IMG_4643With summer in full swing, you might start craving some of your favorite hot weather treats. What could be better than a fun family barbecue, a trip to the fair, or a refreshing popsicle by the pool? Read on to learn more about how your favorite summer treats can affect your dental health and what you can do to maintain your smile.

Healthy Snack Options

Summer offers a bounty of food options that can improve your overall well-being and enhance your dental health. These include:
  • Corn: This plant is at its prime sweetness during the hottest months of the year. It can be delicious when grilled, barbequed, or steamed, either on the cob or off of it. Corn is rich in important compounds that benefit dental health, including phosphorous, magnesium, thiamin, fiber, and vitamin C. Just make sure to floss after enjoying your corn so that it doesn’t remain stuck between your teeth for the rest of the day.
  • Salads: crisp lettuce, ripe tomatoes, fresh cucumbers, and vibrant carrots make up a healthy summer salad. In addition to providing important nutrients and fiber, raw vegetables can naturally scrub debris from your teeth to keep them shiny and clean.
  • Fish: Many people enjoy lighter meals during the summer, and fish is an excellent protein option for this purpose. The omega 3 fatty acids in fish can help fight gum disease and benefit your general health.
  • Berries: One of the best parts of summer is enjoying sweet, luscious, delectable berries. 1-800-Dentist points out that “ripe, juicy, red strawberries are the perfect snack for self proclaimed ‘sugar addicts’ as the perfect berry will taste better than any candy out there, minus the risks and with vitamins and minerals essential for fueling the human body.” Berries often contain vitamin C, calcium, folate, magnesium, potassium, and even cancer-fighting antioxidants.

Less Than Ideal Summertime Treats

Unfortunately, while they’re tasty, some of our favorite summer foods aren’t the best for our teeth. The barbeque sauce that gives a special zing to your ribs and steaks on the grill can be spicy or acidic, wearing down your enamel. Many people also enjoy sipping on sweet cocktails on vacation or out by the pool, but these sugary beverages can feed decay-causing bacteria. Cold treats like frozen popsicles and ice creams can also coat your mouth in sticky syrup, contributing to dental plaque on your teeth and even beneath your gums. Munching on potato chips or other starchy snacks can also contribute to plaque formation. While they are delectable, we recommend limiting your consumption of these types of summertime treats and remaining especially conscientious about your oral hygiene if you do.

Summer Smile Suggestions

In addition to enjoying healthy summer foods and limiting your consumption of potentially damaging treats, you can take simple, proactive steps to improve your oral hygiene this summer. These include:
  • Drinking plenty of water. Especially in summer heat, staying hydrated is very important. Dr. Flanagan and our team recommend swishing your mouth with water after eating to wash away debris and improve your saliva flow.
  • Chewing xylitol gum. This artificial sweetener tastes great and can help fight cavity-causing bacteria.
  • Setting aside specific snacking times. Munching on sugary, starchy treats throughout the day constantly exposes your teeth to them, raising your risk for decay and other dental issues. Limiting your summer food fun to specific times can help you relish your treats while preserving your smile.
  • Brushing and flossing your teeth. You should brush at least twice per day and floss at least once.
  • Coming in to our practice for regular cleanings and examinations. Dr. Clark recommends that patients come in at least twice a year for a check-up. Attending these routine visits allows us to catch and treat any oral health conditions before they worsen.

Enjoy Summer Refreshments and a Dazzling Grin

By taking advantage of wholesome summer treats, avoiding certain snacks, and keeping up your oral hygiene regimen, you can appreciate everything the season has to offer while maintaining your smile.  
It’s not surprising that the main reason people don’t enjoy going to the dentist are the drills and shots. In fact, the piercing whine, unnerving vibration, and uncomfortable pain of dental drills and shots have prevented people from properly taking care of their teeth for decades. Because we know that stress and anxiety can prevent patients from seeking the dental care they need, it has always been our goal to offer the most comfortable and pain-free dental experience possible. Today, we are delighted to announce a new option that will make a pain-free dental visits a reality for all of our patients... Downtown Dental is one of the first dentist offices in Nashville to offer WaterLase iPlus Laser Dentistry, the most advanced and effective laser dentistry option in the world! This new technology allows Dr. Clark to offer injection-free, pain-free dentistry for many of our procedures including fillings, whitening and gum disease prevention. How will this innovative technology benefit our patients? Here are seven reasons you’ll want to try our new WaterLase System. What are patient’s that have dental work done with the Waterlase iPlus Laser saying?  We think you’ll be impressed with their testimonials. As we’ve mentioned before, our goal is to do more for the people in Nashville than just protect your smile, we want to make sure you’re able to live a long and healthy life. If you want to make sure your next dentist appointment is done with the Waterlase iPlus Laser, let us know. The future of pain-free dentistry has finally made it to Nashville and we can’t wait to see the smile on your face after you give it a try.
Health & Smiles If you're like us, you're shocked at how quickly the middle of January arrived. It seems like just yesterday we were counting down the last seconds of 2012 and ringing in the New Year. Now, Target it already selling swimsuits in stores! Weren't we also just deciding our New Year's goals? While you may have made several resolutions for various areas of your life, we think it's safe to say that one of those areas is probably related to your health. In fact, the most common resolution Americans made in 2013 was to eat healthy and exercise regularly.

We care about more than just your teeth.

Our staff's commitment to educating and advocating our patients to their best advantage doesn't stop with your pearly whites. We believe committing to total body health will help our families, patients, neighbors, and, frankly, the city of Nashville live fuller, richer lives!

But, before you hit the play button on Physical by Olivia Newton-John, let us share two other ways you can commit to total body health in addition to hitting the gym this year from our area of expertise: your teeth.

Maintaining a clean mouth can keep your body healthy. There are several studies showing good teeth do more than keep dental bills low - they can help protect you from a whole host of health problems.

Clean teeth can help prevent heart disease.

This study published in the British Medical Journal analyzed data from over 11,000 adults. It determined that participants who reported brushing their teeth less frequently had a 70% increased risk of heart disease versus those who brushed twice daily.

Clean teeth can keep your lungs healthy.

Could proper dental hygiene help you to breath better? Possibly so. Another study published in the Journal of Periodontology uncovered a suspected link between periodontal disease and pulmonary disease (such as pneumonia and acute bronchitis).

As you continue to achieve your 2013 healthy goals, don't forget that your teeth can play an important role in your overall health throughout the year.

Stay tuned over the next several months as we partner with our patients and downtown Nashville to help them commit to making 2013 the healthiest year yet.