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It’s only one day, so how much damage can those glasses of lemonade and handfuls of chips really do?
The menu is set and it’s almost time to start up the grill. Hamburgers, pasta salad, a festive cake—it’s all part of the July Fourth celebration. But how is all this food affecting your patients’ oral health?
The food and drinks that tend to make it to the picnic table on the fourth shouldn’t cause too much damage, as long as your patients enjoy them in one sitting rather than grazing throughout the day, said Carri Cady, RDH and VP of Sales and Marketing forOral BioTech’s CariFree.
“Exposure to high carb, low pH foods and beverages a few times a day is normal and expected,” Cady said. “If you eat these foods little by little, all day long, with perhaps 30 minutes between courses, your mouth will be in a protracted period of acidity all day long. One day of this will likely have no impact, however, if this type of eating were done regularly the consistent acidity could definitely favor acidic bacteria and cause a shift from the normal healthy flora to a more cariogenic biofilm population.”
If your patients are worried about what their Fourth of July meal will do to their mouths, there are a few tips you can offer to put their minds at ease. Here’s a typical barbecue menu with minor adjustments to help patients celebrate worry-free.
Hamburgers and hot dogs.With both of these cookout staples, the main concern is the bread, Cady said. Instead of picking up white buns at the grocery store, suggest your patients try the healthier wheat option to help keep their mouths in balance. Cheese is noncariogenic and may also help protect against dental caries, according to theNational Dairy Council, so making that hamburger a cheeseburger is another way patients can keep their mouths in check.
Barbecue chicken and ribs.These aren’t bad choices for your mouth, Cady said, although the barbecue sauce likely contains sugar. Losing the barbecue sauce will make this a worry-free, but still tasty, main dish.
Potato chips.Your patients may want to avoid this snack food if they can. Chips tend to get stuck in the tooth’s pits and fissures, creating a reservoir of carbs for bacteria to feast on, Cady said. This creates an acidic period in the mouth long after the chips have been eaten. It’s no surprise that veggies or low carb fruits, such as watermelon, are better choices.
Potato salad and pasta salad.Both of these side dishes aren’t bad choices, especially if there’s wheat pasta in the pasta salad, Cady said. Adding cheese to either dish helps, too.
Lemonade.A tall glass of lemonade can be refreshening on a hot day, but it’s definitely not the best drink option for your mouth. Lemonade probably has 2-3 in its pH, which Cady said is almost as acidic as stomach acid. But that doesn’t mean your patients should turn to pop or sugary juices when it’s time to reach for a beverage. Water is always the best choice.
Dessert.A Fourth of July barbecue isn’t complete without some dessert. Cake, pie, cookies or brownies are likely on the menu, but Cady said because milk is one of the ingredients, the case can be made for choosing ice cream instead.
While thinking about protecting their mouths, patients should also remember to enjoy the holiday, Cady said. If they really want that glass of lemonade or piece of apple pie, there are ways they can limit acid production and the number of acid attacks in their mouth. It comes down to proper home care and taking the time to think a little bit about what they’re eating and how they’re eating it.
July 2009 | dentalproductsreport.comWEB EXCLUSIVE