At our dental office in Austin, we recommend brushing for at least two minutes, twice a day, every day. But we know there are times when brushing may not be an option. Perhaps you forgot your toothbrush or ran out of toothpaste. When these things happen, it’s common to turn to the mouthwash instead. But is mouthwash an acceptable replacement to proper brushing?
Masking the Problem
Let’s face it, the purpose of mouthwash is to freshen breath. But is it really doing its job? No. Mouthwash is only a quick fix for a fast burst of freshness, and using it repeatedly doesn’t fix source of the bad breath. Often the bad breath is a symptom, rather than the problem.
When breath is chronically a little sour, it could be a sign of something more serious like gum disease. Gum disease is a scary problem that could lead to whole-body problems including increased risk for stroke, heart attack, or diabetic complications. That is why it’s important not to mask all signs of bad breath, but to recognize it as a warning to make an appointment with us as soon as possible!.
Making it Worse
Using mouthwash as a substitute to brushing, or even more often than recommended, may actually cause additional damage. Many mouthwashes contain some level of alcohol. And too much alcohol is bad news for your mouth: It causes decreased saliva production which leads to a super-dry mouth, which means more bacteria. The more bacteria in the mouth, the worse the breath tends to smell. The only way to combat bad breath bacteria is by properly brushing and flossing at least twice a day and maintaining regular visits with your Austin dentist.
What to Do
It’s normal to experience periodic bad breath, especially after eating or drinking certain things like garlic, onion, alcohol, and coffee. If you find yourself in a lunch-induced bad breath situation, choose a sugarless gum instead of mouthwash. It’s better for your teeth and works just as well, if not better than, mouthwash. But if you or a loved one is suffering from chronic bad breath, call our Austin dental office. We’re here to help work with you to identify the problem and get you on a path to resolve it.
Welcoming patients from Austin, Westlake, and Cedar Park.
As parents, sometimes when our offspring announce their intentions we can barely contain our horror, fear, or, perhaps less flatteringly, our unwillingness to accommodate phases that make extra work for us.
But if your teenager has decided to stop eating meat, don’t worry. According to the American Dietetic Association, a vegetarian diet can be safe for everyone. And there are documented health benefits like a reduced chance for high blood pressure and cancer. A vegetarian diet may even help your teen control his weight!
Wait up! It’s safe?
The unfortunate part of a vegetarian diet is how difficult it is to get foods rich enough in calcium and vitamin D to keep your teeth and gums strong and healthy. So if your teen is thinking about it, check in with your Austin dentist next time you come by for a visit.
It might be a good idea to make sure your teen understands the various types of vegetarian eating. Here are a few definitions:
- Vegetarians who only eat fish. These are called pescetarians–people who avoid all meat-based proteins except for fish. Most pescetarians also eat cheese and eggs.
- The most common vegetarian diet is called the lacto-ovo diet. These vegetarians consume animal products like cheese, eggs, and yogurt.
- Some vegetarians also avoid all animal-derived food sources including eggs, cheese, and milk. This diet is called a vegan diet. Some vegans even avoid honey!
For all types of vegetarians getting enough calcium and vitamin D might be tricky!
Here are a few things to help your teen with (if he’ll let you):
- Take him to a dietician. Many dieticians offer inexpensive exploratory consultations.
- Provide or encourage a diet rich in broccoli and dark leafy greens like kale, spinach, turnip greens, and collards to get enough calcium. A variety of vitamin calcium-fortified products are available at the supermarket: some brands of orange juice, tofu, soy milk, and cereal are calcium-enriched.
- Vitamin D is especially tricky for vegetarians because it naturally occurs primarily in fish. Make sure your teen understands that calcium is useless without vitamin D to help the body absorb it! Many of the products listed above that are fortified with calcium are also fortified with vitamin D.
- Offer a vitamin D supplement, especially if your teen isn’t big on soy milk, orange juice, or cereal.
Need more tips?
Come see us next time you’re near by and talk to us about how to help your teen protect his oral health while maintaining a vegetarian diet. Remind him that, while web research is an important starting place, it’s best to work in concert with his health professionals including us: his Austin dentist, his general practitioner, and any specialists he sees to ensure a balanced vegetarian diet.
Accepting patients from Austin, Westlake, and Cedar Park.