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Braces-Friendly School Lunch Ideas

August 8th, 2018

In the whirlwind of shopping for school supplies, clothes, and groceries, a balanced braces-friendly lunch can fall to the sidelines. So to help you make back-to-school a little less overwhelming, we’ve searched high and low to bring you four mix-and-match  brown bag lunch ideas that will keep students smiling and their braces safe.

Lunch #1: PB&J on whole wheat bread with sides of cucumber slices, yogurt or ranch dip, and string cheese

Peanut butter is a great source of protein and fiber, while cucumber is one of nature’s toothbrushes. Cheese is high in calcium and phosphorus, which promote strong tooth enamel. For an added boost, whole wheat bread contains more natural vitamins, minerals, and fiber than white bread. Pro tip: toasting your bread slightly may make your sandwich less crumbly and less likely to stick to braces!

Lunch #2: Turkey and cheese rolled together with sides of apple slices and Greek yogurt

Turkey, cheese, and Greek yogurt power this protein-packed meal. We advise patients to avoid whole apples to protect braces, but cutting up these fresh fruits makes them braces-friendly. Apple slices are high in fiber and fun to eat, while still providing a braces-safe crunch.

Lunch #3: Bean salad with sides of melon wedges, blueberries, banana, and reduced-fat cheddar cheese cubes

Beans can provide the foundation for a balanced lunch with their high density of protein, and melons and bananas contain fiber.

Lunch #4: Sliced hard-boiled egg with sides of bell pepper, strawberries, and a mini corn muffin

For this lunchbox, eggs provide the protein, bell pepper and fruit contain fiber, and a mini corn muffin is a teeth-friendly alternative to packaged sugary desserts.

A nutritious midday meal ensures students have the energy and focus needed for the entire school day and it can even have a positive impact on their report cards. Packing a braces-friendly school lunch doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive as long as you plan ahead and encourage the entire family to help choose from a variety of healthy options. You’re well on your way to that perfect smile!

Beat the Heat with 5 Braces-Friendly Snacks for Summer

June 4th, 2018

Before braces, most of us were used to reaching for our favorite crunchy snacks and chewy candy without a second thought. But once we get braces, most of these foods are off the menu, as we now have to consider snacks that won’t be painful or damage new orthodontic devices. Although wearing braces limits some of the foods you can eat, there are still plenty of choices for safe and tasty snacks.

We suggest enjoying these fun summertime snacks that won’t harm your braces.

Fruit salad

There are few things more refreshing than a ripe, juicy berry! Bananas, blueberries, and grapes are good examples of fruits soft enough for you to chew easily and confidently. (It's always a good idea to have bite-size pieces and brush after you eat.)

Cucumber slices and ranch dip

Kick off summer with this seasonal spread, perfect for outdoor fun at the beach or park! Cucumbers can be helpful for those wearing traditional braces or Invisalign® due to their anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.

Ice cream

A cold, creamy classic, ice cream is sure to satisfy anyone with a sweet tooth—and cool you off, too. Just remember that your teeth are more susceptible to cavities when you have braces, so always brush after eating sugary foods.

Seedless watermelon

Watermelon slices are a summer picnic staple. You can even insert a popsicle stick and freeze them for a healthy twist on the traditional popsicle!

Pita bread and hummus

Serve this tried-and-true combination as an easy and healthy snack or party appetizer bursting with fresh Mediterranean flavor.

Spring Braces-Friendly Recipe Everyone Will Love!

April 10th, 2018

Just because you wear braces doesn’t mean you can’t still enjoy a delicious springtime treat. We understand the struggle you feel when surrounded by sticky, gooey, and crunchy candies throughout the different seasons and holidays. That’s why we have searched high and low for the perfect springtime recipe that the entire family can enjoy!

Triple Berry Trifle

Who doesn't love a fresh berry treat during the spring? Whether you're making it for your family or bringing it to a gathering, this is a recipe that's sure to please everyone at your table.

Ingredients:

  • Two 3.4 oz. packages instant cheesecake flavored pudding mix*
  • 4 cups milk
  • Angel food cake (about 12 oz.), cut into pieces
  • 1 cup chopped strawberries
  • 1 cup blueberries
  • 1 cup chopped raspberries
  • 12 oz. Cool Whip (or homemade whipped cream)

Directions:

  1. Add pudding mix and milk to a large bowl and make according to package directions.
  2. Add about half of the angel food cake pieces to the trifle dish.
  3. Top with about 1/2 of the prepared pudding.
  4. Top pudding with about 1/2 cup of each kind of berry.
  5. Top berries with about half of the cool whip.
  6. Repeat steps 2-5.
  7. Finish with additional berries on top.
  8. Refrigerate for about 2-3 hours, until ready to serve.

*could be replaced with vanilla flavored pudding if you can't find the cheesecake flavored pudding

Open up and say, “Om”: Stress and its Effects on your Mouth

February 7th, 2018

When it comes to stress, there’s good news and there’s bad news. The good news is that our bodies have the perfect response system to help us survive life-threatening situations. Our “fight or flight” mechanism helps us react when a toddler runs toward the road or when we accidentally touch a hot stove. The bad news is that our bodies are not designed to tolerate the ongoing psychological stress that more of us are affected by (e.g., those work emails you’re still reading at night and on weekends or the constant pondering how to pay off your student loans). Because of prolonged exposure to life’s modern day stressors, our body’s stress hormones tend to stay at high levels, and this is a recipe for disaster— not only to our immune system, but also to our mouths.

The link between stress and dental health is undeniable. Because stress affects our immune system, the risk of periodontal disease increases as the immune system fails to keep bacteria at healthy levels. Not only does stress make us more prone to infection, it causes us to hold tension in our mouth, too. So while some of us may need our shoulders rubbed at the end of a stressful day, others may need to release our jaw muscles.

Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, along with temporomandibular disorders (TMD) involving the joint where the jaw and skull meet, are two of the most common and serious mouth conditions reported by people living with chronic stress. Bruxism can damage tooth enamel leading to painful nerve exposure and tension headaches. TMD can also cause painful popping of the joint and difficulty chewing and swallowing. Other annoying oral side effects of stress include canker sores and dry mouth syndrome.

If you’re experiencing symptoms like increased tooth sensitivity, headaches, jaw popping or other mouth pain, we certainly want to discuss it with you and your dentist. Together we can figure out whether you’d benefit from something like a nighttime mouth guard to keep you from clenching your jaw and grinding your teeth. In the meantime, and in addition to any interventions like this, we’d like to share a few tips for overall stress management.

  1. Figure out what you can control and what you can’t. Make a list of the circumstances in life that cause the most stress. Determine which of them you can actually influence, and which you can’t. For those that you can change, do so! Even small changes can add up to make a difference on your stress levels. Notice how many things you don’t have control over, and then consider how to pay less attention to them. When they come to mind, make a habit of shifting your focus onto memories or circumstances that bring you joy and comfort. We suggest keeping a list of things you are grateful for in your purse/wallet. (Try pulling that list out instead of going onto Facebook when you’re looking for a distraction!)
  2. Protect your sleep! Sleep is undervalued in our culture as a protective factor for our mental health. If you’re experiencing extra stress in life, do not be afraid to prioritize your sleep like it’s your job. Those eight hours of high quality rest will improve your emotional stability and help you make better decisions throughout the day.
  3. Learn how to surf the waves of life circumstances. Every one of us experiences ups and downs in life until our last day on earth. Sometimes simply accepting that fact and choosing not to push away from difficulty and disappointment can be enough to help us relax, go with the flow, and ride the ups and downs with grace and, even, joy!

We all experience stress, but if you find it affecting your teeth, mouth and jaw, you do not have to handle that alone. Talk to us and together we’ll find coping methods that keep you flashing that beautiful, healthy smile.

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