All Posts tagged healthy eating

Holiday Treats and their Alternatives

Holiday Treats and their Alternatives

Maintaining good oral care during the holidays can be tough with the bombardment of sugary sweets all season. Counting down to Christmas with an advent calendar is a fun activity for your kids, but if they are filled with chocolate and sweets, it won’t be so great for their teeth. Dr. Jaleel, your Ottawa-Nepean dentist has come up with these simple sugar-free ideas to fill your countdown instead.

Holiday Activity Fun

Fill your child’s countdown with special moments that they will cherish all year round. For each day of the month come up with a fun holiday activity that you can do together as a family. Some ideas include: watching a holiday movie, going ice skating, building a snowman and looking at Christmas lights. Write down the activity on a slip of paper and tuck one note into each day of your advent calendar.

A Puzzling Treat

Give your child a fun challenge with a customized puzzle. Draw a picture or write a special message on a blank puzzle. Break the pieces apart and place one puzzle piece in each day of your advent calendar. Every day your child can add the pieces together until they have a completed puzzle revealing a special holiday message or fun activity to do together.

Sugar-Free Trinkets

Find some simple trinkets to fill each day on your calendar instead of candy. The dollar store is a great place to find fun items without spending a lot. Some ideas include a box of crayons, hair clips, small cars and bouncing balls. Be sure to include a new toothbrush on one day to encourage good oral care during the holidays.



Nothing beats the gift of a good story, except maybe several good stories. Pick out a holiday-themed book for every day of your countdown. Wrap each book individually and number the packages for each day of the month. Have your child open a new book each night at bedtime and read it together.

Celebrating the holidays can still be joyous even without loads of candy and sweet treats. Get creative and come up with your own sugar-free countdown treats.

But if you want to indulge your children with some treats, here is what you can do:

Holiday Treats

When the holiday season comes around, there’s no need for kids with braces to miss out on the traditional treats. Some candies can damage braces, but there are plenty of safe and tasty snacks to satisfy young taste buds without interfering with orthodontia. In fact, when preparing fun holiday treats with your child, you can include numerous healthy options that build strong teeth at the same time.

Treats to Avoid

Candy canes are an extremely popular treat during the holidays. Used as Christmas tree ornaments, stocking stuffers or stirrers in a cup of hot chocolate on a snowy day, candy canes seem like they’re everywhere. Unfortunately, since candy canes are 100 percent sugar, they should be near the top of any list of the worst candy for teeth around the holidays. Dr. Jaleel also advises that children should avoid caramel, licorice, lollipops, bubblegum, popcorn, taffy, jelly beans and hard pretzels. Hard candies have their own way of damaging teeth. Although chewy candy nests on teeth, hard candy dissolves in your mouth over a slow period, allowing the bacteria access to more sugar. Another concern with hard candies is for those who can’t resist biting them: doing so can result in chipped or broken teeth.

Awesome Alternatives

One way to minimize your mouth’s exposure to holiday candies is by eating healthy snacks. Fresh fruits, such as strawberries and melons, are nutritious, healthy alternatives to candy or sugary desserts. Low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese, unbuttered popcorn and baked tortilla chips are excellent alternatives to fatty snacks and appetizers, along with raw veggies like carrots and celery.

Making it through the holidays without eating any type of sugary candy or treats at all is probably not a realistic expectation. The keys to maintaining proper oral health are consumption in moderation and regular brushing with a toothpaste to help strengthen enamel, reduce plaque and fight cavities.


How Do Eating Disorders Affect Your Mouth?

How Do Eating Disorders Affect Your Mouth?

Eating disorders are a serious health problem in our society today; however, most people suffer in silence. How do eating disorders affect your mouth? Telltale signs will be obvious to a dental professional like Dr. Jaleel, and can range from slight to severe. Very often Dr. Jaleel or one of our dental hygienist will be the first person to detect and diagnose these disorders. Although more prevalent in females, especially teens and young adults, eating disorders can affect anyone.

Types of Eating Disorders

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, eating disorders include anorexia nervosa, bulimia and binge eating. All three of these disorders will have negative effects on the mouth. People who have anorexia have a fear of gaining weight or being fat, even when they are severely underweight. They will limit their intake of food, excessively exercise and, after eating, may feel compelled to cause themselves to vomit, use laxatives, enemas or diuretics to rid their body of excess weight.

Bulimia is described as excessive overeating several times a week or, in the most severe cases, several times a day. This uncontrollable urge will cause unhealthy eating of sweet and fatty foods and is also followed by purging that includes self-induced vomiting and diuretic, laxative and enema use. Studies have shown that 89 percent of bulimics show signs of mouth and teeth damage.

Binge eaters have previously been classified as food addicts. They will overeat over short periods of time and cannot control these urges; they are different from bulimics in that they typically do not use purging techniques to rid their bodies of the excess weight they incur. Instead, they will feel extreme guilt and remorse that causes them to continue the behavior. Binge eating has been identified as equally prevalent in women and men.

How Do Eating Disorders Affect Your Mouth and Body?

All of these eating disorders will have negative effects on the body. The deficiency of vitamins, minerals and nutrients associated with these disorders can cause the body to shut down and fail to function properly. Potential health issues include:

  • Weight loss.
  • Hair loss.
  • Lower body temperature.
  • Constipation.
  • Irregular or absent menstrual cycles in women.
  • Heart problems, kidney failure and possible death.

The negative effects of vitamin and nutrient deficiencies will also be reflected in the mouth. Furthermore, for those who purge by vomiting, stomach acids will cause damage to the teeth. The telltale oral signs of eating disorders include:

  • Dry mouth and enlarged salivary glands.
  • Cracked, dry lips and mouth sores.
  • Teeth erosion.
  • Cold and hot sensitivity in teeth.


Recommended Treatment for the Mouth

People suffering from eating disorders often seek care from their dentist because of problems they notice with their mouth and teeth. Dr. Jaleel and our dental hygienists are trained to identify the oral signs of a serious eating disorder. They will counsel the patient on oral and bodily damage and recommend treatment by a mental health professional. Meanwhile, they will help alleviate the mouth and teeth problems from which the patient is suffering. For example, those who purge by vomiting are cautioned not to brush immediately after since this will enhance the damaging effects of the stomach acids on the teeth. Instead, waiting about a half hour to brush and using a neutral paste such as baking soda are recommended.

Preventive and restorative work can include:

  • Instruction in proper oral hygiene.
  • Fluoride treatment plans, based on the individual.
  • Dry mouth remedies.
  • Sensitivity treatment by restoring teeth with severe enamel loss.

The manner in which eating disorders affect your mouth is secondary to the damage that will occur to the body. Seeking help from a mental health specialist, however, is often difficult because of the shame and guilt associated with these disorders. Patients who seek treatment from the Fairlawn Dental Clinic for tooth damage and sensitivity will be assessed not only for mouth and teeth issues but for problems with their overall well-being. This may be the first crucial step toward getting help.


Smart Snacks for Hungry Kids

Smart Snacks for Hungry Kids

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
  • Yogurt
  • Cheese
  • 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.