Cleaning Baby's Teeth & Gums

August 23rd, 2021

Cleaning baby's teeth and gums

Did you know that good oral hygiene begins early? Even before your baby’s first tooth appears, the gums can benefit from your careful attention.

Caring for Gums

After breast- or bottle-feeding, wrap one finger with a clean, damp washcloth or piece of gauze and gently rub it across your baby’s gum tissue. This practice both clears your little one’s mouth of any fragments of food and begins the process for building good daily oral care habits. As your baby continues to grow, consider carefully what you put in your child's bottle or sippy cup especially at bed time.

Baby’s First Tooth

When that first tooth makes an entrance, it’s time to upgrade to a baby toothbrush. There are usually two options: a long-handled toothbrush that you and your baby can hold at the same time, and a finger-puppet-like brush that fits over the tip of your pointer finger. In each case, the bristles are soft and few. Regularly cleaning baby's teeth helps establish this habit from an early age.

Under age three, we recommend using a grain of rice sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.  During the teething process, your child will want to chew on just about anything, and a baby toothbrush with a teether can become a favorite toy during this period.

Proper oral hygiene begins early and works great when parents make cleaning baby’s teeth a daily part of their routine from early on. These tips should help your child  should build the habits that make a grand slam smile!

First Trip to the Dentist: How to Make Sure it is Smooth Sailing

October 21st, 2019

Baby's First Dental ExamTrips to the dentist are an essential part of oral care, but for a child, the first time can be scary. Sitting in a chair, under a light, while a stranger pokes inside their mouth is understandably daunting.

We are often afraid of things we don’t understand, so the best way to make your child’s first trip to the dentist smooth sailing is to help them understand what to expect before they get to the office. Knowledge will make the visit more comfortable and relaxing.

Normalize visits to the dentist with books, or simply talking about it! There are many children’s books out there that help make a visit to the dentist easier! A list of books can be found here. Dr. Jennison even wrote a children's book, A Sugarbug's Delight.

We also recommend roleplaying with a pretend visit!  Making the dentist fun at home will make the outing more fun when the time comes. Be sure to use positive vocabulary, avoiding words like shot and hurt. Instead, talk about a clean, strong smile. In keeping with the positive theme, be sure not to bribe your kids with a post-appointment treat. Bribery gives the idea that there is something to be nervous about. Instead, opt for surprising them with some sort of reward after the fact.

Here at our practice, because we specialize in pediatric dentistry, we too have tactics to make the appointment go easy and smooth for both you and your child! Some children are ready to sit in the dental chair at the first appointment. Others do better in a knee to knee position, where they lay on a board between a parent and the doctor. Tell your child that the team will count and shine their teeth. Thank you for trusting us to take care of your child in a specialized way.

So when should you schedule this trip? As a rule of thumb, kids should start going to the dentist by age 1 or within six months after their first tooth erupts. We’ll see you then!

 

Buying Your Child’s First Toothbrush

May 25th, 2017

One of the most important tools in your child’s mouth-health arsenal is their toothbrush. Often overlooked and under considered, it is vital that you take the time to buy the right toothbrush for your child. Below are some smart shopping guidelines to consider when buying your child’s next toothbrush.   

Bristles

Bristles come in all shapes and sizes, but did you know that most dentists think that soft, rounded bristles make the best toothbrushes? This is because soft bristles effectively clean teeth without damaging sensitive gums. Hard rubber bristle liners (called burs) can cut your gums and do not provide any extra cleaning power. Additionally, the rounded shape is easy on sensitive teeth and gums while sharper shaped tooth brushes can easily fray as well as harm sensitive gums. So when you’re looking for a new toothbrush, look for soft, rounded bristles.  

Size

The toothbrush head should be sized to comfortably fit in your child’s mouth and small enough to clean all of the spots that are tough to reach. The toothbrush head should fit comfortably between their back molars and their cheek. When purchasing their toothbrush, take your child with you so that you can accurately size their new toothbrush. Try to choose a toothbrush that is specifically designed for kids, or your child’s age bracket. 

Handle

There are straight handles, curved handles, angled handles and even handles that vibrate, but the most effective handle isn’t based upon shape, but comfort. When choosing your child’s new toothbrush, you need to make sure that the handle is large enough and comfortable enough for them to hold and brush for two minutes. If the handle is the wrong size, it may not be easy enough for them to grasp and effectively brush their teeth. Look for toothbrushes with a rubber grip so that it is easier for your child to grasp. 

When to Exchange It

 

Toothbrushes face a couple of different problems that can cut their lifespan short. First, general use wears down bristles and impedes their effectiveness over time. Worn down bristles begin to lose their shape and become obviously frayed. You should exchange your child’s toothbrush when the head begins to lose its shape and the bristles become frayed, usually around three months of use.  

When your child gets sick, it’s time to get a new toothbrush. Bacteria can buildup on the handle and bristles of their toothbrush and can extend their sickness or reignite it at a later date. If your child has a cold or the flu, immediately buy a new toothbrush once they are no longer sick. 

A good rule of thumb is to buy a new toothbrush every three months.  

Ask Us!

All of the above criteria applies to adult toothbrushes in addition to those used by children. If you are unsure of the exact toothbrush your child should use, then consult our office! We will be able to help you choose the best toothbrush for your child, and we can suggest a specific model most of the time. Visit our office today to discuss the tools your children use to attain better oral health! 

Toothbrush Care 101

February 16th, 2017

shutterstock_308646626 (1)
To get a healthy smile that lasts a lifetime, it’s important that you begin with the right tools. The most important tool for overall oral health is the toothbrush. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) recommends that everyone brush their teeth twice per day, for two minutes at a time. But, brushing your teeth is only as effective as your toothbrush. Below, we discuss how to care for your toothbrush, and list the warning signs of an ineffective toothbrush.

How to Keep Your Toothbrush Clean

To get the most out of your toothbrush, it’s important that you take proper care of it. Here are a few simple ways to ensure that your toothbrush has a healthy lifespan.

1 – Rinse after use. After you brush your teeth, thoroughly rinse the bristle to clean them of toothpaste and debris. Sometimes, debris can remain in a toothbrush after use, and damage the bristles.

2 – Never share. If you share your toothbrush, you risk contracting unhealthy germs from the other person, which can ruin your toothbrush by contamination. To avoid getting sick and sharing disease, stick to your own toothbrush.

3 – Air dry. After you’re done brushing, be sure to let your toothbrush air dry, rather than placing the head in a dark, contained holder. If you put a wet toothbrush in a container, bacteria can grow on the toothbrush head and cause you to become sick. The best way to prevent bacterial growth is by letting your toothbrush air dry in an upright position in a vanity or closet, away from toilet spray.

When to Replace Your Toothbrush

There are a few signs that will indicate it’s time for a new toothbrush. Generally speaking, if any of the following signs presents itself, it’s time to get a new toothbrush.

1 – Losing bristles. If bristles begin falling out, then it’s time to get a new toothbrush. Loose bristles indicate sufficient use and toothbrush age. Additionally, you don’t want to risk swallowing small pieces of synthetic polymers.

2 – Frayed bristles. When the bristles on your toothbrush no longer hold their shape, and they begin tom plume outward, then they are no longer effective. Once your toothbrush head begins to lose shape, then it’s time to get a new toothbrush.

3 – 3 months and older. If your toothbrush is older than 3 months, then it’s likely that one of the two indicators above has occurred. Frayed or not, we typically advise that our patients trade out their old toothbrush for a new one every 3 – 4 months.

4 – Recent illness. If you have recently been sick, then it’s time to trade out your toothbrush. Bacteria and germs from an illness can be passed from your mouth to your toothbrush and survive for weeks

Take Care of Your Tools

Toothbrushes are an important tool in the fight against cavities, so take care of yours! Remember to brush your teeth twice per day for two minutes at a time. After you’re done brushing, thoroughly clean your toothbrush, and look for signs of it aging.

Four Common Dental Myths and The Facts Behind Them

January 19th, 2017

shutterstock_341923241 (1) Ah the internet. It can be a fantastic resource to access an infinite amount of knowledge and data, or it can be used to spread baseless rumors that confuse otherwise intelligent people. Unfortunately, the internet has made it much easier for people to share healthcare myths that can mislead people into making unhealthy decisions. Below are a few dental myths, and the facts behind them.

Myth 1 - Sugar Causes Tooth Decay

This one is somewhat true, but sugar doesn’t actually cause tooth decay, rather, it plays an important role in the process. Cavities are actually caused by acid bad oral bacteria. Acid breaks down tooth enamel, which leaves teeth more susceptible to cavities. While sugar provides bad bacteria with the energy it needs to cause tooth decay.

Myth 2 - Placing Aspirin on a Toothache will Alleviate the Pain

This is an interesting one that is actually an old wives tale. However, we should dispel this outright: pain relievers do not work like that. Instead, it works by entering the blood stream through the intestines and blocking the production of certain chemicals in the body that cause pain. Aspirin and other pain relievers can only work once they’ve entered the blood stream, which is why placing an Aspirin next to a sore tooth won’t work.

Myth 3 - Baby Teeth aren’t as Important as Adult Teeth

This is a strange one, but some people view baby teeth as less important than adult teeth because they are impermanent. While they won’t be in your mouth through adulthood, baby teeth play an integral role in the development of a young smile. Baby teeth serve as place holders for incoming adult teeth. If baby teeth are lost too early, incoming permanent teeth could drift into the vacant space and make it difficult for new adult teeth to find space. This can lead to crowded teeth, a crooked smile, and a misaligned bite, all of which can be quite costly to fix, which is why it is very important that you take care of your children’s baby teeth.

Myth 4 - You can’t get a Cavity under a Crown

Here's one that has been circulating lately, but let’s put it to rest: you absolutely can get a cavity beneath a crown. Dental crowns (or caps) are placed on teeth that have suffered damage above the gumline. Because of this, most of the tooth that is visible is covered. This leads people to believe that, because the tooth is mostly covered, that it is immune to cavities. This is patently false. Tooth decay can – and will – accumulate at the base of the crown if it is not properly cleaned – brushing twice per day for two minutes at a time and flossing once per day.

Visit Our Office

Please visit our office if you have any questions about oral healthcare. We have years of dental training which has equipped us with the knowledge needed to answer any question you may have.

Baby Bottle Do’s and Don’ts to Avoid Childhood Cavities

July 21st, 2016

Babby Bottle Featured

Did you know that childhood cavities are the most common chronic childhood disease, and are almost entirely preventable? A great place to prevent cavities is in your child’s baby bottle. Follow these steps to help keep your infant cavity-free.

Don’t: Put Sugary Drinks in Your Child’s Baby Bottle

Putting sugary beverages such as fruit juice or sports drinks in your infant’s bottle is not recommended. High amounts of sugar can lead to tooth decay and cause more dental problems as their teeth begin to appear. Cavities in baby teeth can also cause complications in new adult teeth.

Do: Wipe out Their Mouth after Meals

With a damp, clean cloth, wipe out your child’s mouth 15 minutes after each meal – liquid or solid. Doing so keeps their mouth free of sugar and debris that can lead to cavities.

Don’t: Send Them to Bed with a Bottle

While a bedtime bottle may comfort your infant, it can be very destructive for their gums and developing teeth. When left in your children’s mouth, sugar from breast milk, formula and milk can lead to infection and pain. Try to establish a bedtime routine that doesn’t involve a baby bottle. Once the teeth erupt, you will want to give your child a bottle, brush the teeth, and then put your child to bed.  It will make this transition easier if your child isn't used to going to bed with a bottle.

DO: Heat Their Bottle in a Pot of Warm Water

The best way to warm bottled formula is in a pot full of water upon the stove. To do this, fill a pot that is tall enough to completely cover their bottle. Warm the pot on a low-medium setting for 4 – 5 minutes. Then, place the bottle in the water and let it heat up for 1 – 2 minutes. Before serving your infant, check the temperature of the formula by putting a dab on the inside of your forearm to make sure that it isn’t too hot.

Don’t: Heat Their Bottle in the Microwave

Microwaves are convenient and quick, but they shouldn’t be used to heat a bottle full of formula. Not only does a microwave heat formula unevenly, it can get formula too hot to drink. Additionally, the extreme heat from microwaves can damage and wear plastic baby bottles.

 

Don’t: Let Them Walk around with Their Baby Bottle

As your child begins walking, they’ll also begin falling, which is why you shouldn’t let newly mobile children walk with their bottle. Did you know that every 4 hours a child in America visits the hospital because a facial injury as a result of falling while holding a bottle? You can avoid this by not giving them a walking around bottle.

Do: Teach them to Drink from Lidless Cups

You should begin weaning your child off of their bottle around the time that they begin walking – typically ages 12 – 18 months. A good way to do this is by transitioning to a sippy cup or 360 cup, or by letting them drink from lidless cups at meal time. Fill the cup with water in between meals, or milk at a mealtime.  Avoid placing juice in these cups, as it coats the teeth with sugar and causes a lot of cavities.  Do not let your child drink milk from the cup after brushing at night.  Introducing them to adult cups at an early age will help them rely less upon the bottle, and diminish the likelihood of them sustaining an injury as a result of walking with a baby bottle.

Check up on Cavities Every Six Months

The best way to prevent childhood tooth decay is by establishing a dental home for your child before their first birthday. Familiarizing them with a pediatric dentist early on will help your child get more comfortable visiting the dentist and keeping their mouths clean. After finding a dental home, visit the pediatric dentist every six months to make sure that their mouths are staying clean!

6 Ways to Keep Your Kids’ Tooth Enamel Strong

July 7th, 2016

strong enamel photo

Tooth enamel is the first line of defense your teeth have against plaque and cavities. It is the white, visible part of the tooth and it is also the hardest part of the human body. Unfortunately, tooth enamel takes a lot of abuse from the acids formed by cavity-causing bacteria. So how can you protect your child’s tooth enamel?

1. Avoid Sugary Foods and Drinks

Sugar feeds the bacteria on your teeth, causing plaque and ultimately cavities, which is why you should limit the number of sugary foods and drinks your child consumes. Before buying your children snacks, check the back of the package for the amount of sugar contained in the snack. Try to avoid sugary drinks like soda, fruit juice and sports drinks, all of which are notoriously high in sugar.

2. Add Calcium Rich Foods

Calcium is a dental super mineral. That’s because it neutralizes damaging acids and is a great enamel protector. Try to add at least one dairy product to each of your child’s meals to provide them with adequate amount of calcium. If your child does not consume dairy, try giving her some of these other calcium-rich foods: almond milk, canned fish, kale, soy yogurt or soy beans. If you’re buying packaged food as a calcium source, check the packaging to ensure that there is an adequate amount for your child.

3. Brush and Floss Regularly

Food debris left on your child’s teeth encourages bacteria growth that eats away at enamel and causes cavities. This is why it is important to brush twice per day, for two minutes at a time, and floss once per day to clean debris from the hard-to-reach areas of your child’s teeth. If your child is unable to floss by themselves, then floss their teeth for them. Brushing and flossing your child’s teeth are a great way to keep their mouths debris-free and fight plaque buildup.

4. Rinse after Meals

A great way to remove food debris from your child’s mouth is by having them rinse immediately after meals. Have your child swish clean water in their mouth for 30 seconds, and then spit it out in a sink. Encourage them to do this after each meal to keep their mouth clean and healthy.

5. Limit Citrus

Food and drinks high in citric acid erode tooth enamel in a process called demineralization. In bad cases of demineralization, acid will work its way to the soft layer beneath the enamel called the dentin. These advanced cases lead to tooth sensitivity and pain. If you consume anything with high citric acid, rinse with water for 30 seconds afterwards to clean away some of the lingering acid.

6. Use Fluoridated Toothpaste

Toothpaste with fluoride strengthens enamel through a process called remineralization. When choosing fluoridated toothpaste for your child, make sure that it has the ADA seal of approval to ensure that it has been rigorously tested and approved.

Visit Our Office

 

Visit our office so that we can evaluate your child’s overall oral health. We check and document the state of your child’s tooth enamel as a part of our regular checkups, and we will help give you and your child the knowledge necessary to keep a healthy, lifelong smile.

Important: Essential Tips to Manage a Dental Emergency

April 28th, 2016

Dental Emergencies

By definition an emergency is generally unexpected, which means you didn't plan on an accident occurring (of course!)  But you can prepare for common dental emergencies in case they do happen.  Knowing what to do can sometimes be the difference in saving or losing a tooth.  Here are a few essential tips to read over and understand...before you need them.

Establish a dental home.

 

When a dental emergency occurs, it’s essential to get prompt treatment.  Of course, the first (and best) step is to have an established dental home.  Whether an injury happens on the playground, in school or at home, having a dental home and maintaining regular dental check-ups and cleanings is the first and best way to be prepared.  Not only will you have an existing relationship already established, but you will also have someone to call who can provide guidance, care and support.

Like all emergencies, dental emergencies appear out of nowhere and demand immediate attention. Knowing what to do when an emergency arises is key to having a positive outcome and preventing a bad situation from getting worse. Just as we spend time learning first aid procedures for bodily emergencies, making a special effort to focus on handling dental emergencies means that you are prepared to take care of any situation, no matter what.

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), here are a few best practices for the following scenarios:

If a baby tooth is knocked out: 

Contact the dentist ASAP.

If a permanent tooth is knocked out:

Find and carefully rinse the tooth in cool water. Do not use soap or scrub the tooth. Simply rinse it in cool water. Replace the tooth in the socket, if possible, and hold it in place with a clean piece of gauze or a washcloth.  If putting the tooth back in the socket isn’t an option, place the tooth in a clean cup with milk, saliva, or water. Contact the dentist immediately.  Prompt treatment is required to potentially save the tooth.

If a tooth is chipped or damaged

Contact the dentist immediately. Find any tooth fragments. Rinse in cool water and place in a clean cup with milk, saliva, or water and take them with you to the dentist. Prompt treatment is critical for preventing infection and avoiding potential complications. If there is any injury to the mouth, treat with cold compresses to decrease swelling.

If tooth loss is the result of a more severe or complicated injury, call for emergency services to insure that proper care is given to the entire injury. Call the dentist en route to the hospital or immediately upon arrival.

Keep up with check-ups.

 

An emergency situation is no time to try to come up with a plan of action. Instead, it’s best to be prepared well in advance of any unforeseen injuries. Maintaining regular six month check-ups can help lay the groundwork for handling potential emergency situations when you don’t have time to think about what to do next.

Four Tips for Keeping Your Kids Cavity Free

April 14th, 2016

Cavity Free Kids

Did you know that the most common chronic disease of children and teens is tooth decay?  Even worse, the CDC reports that nearly 20% of children’s cavities are left untreated.  What may be even more surprising is that nearly all cavities are 100% preventable.  In fact, simply by following these 6 steps, you could help your child enter adulthood without suffering from even a single cavity.

Take advantage of sealants or composite fillings.

Sealants are the most effective, yet most underutilized method of preventing cavities.  Dental sealants involve a temporary, thin plastic coating that is “painted” on the chewing surfaces of teeth which creates a barrier where food often gets trapped.  Composite fillings are sometimes used as an alternative to sealants, but in the same way by filling deep crevices.  The relatively low cost of sealants makes them an obvious choice when compared with the discomfort and higher costs of treating a cavity.

Limit foods that tend to stick to teeth.

Sticky candies like caramel and taffy often stay around for a long time after kids eat them.  But candy isn’t the only food which needs to be limited.  Crackers, potato chips and other starchy foods also tend to get stuck in the nooks and crannies of tooth surfaces.  Without proper brushing, these foods provide sugar to bacteria that feed on it and multiply and attack enamel.  For this reason, these foods should be limited and occasional.  Regular brushing and flossing is essential when these foods are consumed.

Begin good dental habits early.

Oral care can begin even before teeth appear.  Using a soft cloth to clean your baby’s gums can limit bacteria and protect emerging teeth.  Small children should get help with brushing.

Model good dental habits.

One of the most effective ways you can ensure that your children stay cavity free is by modeling good dental habits in front of them.  Do they see you brush?  Are you flossing daily?  Modeling good behaviors will teach your children first hand that you value your own oral health and theirs.

Four Ways to Fight Foul Breath

March 3rd, 2016

fix bad breath

 

Bad breath can affect people of all ages.  Using mouth sprays and mints only cover up symptoms because bad breath is the result of bacteria build up. When air passes over that bacteria, it dries and causes a foul smell. There are four easy ways you and your children can avoid this persistent problem and have a healthier mouth in the process.

1. Brush Regularly.

It may seem obvious that we should all brush our teeth twice every day and floss daily to keep our teeth clean, but many people forget that your gums need cleaning, too.  Just beneath the gum line, bacteria can make camp for a long visit. Brushing your teeth (and gums) for 2 minutes twice a day will keep your breath crisp and keep your mouth healthy. Be sure to use a soft-bristled brush.  Hard bristles can damage gums and create a bigger problem.

2. Use a Tongue Scraper.

Your tongue is a soft, moist incubator for bacteria.  Tongue scrapers work to wake to wake up that bacteria and kick them out of bed. Use a tongue scraper after every meal to ensure there are no left overs still hanging around.  The less leftover food particles on our tongues mean less fuel for bacteria growth.  The advent of disposable tongue scrapers makes this an easy and convenient way to fight bad breath.  Gently scrape from the back of your tongue to the tip and throw away.

3. Avoid Smelly (and Sugary) Foods.

What we put in our mouths can make a huge difference in the outcome of our breath.  Sugars from soda, candy and desserts feed the bacteria that give our breath its distinct smell.  Try avoiding sugary drinks and candies as much as possible and replacing them with sugar-free gum.  This increases the natural saliva flow in our mouths, which is a natural mouth cleanser.

4. Don't Neglect Regular Cleanings.

That feeling of a completely clean mouth cannot be matched by any home cleaning.  Staying on top of your oral hygiene can make a big difference for mouth odor, but there is only so much you're able do at home.  Dentists and professional dental hygienists know all the nooks and crannies that bacteria like to hide in.    Going to your regular dental appointments, every six months, will ensure that any spots that you cannot take care of in your daily cleaning regiment are properly tended to.

Thankfully, You Can Love Chocolate AND Your Teeth!

February 4th, 2016

 

chocolate and kids teeth

 

Like us, we’re sure you LOVE chocolate.  Plus, it’s almost a required gift for holidays like Valentine’s Day. And while candy generally doesn’t mix well with keeping teeth healthy, dark chocolate (the kind with at least 70% cocoa) can actually be a cavity fighter. That’s obviously fantastic news for chocolate lovers.

Of course, it’s always important to brush for at least two minutes, twice a day and to floss daily.  But you don’t need to worry about wrecking your teeth by indulging in chocolate from time to time.  Here are a few reasons why chocolate is a great candy choice.

Chocolate contains polyphenols.

Polyphenols are a class of naturally occurring chemicals that can limit oral bacteria. They are also able to neutralize the microorganisms that cause bad breath and prevent bacteria from turning sugar and starches into acid. Polyphenols have great promise for their apparent anticancer and anti-inflammatory effects as well as their ability to reduce hypertension and stroke.
natuarl-chocolate-for-teeth

 

Chocolate is high in antioxidants.

Antioxidants are a group of molecules that keep your body healthy on a cellular level and chocolate contains a lot of them. In fact, dark chocolate can contain up to four times the level found in green tea. High amounts of antioxidants in saliva have been shown to fight periodontal disease.

Tannins are abundant in chocolate.

Tannins are plant compounds that are found in many of the foods we eat. They’re also what give dark chocolate its slightly bitter taste and dark color. Tannins have been shown to help stop bacteria from sticking to teeth because their molecules bind to bacteria before plaque has time to form.

 

chocolate good for teeth

A flavonoid compound called epicatechin is found in high quantities in chocolate.

Flavonoids are a group of plant-based antioxidants that have been shown to slow tooth decay. A recent study by researchers at the University of California showed that a particular flavonoid calledepicatechin displays a remarkable ability to reduce cholesterol, blood clots and clogged arteries.

Again, chocolate should be at least 70% cocoa for most of these benefits to your teeth and body. However, almost any food can be eaten in moderation, as long as you remember to keep brushing regularly.

Subscribe to our blog for more tips on eating healthy and taking care of your smile!

Tips to Make Your Child (and you!) a Pro Flosser

January 7th, 2016

Help kids floss

Flossing removes plaque between the teeth and gum-line where a toothbrush can’t reach. In fact some sources indicate that brushing alone only reaches 35% of your tooth surfaces.  Unfortunately, it’s also one of the most overlooked practices in caring for our teeth.   You should floss your child’s teeth daily until he or she can do it alone, usually at least until children can tie their own shoes.

Getting children in the habit of daily flossing can yield a lifetime of benefits.

Here are five flossing tips to encourage your child (and you!) to start a regular flossing routine:

  1. Children tend to get better results by using flat, wide dental tape because of the larger spaces between their teeth, however you should choose floss based on what works for you and your child.
  2. Flossing should begin when any two teeth touch.
  3. Use around 15-18 inches of floss, wrapped around your index fingers and held tightly but gently.  Children who find it difficult to use this method often benefit from using a flosser designed just for small hands
  4. Be gentle and avoid snapping floss between teeth because it can damage sensitive gum tissue.
  5. Floss both sides of the tooth, even when another tooth is missing on one side.

Want to learn more about how to floss?  Visit the mouthhealthy.org website for great tips on flossing or ask us to show you and your child how to properly floss on your next visit!

Gift Ideas: Fun Dentist Approved Books!

December 10th, 2015


Gift-ideas-dentist-books

 

We want children have a more positive view of going to the dentist.  Preventing and alleviating the fear associated with dental visits is important in encouraging future overall oral health.  Adults who are not afraid to go to the dentist are more likely to keep up with regular visits and be proactive in the care of their teeth.  Parents can play a vital role by helping your child not be afraid of the dentist and these six fun books are a terrific way to do that.  We’ve included links to Amazon.com for each, but you can find these at any of your other favorite book retailers as well.

 

Bears

The Berenstain Bears Visit the Dentist

Sister Bear watches Dr. Bearson fill Brother Bear’s small cavity. Then it’s her turn in the chair to have a dangling baby tooth removed. An entertaining story for preschoolers of a cheerful and informative visit to a dentist. Read More.

 

crocodile

The Crocodile & the Dentist

When Crocodile visits the dentist, both are fearful of the experience, in a humorous, colorfully illustrated story in which everyone ends up intact and regular dental care is encouraged.  Read More.

 

dora

 

Show Me Your Smile!: A Visit to the Dentist

It’s time for Dora’s checkup at the dentist. Dora explores the dentist’s office, gets her teeth cleaned, and more! She even gets a special treat for being such a good patient!  Read More.

 

expect

 

What to Expect When You Go to the Dentist

With the help of Angus, the lovable Answer Dog, best-selling author Heidi Murkoff extends a hand to children and parents as they tackle life’s first experiences together.

When you were growing up, chances are visiting the dentist wasn’t your favorite thing to do. Luckily for your child there have been many changes around the dentist’s office since your first visit — changes that have made “opening up wide” a lot less scary and a lot more fun. Read More.

 

mercer

Just Going to the Dentist

Mercer Mayer’s very popular Little Critter is on his way to the dentist. It’s a thorough check-up, complete with dental x-rays. When Dr. Ghum insists on filling a cavity, Little Critter goes through it bravely. The visit is painless to the reader because of Little Critter’s funny, honest way of look at things — including the world of dentistry.  Read More.

 

loose tooth

 

Look! My Tooth Is Loose!

Every kid looks forward to losing that first wobbly, jiggly, loose baby tooth. But why do we have baby teeth in the first place? And why do they fall out? And, most of all, is pulling teeth really as painful as-well, pulling teeth? From getting and losing their first set of teeth to growing and taking care of their second and last set, kids will learn all about teeth. Read More.

Is Tooth-Whitening Recommended For Children & Teens?

September 24th, 2015

Tooth Whitening for Kids

Public awareness of tooth-whitening procedures and products has grown significantly in the past few years.  The number of questions our patients and their parents ask about tooth-whitening has also increased especially among parents concerned about their child’s self image and older adolescents/teens who want to look their best.  But are these methods and procedures safe for young mouths?  Let’s look at a few guidelines.

The research is limited.

First, it’s important to understand that research surrounding tooth-whitening is limited for children.  Most studies have only involved adults, so a clear picture of any short or long term side effects of tooth whitening is lacking.  The most recent policy update from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry is from 2009.

Primary teeth generally do not need treatment.

For the youngest of our patients, any stains or discoloration in primary, or baby teeth, isn’t usually something we would treat.  Because these teeth are temporary, they are likely to be preplaced by white permanent teeth very soon.  Of course, we’re happy to evaluate any situation you might be concerned with.  It’s also a good idea to understand the cause of any discoloration to eliminate issues that may extend beyond cosmetic concerns.

Whitening toothpaste can be too abrasive for children.

Tooth –whitening toothpaste usually works by including a mild abrasive that helps to remove surface stains. In some instances, this can cause tooth sensitivity because tooth enamel may be “scrubbed” away, exposing tiny holes in the dentin beneath.  These toothpastes are often too hard on young mouths and should be avoided.  For teenagers, always use toothpaste that’s ADA approved and stop using after any signs of tooth sensitivity.

Do you think a procedure may be necessary?  Ask us!

We would love to evaluate your child’s teeth to identify the cause of discoloration and to discuss possible treatment options now or in the future.  We highly encourage you to reach out to our office before using any at-home treatments.

Saying Good-bye to Baby Teeth

July 30th, 2015

when to expect baby teeth to fall out

One of the many milestones that parents anticipate as their children grow up is the loss of baby (primary) teeth.  It’s an exciting part of the transition from baby and toddler to becoming a “big kid”.  We’re often asked questions about what to expect.  While every child is different and no child follows an exact schedule, we’ve provided a few general guidelines:

What timeline can be expected?

Most children will have all of their 20 primary teeth around the age of 3. Some of these primary teeth stick around until your child becomes a teenager.  Although they will eventually fall out, it is very important that you and your child takes care of their primary teeth to prevent cavities, decay and gum disease.  Caring for primary teeth now will set the stage for healthy adult teeth when they are ready to grow in.

On average, the first tooth falls out when children are 6 years old and will usually fall out in the order they came in.  Around this time children will also begin to receive their first permanent molars at the back of their mouth where there is already a space waiting for them. Around the age of 8, you can generally expect the bottom 4 primary teeth (lower central and lateral incisors) and the top 4 primary teeth (upper central and lateral incisors) to be gone and permanent teeth to have taken their place. 

After these major changes, many parents experience about a one-two year break when their wallet can take a breather from dishing out tooth fairy cash.  By approximately 13 years old, the rest of your child’s primary teeth (canine/cuspid, first premolar, and second premolar) should have fallen out and the second (12 year old) molars will start to erupt.  The third molars (wisdom teeth) will come in around 17-21 and these are the last set of teeth to grow in.

Is special care needed?

When your child is starting to lose his or her teeth, they will want to wiggle and play with it. This is normal and encouraged.  The tooth will eventually fall out on its own.  However, you should instruct your child to not yank or put unnatural force on the tooth if it’s not quite ready to come out.  This can damage roots, harm sensitive gum tissue and even cause infection.  Losing a tooth is usually never painful.

What if my child is late in losing her teeth?

Certainly, the exact age of losing teeth differs for every child. It is to be expected that if your child received their baby teeth early and quickly, the same will happen for when they start to fall out and vice versa.  Again, all children are different and there is no need to be alarmed as long as their teeth are falling in the right order.  If you do have some concern, please do not hesitate to give us a call.

Vacation Tips From Your Dentist!

June 18th, 2015

Dental-care-on-vacation

A vacation from work or school doesn’t mean a vacation from your dental health.  In fact, the change in your family's schedule and diet means that it is even more essential to be vigilant in maintaining those beautiful smiles.  Here are five pointers for a healthy mouth while you and your children are traveling or on vacation:

1. Get up to date on your dental visits before you go.

Don’t put off needed visits until you return from your travels.  It’s always a good idea to plan ahead, get an appointment early and take care of your teeth before the rush and hustle of vacations.  Doing this will help prevent dental issues from ruining your time away from home by detecting any underlying issues that need to be treated before your leave.  Holidays and vacation times are also very busy time in dental offices, so you want to make sure your appointments are scheduled and taken care of sooner rather than later.

2. Make a dental travel kit.

Nearly everything comes in a travel size and we’ve found that the activity of putting together a dental travel kit will encourage great habits while you are away from home.  Don’t forget to pack travel sized mouthwash, floss and a toothbrush for everyone in the family. We’re excited about new convenient options as well, such as quick disposable toothbrushes that can be carried for “in-between” brushing on the go.

3. Protect your toothbrush.

You want to make sure that your toothbrush stays covered.  Extra handling, luggage and hotel bathrooms provide bacteria extra opportunity to find its way onto your bristles and into your mouth.  Several options are available, including covers that are anti-bacterial.  A closed cover gives a warm, damp place for bacteria to thrive, so remember to let your toothbrush dry before covering it up.

4. Watch what you eat.

We are all more likely to indulge in sugary drinks, snacks and desserts while traveling or on vacation.  Why not make a conscious decision to eat a bit healthier this year?  Instead of planning your days around food, look for opportunities for more fun.  Pack healthy snacks so that you won’t be tempted to grab a quick treat that may not be good for your teeth.

5. Keep your routine.

Whatever you decide to eat, don’t forget your regular dental habits.  It may be tempting to just go to bed after a long day of fun, but forgetting your routine could mean no-so-fun dental problems later on.  Make brushing and flossing an activity that your family does together.  It can be a great opportunity to “debrief” and discuss the activities of the day or plan for the next.

We hope everyone has a great summer full of fun and healthy smiles!

Easy Ideas to Motivate Your Kids to Brush

May 7th, 2015

motivating-kids-to-brush

 

 

It can be difficult for all of us to do something that we’re simply not in the mood for.  This is especially true for children, whether it’s bed-time or bath-time.  Maintaining good oral hygiene can be a challenge as well, so here are a few tips for motivating your children to keep their teeth healthy:

Let kids pick their own toothbrush.

One of the easiest ways to make brushing fun is to indulge your kids with a themed toothbrush. You can find tooth brushing gear with everything from Sponge Bob to Finding Nemo and even comic book characters and superheroes. Always pick one with soft bristles and with a brush size that is appropriate for their mouth and age.   Giving your child an opportunity to choose her own toothbrush empowers her to be an active part of maintaining positive dental habits.

Use a kid-friendly toothpaste.

There are a lot of flavored toothpastes  on the market that can help to make tooth brushing less “icky” for kids who don’t like the strong mint or cinnamon flavor of adult toothpastes.  This is another opportunity to involve your children by letting them choose their toothpaste flavor.  Of course, always make sure that toothpaste is approved by the ADA and carries the ADA seal.

Brush together.

Make oral hygiene a family activity. Toddlers love to imitate their parent’s behavior.  The same instinct that leads your children to play dress-up in your closet will make them want to take care of their mouth just like you do. Practicing good oral hygiene together will also give you the chance to notice any issues that your children might have with their brushing technique. It’s important that they don’t brush too hard, and that they don’t miss tricky parts of the mouth like back molars, and under the gums.  Remember to help your child brush at least once a day until they develop the fine motor skills to do a good job on their own.

Make it musical!

Music is also a great tool for any repetitive activity. Humming a favorite song together is a good way to ensure that your children are brushing their teeth long enough to thoroughly clean them. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children brush their teeth twice a day, for two minutes per session, which can seem like an eternity for a restless child. Using music makes this time pass quicker and can even serve as a way to measure how long teeth are being brushed.  Oral care is a repetitive activity that benefits greatly from a little bit of music.

Ultimately, the goal is to make oral care fun.  Just because it is a habit, doesn’t mean it also has to be a chore.  We would love to hear your ideas about how you’re making brushing fun in your home!

How To Get Relief From Sensitive Teeth!

April 9th, 2015

how to fix sensitive teeth issues

One of the most common dental complaints we hear involves sensitive teeth.  People of all ages are affected.  Whether it’s biting into a cold ice cream cone or drinking a hot beverage, the pain that can come from hypersensitivity can be more than an inconvenience.

Several things can cause sensitive teeth:

  • Cracked or fractured teeth
  • Missing or worn fillings
  • Gum disease
  • Cavities

Each of these needs to be treated by a dentist.  Ignoring tooth sensitivity or expecting it to get better on its own can cause problems to compound and bring on even more pain.  By far, the most common cause of tooth sensitivity is exposed dentin, the soft tissue just below the hard enamel that protects your teeth.  Dentin can be exposed by one of the causes listed above, or simply because it has worn away as a result of abrasion.

This article from the American Dental Association addresses several of the treatments available for tooth sensitivity.

If your tooth sensitivity is mild, and if a dental visit has shown no need for advanced medical treatment, there are a few steps you can take yourself to help control or even eliminate pain.  You might consider the following:

Use toothpaste made specifically for sensitive teeth. 

Because most sensitivity is caused by exposed dentin, many types of toothpaste made for this purpose work by filling in the microscopic channels in the dentin.

Use a mouthwash with fluoride.

Mild gum disease, which again causes an exposure of the dentin, can often be treated by the regular use of a fluoride rinse.  This will help to strengthen the enamel on your teeth and reduce the bacteria that is attacking your teeth and gums.

Stop using medium or hard toothbrushes.

Your toothbrush should be one with soft bristles as most of us already use too much force when brushing.  This can further wear away enamel and cause greater sensitivity.

Start brushing and flossing regularly.

If you aren’t brushing twice a day, as well as flossing, you should start.  The buildup of plaque on your teeth creates an acid that makes already sensitive teeth even more sensitive.

Protecting Tooth Enamel, Five Easy Tips

March 26th, 2015

5-steps-to-protect-childrens-tooth-enamel

 

The first line of protection for your child’s teeth is the enamel, which is the white, visible part of the tooth.  It’s also hardest substance in the human body, and yet it takes a lot of abuse.  Enamel can crack, chip and wear away.  What steps can you take to protect your child’s enamel?

Use a soft toothbrush.  While we may be tempted to use a toothbrush with hard bristles, thinking that a stiff bristle will be better and cleaning teeth, the best choice is one that provides more gentle care.  Additionally, children often use more force than needed when brushing their teeth.  This can be damaging to sensitive gum tissue and only serves to wear down precious enamel.

Limit starchy foods.  While we all understand that certain starchy foods like potato chips and french fries aren’t always the healthiest choices, we don’t often associate these foods as being bad for teeth.  Interestingly, starch turns to sugar so quickly that it raises blood glucose levels even faster than table sugar.  The sugar produced by starchy foods feeds bacteria that act as microscopic jack-hammers on your child’s enamel.

Don’t forget the cheese.  Cheese truly is a dental powerhouse.  Dairy neutralizes acid, contains calcium and a protein called casein which acts as an enamel protector.  Cheese is a great choice for an afterschool snack.

Drink water after meals.  Drinking water shortly after eating is an excellent way to quickly wash away some of the food that lingers on and between the teeth.  Even having children simply rinse their mouths with water after meals has been shown to be an effective way to protect enamel.

Avoid “whitening” toothpastes.  Toothpaste made specifically for children if often the best choice when deciding what they should brush with.  Not only are flavors often more kid friendly, but they generally don’t carry the harsh abrasives that many whitening toothpastes have.  These abrasives can act line sandpaper by wearing down the enamel on young teeth.  Remember, any toothpaste you choose should always carry the ADA’s seal of approval.

What's the Best Toothpaste for My Child?

February 12th, 2015

Choose a kids toothpaste

One of the more common questions we are asked on a regular basis concerns choosing the right toothpaste. There are so many choices that it can be difficult to find one that is best for your child’s oral health. Here are a few quick guidelines to make sure you find one that’s right:

1) Look for the ADA seal.

When trying to find the best toothpaste, it’s important to start with one that is recommended by the American Dental Association. Their seal of approval can be found on the box and tube and ensures that the toothpaste has been objectively evaluated for safety by the ADA Council on Scientific Affairs.

2) Avoid harsh abrasives.

Many toothpastes, especially those advertised as “whitening” often contain abrasives that can damage young tooth enamel.

3) Check for fluoride.

Fluoride is a naturally occurring mineral that has been shown to dramatically reduce tooth decay. But you should remember to have children spit out toothpaste and avoid swallowing it. Too much fluoride can cause a condition known as fluorosis. For children too young to spit out toothpaste, you may consider using a fluoride free toothpaste or only a small “pea size” amount.

4) Consider the flavor.

While not a health related issue, you want to make sure that a toothpaste doesn’t taste bad to your child. Many children often find traditional flavors like mint to be “spicy” and they often prefer the more kid friendly options available today.

Since Baby Teeth Are Temporary, Are They Important?

January 29th, 2015

Are baby teeth important

We often hear people downplay the importance of primary teeth (also called “baby” or “milk” teeth).  The front 4 primary teeth generally last until 6-7 years of age, while the back teeth (cuspids and molars) aren’t replaced until age 10-13.  People mistakenly believe that since these teeth are temporary, that they do not matter in the long run.  This will often lead to the neglect of primary teeth and can cause permanent damage.

In truth, it is very important to care for the health of the primary teeth. Untreated cavities frequently lead to problems which have long term effects on developing permanent teeth. Here are four reasons why caring for primary teeth is so important:

(1) Proper chewing and eating.  A cavity free mouth often means that it’s easier to enjoy healthy foods without pain or discomfort.  It also means that children are more likely to chew their food completely and are less likely to develop bad eating habits.

(2) Providing space for the permanent teeth.  Primary teeth reserve space for the permanent teeth.  They help in guiding primary teeth into the correct position.

(3) Permitting normal development of the jaw bones and muscles.  Like any muscle, your baby’s face and jaw muscles need exercise to help them develop; healthy primary teeth allow for proper chewing to build these muscles.  Without well-developed jaw muscles, your baby’s jawbones may not develop properly.

(4) Proper development of speech.  Missing teeth can affect the ability for a child to form words and learn to speak properly.  These speech problems can translate into difficulty later in life.

Aside from the reasons listed, there is a very practical reason for taking care of primary teeth: healthy smiles add to an overall attractive appearance which encourages a positive self esteem and good self image.

4 Sure-Fire Tips for a Cavity Free Year

January 1st, 2015

cavityfree

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly one out of every five children in the US has an untreated cavity.  More than 51 million school hours are lost every year because of dental problems.  However, nearly 100% of cavities are preventable.  Want a cavity free year? Following these four simple steps can keep you and your kids on the right path to a healthy mouth:

1. Set a timer (or play music) for two minutes of brushing, twice every day.

Brushing for two minutes, twice each day is basic to staying cavity free.  Brushing at the same time each day, as part of your regular routine can help develop a daily habit of oral care.  Consider brushing with your children so they can see an example of good oral hygiene and will be motivated to care for their own teeth.  Because brushing for a full two minutes can be a challenge for young children, the ADA has created fun videos that are exactly two minutes long.  You can find them on the2Min2X website.

2. Keep regular dental visits.

Start the year off right by setting up an appointment and taking care of issues you may have been avoiding.  Time or finances can result in missed checkups, but putting off needed exams or dental work often causes problems to become more costly, more time consuming and more painful. Your family should schedule an appointment once every six months for a regular cleaning and check-up.

3. Take advantage of fluoride.

Fluoride is a natural mineral that has been shown to dramatically reduce cavities.  You may not realize it, but most of the water coming from faucets in the U.S. is fluoridated.  Unfortunately, bottled water usually doesn’t contain fluoride, so kids and adults that exclusively drink bottled water may be missing valuable anti-cavity benefits.  Switch to tap water this year. You could save a plastic bottle from the trash and possibly your teeth from a cavity.

4. Teach your kids to floss.

Surprisingly, a survey from Delta Dental revealed that 43 percent of parents said their children’s teeth are never flossed.  Additionally, the ADA reports that one in ten US adults neglect flossing as well.  Why not start a new habit this year and begin flossing regularly?  If your child can tie his or her own shoes, there’s a good chance they may be ready to learn how to floss.  Flossing helps to reach the places that a toothbrush simply cannot go and it’s one of the best ways to prevent gum disease.

Cavities are preventable.  This could be a banner year for your teeth simply by following these simple steps.  Please leave a comment below if you have any questions or give us a call to set up an appointment today!

Seven Healthy Teeth Stocking Stuffer Gift Ideas Your Kids Will Love

December 18th, 2014

stockinghead

Looking for a few last-minute ideas to fill the stockings you've hung with care?  Here are ideas for a few items that will get little ones excited about taking care of their teeth this coming year!

A New Toothbrush

Everyone loves a new toothbrush.  For the holidays, pick one that will get your kids excited about brushing their teeth.  There are character brushes, brushes that light up and even brushes that play music while you clean your teeth!  Be sure and choose a soft-bristled brush with the appropriate sized head for smaller mouths.

Fun Dental App

Whether your child has their own mobile device or uses yours, there are a ton of new dental apps that make oral care fun and educate kids about dental topics.  From educational games like Tiny Dentistand Monster Mouth, to apps that help kids brush for two minutes like Brush DJ, there’s something for everyone.  You can purchase the app and simply put a note or card in your child’s stocking or give a gift card for the iTunes store or Google Play.

A  Tooth Timer

If brushing the correct amount of time is difficult for your kids, consider getting a small timer to keep in the bathroom.  Brushing for two minutes can seem like a long time.  A timer can ensure your kids are brushing long enough and can even become a game!

A Wacky Toothpaste Flavor

There are so many fun toothpaste flavors to choose from.  Try giving your kids something silly that you wouldn’t usually pick out.  There’s bubblegum flavor, chocolate, and even bacon!  Look for theADA seal on whatever you buy.

Sugar-Free Chewing Gum With Xylitol

Did you know that chewing gum can actually be good for your teeth? While not a substitute for brushing, sugar-free gum can help in the production of saliva which washes away trapped food particles.  Further, gum containing xylitol has actually been proven to help reduce cavities.

Sports Mouthguard

Unfortunately, a lot of kids are playing sports without adequately protecting their teeth.  If you have a child who plays an active sport, consider getting a mouthguard for Christmas.  Even if they already have one, a fun new color or style can get kids excited about staying in the habit of wearing it.

Silly Toothbrush Holder

There are a lot of fun toothbrush holders out there.  We’ve seen ones shaped like super heroes, animals and even rocket ships.  Get rid of the boring mug and replace your child’s toothbrush holder with something fun.

5 Tips for Healthy Holiday Smiles

December 4th, 2014

Healthy Holiday Teeth

A season of holiday cheer doesn’t mean a holiday from your family's dental health.  In fact, the change in your schedule and diet means that it is even more essential to be vigilant in maintaining your beautiful smile.  Here are five pointers for a healthy mouth during the holidays:

Get up to date on your dental visits before the year is out.

Don’t put off needed visits until you return from visiting family.  It’s always a good idea to plan ahead, get an appointment early and take care of your teeth before the rush and hustle of celebrating.  Staying up to date will help prevent dental issues from ruining your time away from home by detecting any underlying issues that need to be treated before your leave.  Holidays and vacation times are also very busy time in dental offices, so you want to make sure your appointments are scheduled and taken care of sooner rather than later.  And don't forget flex benefits! Many flex pay health care plans require you to spend any accumulated funds before year end.

Make a dental travel kit.

Nearly everything comes in a travel size and we’ve found that the activity of putting together a dental travel kit will encourage great habits while you are away from home.  Don’t forget to pack travel sized mouthwash, floss and a toothbrush for everyone in the family. We’re excited about new convenient options as well, such as quick disposable toothbrushes that can be carried for “in-between” brushing on the go.  Your kids will love their own dental kit.  Help them to pick out a special brush and mini-toothpaste just for their time away.

Protect your toothbrush.

If you're leaving town for the holidays, you want to make sure that your toothbrush stays covered.  Extra handling, luggage and hotel bathrooms provide bacteria extra opportunity to find its way onto your bristles and into your mouth.  Several options are available, including covers that are anti-bacterial.  A closed cover gives a warm, damp place for bacteria to thrive, so remember to let your toothbrush dry before covering it up.

Watch what you eat.

We are all more likely to indulge in sugary drinks, snacks and desserts during the holidays.  We're also more likely to allow our children to indulge for special occasions. Why not make a conscious decision to eat a bit healthier this year?  Instead of just planning your days and family activities around food, look for opportunities for more active fun.  You might also decide to pack healthy snacks so that you won’t be tempted to grab a quick treat on the road that may not be good for your teeth.

Keep your routine.

Whatever you decide to eat, don’t forget your regular dental habits.  It may be tempting to just go to bed after a long day of family fun, but forgetting your routine could mean no-so-fun dental problems later on.  Make brushing and flossing an activity that your family does together.  It can be a great opportunity to “de-brief” and discuss the activities of the day or plan for the next.

We wish everyone a great season of love, joy, happiness and healthy smiles!

Four Ways to Say “Thank You” to Your Teeth!

November 20th, 2014

Thanks to your teeth

Your teeth are important!  Not only are they the first stage in eating and digestion, but a healthy set of teeth will keep you looking your best.  So perhaps it’s a idea good to say “Thank You” to your teeth for being so awesome.  Here are a few ways you can show your gratitude.

Hum to your teeth while you brush.

Yes, you read that correctly.  Listening to a song while you brush may help you brush your teeth better.  Most of us don’t brush long enough, so playing a song that lasts at least two minutes can help you brush for a longer period than you’re used to.  This is especially true with children.  The 2min2x.com website has great videos and songs that last exactly two minutes and are a great way to encourage longer brushing times.

Be gentle with your teeth.

Not only do most people not brush long enough, but they also brush too hard.  If your toothbrush shows signs of early wear and bending bristles, then it’s likely that you’re brushing too hard.  Be nice to your teeth and gums by brushing gently with a soft bristled toothbrush.

Give your teeth a drink of water.

One of the easiest, least expensive and most effective ways to care for your teeth is to drink more water.  Staying hydrated not only helps your overall health, but water can wash away food trapped in your teeth after meals, it can help balance the acidity of your mouth and reduce the amount of plaque-causing bacteria.  Additionally, because bad breath is often caused by having a dry mouth, drinking plenty of water can help your breath smell better too!

Take your teeth to the dentist.

How often should you and your child go to the dentist?  Even if you take excellent care of your teeth at home, a regular six month visit to the dentist will help you avoid potential problems and clean areas that are difficult or impossible to get yourself.  Preventative care is always the best way to say “Thanks!” to your teeth.

Should you worry about your child's teeth grinding?

October 23rd, 2014

Teeth Grinding in kids, bruxism

Occasionally parents will reach out to us because they’ve been alarmed by the sounds their children make while sleeping.  It’s not uncommon for children to grind their teeth, especially during sleep.  In fact, some estimates put that number close to 33%.  Tooth grinding, or bruxism, is most common when baby teeth begin to emerge and permanent teeth come in.  And while it generally goes away, there are a few considerations you should be aware of.

What causes bruxism?

We aren’t always 100% sure why children grind their teeth.  Oral discomfort as teeth shift and realign may cause much of the temporary bruxism, as well as allergies and other minor illnesses.  Bruxism may also be caused by minor changes in inner ear pressure, similar to what’s experienced on an airplane. Ongoing teeth grinding may be more serious and can sometimes be the results of anxiety, stress or fear.  While most children stop grinding their teeth over time, it’s often important to look at your child’s overall health as well as the frequency and severity of tooth grinding to determine if intervention is necessary.

When should parents worry about bruxism?

Again, bruxism is extremely common, and most children grow out of the habit.  But as with any issue you are concerned with, please always feel free to reach out to us with your questions.  The following list of symptoms are signs that your child’s teeth grinding may require additional investigation:

  • If your child is having trouble sleeping or is waking frequently throughout the night
  • Jaw pain or soreness
  • Headaches
  • Tooth sensitivity or pain not associated with other dental issues
  • Teeth begin showing signs of wear
  • Damage to the soft tissues of the mouth
  • Loud, persistent grinding that doesn’t seem to subside over time

What can parents do to help alleviate minor bruxism?

If your child occasionally grinds his or her teeth at night, and isn’t showing any serious side effects like those mentioned above, you may try the following tips to reduce or eliminate bruxism without the intervention of a dentist:

  • Work to identify and decrease your child’s stress.  Allow your child to talk openly about his or her feelings.
  • Be sure your child is getting a proper diet
  • Since dehydration may be linked to bruxism, be sure your child is drinking enough water

Of course, you should always make us aware of any issue involving your child’s teeth.  We can help you monitor them for any potential issues.  Never hesitate to reach out to us with any questions or concerns you might have.

Make Brushing & Flossing Fun: 4 Ideas that Work.

October 9th, 2014

Make Brushing Fun

If your family is anything like ours, bedtime is full of activities winding down one day and preparing for the next.  It can be a rush to make certain that homework gets finished, clothes are laid out for the morning, bedtime stories are told and everyone gets tucked in.  Too often, brushing and flossing can become an afterthought, especially when kids are less than excited about it to begin with.  Here are a few tips to make brushing and flossing fun (and regular) in your household:

Pick a fun toothbrush.

One of the easiest ways to make brushing fun is to indulge your kids with a themed toothbrush. You can find tooth brushing gear with everything from Sponge Bob to Finding Nemo and even comic book characters and superheroes. Always pick one with soft bristles and with a brush size that is appropriate for their mouth and age.   Giving your child an opportunity to choose her own toothbrush empowers her to be an active part of maintaining positive dental habits.

Use toothpaste made for kids.

There are a lot of flavored toothpastes  on the market that can help to make tooth brushing less “icky” for kids who don’t like the strong mint or cinnamon flavor of adult toothpastes.  This is another opportunity to involve your children by letting them choose their toothpaste flavor.  Of course, always make sure that toothpaste is approved by the ADA and carries the ADA seal.

Make brushing a family affair.

Make oral hygiene a family activity. Toddlers love to imitate their parent’s behavior.  The same instinct that leads your children to play dress-up in your closet will make them want to take care of their mouth just like you do. Practicing good oral hygiene together will also give you the chance to notice any issues that your children might have with their brushing technique. It’s important that they don’t brush too hard, and that they don’t miss tricky parts of the mouth like back molars, and under the gums.  Remember to help your child brush at least once a day until they develop the fine motor skills to do a good job on their own.

Use music, apps or video.

Music is also a great tool for any repetitive activity. Humming a favorite song together is a good way to ensure that your children are brushing their teeth long enough to thoroughly clean them. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children brush their teeth twice a day, for two minutes per session, which can seem like an eternity for a restless child. Using music makes this time pass quicker and can even serve as a way to measure how long teeth are being brushed.  Oral care is a repetitive activity that benefits greatly from a little bit of music.

Ultimately, the goal is to make oral care fun.  Just because it is a habit, doesn’t mean it also has to be a chore.  We would love to hear your ideas about how you’re making brushing fun in your home!

Being Prepared for Dental Emergencies

September 11th, 2014

Dental Emergency
When a dental emergency occurs, it’s essential to get prompt treatment.  Of course, the first (and best) step is to have an established dental home.  Whether an injury happens on the playground, in school or at home, having a dental home and maintaining regular dental check-ups and cleanings is the first and best way to be prepared.  Not only will you have an existing relationship already established, but you will also have someone to call who can provide guidance, care and support.

Like all emergencies, dental emergencies appear out of nowhere and demand immediate attention. Knowing what to do when an emergency arises is key to having a positive outcome and preventing a bad situation from getting worse. Taking the right action, can mean the difference between saving or losing a tooth. Just as we spend time learning first aid procedures for bodily emergencies, making a special effort to focus on handling dental emergencies means that you are prepared to take care of any situation, no matter what.

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), here are a few best practices for the following scenarios:

  • If a baby tooth is knocked out - Contact the dentist ASAP.
  • If a permanent tooth is knocked out - Find and carefully rinse the tooth in cool water. Do not use soap or scrub the tooth. Simply rinse it in cool water. Replace the tooth in the socket, if possible, and hold it in place with a clean piece of gauze or a washcloth.  If putting the tooth back in the socket isn't an option, place the tooth in a clean cup with milk, saliva, or water. Contact the dentist immediately.  Prompt treatment is required to potentially save the tooth.
  • If a tooth is chipped or damaged - Contact the dentist immediately. Find any tooth fragments. Rinse in cool water and place in a clean cup with milk, saliva, or water and take them with you to the dentist. Prompt treatment is critical for preventing infection and avoiding potential complications. If there is any injury to the mouth, treat with cold compresses to decrease swelling.

If tooth loss is the result of a more severe or complicated injury, call for emergency services to insure that proper care is given to the entire injury. Call the dentist en route to the hospital or immediately upon arrival.

An emergency situation is no time to try to come up with a plan of action. Instead, it's best to be prepared well in advance of any unforeseen injuries. Maintaining regular six month check-ups can help lay the groundwork for handling potential emergency situations when you don’t have time to think about what to do next.

Four of the Best Tips to Encourage Kids to Brush

July 17th, 2014

Getting Kids to Brush

Use music or video to keep kids brushing longer.

One of the biggest challenges to adequate brushing is getting kids to brush their teeth for a full two minutes.  The 2Min2X website is a great resource with several cartoons and music videos that last exactly two minutes.  Fun tools like this make it easier for parents to motivate their children and help kids to get excited about caring for their teeth.

Take advantage of positive reinforcement.

Sticker boards and progress charts are tried and true methods to motivate kids.  Choose a small prize that kids can work towards for reaching goals.  Even simple praise can go a long way in making kids enthusiastic about caring for their own teeth.

Pick out a toothbrush they love.

Something as simple as having a new toothbrush is a great way to motivate kids to brush their teeth.  Choose one with soft bristles that’s age appropriate.  If your child is able to brush on their own, be sure to choose one that fits smaller hands and has a head that is made for a smaller mouth.  Getting kids involved in choosing their own toothbrush will create even more excitement when it comes time to use them.

Choose toothpaste made for specifically for kids.

Toothpaste comes in a ton of new flavors these days.  From bubblegum and fruity flavors to chocolate flavored toothpaste, there’s something for everyone.  We’ve even seen bacon flavored toothpaste! Regular toothpaste is generally a version of mint, which children sometimes complain is too harsh or “spicy”. We recommend allowing your child to pick out a flavor. Of course, whatever flavor you choose, be sure to look for the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance.

Stick to a routine.

Having a regular bed-time routine is a great way to reduce stress and make sure that everything “gets done” without having to ask, “Did you brush your teeth?” every night.  At first, you may want to make a list of before-bed tasks.  Before you know it, your new routine will become habit – hopefully one your children will keep for life.

Three Great Ideas for a Tooth-Happy July 4th

July 3rd, 2014

Tooth healthy parfait

Holidays are often the stressful times for our health and especially our teeth.  We tend to feel free to temporarily forget the careful health guidelines and routines we've set up for our families.  And why not?  It’s OK to relax and take a break once in a while, especially on holidays like July 4th when we are already celebrating our freedom!

But you don’t have to totally abandon care for your teeth in order to have a good time.  Here are three great ideas to keep you smiling this July 4th weekend.

Eat this not that.

While it can be tempting to go for chips or candy to snack on, try choosing options that are both fun and healthy.  The patriotic parfait pictured is made with plain Greek yogurt which is a dental super food.  And the berries provide just the right amount of sweetness to tame the celebration sweet tooth.  Getting kids involved in making these treats is a sure-fire way to get them excited about eating healthy and can be a great activity to keep little hands busy.  Check out our other healthy holiday snack ideas on our Pinterest page and follow us, too!

Don’t forget the water (for more reasons than you think).

July 4th often means plenty of time spent outside, whether that’s watching fireworks or enjoying a family kickball game.  Choose water as your number one cooler choice.  It’s better for teeth than sodas and sports drinks and it helps keep you hydrated.  Even more, when you’re out on a picnic and a toothbrush isn’t available, a quick rinse with water after meals can be the next best thing.  Water helps rinse away food particles trapped in teeth and limits the growth of bacteria.

Travelling? Give everyone their own “tooth-care bag”.

Just because you’re away from home doesn't mean that you have to neglect your family’s brushing routine.  Be sure to pack everyone’s toothbrush, toothpaste and floss.  A great way to get small kids excited about brushing while on vacation is to create their very own “tooth-care bag”.  Purchase a fun new toothbrush along with travel-sized toothpaste and floss and use a zippered pencil pouch for each child.  Children also enjoy using craft supplies to decorate their own tooth kit.  You may be surprised when you find them excited and looking forward to brushing time.

6 Steps to a Cavity-Free Childhood

June 5th, 2014

Steps to a cavity free childhood

 

Did you know that the most common chronic disease of children and teens is tooth decay?  Even worse, the CDC reports that nearly 20% of children’s cavities are left untreated.  What may be even more surprising is that nearly all cavities are 100% preventable.  In fact, simply by following these 6 steps, you could help your child enter adulthood without suffering from even a single cavity.

Find a dental home by age one.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists recommends finding a dental home at the emergence of the first tooth or by age one, whichever comes first.  Unfortunately, we see many children whose first visit to the dentist is scheduled because a problem already exists.  Establishing a dental home will help you and your child develop a close relationship with the dentist and begin a pattern of regular visits.

Take advantage of sealants or composite fillings.

Sealants are the most effective, yet most underutilized method of preventing cavities.  Dental sealants involve a temporary, thin plastic coating that is “painted” on the chewing surfaces of teeth which creates a barrier where food often gets trapped.  Composite fillings are sometimes used as an alternative to sealants, but in the same way by filling deep crevices.  The relatively low cost of sealants makes them an obvious choice when compared with the discomfort and higher costs of treating a cavity.

Never put your infant to bed with anything other than water.

Baby bottle tooth decay is pervasive and occurs when liquids such as juice or milk are allowed to coat an infant’s teeth for extended periods of time.  This happens most often during naps or bed time as many children are allowed to fall asleep with a bottle and the natural flow of saliva decreases.  If your child falls asleep with a bottle, be sure that it’s only with water.  Even though baby teeth are temporary, their good health is essential to the proper formation and alignment of emerging adult teeth coming in behind them.

Limit foods that tend to stick to teeth.

Sticky candies like caramel and taffy often stay around for a long time after kids eat them.  But candy isn’t the only food which needs to be limited.  Crackers, potato chips and other starchy foods also tend to get stuck in the nooks and crannies of tooth surfaces.  Without proper brushing, these foods provide sugar to bacteria that feed on it and multiply and attack enamel.  For this reason, these foods should be limited and occasional.  Regular brushing and flossing is essential when these foods are consumed.

Begin good dental habits early.

Oral care can begin even before teeth appear.  Using a soft cloth to clean your baby’s gums can limit bacteria and protect emerging teeth.  Small children should get help with brushing.

Model good dental habits.

One of the most effective ways you can ensure that your children stay cavity free is by modeling good dental habits in front of them.  Do they see you brush?  Are you flossing daily?  Modeling good behaviors will teach your children first hand that you value your own oral health and theirs.

Top 6 Tooth Myths Busted

April 17th, 2014

tooth myths bustedThere’s a lot of misinformation about dental care. While many of the myths are harmless, believing in some of them may actually cause you to neglect or damage your teeth. It’s important to get correct information and find out what’s true and what’s false. Here are the top 6 tooth myths we love busting.

#1 Baby teeth aren't important.

A lot of people believe that baby teeth are less important than permanent teeth because they are just going to “fall out anyway”. But baby teeth serve a very important purpose as place-holders in growing mouths during early years of development. They help maintain the proper structure of the mouth in providing a guide for permanent teeth to move in behind them when the time comes. Plus, cavities in baby teeth still cause pain and discomfort which often leads to missed school and poor overall health.

#2 You should brush immediately after eating.

You may be surprised to learn that brushing immediately after a meal may actually harm your teeth. Acids created by food can wear away your protective enamel leaving your teeth at their weakest state right after you eat. Your body uses saliva to correct the high acid levels in your mouth. Saliva also naturally washes away food particles and gives your enamel the balance it needs to continue its protective work.

Even soft-bristled toothbrushes can be highly abrasive when enamel is already weakened by high acid levels. It’s best to let saliva do its job after you eat. But don’t forget to brush altogether. Simply wait at least an hour for your mouth to recover from the acid assault. And don’t forget to brush at least two times a day and for two minutes each time.

#3 Cavity-prone teeth are inherited.

Many people assume that just because their parents had few cavities, that they will also have few cavities. Conversely, people too often use genetics as an “excuse” for poor dental care by blaming cavities on family history.

While there is a small genetic influence in determining susceptibility to tooth decay, the fact remains that most cavities are 100% preventable. Babies and young children, for example, often develop cavities as a result of bacteria transferred through the sharing of eating utensils or parents cleaning off pacifiers in their own mouths.

#4 Candy is the worst food for your teeth.

It may be a shocker, but starchy foods like potato chips and crackers can actually be worse for your teeth than candy. That’s because these foods have a high sugar content and they often become stuck to your teeth. While some candies dissolve quickly in the mouth and are washed away by water or saliva, crackers often hang around in the mouth a lot longer.

#5 Chewing gum after a meal is just as good as brushing.

While chewing sugar-free gum after a meal can be better than not doing anything, it’s certainly no substitute for brushing or flossing. Gum that contains the natural sugar substitute xylitol has actually been shown to prevent tooth decay. But brushing and flossing for at least two minutes, twice a day, is the only way to truly clean your teeth and reach the tight spots between them.

#6 Brushing or flossing is bad for bleeding gums.

It’s too often assumed that when brushing or flossing causes bleeding gums, that those activities should be avoided. In fact, the opposite is true. Gums generally bleed because they become inflamed due to food particles trapped between the teeth and gums. A buildup of plaque irritates sensitive gum tissue. Brushing and flossing should always be performed gently, using a soft bristled brush. However, bleeding gums should never be considered “normal”. If you or your child has gums that bleed regularly, they should be examined.

5 Crazy Things We Do to Our Teeth!

March 20th, 2014

Crazy things we do to our teeth

 

Kids and adults do some crazy things to their teeth! Avoiding our list of the top five is a great way to save yourself from future tooth trouble.

1. Using your teeth as tools.

 

Using your teeth as tools

 

Your teeth are not bottle openers, package rippers, string cutters or any of the number of other crazy tools they get used for. Broken teeth can result in repairs that never end up being as strong as the original tooth. Grabbing a bottle opener, pliers or pair of scissors may be less convenient than using your teeth, but the effort saved isn’t worth an emergency trip to the dentist.

2. Chewing on ice.

 

 

Chewing on ice

 

Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body. Its job is to protect the softer tissues below the surface of your teeth. But as tough as your enamel is, it’s still no match for the abuse of chewing ice. Microscopic fractures, gum damage and even broken teeth are all the hazards of chewing ice. The next time you or your child wants something crunchy to chew on, try an apple instead.

3. Drinking tons of soft drinks.

 

soda and your teeth

 

Where does most of the sugar from a typical 2 year old child’s diet come from? Soft drinks. In fact, the average toddler gets more total sugar in his or her diet from soft drinks than with cookies, candy and ice cream combined! Sugar feeds the bacteria that eat away at the surface of our teeth making them more susceptible to cavities. What’s the best choice for your home? Fluoridated tap water.

4. Smoking.

 

 

cigarettes and teeth

 

One of the craziest things people do to their teeth is smoking tobacco products. Smoking can cause discolored teeth, bad breath, an increase in plaque and tartar, increased risk of gum disease, delayed healing following dental surgery, inflamed salivary glands, oral cancer…and the list goes on. Plus, teenaged children of smokers are 15 times more likely to smoke themselves.

5. Never flossing.

 

 

flossing

 

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, only 7% of children floss daily. That shouldn’t be surprising considering that 10% of adults in a recent survey admit to never flossing. This is in spite of the fact that flossing is one of the primary means of fighting tooth decay. Most cavities begin between the teeth, where a toothbrush simply cannot go. To ignore flossing is…well, crazy!

Are “Soft Teeth” a Myth?

February 20th, 2014

Soft Teeth Myth

We often hear patients talk about how they or their children have “soft teeth”. We especially hear comments related to how “soft teeth” have been inherited from their parents or have been passed down to their children.

But is there really a condition that causes some people’s teeth to be more susceptible to cavities than others?

Yes…and no.

Most people who suffer from frequent dental caries (cavities) actually have perfectly normal teeth. Their enamel is just as developed and strong as the average person. Poor dental habits are usually the cause of most cavities and with very few exceptions nearly all cavities are 100% preventable. The actual number of people who would have what could actually be called “soft teeth” is quite low.

A condition called Amelogenesis Imperfecta can result in thin, improperly formed enamel. This enamel is often pitted, uneven and brown. Inner layers of teeth can become exposed to damaging acids from food and saliva which leaves these true “soft teeth” more open to cavities.

Babies and young children often develop cavities as a result of bacteria transferred through the sharing of eating utensils or parents cleaning off pacifiers in their own mouths. It’s important to avoid transferring bacteria from one mouth to another and to begin dental care early. A soft washcloth can be used on a baby’s toothless gums, for example, and the American Dental Association has long recommended a small “smear” of fluoridated toothpaste for children under two years of age.

Even though the condition is extremely rare, we can’t rule out “soft teeth” without an exam. But most cavities can be avoided by regular flossing and brushing for two minutes at least twice every day!

Thumbsucking and Your Child’s Teeth

January 9th, 2014

How to stop thumbsucking

 

Thumbsucking is a very common habit for young children and is usually nothing to worry about.  However, it can be a concern when the habit continues or when it begins to cause problems with normal oral development.  Here’s everything you need to know about thumbsucking and what can be done to help your child stop.

Is thumbsucking normal?

Thumbsucking is common and normal. In fact, it is such a natural behavior that ultrasounds often reveal it before birth.  Babies natural reflexes cause them to suck on any object placed in their mouths.  This behavior can provide comfort and soothe anxious nerves, which is why thumbsucking can develop into a habit long after infancy. It’s estimated that 1/3 of all children will suck their thumbs during infancy.  Positive emotional development and peer pressure generally end thumbsucking by kindergarten, but some children will continue the habit which can lead to dental problems.

 

When is it a problem?

If thumbsucking continues after permanent teeth come in or especially in cases of excessively hard sucking, dental problems can occur.  Your child’s palate (the roof of the mouth) may become arched causing what’s known as an “Open Bite”.  It may also cause front teeth to be pushed forward, causing bite and speech problems.  Many older children who still suck their thumbs may have trouble making “S” sounds or sounds requiring the tongue to touch the front teeth.  Some children develop chapped skin or nail problems on the thumb or finger being sucked.  After age 5, or when permanent teeth are starting to erupt, the child should be encouraged to stop.

 

How can I help my child stop thumbsucking?

Children usually stop sucking their thumb during their toddler years, but some will continue to use the behavior as a comfort mechanism.  We’ve found that the best methods to curb thumbsucking are based on positive reinforcement.  Here are a few ideas you might consider:

  • A first-step may be to simply ignore the behavior, especially if it is part of a power struggle with your child or it is being used to gain attention.  Some experts suggest a “one month moratorium” on discussing the subject before moving on to other methods.
  • Use praise when your child isn’t sucking his or her thumb, never scold them when they do.
  • Try positive reinforcement such as a sticker chart or other reward system.
  • Seek out the possible causes of anxiety and work to alleviate the reasons for thumbsucking.
  • Some children suck their thumbs from boredom.  Try engaging your child in a fun activity.
  • Allow older children to pick a reward for not sucking their thumb.
  • Mention the behavior at your child’s next appointment and allow us to offer some positive motivation.
  • As a last resort, place a bandage or sock on the child’s hand at night to discourage thumbsucking while sleeping.

Solutions to 5 Common Causes of Bad Breath

December 12th, 2013

Causes of bad breath

 

Bad breath, or halitosis is a common problem for people of all ages.  While some bad breath is normal, such as what’s caused by certain foods, bad breath may also be a symptom of something greater.  Here are five common causes of bad breath and their solutions:

Cause: Smelly food

Foods with a strong odor before you eat them are likely to have a strong odor afterwards.

Solution:  Chewing sugar-free gum is likely to help cure bad breath caused by smelly foods such as garlic.  You might also try eating something minty – the real reason that your meal often comes with parsley.  Also, one trick is a small dab of mustard, which is said to kill the smell quickly.

Cause: Medication

Sometimes certain medications (such as antihistamines) can cause you to produce less saliva, making your mouth dry.  Bacteria that often gets washed away by saliva is then left to reproduce and leave a foul odor.

Solution: Aside from changing your medication, sugar-free chewing gum may help your mouth by increasing saliva.  Drinking more water will also rid your mouth of some of the bacteria that causes bad breath.

Cause: Dairy

Generally, dairy products are good for your teeth.  But they can also cause bad breath because bacteria love to feed on their high levels of amino acids.

Solution:  Keep eating dairy; it’s really good for your teeth! But be sure to brush and floss regularly as well.  Rinsing your mouth with water following meals may also help keep bad breath away.

Cause: Mouth breathing

Breathing through your mouth, especially when congested from a cold, can cause bad breath because it dries out your mouth.  But if you regularly breathe primarily through your mouth while sleeping it may be caused by a larger problem.

Solution: Seeing a physician for sleep apnea, snoring or asthma may be in order.

Cause: Gum disease & plaque

Your mouth may smell because it’s unhealthy.  Bacteria allowed to grow between the teeth and around your gums may be causing damage that needs to be treated.

Solution:  Aside from regular brushing and flossing, staying on top of regular dental check-ups is essential.  Is your family caught up?  Why not give us a call and schedule an appointment today?

 

The Good, the Bad, the Ugly: A Look at the Best and Worst Candy for Your Teeth

October 31st, 2013

Not all candy is created equal in terms of its potential damage to your teeth.  The sugar in candy feeds the bacteria that cause plaque. So the amount of sugar a candy contains along with the length of time it sits on teeth often determines how destructive it is.  This infographic looks at several options, from the best to the worst.

 

The Best and the worst candy for your teeth

Help For Those Finding it Difficult to Floss

October 17th, 2013

Help with flossing

 

According to the American Dental Association, nearly 20% of Americans never floss.  Many people invariably view flossing as optional which causes it to become one of the most frequently neglected parts of any oral care routine.  But as much of a plaque fighter that your toothbrush is, it simply cannot reach all the tight spots between your teeth.  Only floss is adept at getting to all the areas where bacteria hide.  Here are a few ideas for those of us who find it difficult to floss:

Learn how to floss.

Flossing can be confusing for those who don’t do it regularly.  The good news is that it’s not hard to learn.  The American Dental Association’s website has very good instructions on how to floss and has even put together a one page .pdf to teach you how!  You can download it here.

If you find flossing difficult, try floss holders.

Whether from large fingers or a lack of dexterity, some people simply have difficulty with the mechanics of flossing even after learning to do it the right way.  Floss holders have become increasingly popular and are a great alternative for anyone who might find flossing difficult.  Plus, holders made specifically for smaller mouths are great for children or adults helping with their child's daily oral care.

Consider waxed floss.

Occasionally floss can become frayed, shredded or broken.  This is often caused by teeth that are very close together. You might consider using waxed floss or floss made from polytetrafluoroethylene, a substance that is extremely slick.  Shredded floss can also be caused by teeth that are broken or have cavities.  If this is the case, don’t put off your next appointment!

Make flossing a priority.

Instead of making flossing a “once-in-a-while” task, consider establishing a routine of flossing.  This will help you get in the habit of truly taking care of your teeth and gums.

It’s important to understand that flossing is just as important as brushing, that it isn’t optional and that it’s not too late to develop a healthy habit.

 

 

Should Your Insurance Company Dictate Your Level of Dental Care?

September 5th, 2013

Dental Insurance dictating care

 

We often have patients decide not to have certain procedures performed because their insurance does not cover that particular service.  Sadly, this is especially true of preventative procedures.  It can be frustrating for dentists when a service needs to be performed, but the decision of an insurance company gets in the way.

Don't let insurance decide your treatment options.

We would like to encourage you not to let insurance companies dictate your level of care.  Like most businesses, their primary function is to make a profit. Insurance policies and health plans are designed to give you what the insurance company considers adequate care to balance their costs versus the premium that you are currently paying.  Likewise, your employers’ choices of health plan benefits are based primarily on cost versus coverage.  This is all understandable, but what your insurance does and does not cover should not be the final factor in deciding the care you and your family receives.  Even if you have to pay out of pocket, the future benefits of preventative care may far outweigh the immediate financial cost.

An ounce of prevention...

Preventative procedures such as fluoride treatments, sealants and x-rays are among the most frequently declined dental services because they can seem optional, unnecessary and are not always covered by every health plan.  Many insurance policies, for example, will only cover one fluoride treatment each year even though having a fluoride treatment at each visit can help prevent cavities in children.   Less costly preventative care can often save you and your family from the pain and discomfort of cavities as well as save you money.  It’s not uncommon for patients to spend hundreds or even thousands of dollars for dental problems that must be taken care of when earlier care could have prevented the issue at a fraction of the cost.

 

We're here to help you make the best decision.

We are very sensitive to your families’ budget and always try to help you make the best care decision possible.  We would never suggest treatment that we don’t think our patients need. Please feel free to ask us about any of the services that we offer.  Give us an opportunity to explain the benefits of each procedure so that you can make informed decisions.  Don’t let an insurance company pick the level of care your family receives.

4 Baby Teeth Myths Debunked

August 19th, 2013

Baby Tooth Myths

 

There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about a child's first teeth.  Primary teeth, also called milk teeth or baby teeth, are the temporary teeth that end up under pillows and provide plenty of business for the tooth fairy!  Here are four myths about baby teeth that every parent should know:

#1 Baby teeth aren’t important.

Many parents mistakenly believe that baby teeth are less important than permanent teeth because they are just going to “fall out anyway”.  But baby teeth serve a very important purpose as place-holders in growing mouths during early years of development.  They help maintain the proper structure of the mouth in providing a guide for permanent teeth to move in behind them when the time comes.  A baby tooth lost too early can lead to crowding of adult teeth, for example.

#2 Cavities in baby teeth do not matter.

This one is similar to dismissing the importance of a baby tooth because it’s based on the idea that since these teeth will eventually come out, what happens to them beforehand doesn’t matter.  Unfortunately, cavities cause more than just a cosmetic blemish.  Cavities can cause pain or discomfort for children and even abscess if left untreated.  Further, cavities harbor bacteria that can spread through the bloodstream and effect your child’s overall health.

#3 There’s no need to brush baby teeth.

Parents should begin brushing teeth as soon as they appear.  Not only will this help prevent tooth decay, but it also begins a lifetime of good dental habits.  It’s even a good idea to begin oral care before teeth appear. A soft, damp rag rubbed over your baby’s gums reduces bacteria and helps emerging teeth get off to a great start.

#4 Kids don’t need to see a dentist until they are older.

Unfortunately, many parents don’t take their child to the dentist until there is a problem. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) suggests that parents bring their children for a first dental visit as soon as the first tooth emerges or by age one at the latest.  Establishing a “Dental Home” early will ensure that your child has a good experience on their first visit and develops a trusting relationship with the dentist.

Do you have questions about your baby’s teeth?  Don’t hesitate to ask!  We would love to talk to you about any questions or concerns you might have!

Four Surprising Foods That are Bad for Teeth (Part Four)

February 28th, 2013

Raisins

 

As part of Children’s Dental Health Month, we’ve been looking at four surprising foods that are bad for teeth.  We have seen that foods many of us might consider to be tooth friendly alternatives may not be as easy on our teeth as we would think.  The final post in our series exposes another tricky food choice.  It may come as a shock that dried fruits like raisins can be tough on teeth, and while they are packed with vitamins, they are also sweet and sticky…a double threat to a oral health.

Raisins, dates, figs and other dried fruit can be a great way to for you and your family to supplement their diet.  These snacks can be kept for long periods of time, are easy to pack in lunch boxes and give large servings of fruit that may be difficult to get if fresh fruit is unavailable.   But they are also high in sugar which serves to feed the bacteria that causes cavities.  Moreover, this sugar tends to stay on teeth longer than the sugar from plain fruit because it sticks to the surface of your teeth and lingers in the mouth for a long period of time.

Saliva serves as your first line of defense against cavities by washing away food particles so that it doesn't sit on your teeth.  Food that stays in your mouth provides the nutrition that bacteria needs to grow, therefore the longer that food lingers the more bacteria there are to attack your teeth.   Moreover, dried fruit contains exactly the kind of nutrients that cavity causing bacteria love because it is high in sugar.

Your Union Pediatric Dentistry team suggests that you try sticking with the real thing and snacking on fresh fruit whenever possible.  You might also consider giving your teeth a quick rinse by swishing your mouth out with water after snacking.  Of course, you should always remember to brush and floss regularly as part of your daily routine.

Four Surprising Foods That are Bad for Teeth (Part Three)

February 26th, 2013

Little girl with sippy cup

 

When we think of healthy alternatives to soda and other sugary drinks, its often common to look to fruit juice as a healthy alternative.  Generally high in essential vitamins, fruit juice can be a much better choice than other beverages.  Unfortunately, it can also be one of the worst offenders.  That's right, fruit juice can be one of the foods that are bad for teeth. The sugars and citric acid found in most fruit juices cause double trouble for teeth, and can lead to tooth decay at an early age.

Apple juice can contain as much as 10 tsp. of sugar.  That’s exactly the same amount as found in the leading cola.  Grape juice contains even more, with nearly 15tsp.  Further, the citric acid in fruit juice can be tough on enamel, eating away at the first line of defense for healthy teeth.

Consuming fruit juice isn’t in and of itself bad.  Instead, the real problem is that we often simply consume too much juice or that we don’t rinse or brush afterwards.  Children are especially at risk when juice is given too frequently.  The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children have no more than 6 to 8 ounces of citrus fruit juice per day. Also, it’s important to limit your children’s consumption of juice to once a day, preferably with a meal, instead of spread out through the day, such as in a sippy cup. For the juice-lover in the family, two servings of watered down juice is a great way to satisfy a craving!

Want more information? Talk to Dr. Greenhill or another member of the Union Pediatric Dentistry team at your next appointment.

Four Surprising Foods That are Bad for Teeth (Part Two)

February 15th, 2013

chips

When we think of the foods most harmful to our teeth, we immediately think of candy.  Cavity causing bacteria thrives on sugar, and candy is one of the most obvious culprits.  Chips and crackers are often substituted for sweets because we think they are better for our teeth, and even people who are vigilant about brushing can be less likely to consider the negative effects of starchy foods.   In fact, it’s not only the sweet foods that are bad for teeth, but potato chips, crackers, and other starches are bad news as well. They become soft or sticky when chewed, and stay lodged in teeth long after the meal. Although they don't necessarily taste sweet, the starches in crackers and chips are broken down into sugar by enzymes in the mouth.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry has stated that starchy foods may even be worse for your teeth than candy because of the length of time they stay on teeth long after snacking has ended.   As part of a national survey commissioned by the AAPD, it was discovered that 96% of U.S. adults with children under 12 thought a cracker was better for teeth than a piece of caramel.  The AAPD went on to say:

“The truth is that starches can lead to cavities just as sugars can, and caramels dissolve more quickly from the mouth than crackers…A cracker may be more figure-friendly, but it is not a teeth-friendly snack.”

Looking for an alternative?  Instead of potato chips or crackers Union Pediatric Dentistry recommends apple slices or celery which can provide that satisfying crunch, and a little bit of protein-dense peanut butter as a topping adds flavor if you or your children aren’t impressed with the substitution.

Four Surprising Foods That are Bad for Teeth (Part One)

February 7th, 2013

fruit puree bad for teeth

February is National Dental Health Month, so Dr. Greenhill and the Union Pediatric Dentistry team decided to put together a series of blog posts that cover four surprising foods that are bad for teeth.  The first one is a recent food trend that may not be as healthy as it seems.

The recent trend of squeezable, pureed fruit has put fruit and vegetable pouches in the hands of millions of toddlers and young children.  The packets come in a multitude of tasty combinations and are often labeled as organic or all natural.  And while having your children eat pureed fruits and vegetables is a better alternative to other convenient snacks, they may not be as tooth friendly as you would think.

First, the packets are very high in sugar.  Gerber’s organic apple puree has 11 grams of sugar, for example.  And other flavors contain as much as 20 grams of the sweet stuff.  That’s as much as a carb conscious adult’s daily allowance.

Paul Casamassimo, research director for the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, told NPR in a recent piece they did on squeezable fruit, that the “constant exposure of sugar on their teeth is detrimental.” He worries that beyond the occasional snack, parents might be tempted to let their child walk around with the pouches.

Squeezable fruit is also different than a simple piece of fruit in that it is concentrated and lacks much of the fiber that normal fruit has.  This concentration causes a lot of food to come packaged in a small serving.  The texture of these foods tends to stay on teeth longer, giving bacteria more time to grow.

Unless parents are active in making sure that their children brush twice a day and rinse with water after eating, children who frequently consume these snacks run a greater risk of cavities.  That means it’s more important than ever to stay vigilant in the fight for healthy smiles!

Five Fantastic Flossing Facts

January 24th, 2013

 

Five Flossing Facts from a pediatric dentist

Flossing removes plaque between the teeth and gumline where a toothbrush can’t reach, in fact some sources indicate that floss does up to 40% of the work needed to remove plaque from your teeth.  Unfortunately it’s also one of the most overlooked practices in caring for our teeth.   At Union Pediatric Dentistry, we recommend that you floss your child’s teeth daily until he or she can do it alone.  Getting children in the habit of daily flossing can yield a lifetime of benefits. This one habit has a long lasting impact on your child's dental health.

Here are five flossing facts to encourage your child (and you!) to start a regular flossing routine:

  • Children tend to get better results by using flat, wide dental tape because of the larger spaces between their teeth, however you should choose floss based on what works for you and your child.
  • Flossing should begin when any two teeth touch.
  • Use around 15-18 inches of floss, wrapped around your index fingers and held tightly but gently.  Children who find it difficult to use this method often benefit from using a flosser designed just for small hands
  • Be gentle and avoid snapping floss between teeth because it can damage sensitive gum tissue.
  • Floss both sides of the tooth, even when another tooth is missing on one side.

How Can I Protect My Child’s Tooth Enamel? Here Are 5 Sure-Fire Steps.

January 3rd, 2013

Water to protect tooth enamel

 

At Union Pediatric Dentistry, we care about your child's dental health and want to partner with you to keep them healthy for a lifetime. Protecting your child's teeth begins with the first line of protection for your child’s teeth: the enamel. Tooth enamel is the white, visible part of the tooth.  It’s also hardest substance in the human body, and yet it takes a lot of abuse.  Enamel can crack, chip and wear away.  What steps can you take to protect your child’s enamel?

Use a soft toothbrush.  While we may be tempted to use a toothbrush with hard bristles, thinking that a stiff bristle will be better and cleaning teeth, the best choice is one that provides more gentle care.  Additionally, children often use more force than needed when brushing their teeth.  This can be damaging to sensitive gum tissue and only serves to wear down precious enamel.

Limit starchy foods.  While we all understand that certain starchy foods like potato chips and french fries aren’t always the healthiest choices, we don’t often associate these foods as being bad for teeth.  Interestingly, starch turns to sugar so quickly that it raises blood glucose levels even faster than table sugar.  The sugar produced by starchy foods feeds bacteria that act as microscopic jack-hammers on your child’s enamel.

Don’t forget the cheese.  Cheese truly is a dental powerhouse.  Dairy neutralizes acid, contains calcium and a protein called casein which acts as an enamel protector.  Cheese is a great choice for an afterschool snack.

Drink water after meals.  Drinking water shortly after eating is an excellent way to quickly wash away some of the food that lingers on and between the teeth.  Even having children simply rinse their mouths with water after meals has been shown to be an effective way to protect enamel.

Avoid “whitening” toothpastes.  Toothpaste made specifically for children is often the best choice when deciding what they should brush with.  Not only are flavors often more kid friendly, but they generally don’t carry the harsh abrasives that many whitening toothpastes have.  These abrasives can act like sandpaper by wearing down the enamel on young teeth.  Remember, any toothpaste you choose should always carry the ADA’s seal of approval.

Have questions? Please call our office, or ask a member of the Union Pediatric Dentistry team when you are in for your next appointment!

blimp