A Sweet Tooth, a Sweetheart and a Bittersweet Predicament

Valentine’s Day ranks fourth on the list when it comes to the consumption of candy. The top three holidays, in order, are: 1. Halloween. 2. Easter. 3. Christmas. And believe it or not, 58 million pounds of chocolate is sold during the week of Valentine’s Day! With all this candy and temptation around, what is a dentally conscious person to do?

If you find yourself in this bittersweet predicament, here are a few tips for enjoying the holiday with someone you love:

1. Go dark! Dark chocolate actually has some health benefits, and it is an antioxidant super food.

2. Moderation in all things. It’s not a huge criminal offense if you want to enjoy a couple of pieces of candy every once in a while, but it’s important to know when enough is enough.

3. Brush your pearly whites! Brushing your teeth at least twice a day (for two minutes per brushing session) is absolutely essential. In fact, brush after each meal, if possible.

4. Flossing is crucial. Floss at least once every 24 hours, preferably at nighttime before you go to sleep.

5. Limit sugary and acidic snacks. Some foods are more conducive to promoting tooth decay and cavities, so we highly recommend that you avoid regular consumption of sugary and acidic food and especially drinks, like sodas and sports drinks.

6. Chew a little sugar-free gum. As long as you don’t suffer from TMJ, it’s actually beneficial to chew some ADA-approved sugar-free gum. It may sound surprising, but chewing sugar-free gum after you eat increases the flow of saliva in your mouth, which helps to neutralize and wash away those decay-causing acids. Increased saliva flow also possesses more calcium and phosphate, which help to strengthen tooth enamel.

7. Drink plenty of water! Always drink water, and if you can’t brush, try rinsing with water after meals. This helps rinse away food particles, and staying hydrated is great for fresh breath.

8. Visit your dentist regularly. Of course, see your dentist for cleanings on a regular basis and call immediately if you have any pain or suspect a problem with your oral health.

This article was written by Dr. Cheryl Cooper, Smiles Dental Salem

Dr. Cheryl Cooper is a seasoned dental professional with 19 years of experience and practices at Smiles Dental Salem. She completed her dental degree at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and then completed her Advance Education in General Dentistry residency at the University of Nebraska. She, her husband Sean and their two boys reside in Salem, OR and are active in Boy Scouts and at the Salem First Christian Church.