if gingivitis is left untreated. Signs of periodontitis, like gingivitis, include red and swollen gums, and bleeding. The formation of gum pockets around the teeth may also occur, which is defined by an opening around the gum tissue of the teeth. This allows bacteria and the formation of tartar to get deeper under the gum line. This deepening of the pocket is associated with bone loss, and can lead to tooth loss if left untreated.
Talk to Dr. Jaleel, your Ottawa Nepean dentist or one of our fantastic dental hygienists during you visit about the presence of:
- Bleeding gums
- Red or swollen gums
- Bad breath that won’t go away
- Loose teeth
- Receding gums (gums that are pulling away from your teeth)
When gum disease becomes more advanced, it is called periodontitis. This condition can result in the development of periodontal pockets, swollen gum tissue, lose of bone that could lead to tooth loss.
Improve Gum Health
You can prevent gum disease with simple steps that take just a few minutes. Proper brushing and flossing techniques are essential. After you floss, follow these steps to brush both your teeth and your gums:
- Proper angle – Make sure you hold your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle towards the gumline.
- Short strokes – Move the brush back and forth in short gentle strokes brushing both the front and back of your teeth and gums.
- Use the tip – To get behind your front teeth, use the tip of the brush on the top and on the bottom teeth.
- Brush your tongue – Keep your mouth fresh by brushing your tongue.
And lastly, improve gum health and prevent tooth decay with regular visits to Dr. Jaleel!
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If the buzzing sound of a dental drill or the latex smell of the office gives you familiar chills, rather than making a dental appointment, you’re not alone. Millions of people avoid getting necessary treatment because they fear going to the dentist. Although there may be many reasons for your anxiety, however, modern dentistry and those trained to help dental-phobic patients can make facing your fears less frightening than you think.
Cause of the Fear
Someone with an intense fear of the dentist is usually reacting to memories of a past unpleasant experience, whether it’s the result of a painful incident or similarly upsetting life event. Those who experience mild anxiety before a dental appointment, on the other hand, may just be nervous about a procedure they have yet to experience. Still others equate a dental visit with pain because their last experience wasn’t as pleasant as today’s pain-free dentistry allows.
Fear of needles or a sensitive gag reflex can also cause people to avoid going to the dentist, as can the embarrassment of someone seeing the condition of their teeth if they haven’t been treated in a while. Feelings of helplessness or loss of control when in the dental chair can create phobias as well. They can even come out of flippant or insensitive remarks by a dentist or another staff member. Keep in mind the apprehension of going to the dentist can also be learned and passed down from parent to child.
Facing Your Fear
If you haven’t been to a dentist for over a year because of a deep-seated fear, your teeth and gums may be paying the price. The good news is Dr. Jaleel understand these fears and has plenty of experience making dental appointments more comfortable for their patients. Whether you suffer paralyzing fear of the dentist or experience just a little apprehension, here are a few suggestions that can help make your next dental visit a positive experience
1. Ask friends and family.
If you don’t already have a dentist, ask people you trust about their own dentist and if they are happy with their provider. Word of mouth is a great way to find a good dentist.
2. Search for a dentist online.
Many dental offices have web sites where you can learn about their practices, the type of services they offer, meet the staff and learn what values and goals the practice wants to achieve with patients. If you have found a few dental practices that look promising, ask friends and neighbors if they are patients or if they know anything about them. We welcome you to come in for a visit and speak to the members of our team.
3. Talk about your feelings.
Another important point to remember is to communicate with Dr. Jaleel and the staff. Don’t be shy! You are not the first patient who ever felt nervous or anxious. Convey your concerns and fears before a procedure or if you experience any discomfort during your visit. It is very important to have clear and open communication with your dental professional. Talking will make your dental experience more relaxed and pleasant.
4. Ask questions.
Ask our dental team to inform you about the type of dental treatment they recommend based upon your unique oral health needs. Once a treatment plan has been developed, ask your dentist to explain the procedures in detail. Knowing what to expect before it happens can help put your mind at ease.
If you are uptight or nervous prior to a procedure, talk to Dr. Jaleel about ways to make the experience easier. Nitrous oxide or other medications to help you relax can be prescribed depending on the level of your anxiety. We will make every effort to make your visit comforting and stress-free.
Today, many elderly adults can proudly say that they have all of their natural teeth. How did they do it? More often than not, just a lifetime of good dental hygiene and routine dental visits. But as you get older, maintaining your oral health becomes more challenging, and you may have to step up your game.
Certain conditions of aging increase your risk of dental problems. Dr. Jaleel is has over 20-years of dental experience in Nepean Ottawa and has seen patients of all ages. This blog post will hopefully inform you of how aging can affect your dental health. By knowing those risks and putting your dental hygiene into high gear, you can prevent these complications.
Did you know, 25 percent of adults between the ages of 65 and 74 have severe gum disease? Because periodontal (gum) disease damages the bone and tissue surrounding your teeth, tooth loss can result if left untreated. Diabetes, osteoporosis and smoking can also further existing gum disease.
Be aware, however, that bacteria in your mouth are the culprits. With a consistent homecare routine and regular cleanings at your Ottawa dentist, Dr. Jaleel’s office, you can fight this bacteria and prevent gum infection.
Dry mouth is a common complaint as well among older individuals. A decrease in saliva can come as a side effect of medications, cancer and radiation treatments or some other underlying disease. Saliva neutralizes the bacterial toxins in your mouth, and without it, these germs can build up on your teeth or any exposed root surfaces. Just when you thought the cavity-prone years were over!
Limiting sugary foods and regular brushing and flossing are vital. Moisturize by drinking plenty of water, chewing sugarless gum, sucking on lozenges and even making sure your nasal passages are clear so your mouth doesn’t do all of the breathing.
Worn-Out Dental Work
Like it or not, if you’re getting older, so is your existing dental work. Old fillings that were installed years ago can start to leak or break down, causing decay underneath. At the first sign of sensitivity or pain, see Dr. Jaleel. Extensive treatment, like root canals and crowns, can be prevented if leaky or broken fillings are restored early enough.
Your risk of oral cancer increases as you age. In fact, it occurs more commonly in patients over the age of 40. However, your biggest risk factor is smoking and drinking alcohol; remember that it’s never too late to make lifestyle changes. Dr. Jaleel can screen for oral cancer at regular dental checkups, and when caught early, it can be successfully treated.
Overcoming Obstacles to Good Dental Hygiene
If painful arthritis or another physical limitation makes brushing and flossing more difficult for you, Dr. Jaleel can suggest dental products to simplify homecare while still cleaning your teeth effectively. Electric toothbrushes, special bristle patterns, floss holders and interdental cleaners are a few alternatives that can make a big difference to your oral hygiene.
Mouth health isn’t always a top priority for a busy hospital staff. So during a hospital stay, it may be necessary for you or your family to request special assistance with your oral hygiene needs. If you’ve chosen to enter a nursing home, make sure you inquire about the quality and consistency of the dental care provided at the facility.
No-Fail Formula for Keeping Your Teeth
Brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and flossing daily is as essential now as it was when you were younger, and you never outgrow your need for regular dental checkups and cleanings. At theses routine visits, Dr. Jaleel will check for decay, broken or leaky fillings, monitor the health of your gums, conduct an oral cancer screening and advise you on how to handle any challenges you might have at home.
If you’re a senior who prefers to feel and act younger than you are, you can ensure your oral health keeps up.
Every day, more people quit smoking, join a gym or start eating healthier. And although it’s important to be conscious of the type of food you consume, you shouldn’t overlook the beverages you drink as well. Not only are some loaded with hidden calories, but they do a number on your oral health. What is the worst drink for your teeth, though? There’s isn’t one that tops the list. Here are five beverages to avoid and why.
There used to be an commercial jingle that told you to “have a” certain soda “and a smile.” Unfortunately, showing your teeth is the last thing you’d want to do having had enough of it. The acids and sugar byproducts in soda heighten your risk of cavities by softening the teeth’s protective enamel.
What Do Sugary Drinks Do to Teeth?
It’s widely known that regular consumption of sugary beverages is not good for you, but even the occasional indulgence can have negative effects on your oral health. When you have one of these drinks, the sugar latches on to your teeth. Bacteria that are normally found inside your mouth eat away at the sugar these drinks leave behind. However, as the bacteria consumes the sugar, it begins to produce acid. Eventually, the acid begins to eat away some of the enamel on your teeth. This makes the teeth thinner and weaker. As the enamel weakens, the likelihood of developing cavities becomes greater. Sugary drinks are known as one of the most common dietary causes of tooth decay.
A morning cup of coffee is a daily routine for millions of people. However, coffee’s natural brown color can turn your teeth an ugly yellow by revealing the dentin beneath your enamel. Sugar is a popular additive to coffee, too, and can increase one’s risk of cavities in the same way as soda.
Not a fan of coffee? A soothing cup of tea gets you going each morning, and its antioxidants can do wonders for your body’s defense against oral cancer. Choose your flavor wisely, though; black tea and darker blends can stain your teeth in a similar manner as coffee.
Whether you prefer a nice glass of wine, cracking open a six-pack or your favorite liquor on the rocks, the strength of most alcoholic drinks can wear down enamel, as well. Its sugar content can also contribute to periodontal disease, whereas red wines – despite their antioxidants – leave particularly heavy stains over time.
5. Sports Drinks
After a challenging workout, some people like to replenish their electrolyte stores with a thirst-quenching sport drink. However, the high acid content in these drinks can damage tooth enamel even more than soda.
Not all drinks are bad for you, of course. You need certain liquids to maintain saliva flow and your teeth’s overall strength. Here are some you should never forget:
What to Drink?
Plain old tap water may lack taste, but it also has no sugar or artificial sweeteners that lead to tooth decay. Most towns and cities add fluoride to their water supply, not to mention it’s refreshing on a hot day or after a sweat-soaked workout.
Milk, too, does a body good. It’s also low in sugar and high in calcium, protein and phosphorus – all of which are helpful to building bone in your jaw. Another option if you’re craving something sweet to drink is juice. Although actual fruit is ideal, juices that are sourced 100-percent from fruit juice aren’t bad alternatives, either. Simply consume them in moderation.
Your dental health is an important part of your overall wellness, and the New Year is a great time to create resolutions for improving your health. Many people have dental health resolutions that range from improving their toothbrushing habits to completing delayed dental treatment. Understanding the benefits of your particular resolutions can be motivating and rewarding. Whatever your goals might be, it is important to take small steps to achieve them. Consistency is key with any resolution that you make.
Improving Toothbrushing and Flossing Habits
Perhaps you would like to improve your oral health. Daily toothbrushing and flossing is a sure and simple way to improve your oral health. For successful bacterial plaque removal, it is important to brush at least twice a day using an appropriately sized, soft-bristle, manual or electric toothbrush and fluoridated toothpaste. When you brush your teeth, gently position the toothbrush bristles at a 45-degree angle toward the gumline and move the toothbrush across the teeth to effectively remove bacterial plaque. It is also important to floss at least once per day to remove bacterial plaque and food that has accumulated throughout the day. Your toothbrush should be replaced every 3 to 4 months, as well as after you have a cold or flu or if the bristles are frayed. Daily toothbrushing and flossing help to prevent gingivitis (gum disease), tooth decay and halitosis (bad breath). The daily use of antimicrobial and fluoride mouth rinses also helps to improve your oral health.
Healthier Food and Beverage Choices
An important part of achieving your dental health resolutions is making healthier food and beverage choices, especially for snacks. Frequent consumption of food and beverages containing carbohydrates and acids contributes to tooth decay, so it is important to brush after snacking. Check out some of our earlier blogs on how to prepare healthy food for you and your kids.
Improving Your Smile
There are several smile-improving techniques that you can use while you brush and floss. In recent years, tooth whitening has acquired enormous popularity. It enhances the appearance of teeth by removing deep (intrinsic) or surface (extrinsic) stains. There are a number of tooth whitening products that can be purchased over-the-counter (OTC) for at-home use, administered by a dentist at the dental office or dispensed by a dentist for at-home use. Tooth whitening products are typically categorized into two major groups: Whitening toothpastes (dentifrices) and peroxide-containing bleaching agents. The following are different types of tooth whitening methods:
- Whitening toothpaste.
- Professionally applied bleaching products.
- Peroxide-containing bleaching agents.
- Dentist-dispensed and OTC home-use products.
Your New Year’s resolution may be to finally correct an abnormal bite caused by an injury, thumb sucking, tooth crowding or crooked teeth. Correcting any of these problems with braces not only enhances the look of your smile but also, and most importantly, improves your oral health. There are several options for straightening your teeth. Ask us about our orthodontics options; we offer traditional metal braces, Invisialign and Functional Appliances.
The New Year may be the right time to start or complete deferred restorative dental work, such as crowns, implants or fillings. Completing these types of procedures will help you to preserve the tooth structure and to maintain proper tooth alignment, which could ultimately improve your oral health.
Quit Using Tobacco Products
Quitting cigarette smoking and smokeless tobacco use is important for improving your oral and overall health. There is no better time than the present to make a resolution to stop tobacco use. Consider free online tools, smoking cessation groups, progress-tracking apps and support from friends and family to assist you with tobacco cessation.
Routine Dental Visits to see Dr. Jaleel
A resolution to make routine visits to the dentist may help prevent oral disease or reveal an existing disease in its early stage. Dental visits should take place every 6 months to allow Dr. Jaleel and our dental hygienists to monitor the condition of your oral cavity and develop an appropriate treatment plan to meet your wants and needs.
Depending on the condition of your mouth at any one time, your Ottawa dentist, Dr. Jaleel, performs several different types of procedures. Although teeth cleanings, cavity fillings and bondings comprise some of the routine sessions, more involved procedures are now common and easy to complete. In addition to root canals and wisdom tooth extractions, dental crowns are often needed as well, and come in more than one form. Before differentiating between the different types of dental crowns, consider the functions they serve.
A dental crown is a fixed prosthetic object that is cemented onto a tooth. Only a dentist like Dr. Jaleel can remove it once it’s in place. The main purpose of a crown is to cover a damaged tooth, but it also strengthens it, improving its overall appearance and alignment in the mouth.
Crowns are made by taking an impression of the tooth or teeth they’ll be covering. Before this impression is created, Dr. Jaleel must first reduce your tooth’s size so that the crown fits properly. Dr. Jaleel may also place a temporary crown while the permanent one is being made.
Types of Dental Crowns
There are four different types of dental crowns.
- Ceramic — These are used for restoring front teeth, and are popular in this area for their ability to blend with your natural tooth color. The crown is made of a porcelain-based material.
- Porcelain-fused to metal – This crown provides a stronger bond than regular porcelain because it is connected to a metal structure. It’s also extremely durable.
- Gold alloys – This crown is a mix of gold, copper and other metals. In addition to providing a strong bond to the tooth, it doesn’t fracture, nor does it wear away the tooth itself.
- Base metal alloys – This crown is made up of non-noble metals that are highly resistant to corrosion, and make for a very strong crown. It also requires the least amount of healthy tooth to be removed prior to fitting.
Differences Between Crown Types
The sealing ability of the all-porcelain crown depends on the filling materials and the quality of the underlying tooth, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), whereas the other three provide particularly good seals against leakage.
Durability is best in the gold and metal alloys crowns, whereas the all-porcelain crown tends to be less strong, more suseptible if it is put under enough pressure (if you grind your teeth at night, this may pose a problem). By contrast, the crown of porcelain fused to metal offers better durability. Both porcelain-based crowns are highly resistant to wear, but they can quickly aggravate opposing teeth if the adjacent surface becomes rough. Incidentally, the gold and metal alloys are resistant to wear and gentle on opposing teeth at the same time.
Though they sometimes become loose or fall out, crowns can last a lifetime if properly maintained. The best way to achieve this is through proper oral health. Brushing and flossing twice a day are your go-to methods of keeping your teeth healthy every morning and night. Use a toothbrush to keep your teeth spotless, especially your back molars. Above all, scheduling regular checkups with Dr. Jaleel is key to sustaining good oral hygiene so that you won’t have to choose from these different types of dental crowns.
Braces create a beautiful smile, but the retainer maintains it while encouraging better oral hygiene long after its use goes away. Although retainers for teeth are most commonly used to hold straight teeth in place after braces, the advantages for your kids in wearing their retainers correctly go beyond that. Did you know wearing a retainer can also help iron out speech problems? More than likely, though, the hardest part of having a new retainer is losing it, commonly to the trash can in the school cafeteria. Getting kids into the habit of wearing their retainer correctly and keeping it safe isn’t easy, but knowing its advantages and how to make sure your kids embrace their retainers will help your whole family navigate the process with less stress – and higher marks from your orthodontist.
Why Wear a Retainer?
Retainers for teeth are mostly used as the last phase of orthodontics treatment. After the braces have been removed, teeth can shift back to their original position. So, retainers worn overnight (if not longer) can help maintain the position of straightened teeth.
Chew Away Bacteria
Straighter teeth are easier to clean, cut down on plaque buildup and reduce the chance of cavities, according to American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD). But there are other reasons you may not be aware of. Straight teeth, along with a correct bite, help kids chew their food more effectively. By chewing better, they get more nutrients from their food. One benefit of being able to chew food thoroughly, is an increase in saliva production. And more saliva means more digestive enzymes to cut down on plaque buildup and decrease cavities.
Helps Simplify Diabetes
When kids – and adults – wear their retainers correctly, it helps keep teeth aligned, offsetting the risk of poor general or oral health, per the International Journal of Dentistry. And according to the American Diabetes Associations (ADA), poor oral health can exacerbate the blood-related effects of diabetes. So wearing a retainer correctly, in addition to flossing, brushing and rinsing, can help counteract diabetes-related ailments.
A lesser-known advantage is that for some kids, retainers can help their breathing. Special types of retainers, according to the Consumer Guide to Dentistry, are used to not only help straighten teeth or align jaws, but for trouble with snoring or breathing at night.
Helps with Speech Impediments
Some kids wear retainers to help their speech as well. KidsHealth states that retainers can help to adjust tongue placement so kids can form sounds correctly as they develop their vocabulary.
Getting in the Habit of Wearing a Retainer
Know that the time it takes to form a new habit is different for everyone, so making it fun for your kids can make it easier. Here are some tips for getting in the habit of wearing a retainer and not misplacing it:
- Pick up a bigger carrying case and keep the retainer case in this one. Whether it’s a bag with their favorite action hero or a purse that’s their favorite color, your child is less likely to forget a big bag over a small, plastic case.
- Write a note and put it in your child’s retainer case. It can be fun for your child to read and acts as a reminder for them to put their retainer away.
- Just like keys, keep the retainer case in the same spot. And a brightly colored case is less likely to be overlooked or misplaced during a busy part of the day.
- Your kids may have outgrown the tooth fairy, but the fun of waking up to small gifts under their pillow for a full night of wearing their retainer in the first week never hurts.
It can be hard for your kids to consistently wear a retainer correctly and for long periods of time. But after a while, it will be a part of your kids daily life – just like the compliments they’ll receive from their well-maintained smiles.
All orthodontic patients must know how to clean braces, regardless of age. Orthodontic care is a serious investment of a family’s time and finances. By learning about proper orthodontic home care in advance, patients will be prepared for the time commitment necessary to maintain oral health during and following orthodontic care.
What Gets Caught around Braces
Each type of orthodontic hardware, including wires, bands, brackets, expanders, springs, elastics and screws, poses its own unique challenges for the patient when it comes to cleaning. All this hardware provides additional surfaces for food debris, plaque biofilm and acids to adhere and collect in these areas of the mouth that are very difficult to clean.
The tiny germs first find an effective place to hide around orthodontic hardware and between teeth, growing into larger colonies of plaque biofilm. As readily available food particles are digested by the germ colonies, the plaque biofilm masses process the food debris. Acid is the by-product of this germ digestion process. These acids etch around the brackets and bands, creating the white chalky orthodontic spots often shown to patients before they pursue braces. The good news is that these spots can be prevented if a patient is taught how to clean braces properly.
Cleaning Braces at Home
The proper removal of food debris, biofilm and acids from around the braces will protect the teeth and gums from being affected by oral care diseases. Patients must be reminded before the placement of orthodontics that a higher level of at-home care will help decrease the incidence of tooth decay. Specialized equipment is recommended for cleaning teeth with braces. The standard tools for cleaning braces at home include a high-quality toothbrush, floss/interdental cleaners and an at-home oral irrigation system.
Toothbrushing: Whether manual or electric, a toothbrush with soft bristles and a compact head is best for cleaning teeth with braces. Always remember to remove elastics before brushing so hooks and wires are not disturbed.
The following are some toothbrushing instructions to assist you in cleaning your braces:
1. The toothbrush should be held at a 45-degree angle at the gum line and brushed back and forth and then swept toward the biting surface of the teeth.
2. Brush the top and bottom surfaces of the brackets to remove plaque and food debris as well as the front of the bracket and wires. It may be beneficial to physically hold back the lip with one hand and brush the bracket areas.
Fluoride Treatment and Germ Killers
Although topical fluoride is very important to use regardless of whether you have braces, fluoride becomes even more important during and immediately following orthodontic care. Since braces make teeth tougher to clean, the risk for tooth decay increases with braces. A fluoride rinse can decrease this risk.
The delight of having your braces taken off to reveal a beautiful smile can often be overshadowed by a diagnosis of cavities throughout the mouth, but these cavities can be prevented. Don’t let them happen to you! By learning how to clean braces effectively before their placement, both patients and parents can be proud of a newly aligned smile.
Every parent gets hit with a few dreaded questions at some point while raising a child; “Is the Tooth Fairy real?” is one of them. Sometimes the question pops up once children start to question Santa Claus. Suspicions about the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy usually quickly ensue, but sometimes the Tooth Fairy is called out separately and even early on. Dr. Jaleel has been asked this plenty of times by anxious parents. Here is what you should do if your child begins to have doubts.
Consider What They Are Really Asking
Are they looking for the truth or for reassurance to keep believing? A good way in which to determine this is to ask questions such as, “Why do you ask?” and “What do you think?” Then ask how they feel about their responses. If it seems as though they are ready for the truth, give it to them. However, if they appear to be hoping to hold on to the story a bit longer, keep it going by simply explaining, “Well, I absolutely believe in the magic of the Tooth Fairy!”
Also, consider their age. A preschooler telling other children in the sandbox that there is no Tooth Fairy is going to cause social issues, as will a child in middle school who still believes. Sometimes it is necessary to gauge your response by the impact that continued belief will have on your child when among peers.
Even if your child is pretty sure they know the truth, confirmation that Mom and Dad are really the Tooth Fairy is still rattling. Explain that it is a tradition that parents and children have been perpetuating for decades. Remind them of how much fun they had carefully putting their tooth under the pillow and excitedly waking up the next morning to find their prize. Tell them that parents do it because they love seeing their child’s joy.
Be Prepared for Their Response
Some children laugh when they find out that their parents are the Tooth Fairy. The thought of parents waiting up and then sneaking into one’s room to take a tooth from under a pillow and to leave a dollar in its place is a bit silly, after all. Other kids cry and grieve an innocent piece of childhood lost. Still others get angry that they were misled.
Once your child finds out the truth, you should determine together how it should be handled going forward. Explain that it is important that the truth be kept secret so that younger siblings or other children who still believe can continue to have fun. The magic does not have to end with “Is the Tooth Fairy real?” Your child may want to keep pretending so that those dollar bills under the pillow keep flowing.
Years ago, letting children eat between meals was frowned upon, but now we’ve learned that kids need to snack. Children should eat every three to four hours to get the energy and nutrients they require. And it’s important they eat right. Snacks should not be high in salt, fat, sugar and caffeine; they should be nutrient-dense and contain at least two different food groups. This may sound easy enough, but Dr. Jaleel knows how difficult it is for parents to prepare healthy food for their children to enjoy. Maybe your kid is a picky eater, maybe you’re too busy to prepare difficult snacks. Either way, your Ottawa dentist has some advice for you.
The best snacks are foods that aren’t sticky and that clear quickly from the mouth. Here is what your kids could eat. Change it up to provide variety so your kids never get bored. Put these into their lunch boxes for them to periodically snack on:
- Whole-grain sandwiches with savoury filling, such as ham, turkey, or chicken
- Bread sticks
- Fruits such as apples, oranges, bananas
- Raw vegetables such as celery and carrots. For something extra special, pair them with hummus
Some food that deserves a permanent time-out are:
- Cereal and marshmallow squares
- Candy apples
- Soft drinks
- fruit rollups
- Chocolate, especially if they contain caramel
- doughnuts and other pastries
Brushing on the go
Even if you send your kids to school with a lunch box brimming with tooth-friendly snacks, they’ll still need to clean their teeth after eating. One tip is to tell your child to rinse his or her mouth vigorously a couple of times, preferably with community-fluoridated water from the tap at school.
A word about vitamin D
Sunlight provides vitamin D, but our northern climate means that we may not get enough of it during the winter. Being in Ottawa, we are all to familiar with the lack of sunlight. The best food source is fortified milk, but other foods (margarine, eggs, chicken livers and oily fish) contain small amounts. Most pediatric multivitamins contain sufficient vitamin D for your child’s needs, but always check with your pediatrician.
Kids and calcium
A well-balanced diet rich in calcium and vitamin D is critical for healthy bones and teeth. Your first choice should be milk and milk products fortified with vitamin D. These don’t have to be the lower-fat kind, unless your child is close to the end of linear growth. Kids need the extra fat for energy and development. If your kid is lactose-intolerant, some great substitutes are: swiss, gouda or cheddar cheese, soy beverages, yogurt, canned sardines or salmon with bones.