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A new year, a new set of resolutions.

Good oral health is a cornerstone to great overall health. Whether you have full or partial dentures or dental implants, taking care of your gums and your remaining teeth go along a way to avoiding serious health problems.

Just after the holidays, Canadian Living e-zine released an article called Sugar Detoxing.

In my post Nutritional Advice For A Healthy Mouth, I explained that: “The sugars in pops, fizzy drinks and in many juices cause what I call oral health havoc. They don’t do your gums any favours. Instead they cause bacterial build-up which can lead to gingivitis and other gum diseases. And that goes for denture wearers and anyone who had dental implants.”

While some people may need to detox, just keeping an eye on how much sugar you intake daily is a good idea.

Canadian Living had a host of great ideas including:

Look for the hidden sugars:

It’s not the obvious natural sources of sugar (fruits, veggies & milk) it’s the not so obvious hidden sugars that you have to make an effort to watch out for. Start by checking the labels of familiar items such as flavoured yogurts, salad dressings, and summer-time condiments like ketchup and barbecue sauce which are often loaded with hidden sugars.

A great tip from Marie-Claude Mallet, an Ottawa-based dietitian with the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada is to not just look for ‘sugar’ but also words that end in –ose—such as sucrose, dextrose and glucose/fructose—which indicate added sugars. "If sugar is listed as one of the first three ingredients, you should consider limiting it," says Mallet.

Swap sugary drinks for healthier beverages:

And that also includes fruit juices. Not only do these sugar-sweetened beverages contain little nutritional value, they don’t do the job of filling you. In fact, they may even stimulate hunger – for more sugary drinks. What’s the alternative?

Dr. Elaine Chin, MD, chief medical officer of the Executive Health Centre in Toronto, recommends replacing pop with water, or, if you're thirsting for a fizzy drink, choosing sparkling water with added limes and lemons for flavour.

For athletes, Dr. Chin recommends swapping sports drinks for Emergen-C vitamin drink mixes. "You'll replenish electrolytes and they taste great," she says. Just be sure not to overdo those either.”

How sport drinks play havoc with elite athletes is covered in our blog post: Take Oral Care With Sports Drinks.

Fighting your sweet tooth:

Curb cravings by replacing sugary snacks with healthier snacks that are still sweet. It’s a transition but over time your taste buds will adjust to less and less sugar. There are numerous fruits such as grapes, different berries, figs or pineapple that provide that extra sweet taste.

There’s an added advantage says Dr. Chin “Fruit won't give you that instant sugar high," she explains. "The sugar gradually enters your blood stream." Plus, fruit has health benefits beyond being a sweet treat.

Protecting Your Gums:

Good denture/dental-implant supported denture care means protecting your gums and remaining teeth for partial denture wearers.

When brushing and soaking your dentures, take a moment to also brush your gums and tongue using a soft tooth brush. It’s also a good idea to massage your gums with your index finger which increases blood circulation and keeps the gums healthy.

Reducing your sugar intake is good for your overall health. And it’s not easy, one-step at a time. "Make one change at a time," advises the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Canada. "You can improve your diet slowly but surely."

All the best for 2016!


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