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Best And Worst Foods For Your Teeth

When someone smiles, what is the first thing you look at? For many dental hygienists, and the public, it is the person’s teeth, particularly if they are brilliantly white or if there is something stuck in them. In addition to maintaining appearances, oral hygiene is essential to preventing gum disease, cavities, et cetera, which have a significant effect on oral health.


As you are aware, diet plays an important role in oral hygiene and health. While dental hygienists know the specifics behind which foods are good and bad for their teeth, many patients forget and require reminding. This is why we have compiled some of the information regarding two of the worst types of food for teeth as well as two of the best, including examples. Be sure to review this information with patients regularly. Their oral health will skyrocket if you do!


Sugary and Chewy Food


The sugar in food, especially refined sugar, is prime fodder for bad bacteria. The sugars often become acid, which is how cavities in your teeth get started. Some sugary drinks, such as pop, are your teeth’s worst enemy, particularly when it comes to eroding the enamel.


Worst Food for Teeth


Chewy food, on the other hand, is not good for your patient’s teeth because of how pieces are more likely to stick to them for longer. This makes eating gummy candy even worse for you, since the longer food sticks around in your mouth, the higher the potential for cavities becomes.


Be sure to remind patients of the effects of refined sugar and chewy food like gummy candy on their enamel and overall oral health. Of course, not everyone will be able to avoid them entirely. Thus, review best practices for oral hygiene, such as how to brush/floss and how often clients should floss) with each patient.


Acidic Food


As a dental hygienist, you are aware how highly acidic foods, such as lemons and pickles and drinks like alcohol and coffee, are among the worst for your teeth if you are not careful when consuming them. Remind patients about the effects beyond discolouration, which many are aware of. Put particular emphasis on sensitivity, cavities, and tooth decay. After all, stopping the issues as soon as possible helps prevent serious issues down the line.


Dairy Products


As a dental hygienist, you have likely told your patients drinking milk helps their teeth grow. Most people know the calcium helps make their bones strong, but many may not be aware the benefits go beyond that, particularly for their teeth. Inform patients about the mineral hydroxyapatite, of which calcium is a major part, since it helps to build up the strength of their enamel. This also goes for casein, a common protein found in dairy products such as cheese. Are your patients consuming food not so healthy for their teeth? Reminding them of the benefits of dairy, in addition to best oral hygiene practices, is a great way to counteract the effects.


Dairy Products - Teeth


High Fiber Food


Many individuals know high fiber food helps maintain healthy cholesterol levels and increases good digestion. But they may not be aware of what dental hygienists already know: the benefits they provide teeth. Review how the amount of chewing required to consume fiber-rich food increases the saliva in their mouth, which helps provide some natural cleaning. But make sure your patients do not forget to brush their teeth regularly too!


If your patient is stuck on what food they can consume with a high fiber content, popular suggestions include spinach and other leafy greens, beans, and whole wheat pasta.


Share your extensive oral health knowledge with your patients, and remind them of the effect both good and bad food has on their teeth!

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The Role of Dental Hygiene in Public Health


Think back to your days as a dental hygiene student. How did you picture your future career as a dental hygienist? If you dreamed of working in a fancy dental office with the latest and greatest in high-tech gadgets, you have something in common with hygienist Casandra Smith.


In an article for Hygienetown Magazine, Smith admits she was once a fresh dental hygiene student who hoped to spend her career as a dental hygienist within the confines of a comfortable office. But her outlook changed when she began seeing patients in her college’s clinic.



“During my time at the clinic, I treated many patients from underserved communities,” Smith writes. “They all came from different walks of life, but they had one common thread — limited access to care.”


Each of Smith’s patients had a story. All had tried and failed to receive dental treatment in the past. They faced obstacles like lack of insurance or transportation, disabilities, and language barriers. When these patients finally received treatment, they showered her with hugs, gratitude, and even a few tears of joy.


From that point on, Casandra Smith dedicated her career as a dental hygienist to the field of public health.


Role of Dental Hygiene in Public Health


Today, Casandra Smith works as a dental hygienist both in private practice and in a public health organization. She works with the Dental Sealant Program in Maricopa County, Arizona, travelling to elementary schools to place dental sealants on the teeth of students in need of care.


“Every school year, I see children with abscesses, rampant decay, and poor oral hygiene,” she writes. “Since most of these children have no dental insurance, I know that every dental sealant placed is very important.”


With an estimated 108 million Americans lacking insurance coverage for dental care, there is an urgent need for public health services in the United States. Public health organizations can help these people receive the hygiene treatment they need, and dental hygienists can make valuable contributions to the cause.


How Dental Hygienists Can Help


Casandra Smith wants dental hygienists to know being a clinician is not the only way to work in public health. “There are actually many ways a hygienist can overcome access-to-care issues and help the public receive hygiene treatment.”


For example, hygienists can create their own public health programs aimed at improving oral health in underserved areas. They can also advocate for change in public policy, and lobby for public health funding.


“No matter what role a dental hygienist plays in public health, it is a significant one,” Smith concludes. “Each role helps to grow public health, but when all the roles work together, the boundaries of public health can be transcended.”


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