Top Treats & Foods That Damage Teeth During The Holidays

 

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We all want healthy teeth and healthy gums. But the lure of sweet treats, delicious drinks, and decadent desserts during the holiday season can overwhelm our otherwise sensible choices. Unfortunately, holiday foods that damage teeth are all-too-common this time of year.

Time to switch things up and try a new tradition: Holiday treats that can

strengthen your teeth and your holiday smile.

Avoiding Holiday Foods That Damage Teeth

Even if you’re diligent about brushing and flossing, many foods will make caring for your teeth an uphill battle, or might even damage your teeth outright. In order to help you protect your teeth this holiday season, we’ve put together a list of the holiday treats that damage your teeth the most:

Eggnog. Eggnog is full of sugar, which is always bad for your teeth. But since this drink often has alcohol in it, it can dry out your mouth and prohibits the production of saliva. That means the sugar residue stays in your mouth for longer and does more damage.

Candy Canes. These holiday staples are also loaded with sugar, but what makes them especially bad for your teeth is that they take a long time to finish. Unlike a cookie that you may eat in a minute, candy canes bathe your mouth in sticky sugar for minutes on end.

Holiday Sugar Cookies. That said, cookies can still be an issue. Especially the kind of sugar cookie common around the holiday. C’mon… it has “sugar” in the name! Eating too many of these will only accelerate tooth decay.

Potato Latkes. The pancakes themselves are not the problem, it’s what’s on the side. A common tradition is to dip potato latkes into table sugar, which turns a traditional holiday treat into something that’s damaging your teeth. When possible, eat them with applesauce instead.

Caramel Popcorn. Sugar is once again the culprit in this holiday snack. But it doesn’t help that caramel popcorn is so addictive. It’s easy to munch on it absentmindedly for minutes on end which just exposes more sugar to your teeth for longer.

Of course, this list might be longer if you have braces, Invisalign, or other orthodontics. (Read: “Holiday Eating With Invisalign: Should Candy Canes Be On the Menu?” and “Foods to Eat and Foods to Avoid with Braces.“)

Holiday Treats For Healthy, Happy Teeth

It wouldn’t be much fun to spend the entire holiday season avoiding treats, especially when everyone around you is enjoying them so much. Luckily, you can be merry and be merciful on your teeth at the same time.

 

Here are some seasonal treats that you can indulge in without feeling guilty:

Peppermint Ho! Peppermint flavors are a staple of the season. Instead of eating candy canes, try peppermint tea (or make your own peppermint tea) and sweeten with low or sugar-free syrup. You can also try these homemade, sugar-free peppermint patties, of this terrific (and easy) dairy and sugar-free peppermint fudge.

Gingerbread. The bold flavor of ginger means that gingerbread tends to have less sugar than other types of cookies and cakes. So try gingerbread cookies over sugar cookies, or try baking actual gingerbread yourself- that way you can control how much sugar goes into it!

Cheese. Love cheese already? A study published in the American Academy of General Dentistry found that eating cheese raises the pH in the subjects’ mouths, lowering the risk of tooth decay. Cheese also contains calcium and protein, both found in foods that strengthen teeth. So go ahead, break out those holiday cheese balls. (We love this Christmas Tree shaped one you can make yourself.) If entertaining, it’s worth learning how to set up a simple cheese platter.

Almonds. Almonds are one of the best-kept secrets of the snack world. They are a good source of calcium and protein (which, again, helps to strengthen teeth) but are also low in sugar. While we don’t usually associate almonds with the holidays, winter has always been a season for roasted nuts. Try these spicy roasted almonds, or these rosemary roasted almonds, to get that nostalgic feel without loading your nuts with sugar. And, if you’re feeling really adventurous, you can make these no-bake almond cranberry Christmas cookies. They’re vegan, low in artificial sugars, and totally tasty.

Keep Your Teeth Happy This Holiday Season

One more thing to consider – during the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, it’s easy to let our guard down and “skip” our usual teeth cleaning habits. Bad idea: This is precisely the time of the year when those habits are most needed!

How to Save Money at the Dentist

Dentures put wearers at risk of malnutrition because they can’t chew healthy food

By Sarah Knapton, science editor
11 DECEMBER 2017 • 12:01AM

Dentures put wearers at risk of malnutrition because they cause wearers to avoid healthy foods which are difficult to chew, a major study has shown.

Researchers at King’s College London found the same was true for people with teeth loss, who also struggle to chew food properly.In both cases, tooth loss and wearing dentures was associated with joint and muscle frailty which can leave people at risk of bone breakages and falls.

The scientists said that people with dentures, or fewer teeth find it difficult to eat foods such as fibrous fruits and vegetables, nuts and meat, which are essential for good nutrition. Although dentures improves chewing function, the bite force is much weaker than that of natural teeth, meaning users often avoid certain foods.

“Persons with inadequate dentition are less likely to eat hard food that is difficult to chew, for example, some of the fresh fruits and vegetables, apples, pears, carrots, nuts etc,” said Dr Wael Sabbah, from King’s College London Dental Institute.

“They could also have difficulties in eating some cooked food such as meat, depending on the way it is cooked.”

Around 11 million people wear dentures in Britain. Although just six per cent of people now have no teeth compared to 37 per cent in 1978, 74 per cent have needed at least one tooth extracting.

The study examined the health of more than 1,800 people who had an average age of 62, and were categorised into three groups; having at least 20 teeth, denture wearers with fewer than 20 teeth, and people and non-denture wearers with fewer than 20 teeth.

Researchers tested all groups for strength, frailty, BMI and oral health and interviewed about their nutritional intake.

The group that had less than 20 teeth and did not use dentures, and those who used dentures, were found to have consumed the least amount of nutrients, compared to recommended daily amounts. They were also found to be more frail.

Denturewearers and those with fewer teeth were 32 per cent more likely to be frail and 20 per cent more likely to be nutritionally deficient.

The researchers say the study demonstrates how important oral health is in preventing tooth loss which can cause nutritional deficiencies in later life.

Nutrients are crucial to maintain muscle mass and stave off musculoskeletal frailty.

“Few studies have examined the relationship between oral health, the number of teeth and general frailty,” added Dr Sabbah.

“One of the important findings of the study is the significant relationship between the condition of teeth and deficiency in intake of essential nutrients, regardless of the use of dentures.

“To date, the majority of efforts to improve frailty have focused on nutrition strategies, including health education, while the influence of teeth on dietary restraint of the elderly has been neglected.

“The findings of this analysis, along with that reported in earlier research, suggest that the use of denture could be a neglected intervention that could potentially have a preventative impact on musculoskeletal frailty.

“The results also highlight the importance of developing oral health policies to ensure older adults maintain functional dentition throughout their life.”

The research was published in the journal Geriatrics & Gerontology International.

A dental visit can cost you, but a delay can hurt your teeth and budget even more

By Janice Neumann

 

When I was in my 30s and a dentist told me I needed a few crowns, I decided to skip the expensive devices because of my meager paycheck. Besides, my teeth weren’t hurting.

Years later, I am paying the price in pain and costlier dental work. One of the damaged teeth that needed a crown distorted my bite, making a minor jaw-joint problem even worse.

Unfortunately I’m far from alone. The price of dental care is steep for many people financially, physically and even socially, according to Marko Vujicic, chief economist and vice president of the Health Policy Institute at the American Dental Association.

Vujicic said that the majority of emergency room dental visits were for infections that could be handled in a dentist’s office. Overall, emergency room dental visits cost $1.9 billion yearly, 40 percent of which is public money, according to his institute’s analysis of data from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

“I’m comfortable calling that highly wasteful,” Vujicic said. “That’s a very inefficient way to spend dollars.”

When Angela Lombardi, who lives in Bensenville, Ill., put off getting fillings because of the cost, the pain kept mounting and her teeth kept deteriorating. Eventually she had to have five teeth pulled at a county clinic, where the fee was low.

But that wasn’t the end of her pain. At age 32, she had difficulty chewing food and was too embarrassed to smile because of the unsightly gaps between her remaining teeth.

“Gosh, I had so many teeth pulled because of not having enough money to go to the dentist to get them treated,” said Lombardi, now 39. “When I got them pulled, there’s this empty space and it’s ugly. . . . You can’t chew, you can’t smile.”

Lombardi finally found help at Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine in nearby Downers Grove, where she will get a bridge and crowns for about $3,000.

The dental school, where care is provided by students, charges a third to a half of the fees charged by private dentists. “We want our students to have as robust an education as we can provide, and lower fees help attract and facilitate acceptance of treatment plans,” said Melisa Burton, Midwestern’s assistant dean of clinical education.

More people are avoiding dental care because of the cost than other types of health care, according to a study in Health Affairs that was led by Vujicic.

The study showed that adults ages 19 to 64 said they were more likely to forgo dental care because of cost than children or seniors (12.8 percent of non-elderly adults compared with 7.2 percent of seniors and 4.3 percent of children).

Nearly a quarter of adults with incomes below the poverty line said they did not receive dental care because of cost. Even people with dental insurance were avoiding getting their teeth fixed because of cost, according to the study.

People also said they didn’t get the dental care they needed because of fear, inconvenient locations or appointment times, and trouble finding a dentist who takes their insurance. Cost, however, was the main reason.

Vujicic said public health programs don’t seem to take account of the connection between oral health and overall health. Medicaid includes dental coverage for children and some states expanded Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act, but 22 states do not offer dental care for adults via Medicaid while others offer varying degrees of coverage. Marketplaces created under the ACA offer dental coverage in separate plans.

“You and I understand the mouth is connected to the body, that bacteria in the mouth affects bacteria in the body, but policy doesn’t,” Vujicic said. “There is emerging and new evidence showing the link between chronic disease and oral health.” Oral care can help reduce overall health-care costs, research has found.

Vujicic advocates more insurance coverage, both public and private, for oral health. He said that adding dental coverage under Medicaid for the 22 states without it would cost $1.4 billion to $1.6 billion annually, but some of that would be recouped from fewer emergency room visits for oral care.

Jason Grinter, a dentist in Rockford, Ill., sees many patients who have gone without consistent dental care. He said the state’s Medicaid program has been a big help to patients in Illinois, covering fillings, dentures, extractions and, in some cases, root canals and crowns.

Grinter said he sympathized with patients who couldn’t afford dental care or dental devices such as partial dentures, which aren’t included in Illinois Medicaid for adults. He also said private insurance often caps benefits at around $1,000 per year, a ceiling that has not kept pace with dental costs.

“We’re all struggling, and a lot of times it’s a difficult conversation between the patient and dentist because there is the [financial] barrier,” Grinter said. “Not that someone is trying to price-gouge, but the price in my lab is $500 to $600 for a removable denture. . . . If you want to add some time and materials, it’s going to get up there in price.”

Often families will make sure their children get to the dentist, Grinter said, but tight budgets mean the parents won’t do the same.

“They will bring their kids to the dentist three or four times to get all the treatment that is needed,” Grinter said, “but they’re not willing to do that for themselves.”

Forgoing dental care in adulthood can mean even worse health problems in old age, according to Amber Willink, an assistant scientist at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore. And Medicare does not cover dental care (or vision and hearing care).

“There’s that cumulative effect of put it off, put it off, put it off. . . . It’s only going to be that much worse and that much harder to manage and treat,” Willink said. “We’re talking about people who are having trouble eating because of their dental issues.”

As for Lombardi, she is looking forward to the day when she can smile again. The university care helped, and then her boyfriend stepped in with a Christmas present.

“He told me, ‘Your gift is I’m going to help you get your teeth fixed,’ ” she said.

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Children who avoid tap water have lower lead levels but more tooth decay

By Brooks Hays

Elevated blood lead levels affect only a small minority of children, but the health consequences are profound and permanent,” researcher Anne E. Sanders said. For American children, tap water’s health benefits come with risks.

New research shows children and adolescents in the United States who avoid tap water are more likely to have tooth decay. The data also shows young people who avoid tap have lower levels of lead in their blood.

Most municipal water in the U.S. is fluoridated, which numerous studies have proven prevents cavities. However, aging infrastructure presents risks, including elevated lead levels in drinking water.

The lead crisis in Flint, Michigan, is an extreme example of a problem that’s fairly common in the United States. Studies show 5,300 water systems in the U.S. are in violation of the EPA’s lead and copper limits.

When researchers at the University of North Carolina examined blood and dental data of some 16,000 children and adolescents — collected as part of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey — they found children who said they didn’t drink tap water were more likely to have had at least one cavity.

Those same children were also less likely to have elevated lead levels, defined as more than three micrograms in a deciliter of blood.

Researchers found 3 percent of those surveyed had elevated lead levels in their blood. Nearly 50 percent had tooth decay.

“Elevated blood lead levels affect only a small minority of children, but the health consequences are profound and permanent,” UNC researcher Anne E. Sanders said in a news release. “On the other hand, tooth decay affects one in every two children, and its consequences, such as toothache, are immediate and costly to treat.”

Sanders and her colleagues published their findings in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

“Our study draws attention to a critical trade-off for parents: children who drink tap water are more likely to have elevated blood lead levels, yet children who avoid tap water are more likely to have tooth decay,” researcher Gary D. Slade said. “Community water fluoridation benefits all people, irrespective of their income or ability to obtain routine dental care. Yet we jeopardize this public good when people have any reason to believe their drinking water is unsafe.”


Read article on original site: https://www.upi.com/Science_News/2017/11/27/Children-who-avoid-tap-water-have-lower-lead-levels-but-more-tooth-decay/7601511814779/

What is coinsurance? And other health insurance mysteries explained

Why is health care in the U.S. so expensive?

Health insurance. You know you need it, but navigating through the terms and coverage explanations can be ridiculously confusing. But if you don’t understand how your plan works, it could really cost you.

Current law allows younger people to stay on their parent’s plan until they turn 26. And that leaves a lot of them scratching their heads while reviewing their health care options after blowing out their 26 birthday candles.

Many Americans get health insurance through their employer. If not, they can find individual plans via government exchanges, through a broker or directly from an insurance company.

Here’s your cheat sheet to some common terms you might run into when comparing plans during open enrollment:

Claim: This is the bill your doctor submits to your health insurance provider for any care you receive. If you paid for service out-of-pocket, you can also submit your own claim to your insurer directly to try and get reimbursed.

Premium: This is the amount you pay every month to maintain your health insurance plan. Even if you never end up needing health care services, you still have to pay your monthly premium to your health insurance company to stay covered.

Deductible: Your insurance company usually doesn’t start covering your health care bills right away. You’ll probably have to pay a set amount first. That’s called your deductible. It’s how much your plan requires you to shell out for your health care before your insurance starts to cover your bills. Usually, the cheaper the plan, the higher the deductible.

High-deductible health plans: Under these plans, you’re expected to pay more of your health care bills, but your monthly payments for coverage will be cheaper. It can be a good option for a young, healthy person who doesn’t expect to go to the doctor much. These plans allow you to stash away money into a tax-advantaged account called a Health Savings Account (HSA) that can be used to cover deductibles and other medical expenses.

Copayment: A set fee you pay when visiting a doctor after you’ve met your deductible. You might have different copayments for doctor visits, hospital stays and other types of care.

Coinsurance: Some insurance plans expect you to pay a percentage of the bill even after you’ve met your deductible. For example, you could be on the hook for 20% or 30% of the bill while the insurer handles the rest.

In-network provider: A medical professional who is part of your health insurance coverage and has pre-determined agreements with your insurer on what to charge for certain services and visits. Staying in network means your insurance will cover more of the costs and your bills will be much cheaper.

Out-of-network provider: A medical provider who does not have a contract with your health insurer, and will likely be more expensive to receive care from. You can end up being responsible for most, if not all of the bill if you go to an out-of-network doctor.

Out-of-pocket maximum: While deductibles and coinsurance could mean you end up paying a lot of money for health care, the good news is there is a limit to what you’ll be responsible for paying. If you end up with a lot of medical bills one year and reach your plan’s cap, the insurance company will cover 100% of your medical services for the rest of the year.

Explanation of Benefits: While it may look like a bill, it isn’t. An EOB is just an overview of what (and how much) your doctor billed to your insurance company and what the insurer has agreed to cover. It can also include an estimate of how much you might be expected to pay, but the medical provider will send a bill separately.

 

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The Best and Worst Halloween Candy for Your Teeth

Even the healthiest diets are tempted by chocolate and sweet treats when Halloween rolls around.  While no sweets are good for teeth, some are less harmful than others. the stickier the candy, the worse it is for your teeth and Fast melting chocolate has advantages as a Halloween treat.

 Trick-or-treating’s candy haul is just around the corner, and a recent survey found 80 percent of parents admit to eating the candy from their kids’ Halloween haul.  Although candy consumption is almost unavoidable this time of year, the AGD wants parents and children to know that not all sweet treats are created equal. Some can wreak havoc on your teeth.  And it doesn’t matter whether you’re an adult or a child; cavities don’t discriminate.

So what candy should you choose for trick or treaters? Dr. Linda Vidone, dental director of Delta Dental of Massachusetts says that when picking out Halloween candy, choose candy that melts and disappears quickly. The general rule is that the stickier the candy, the worse it is for your teeth.  “The longer teeth are exposed to sugar, the longer bacteria can feed on it, which can produce cavity-causing acid,” she says. “It’s best to avoid letting kids snack on candy throughout the day.”  Vidone says that it’s extremely important that kids brush their teeth or at least rinse with water after eating sweets.

This is good news for chocolate lovers, as chocolate is regarded as a better candy option, as long as it’s a “plain” variety, without fruit or nuts.  Chocolate dissolves quickly in the mouth, which decreases the amount of time sugar stays in contact with teeth and the calcium in chocolate can potentially help protect tooth enamel. Dark chocolate and its antioxidants, according to some studies, can be good for the heart and may even lower blood pressure.

However, chocolate with fillings, such as caramel or nuts, is much more harmful for teeth as it is harder to chew. “Of course, dentists do not advocate that children eat large amounts of sugary treats, but it is that time of year, so we want to clarify for parents which treats are (relatively) better for their kids’ teeth and which ones may increase the risk of developing cavities,” says AGD spokesperson Cynthia Sherwood, DDS, FAGD.

Here are five options ranked from best to worst:

1. Sugar-free candy and gum with xylitol

Sugar-free gum may be the best treat this Halloween season because it leaves no sticky residue, and it is sweetened with xylitol–a natural sugar the bacteria is unable to form plaque on. Sugar-free gum can actually prevent cavities as it not only dislodges food particles from between the teeth but also increases saliva—which works to neutralize the acids of the mouth and prevent tooth decay. “A dry mouth allows plaque to build up on teeth faster, leading to an increased risk of cavities,” Dr.Sherwood says.

Gum and candy with xylitol may actually protect teeth by reducing the acids produced by bacteria and increasing saliva to rinse away excess sugars and acids.


2. Powdery candy

Sure, powdery candy, such as Pixie Stix, is packed with pure sugar, but the texture allows it to dissolve quickly which prevents sugar from sticking to teeth and producing acids and bacteria.

 

 


3. Chocolate

Chocolate melts quickly. Choose your favorite variety: milk, dark or white. Be sure to choose the plain variety because chocolate with fillings, such as nuts or caramel, are more harmful to your teeth. Delta Dental’s survey says 86 percent of kids eat chocolate at Halloween.  Peanut butter cups are similar to chocolate in that they disappear fast.


4. Hard candy

Hard candy is tough on teeth because it stays in your mouth for an extended period of time, which ultimately coats teeth with sugar. Additionally, biting down on hard candy can chip or break teeth.  Sour candies have high acid levels that break down tooth enamel, especially the soft enamel of young children.

 


5. Chewy candy

Chewy, sticky treats are particularly damaging because they are high in sugar, spend a prolonged amount of time stuck to teeth, get stuck in the teeth easily and are more difficult for saliva to break down.  Candy corn, a seasonal favorite, is laden with sugar that produces acid that eats away at your teeth.

 

“Parents should closely monitor their children’s candy intake this Halloween—and all year round—and continue to promote good oral health habits,” Dr. Sherwood says. “Kids also should be brushing their teeth twice a day for two minutes.”

A cracked tooth

Chew on this: Dental coverage gives protection within limits

By Tom Murphy

Don’t forget about your teeth when you start considering 2018 insurance needs later this fall.

The annual sign-up window for many types of health insurance also is a good time to think about dental coverage. Many employers offer a chance to sign up for it during their open enrollment period for benefits. Dental protection also can be purchased with private Medicare Advantage coverage or through the Affordable Care Act’s public marketplaces.

There’s a big market for it. About 74 million Americans have no dental coverage, according to the National Association of Dental Plans. That’s around 23 percent of the population, or more than double the percentage that lacks health insurance.

Here are some things to consider when shopping for dental plans.

WHY DO SO MANY PEOPLE LACK DENTAL COVERAGE?

The main reason is limits on government health programs.

Medicare provides health coverage for people who turn 65, but the federal program offers no dental option unless you buy it through privately-run Medicare Advantage plans. Likewise, dental coverage is spotty for adults in Medicaid, the federal-state health insurance program for the poor.

Shoppers also cannot use tax credits to help pay for most adult dental coverage sold on the ACA’s marketplaces or exchanges.

WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT FROM MY COVERAGE?

You won’t have to pay for preventive care like teeth cleanings. Your insurer also will grab the bill for the occasional X-ray. Coverage tends to shrink from there.

Basic work like cavity fillings might come with co-insurance, which requires you to pay a certain percentage of the bill.

That co-insurance may be as high as 50 percent for major work like crowns or dentures. Many plans also pay only $1,500 or less annually for care per person. After that, the customer has to pick up the rest of the cost.

Coverage for a kid’s braces also may be limited to a maximum lifetime payment of $1,000 per person, depending on the plan.

WHY ARE THERE LIMITS?

Dental coverage is designed to encourage people to get regular care that keeps tooth decayand other costly problems from developing.

“The idea is you pay more out of pocket if you let things go south,” said Evelyn Ireland, executive director of the National Association of Dental Plans.

If the insurer covered more, then premiums would rise, and that might dissuade people from getting regular dental checkups, Ireland said.

The dental plans association estimates that more than 90 percent of patients do not hit their plan’s annual maximum.

However, research suggests that some people start avoiding care before they reach their plan’s limits due to the costs they face even with coverage, said Marko Vujicic, chief economist for the American Dental Association’s Health Policy Institute.

SHOULD I BOTHER BUYING COVERAGE?

The answer can depend on whether you expect to need more than basic care and if your dentist offers a discount program. Patients can use tax-advantaged health savings or flexible spending accounts to cover dental bills.

Consider how your projected expenses compare with the monthly premium you’d pay for coverage and whether you have the resources to handle an unexpected bill of $1,000 or more. Monthly premiums can top $50 for a family plan, which is much less than a typical health premium. Your employer likely will pay some of that for any plan purchased through work.

Insurers also can help their customers by negotiating discounts with dentists that still apply even if a patient has to cover the whole bill for a procedure, Ireland said. Those discounts might reduce the cost of a crown from around $1,200 to $960, but you have to have coverage in order to get them.

Ireland said these insurer-negotiated discounts are generally bigger than what a dentist may offer a cash-paying customer.

 

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Read article on original site: http://abcnews.go.com/Business/wireStory/chew-dental-coverage-protection-limits-49816168

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The Case for Regular Flossing

Your dentist has likely told you for years (your entire life even) that you should be flossing your teeth daily. Food particles and plaque between your teeth can’t be removed with regular brushing, and so getting floss in there is the only way to properly clean the area out. For some reason, you and 36% of Americans would rather be cleaning a toilet than keeping your mouth healthy via flossing. People rely heavily on their dentists and amenities like individual dental insurance to keep their mouths healthy, when simply following the advice of dentists would offer even greater health benefits.

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5 Steps to Take to Curb Bad Breath

From the time we’re small children, we’re incessantly reminded to brush our teeth and eat calcium rich foods to keep ourselves and our teeth healthy. Establishing good oral hygiene habits from a young age is imperative to good overall health, and dentists know that if you’re caring for your teeth as a child you’ll be more likely to do so as an adult. Excellent dental plans often go unused as our lives become busier, but when an issue like chronic bad breath surfaces, we’re more likely to give our dentists a ring.

While you’re waiting to make use of dental plans and get your teeth cleaned and properly inspected, there are some everyday maintenance steps that you can take to freshen your breath.

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