With Halloween upon us I would be remiss without making a few hopefully helpful suggestions on how best to weather the “ candy storm”! With almost $ 7 billion in sales, Halloween has somehow become the second most popular holiday in America, only outdone by the Christmas season. The Huffington Post reports about $2 billion of that in the sale of candy alone!
No, this doesn’t translate to an immediate need for my services starting the day after, but it does give pause for thought on the consequences of our behavior. The consumption of treats sweetened with high fructose corn syrup not only adds to the problems of obesity and diabetes, but promotes tooth decay as well. Every parent is tasked with the responsibility of how to handle this challenge, so here are a few suggestions to minimize the destruction. I hope this helps.
- Take control of the candy supply and dole out sweets periodically throughout the holidays.
- Make sure your kids swish with water after indulging to dilute the acids created by decay causing bacteria. (Don’t brush immediately after eating candy as this could contribute to erosion of enamel!.)
- Avoid hard or sticky candies that stay in the mouth a long time and feed those nasty bacteria.
- Substitute healthier snacks when possible.
- Don’t allow late night snacking before the kids (you too!) go to bed.
- Make sure you brush and floss before bedtime.
- Insist on fluoride treatments for the kids when at the dental office. (The CDC has called fluoridation of public water supplies one of the top 10 public health advances of the last century!)
I hope you enjoy the holiday and don’t wind up paying the unanticipated costs of overindulgence.
Larry Stone, DDS
There may actually be some truth to this according to recent studies. There were five foods reported that may help keep your teeth healthy and white when incorporated into your diet:
- Steak. It may be a stretch, but according to the American Dental Association, the phosphorus in steak protects tooth enamel and bone. It’s known that the act of chewing stimulates salivary flow and that saliva contains antibacterial properties in addition to enzymes that aid in digestion. These antibacterial properties can help protect teeth from decay causing bacteria, so I guess the message here is “chew away”!
- Dark Chocolate. As an independent distributor of Xocai, the world’s first healthy chocolate, I can tell you that dark chocolate contains tannins (antioxidants found in cacao) that prevent bacteria from sticking to your teeth while also neutralizing the microorganisms that cause tooth decay and bad breath. Dark chocolate also contains theobromine, an active ingredient that can harden enamel. To learn more about healthy chocolate (not candy!) check out my web site @ www.drlarryshealthychocolate.com or give me a call.
- Cheese. When the pH (the amount of acidity) in your mouth drops below 5.5, acids can erode and discolor your teeth, creating an environment that also favors the bacteria causing decay. Consuming cheese raises the pH of your saliva, protecting the teeth from cariogenic bacteria.
- Xylitol. Xylitol is an all-natural sugar substitute that comes from Beech trees and other plant sources. The reason dentists love it is because xylitol is non-nutritive to the bacteria that cause tooth decay. In other words, it kills them! The most favored form of xylitol is when it is used in chewing gums. As mentioned, the act of chewing stimulates salivary flow, bathing your teeth in calcium and phosphate while washing away harmful bacteria. But remember, all sugar-free gums are not created equal! Xylitol needs to be the FIRST listed ingredient on the package for it to be effective. Some examples of xylitol containing gums are Hershey’s Ice Cubes, Mentos and some Trident brands. You can check out the web site www.Xylitol.org to find other sources of xylitol.
- Tea. Tea has always been touted as having health benefits, but it also contains high levels of polyphenols that fight bacteria, acids and even enzymes that make it easier for dental plaque to stick to your teeth. Tea also has high levels of fluoride which strengthen teeth and make it more difficult for the acids produced by the bacterial plaque to dissolve the enamel. Excessive amounts of tea might stain your teeth but taken in moderation tea is one of the better beverages we can drink. Bottoms up!
Even before the specter of the Affordable Care Act we’ve often been asked questions about dental insurance and why we don’t participate or why a plan doesn’t pay for this or that. It’s really not that complicated. Dental insurance is a rigged game and I refuse to play. No insurance company has ever lost a dime on a dental insurance policy. Insurance is for catastrophic events: i.e. hurricane Katrina, a $100,000 triple by-pass, your home burns down, etc. There simply is no catastrophic downside in dentistry! Therefore…no need for insurance. Same for eye glass coverage.
What people should want, where possible, is a dental benefit program. The answer for this is Direct Reimbursement.
Never heard of it? That’s because there’s no money to be made from it. No money for insurance companies, brokers, or sales people!
How does it work? Simple. You or your employer set aside a certain amount of money each year depending on a predetermined limit of coverage and the patient can:
- See any dentist of their choosing (there are no participating/non-participating dentists)
- Have any procedures done that are needed (there are no covered/non-covered services)
- Pay the dentist his or her regular fee.
- Present your paid receipt to your employer who will write you a check, up to the predetermined limit for the year.
The benefits to the employer are great too:
- The employer gets the same tax write off that they would for an insurance program
- You get the same benefit for less or a better benefit for the same amount of money set aside. (Typically the average benefit with a dental insurance plan is 65 cents for each premium dollar paid. The rest is the insurance company’s costs and profits!)
- If there’s money left at the end of the year…the employer keeps it! It’s their money! (When’s the last time you heard about an insurance premium being refunded?)
Need more information? Just call or e-mail my office or the American Dental Association. We would be happy to help you or your accountant set up a Direct Reimbursement Program for your place of employment!