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    Easter candy is delicious, but it can also be a pain -- literally. Canker sores, tiny but painful ulcers that appear on the gums and mouth, aren't always something we associate with what we eat. But it sounds like we should.

    There are two types of canker sores. The first, simple sores, are the ones we tend to associate with childhood. They are common during adolescence. No one is really sure what causes simple sores, but they are usually attributed to stress or a diet rich in acidic foods (like citrus fruits and candies heavily flavored with lemon, lime, or orange). 

    The second type of sore is called (shockingly) a complex canker sore. These are more commonly found in adults. They too can be caused by diet or stress. But in adults they can also indicate that something else isn't quite right in the body. Sometimes complex canker sores can be your body's way of telling you that you have an immune deficiency disorder or an allergy. 

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    We all know the foods and drinks that will stain our teeth (coffee, anyone?), but did you know that there are actually foods that can help naturally whiten your teeth? As in you can be making yourself more beautiful by ... eating. Sounds good to me! And don't worry, they're not all healthy foods. According to Marc Liechtung, DMD, principal at Manhattan Dental Arts, "Turns out not everything you actually want to eat is bad for you, particularly when it comes to building brighter, whiter teeth."

    Dr. Liechtung says that there are five foods typically reserved for "cheat" days that are doctor-approved for a strong, sparkling smile. (Yay for eating bad food without the guilt!)

    Here are 5 weird (yummy!) foods that actually whiten your teeth.

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    I hate going to the dentist. It doesn't scare me. I reserve my phobias for more valid concerns, like the insurmountable reality that one day I will die. The dentist I hate for practical reasons: My teeth are a nightmare. My gums are less pale pink flesh and more omnipresent blood-jelly. My teeth are less bone and more yellowed hole-riddled caves where bad dreams are born.

    Plus, dentists are strange birds. Mine growing up had a motorcycle and was always offering my mom rides. Also that (probably untrue) statistic about their high suicide rate combined with Steve Martin's character in Little Shop of Horrors all added up to a strange mental picture for the Becca. Now the dental community has proven all my thoughts to be true.

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    I know this is probably going to sound pretty weird, but my son is nearly 8 years old -- and he still hasn't lost any teeth. Yep, every single one of his baby teeth are still fully intact, and as far as I can tell, none of them are the least bit loose either.

    And I feel kinda bad for the little guy. At least once a week, he comes home and tells me that another one of his friends lost another tooth -- and he asks me why he hasn't lost any and when he is going to lose them.

    Of course, I don't have the answer, so I just keep telling him that it'll happen soon enough and that he cut teeth late (11 1/2 months), which is probably why he hasn't lost any yet.

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    What a young autistic man in Indianapolis just went through during a visit to his dentist sounds like the stuff nightmares are made of. Twenty-one-year-old Christopher Crist went in for a routine operation to extract three of his teeth ... and ended up getting all 32 pulled out. (Aghhhh, it pains me to even report that.)

    Crist's family says the dentist gave Crist pills to numb the pain -- and before he knew it, they had removed all of Crist's teeth. "It [the pills] made me loopy and as they were doing that, they were shooting my gums with the numbing gel," Crist told local station WTVR. This poor young man. So, so horrifying.

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    Hey, you're not afraid of the dentist or anything silly like that, are ya? Nah, who gets nervous about going to the dentist? Besides, y'know, EVERYBODY. Cause yowza!! As anyone who's spent a significant amount of time in the dentist's char can attest, dental work = PAIN. Oh lord, the unholy terror! If not for the heavenly prescription meds accompanying major procedures, there'd simply be no point at all to the to tooth-y torture.

    Okay, so maybe I've had a few bad experiences. If you're one of the rare souls who hasn't silently wished for death while under the drill, I'm super happy for you. Really, I am. So happy for you that I would never burst your bubble by telling you about the terrifying thing that happened recently to a poor, innocent woman having dental implant surgery.

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    As if being in jail wasn't a miserable enough experience, Teen Mom Amber Portwood is apparently dealing with one of the most miserable physical maladies ever: An abscess in her mouth that's grown "so big and swollen that her whole jaw is puffed out," according to her brother Shawn. "Her mouth has become infected and the pain is making her so sick that she can’t sleep, and hasn’t eaten a thing in three days."

    YOWCH. What's even worse is how long Portwood has to wait for treatment, supposedly: six weeks! "It needs to be down now. If the infection gets in her bloodstream, it can be life-threatening," says Shawn. Granted, I'm not sure how much of this is true or if Amber Portwood's brother is in fact an expert on dental disasters, but if Portwood really does have a very angry and painful tooth abscess -- Shawn is right about the life-threatening thing!

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  • Hot List

    10 Snacks for a Sparkly Smile

    posted by Jacqueline Burt April 25, 2012 at 11:40 PM in Healthy Living
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    Full disclosure: I hate my teeth. Always have, probably always will. They're just not white enough and never have been -- even when I was a kid and my "grown-up" teeth were brand new (apparently this has something to do with too many antibiotics for multiple bouts of tonsillitis).

    I've tried just about whitening treatment on the market but none of them have done the trick (unless by "trick" you're referring to the magic enamel-destroying powers of those dentist-approved bleaching trays. Root canals are awesome!).

    Anyway, as you can probably tell, I'm pretty skeptical about anything that claims to have smile-brightening properties at this point. So when I heard that some foods are actually capable of making teeth whiter, I was like, "Says who? The tooth fairy?" TGTBT.

    BUT there's a surprising amount of research out there suggesting that certain foods really are dental dazzlers.

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    I received a rather shocking recommendation from my dentist the last time I went in for a routine visit. She told me that instead of coming twice a year for a check-up, she wanted to see me every four months. When I told her that my insurance only covered two visits a year, she told me that if I really cared about my dental health, I would just shell over 60-something dollars myself for the third trip. WHAT?

    I thought it was a scam, but after seeing a scary report that skipping regular dental check-ups could end up costing 10 times as much money, I just might fall for it.

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    In what could be the most amazing thing ever to happen on planet Earth, an Oregon woman woke up from oral surgery recently with a British accent. Crikey, right?

    When Karen Butler came out of surgery a year and a half ago, her mouth was swollen and she had a thick and foreign accent when she spoke. "I sounded like I was from Transylvania," she said.Over the next few days, the swelling disappeared, but Butler's newfound accent did not. Though it's since softened, her words have yet to return to how they were before. Now, everyone thinks she's British.Um, not to diminish the fact that something went awry with Karen during surgery, but I kind of wouldn't mind this.

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