Brushing, flossing and swishing need to be on everyone’s daily “To Do” list and, thankfully, many fit in all three tasks every day. However, too many people do not. While practicing excellent oral hygiene is a top priority anytime, it is essential to be especially proactive around holidays when treats abound. Valentine’s Day certainly fits the criteria, when consuming chocolates, candies and those deliciously sticky cinnamon hearts is commonplace.

Chocolate Candy and Tooth Decay

What’s really a concern in regards to protecting your teeth while eating chocolate or any other kind of candy is how sticky it is. When you have a sticky, sugary substance stuck to your teeth, your saliva can’t reach that part of your tooth to neutralize the acids. Also, the sugar is the food that the bacteria in your mouth use to produce the dangerous acids that cause tooth decay. Bacteria converts all sugars into acid, whether it’s fruit sugar or the refined sugar found in chocolate candy.

There is some good news, however. Dark chocolate actually contains tannins that help prevent cavities by interfering with acid production. So when you’re shopping for that box of chocolates, go for the dark chocolate variety that has at least 70% cocoa. Along with the tannins, the cocoa contains antioxidants that keep your body healthy on a cellular level, In fact, dark chocolate can contain up to four times the level found in green tea. See additional info at Smile Today

Proactive Oral Health

We love seeing our patients on a regular basis. Scheduled dental check-ups keep your teeth strong and healthy; enabling you to enjoy your sweet tooth responsibly. Allowing untreated decay or painful sensitivities to exist in your mouth can lead to much deeper issues that impact your teeth, gums and even bones. Experiencing dental pain of any kind is unnecessary and mostly avoidable. Dr. Robert Harrell and his skilled staff at ADOB want to help you keep your pearly whites in tip-top shape year-round. Protect your smile by maintaining a proactive approach to oral health care.

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Although Valentine’s Day originated way back in the Roman times, gifting candy on the holiday is a more recent addition. Whether it’s because of chocolate’s status as the go-to food of seduction or just a way for candy companies to sell more of the sugary stuff during the Christmas-Easter lull, there’s no denying that candy and Valentine’s Day are inseparable. In fact, almost 50 percent of Americans gift candy on Valentine’s day, totaling 1.7 billion dollars in sales and a whopping 53 million pounds of chocolate. And all this candy isn’t just for your sweetheart. With 838 million dollars expected to be spent on children’s classroom Valentine exchanges, this holiday is almost as candy-filled as Halloween. More details at Eat This

Valentine’s Treats to Avoid

Just remember as a general rule of thumb: The stickier and the crunchier the treat…the harder it will be on your teeth. With this in mind, the folks at Greenspoint Dental have compiled a list of five foods to avoid. Here’s an excerpt, followed by a link to the full list:

Caramel Popcorn

Unfortunately, popcorn in a Valentine’s-themed canister isn’t a good idea, especially the popular caramel popcorn.  Popcorn, like potato chips, get wedged in between teeth and allow a place for bacteria to grow. Caramel coated popcorn will stick more to your teeth than the buttered type.  Also note that chewing on popcorn kernels towards the end of a movie with your sweetheart can easily chip or break your teeth.

Chewy Candy & Dried Fruit

Chocolate-covered caramels may be delicious, but they are a source of tooth decay.  Chewy candy and sticky foods (like dried fruit) aren’t good for your teeth because they stick on your teeth for longer periods of time, making it much harder for saliva to wash away.  The longer the caramel sits on your teeth, the longer your teeth are exposed to sugar that leads to tooth decay. Read more at Greenspoint Dental

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Flossing Is Important Every Day

We hope that you are flossing every day; however, if you are not, now is the ideal time to start. Whenever there is a big sugar extravaganza (like Valentine’s Day) coming up, it’s wise to start beefing up your oral hygiene routine a few weeks in advance. This gives you time to determine if you have any oral pains or smile issues that need to be addressed.

Even if you don’t have any discomfort, if it has been a while since you’ve had a complete dental exam, it is still important for you to contact Adult Dentistry of Ballantyne for a thorough check-up. Dr. Harrell is recognized as one of the city’s top dentists year-after-year by <Charlotte Magazine>. Call Adult Dentistry now at 704-541-9888 or use the contact form on this page to make an appointment.