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!

 

Super Fruit for Super Healthy Teeth

September 21st, 2017

It can be tempting to give your children pre-packaged snacks to satisfy their hunger and save a little time. But, a lot of packaged snacks contain a high amount of sugar or carbohydrates, which can lead to cavities. However, there are some super fruits will please your children – and make their teeth happy too. 

Apples

Apples are high-fiber fruits, which naturally clean teeth as they’re being eaten! Apples scrub your teeth, gums and tongue as they’re being eaten because of their fibrous texture – particularly the skin. This helps fight plaque buildup, and helps remove surface stains from teeth. Apples also fight bad breath by removing traces of bad plaque and residue from the back of the tongue.

We suggest adding apple slices into your child’s diet as a dessert substitute. Keep the skin on the apple slices, so that your child gets all of the oral health benefits. 

Kiwi

Kiwi is often mistaken for a citrus fruit, but it is actually considered a berry. Kiwis have fiber content, and are packed with calcium, which is a dental super mineral! Calcium neutralizes damaging acids and helps bolster your enamel’s defense. Enamel is the hardest substance in the human body, and the first line of defense your teeth have against cavities.

Strawberries

Another fibrous berry, strawberries are great for teeth and gums.  Strawberries are packed with vitamin C, which helps your body produce collagen – a protein vital to maintaining your gums’ strength. A half cup of strawberries – between 4 and 6 berries – will give you about 70% of your daily requirement of vitamin C.

Limit Citrus Fruits

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.

Avoid Dried Fruit

Dried fruit contains much higher levels of sugar than their natural counterparts, and none of the water that helps make fruit so healthy. Let’s use prunes as an example. Prunes are just dried plums, except just one cup of prunes contains more than 400 calories and 45 grams of sugar. However, one plum contains just 75 calories and 16 grams of sugar. 

Additionally, dried fruit can stick around on teeth long after snacking has concluded, and cause prolonged acid attacks that can erode enamel and lead to cavities. The bottom line is that you should choose fresh fruit and not dried fruit. 

Visit our Office

If you’re concerned about your child’s diet affecting their oral health, or worried that they may have cavities, then visit our office. We will perform a comprehensive oral exam, and determine the best treatment plan for their specific case. We can also offer advice on dietary choices that improve oral health, and how you can help keep your kids away from cavities.

Is Your Child Flossing? Here’s Why it’s Important.

March 30th, 2017

Tooth brushing only cleans about 1/3 of total tooth surface area, making flossing an absolute necessity for your child to develop a healthy smile. If your child is not flossing, tartar and plaque can build up between their teeth and cause cavities and lead to gingivitis. Below are some of the risks associated with not flossing.

Bad Breath (Halitosis)

Food debris that’s stuck between teeth can provide a feeding ground for unhealthy bacteria to thrive. The bacteria buildup can emit sulfur compounds that smell awful and leave a bad taste in your child’s mouth. If your child has bad breath that smells similar to rotten eggs, then they may have excessive bacteria buildup due to a lack of regular flossing.

Bleeding Gums and Gum Disease

Not brushing and flossing regularly can cause swollen, sensitive gums that bleed when they are brushed. Bleeding gums are often an early indication of gingivitis, otherwise known as gum disease. Plaque between teeth that is not flossed away can infect the gum line and lead to gingivitis.
The bottom line is this: if your child has tender, swollen gums that bleed when they brush or floss, then it’s time to schedule an appointment and evaluate their oral health. Gum disease is very treatable and can be prevented by regular brushing and flossing.

Excessive Plaque and Cavities

If your child is not flossing, then plaque can build up between their teeth and lead to cavities. Plaque is colorless and difficult to see. When you eat, the bacteria in plaque use the sugars found in your food to create an acid that attacks your teeth. Repeated acidic attacks can wear down tooth enamel and lead to cavities, gingivitis and periodontal disease.

Some Helpful Flossing Tools

Floss is not a one-size-fits-all solution. Teeth come in all shapes and sizes, so cleaning between them presents different hurdles for different people. Below are a few tools that can help you clean between your teeth.

Ultra Floss

Ultra floss is a great flossing solution if your child has different sized spaces between their teeth. Ultra floss can stretch thin to clean between tightly bunched teeth, but is also wide enough to comfortably clean wider spaces.

Floss Threader

If your child has braces, then we suggest that they floss with a floss threader – a device designed to help those with braces floss.

Dental Tape

Dental tape is a great solution for kids with gaps in their teeth. Dental tape is wide, flat and designed to be gentle on exposed gums.

Your Child Should Floss Everyday

Brushing alone won’t keep your child’s mouth completely healthy. They should brush twice per day for two minutes at a time and floss once per day. You can help your child prevent a bevy of oral ailments by convincing them to floss every day. Schedule an appointment with our office today if your child has unnaturally bad breath or experiences bleeding gums when they brush their teeth. We will thoroughly evaluate their mouth and determine the best treatment plan for them based upon our findings.

The Best and Worst Halloween Candy for Teeth

October 27th, 2016

candy-1

Did you know that just over 25% of candy purchased in America each year is bought at Halloween? For children, Halloween is all about dressing up with their friends, and bagging as much candy as they can get. But, how are those sweets affecting your child’s teeth? Today, we’ll look at some of the best – and worst – Halloween candy for teeth.

The Bad

Hard Candy

Hard candy is very popular, and comes in nearly every flavor and size imaginable. But, be vigilant when letting your child eat hard candy, because it can crack their teeth. Hard candy also tends to stick around longer than other candy, which exposes teeth to sugar for longer. Extended contact with sugar can lead to more cavities because sugar provides bad bacteria with the energy it needs to destroy enamel.

hardcandy

Sticky Candy

Like hard candy, sticky candy can get stuck in tooth crevices and stay around long after it’s been swallowed. Sticky candy is difficult to remove from teeth, and gives cavity-causing bacteria more time to eat away enamel.

caramel

Sour Candy

Sour candy can leave teeth susceptible to cavities more so than any other candy. This is because sour candy contains a high amount of acid. In fact, the elevated acid content is what makes it so sour. The acidity can eat away the enamel of teeth, and leave them vulnerable to cavities.

sourcandy

The Good

Dark Chocolate

Chocolate is a better sweet option this Halloween, since it washes away easier than other candy, and is less destructive to enamel. But, dark chocolate is the best type of chocolate for oral health because it contains less sugar than milk chocolate and can actually help keep cavities away! That’s because it contains a flavanoid called epicatechin. Epicatechin has shown to slow tooth decay and also reduces cholesterol, blood clots and clogged arteries.

Dark chocolate also contains polyphenols, which are naturally occurring chemicals that limit bad oral that attacks your teeth. The polyphenols in dark chocolate also reduce bad breath!

dark-candy

Candy Bars with Nuts

Regular candy bars aren’t the best things for your teeth, and depending upon their ingredients, can be very sticky and damaging to teeth. This is why you should look for candy bars that have a lot of nuts in them: the nuts break up the sticky consistency, and leave sugar on teeth for far less time than candy bars without nuts. We like the KIND Bar with Almonds and Macadamia nuts as a tooth-friendly sweet treat. Just remember to have our kids brush their teeth after consuming them, because debris can get left in their mouth afterwards.

granola-bar

Gum Sweetened with Xylitol

Gum sweetened with Xylitol is a great treat to give away at Halloween, and can actually help young trick-or-treaters clean their teeth. Xylitol sweetened gum is sugarless, and stimulates saliva production which naturally cleans teeth of debris and leftover sugar.

gum

Remember to Brush Twice Daily

It’s important that your children brush their teeth twice per day for two minutes at a time if you want to keep cavities away. This is especially important when consuming foods that contain high amounts of sugar. So, as your child hauls in bag of candy this Halloween, be sure that they thoroughly brush and floss after eating candy to keep their enamel strong and their mouth healthy.

Schedule an appointment with our office ff your child begins experiencing tooth pain this Halloween. We will thoroughly evaluate the state of their oral health, and provide a treatment plan that works for them. Have a happy and safe Halloween, and don’t forget to brush!

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!

Top Five Healthy Snacks for the ‘On-The-Go’ Family

May 12th, 2016

Healthy snacks for kids

Caring for your child is a round’ the clock type of job that requires a lot of legwork and travel. Whether it’s ballet or baseball, it seems as if there’s always somewhere to be, and something to do. Often times, what’s lost in all of the after-school commotion is the quality of your child’s snack time. To encourage healthy snacking, we've made a list of the top five portable snacks that promote oral health!

healthy-cheese-for-oral-health

1. Cheese and Dairy

Cheese and other dairy products such as milk and low-fat yogurts are low in sugar and high in calcium and protein, which are primary minerals that build stronger teeth and bones. Cheese can be cut into small cubes and easily packed in a backpack or purse for a quick snack on the go.

Healthy-nuts-for-kids

2. Nuts

 

Nuts are another car friendly snack that promote a healthy mouth. Nuts are rich in protein, which helps to build stronger teeth. Chewing nuts promotes saliva production that naturally protects and cleans your teeth by clearing the mouth of debris and acid buildup that can lead to cavities.  Nuts are a great healthy alternative to potato chips, or other salty snacks that your kids may crave

healthy-fruit-for-kids-teeth

3. Fruits and Vegetables

 

Fruits and vegetables are rich in vitamins and nutrients vital to your child’s overall health. They also promote saliva production, which can help prevent cavities. Healthy snacks such as celery, apples, kiwi, and cucumber slices are great substitutes for pre-bagged snacks that are high in added sugar and lack nutritional value. Try to limit the amount of acidic citrus fruits your child may eat, as acid eats away the enamel that protects your child’s teeth.

healthy-lean-proteins

4. Lean proteins

Lean proteins like fish, chicken, and eggs have high amounts of phosphorous, another mineral key to the protection of teeth by promoting enamel growth. Snacks like chicken salad with nuts and celery, or a tuna sandwich will give your child a healthy boost before any after-school event.

healthy-water-for-kids-oral-heatlh

5. Water

Water is one of the best tools we have in keeping our mouths clean, especially fluoridated water, which helps make teeth more resistant to acidic foods. When preparing a snack for your child on the go, grab a water bottle instead of a juice box or sugary soda. Also, encourage your kids to swish water around in their mouth after they’re done snacking. Swishing water can help remove debris caught in their teeth that can lead to enamel loss, and acid buildup.

Sometimes, a parent’s busy schedule requires their families to spend a long time on the road. Eating on the road can be a tough terrain to conquer while maintaining your child’s health. Our team hopes that the snacks listed above will help you plan healthy snacking for your family.

If you have any questions about snacking for oral health, please give us a call!

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.

The Trouble With Juice, Preventing Infant Cavities

March 31st, 2016

juice-can-cause-cavities
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.  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.

A lot more sugar than you think.

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.

Moderation...and water.

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!

Sports Drinks Not a Tooth-Healthy Alternative to Soda

March 17th, 2016

sports drinks and your teeth

Kids and teens love sports drinks.  In fact, studies have shown that these “thirst quenchers” are consumed by 62% of adolescents every day.  But are they good for your child’s body or teeth? And are they truly necessary for sports performance?  Here are a few facts:

Sports drinks contain more sugar than you may realize.

After water, the second ingredient in some popular brands of sports drinks is high fructose corn syrup. Some sports drinks contain as much as 19 grams of added sugar which means that bacteria present in your child’s mouth are being given exactly what they need to grow.

The high acidity of sports drinks can damage tooth enamel.

A 2012 study showed that sports drinks often have high acidity.  This acid interferes with the mouth’s ability to regulate a healthy pH and can lead to the wearing away of enamel.  While tooth enamel is literally the hardest substance in the human body, it’s no match for a steady stream of acid.

Sports drinks are full of salt.

Some sports drinks contain up to 200 milligrams of sodium per serving.  Keep in mind that a “serving” is usually 8 ounces, which means that a large bottle of the leading sports drink can have more sodium than a bag of potato chips.

Sports drinks can be high in calories.

Even though they generally contain fewer calories than soda, sports drinks can still be high in calories due to their serving sizes and the large amount that many kids drink.  Sports drinks make up 10-15% of the daily caloric intake of most teens and aside from their intended purpose, these beverages aren’t always consumed in conjunction with sports.

Sports drinks are best suited for intense physical activity.

If your child is participating in an intense game with constant movement and an elevated heart rate, a small serving of sports drinks may come in handy from time to time.  But most youth sports don’t involve that level of activity.  Fluoridated water is almost always a better choice.

The bottom line is that most kids don’t really need sports drinks.  Consuming what amounts to sugar water simply isn’t necessary for the majority of sports or outdoor activities.  We encourage you to read labels and be aware of everything your child drinks.  Keep your child hydrated and make certain that you child is drinking plenty of water.

Cutting Back on Sugar, Five Tips

February 18th, 2016

Too much sugar can be bad news for your health.  When left on your teeth, sugar gives bacteria the food it needs to thrive and create cavities.  Further, high sugar has been linked to obesity, diabetes and poor heart health.  And while the average American consumes 22 grams of sugar a day (that’s twice the recommended amount), it’s surprisingly not hard to take a few simple steps to dramatically reduce your intake.  Here are 5 things you can do today to reduce the amount of sugar you consume:

1. Read food labels.

A lot of times, we don’t realize how much sugar that we are consuming because we simply aren’t aware of the sugar content of the foods we consume.  Being aware of sugar content will help you make better decisions about what foods you eat.

 

2. Eat fresh fruit…Instead of canned.

Many times fruit that has been processed and preserved has also had sugar added.  If you do eat canned fruit, be sure that it’s been packed in 100% fruit juice instead of those labeled “light syrup” which refers more to the thickness of the syrup used and not its sugar content.

3. Drink water, not soda.

A 12 oz. can of soda often contains over 39g of sugar!  You can kick the soda habit and dramatically reduce your sugar intake by simply choosing water instead.

4. Pack your lunch and avoid fast food.

Surprisingly, nearly every item on most fast food menus has added sugar, even hamburgers!  You can keep track of exactly how much sugar you are getting and avoid hidden sugars by packing your own lunch.

5. Try Xylitol.

A recent interest in more natural sugar substitutes has resulted in more people consuming products that aren’t just better for you, they can actually promote good health.  Xylitol, for example, has actually been shown to reduce cavities.

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.

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Your Kids Will Love These Simple After School Snack Ideas

December 24th, 2015

One of the challenges of eating healthy is time.  Busy parents often find that warming up a frozen snack or opening a packaged sweet is easier than making something healthy. Add to the problem of convenience the fact that many kids can be choosy about what they eat.

We believe that having healthy teeth begins to a great part with healthy eating.  We also believe that choosing between snacks that are convenient, healthy and tasty is possible and we've put together a few recipes we think your kids will love.  They're simple and require little prep time.

 

tooth-friendly-snacks-for-kids

Dippers

It’s amazing how quickly children will gobble up vegetables, as long as they are served with dip. Keep a bowl of carrots, celery, cucumbers and cherry tomatoes available for grabbing after school. Most of these dips
will also taste delicious with Pita Bread or tortilla triangles, French
bread, or large pretzel sticks.

Ranch Dip is a favorite, but you can experiment with others.
Mix a 16oz. container of lite sour cream with dry soup mixes like tomato, vegetable or onion. Allow the dip to blend over night or mix it up in the morning.

Cream Cheese Dip

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese with chives
1 (5 ounce) container sharp processed cheese food.

My children really love hummus for dipping vegetables and/or Pita bread.
I’m not always able to make it myself. So to keep up with the demand,
I purchase 16 oz. tubs from the grocery store.

Keep a jar of marinara sauce (Prego is our favorite), in the fridge.
After school, warm up a small bowl of sauce and serve it with bread
sticks for dipping.

 

healthy after school fruit dip

Fruit Dips

Any of these dips taste delicious with apples, pears, bananas,
peaches or berries.

Fruit Dip #1
2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Fruit dip #2
Combine cream cheese and crushed pineapple to the desired taste and consistency. This also tastes delicious when made made with
canned mandarin oranges instead of pineapple. Drain as much of the
fruit juice as possible to avoid a runny dip.

Fruit Dip # 3
Mix cream cheese, apple sauce a dash of cinnamon and brown sugar.
Keep in the refrigerator in an airtight container.

Baked Cheese Bites

2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
1 pinch salt
6 ounces shredded Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup butter, melted

DIRECTIONS:
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C).
Lightly grease a large cookie sheet.
In a medium bowl, mix together the flour and salt. Stir in the cheddar cheese and melted butter to form a firm dough. Roll pieces of dough into ropes as big around as a penny. Slice into 1/4 inch pieces. You may need to chill the dough until firm for better rolling.
Place the slices onto the prepared cookie sheet, 1 inch apart.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until the bottoms of the coins are lightly
toasted and the tops are firm. Allow to cool completely before serving. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.

 

health after school snacks

English Muffin “Pizzas”

Children enjoy making this one themselves!
Spread Spaghetti sauce on English muffin halves.
Top with sliced olives, deli slices, vegetables and grated mozzarella cheese. Heat in a toaster oven, or microwave until the cheese is melted.

 

One more idea...The Snack Zone
Just like adults…. when children arrive home famished, they will grab whatever is easiest. Often, it’s not the healthiest food options they gravitate to first. Keep a few of the above recipes prepared and ready to go. Assign a shelf or drawer in the refrigerator as the “snack shelf”
and jar or cupboard space for non perishables. This is where the kids
can grab a quick snack and don’t have to ask first. Then, stock cut fruit, vegetables, dips, cheese slices etc. A variety of healthy snack options will keep your little ones from getting bored and everyone will be happy.

Xylitol Is A Sugar Substitute That Can Reduce Cavities

November 26th, 2015

Xylitol can prevent cavities

It’s no secret that sugar is bad for teeth.  It gives bacteria nourishment and causes plaque to build up.  Because of this, sugar substitutes are always in high demand, especially ones with additional health benefits.  That’s why xylitol (pronounced 'zeye-luh-tall), a natural sugar substitute derived primarily from plants, is so attractive for those looking for a sweet alternative that’s actually good for teeth.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) has recognized the benefits of xylitol for preventing cavities.  Studies show that it reduces plaque, is antimicrobial, and lowers enamel attacking acid.

What is Xylitol?

Xylitol is a naturally occurring sugar alcohol that's found in small amounts in many fruits and vegetables.  It can often be extracted from berries, oats, and mushrooms and fibers like birch. Animal studies have found that xylitol had nearly nonexistent side effects compared to other artificial sweeteners.  It also has an extremely low caloric value compared to other natural sugars.

Where can I get xylitol?

Xylitol is currently available in mints, chewable tablets, toothpaste, mouthwash and chewing gum! Chewing sugarless gum is specially beneficial as the act of chewing increases the production of saliva in your mouth which helps neutralize acid as it washes it away.  While chewing gum can never replace brushing and flossing, the American Dental Association indicates that 20 minutes of chewing sugarless gum after meals can help prevent tooth decay.

Want more information on the benefits of Xylitol for healthy teeth? Check out this info sheet from the AAPD!

This Common Snack Food is Worse for Your Teeth Than Candy

September 10th, 2015

foods worse than candy

When we think of the foods most harmful to our teeth, we immediately think of candy.  Cavities are caused by bacteria in your mouth that creates enamel attacking acids. This bacteria feeds on sugars that exist in nearly everything we eat, and candy is one of the most obvious culprits.  But other foods can be just as rough on teeth, if not worse.

You may have been “tricked”.

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.  Unfortunately, it’s not only obviously sweet foods that can cause trouble 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.

Starchy foods like Chips can be worse than candy.

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.”

Experiment with healthier alternatives.

Instead of potato chips or crackers, apple slices or celery can provide that satisfying crunch. Are there picky eaters in your family? A small amount of protein-dense peanut butter as a topping adds flavor if you or your children aren’t impressed with the substitution. Whatever you and your children snack on, be sure to brush for at least two minutes, twice every day!

6 Ways to Transition Teens to Caring for Their Own Oral Health

August 13th, 2015

Teens and cavities

As children become more independent, parents often have less direct influence over their child’s oral care. The transition to adolescence means that schedules become more crowded and teens are left with more responsibility in caring for their own teeth.  Too often, this results in first-time cavities and missed opportunities to catch dental issues when they are just beginning and are easiest to treat.  Here are 6 guidelines to make certain your child’s dental care remains a priority through their teenage years.

1. Keep dental supplies handy.

What better motivation do any of us have to brush than a new toothbrush?  Teens may be independent, but they aren’t buying their own dental supplies.  Be sure there’s plenty of toothpaste, floss and mouth rinse handy.

2. Get an orthodontic consultation.

Kids (and adults) get braces at all ages, but it’s certainly most common during the teenage years. As they have grown rapidly, so have their facial muscles and bones. We can guide you in the right direction and provide advice about your teen’s specific needs.  You may be surprised at the number of options that are now available.

3. Purchase less junk food.

You can’t always control what your teens buy when they aren’t with you.  But you can make certain that your refrigerator and pantry aren’t well stocked with sugary drinks and your pantry isn’t full of junk food.  Keeping your own purchase of unhealthy foods to a minimum will mean that they are less available when your kids want to grab a quick drink.

4. Play to their vanity!

Teenages are more aware of their looks than at any time in their lives.  Use this to your advantage by stressing how attractive a healthy smile can be.  It truly is one of the primary reasons each of us cares for our teeth…white, healthy teeth make us all look good!

5. Make them use mouthguards.

Adolescents are more active than ever with sports that can be dangerous to still-growing mouths.  Be sure your teen wears a mouthgaurd whenever possible, especially in teen sports where contact is common.  Mouth injuries caused by sports are some of the most common we see on a regular basis.

6. Don’t neglect regular checkups.

We know that your family is busy, even more now that each member is “doing their own thing”.  And while it can be easy to miss scheduled dental visits, you shouldn’t neglect to do so. Even though adolescents have bigger bodies than they used to, they are still kids.  It’s going to remain your job to stay on top of dental appointments. Give us a call today and help your teens transition into adulthood knowing that dental care is a priority.

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!

3 Foods that Can Harm Your Child’s Teeth & 3 Easy Alternatives

June 4th, 2015

Snacks for healthy teeth

What your child eats affects their oral health.  The best thing you can do as a parent is to encourage your children to make healthier food choices.  Here are a few common snacks that can be detrimental to the health of your child’s teeth and a smile-friendly alternative for each of them.

Sodas & Sugary Drinks

Sodas and sugary drinks can be tough to avoid, but they’re also one of the most common threats to your child’s dental health.  The sugar in these drinks combines with the bacteria in their mouths and forms acids that attack the enamel on your child’s teeth, leaving them susceptible to decay.  Limit sodas and try to establish them as more of an occasional treat while you establish a water habit for your child. Add a lemon, lime or cucumber to their water to give it a more flavorful twist.

Ice Cream

Similar to sodas, ice cream can easily become a problem for a child’s oral health.  The high sugar content and extreme cold temperature weaken enamel which can lead to serious problems down the road.  A great alternative to an ice cream sundae is yogurt (low in sugar) with fresh fruit.  The fruit will provide flavor they are craving; plus, the many oral health benefits of yogurt are well-documented.

Potato Chips & Starchy Snacks

You might not think of potato chips as a particularly risky food, since they have little sugar.  However, these foods can easily get wedged and hidden between your child’s teeth.  Potato’s starch converts into sugar as soon as you consume them.  Instead, try eating different types of nuts.  Peanuts, almonds and walnuts, provide vitamins that strengthen children’s teeth and minerals that stimulate saliva production.

Of course, regular (6 month) dental checkups and cleanings are essential in keeping healthy teeth.  Until then, establish good eating habits to help improve your child’s oral health.

Soda's War On Your Child's Teeth

May 21st, 2015

Soda and Kids Teeth

Good news for teeth: Soda consumption in the U.S. is falling.  For the eighth-straight year soda consumption has decreased to its lowest level since 1987.  Many school districts have banned sugary carbonated beverages from their cafeterias.  Well-known politicians have attempted to limit access to large quantities of soda, and even the national “Let’s Move” campaign is urging kids to drink water instead of soda.

But there’s still a lot of soda being consumed, especially by kids.  Estimates have shown that one in five children consumes as many as four servings of soda every day.  Many teens drink as many as twelve soft drinks a day!

Soda is not only bad for your body, being a major contributor to obesity, but it’s incredibly damaging to your teeth because its war on them hits in two major fronts: acidity and sugar.  You may have seen the popular science experiment where an egg is placed in soda and left overnight.  Not only will the egg be permanently stained, but if left long enough the acid in the soda will completely dissolve the shell.  Just like in the experiment, every time you drink soda it bathes your teeth in acid that eats away the hard enamel protecting your teeth.

This is where the second attack occurs.  Soda is extremely high in sugar, containing more than 4 tablespoons in a 20 ounce bottle.  Sugar feeds the bacteria that cause cavities.   Teeth that are already softened by a constant washing of highly acidic soda are further damaged by this increase in bacteria.

The good news is that it’s never too late to make healthier choices.  Replacing soda with water is not only better for your teeth, but also better for your overall health.  You can also help reduce the effects of the occasional soda by rinsing with water after consumption and using fluoride toothpaste.   Don’t forget to brush two minutes, two times each day and make sure that you are up to date on your dental appointments!

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!

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.

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!

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.

When Fruit is Bad for Your Teeth

November 6th, 2014

Fruit bad for your teeth

 

With all of the junk food available to kids and adults, it's hard to imagine that something as seemingly healthy as fruit could ever be bad for your teeth.  And certainly there are a lot of foods that are high in sugar that would be considered far worse for your overall oral health.  Still, there are times when fruit may not be the best choice.  Here are a few examples when you may want to skip the fruit:

When it's dried.

Dried fruits have had most of their water removed and what's left contains a much higher percentage of sugar than fresh fruits.  And because you tend to eat more dried fruit based on the volume, you will consume a much greater amount of sugar when compared to eating fresh fruit.  This doesn't even take into account the added sugar that most packaged dried fruit contains.  Further, dried fruits like raisins and plums tend to be sticky and often stay stuck to teeth for a long time.  This provides bacteria plenty of what they need to grow.

When it's canned with syrup.

Most canned fruits are packaged in a thick, high sugar syrup.  Even those labled "light syrup" contain large amounts of added sugar because that description can refer to the consistency of the syrup rather than sugar content.  When eating canned fruits, look for those that have no added sugar or those packed in 100% fruit juice.

When it's juiced.

First, it's important to understand that fruit juice can be very good for you when it's part of a balanced diet.  However, juice can still harm teeth when too much is consumed too frquently.  This is because fruit that is juiced generally has much of the most nurtitious portions of the fruit removed.  When the pulp and fiber is taken away, what's left is mostly water and sugar.  What's more, fruit juices like orange juice is often highly acidic and can be tough on enamel over time.

As you can tell, fresh whole fruits are always the best option when eating fruit.  Whatever you eat, however, it's important to remember that nearly all foods can be enjoyed in moderation.  Be sure to brush and floss regularly.

 

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.

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.

The Truth About Sports Drinks

May 15th, 2014

sports drinks and teeth

Kids and teens love sports drinks.  In fact, studies have shown that these “thirst quenchers” are consumed by 62% of adolescents every day.  But are they good for your child’s body or teeth? And are they truly necessary for sports performance?  Here are a few facts:

Sports drinks contain more sugar than you may realize.

After water, the second ingredient in some popular brands of sports drinks is high fructose corn syrup. Some sports drinks contain as much as 19 grams of added sugar which means that bacteria present in your child’s mouth are being given exactly what they need to grow.

The high acidity of sports drinks can damage tooth enamel.

A 2012 study showed that sports drinks often have high acidity.  This acid interferes with the mouth’s ability to regulate a healthy pH and can lead to the wearing away of enamel.  While tooth enamel is literally the hardest substance in the human body, it’s no match for a steady stream of acid.

Sports drinks are full of salt.

Some sports drinks contain up to 200 milligrams of sodium per serving.  Keep in mind that a “serving” is usually 8 ounces, which means that a large bottle of the leading sports drink can have more sodium than a bag of potato chips.

Sports drinks can be high in calories.

Even though they generally contain fewer calories than soda, sports drinks can still be high in calories due to their serving sizes and the large amount that many kids drink.  Sports drinks make up 10-15% of the daily caloric intake of most teens and aside from their intended purpose, these beverages aren’t always consumed in conjunction with sports.

Sports drinks are best suited for intense physical activity.

If your child is participating in an intense game with constant movement and an elevated heart rate, a small serving of sports drinks may come in handy from time to time.  But most youth sports don’t involve that level of activity.  Fluoridated water is almost always a better choice.

The bottom line is that most kids don’t really need sports drinks.  Consuming what amounts to sugar water simply isn’t necessary for the majority of sports or outdoor activities.  We encourage you to read labels and be aware of everything your child drinks.  Keep your child hydrated and make certain that you child is drinking plenty of water.

 

Infant Oral Care: How Early is Too Early to Begin?

May 1st, 2014

when should i start brushing

Establishing a healthy starting point for your child’s oral care start earlier than you may realize.  It’s amazing how quickly time passes and how fast children grow up.  We’ve put together a few guidelines to encourage you to make good dental habits a priority and to begin caring for your child’s teeth as soon as possible.

Start before teeth arrive.

First teeth generally appear around 6 months. (Don’t worry if your child is sooner or later than this.  All children are different.) Gently wiping the inside of your baby’s mouth with a soft cloth after meals or during bath time will help to reduce bacteria and give emerging teeth a great start.  It will also get you in the habit of caring for your child’s teeth until they are ready to take over themselves.

Begin brushing as soon as the first tooth appears.

Once the first tooth emerges, it’s time to begin brushing.  We recommend a tiny smear of toothpaste on a toothbrush that’s specifically designed for infants.  These usually have small brush heads and a special shape or handle that fits easily in your hand.  Stick to brushing twice a day and be sure to brush both the inside and outside of each tooth surface.  Flossing shouldn’t be a concern until tooth surfaces touch.

Establish a dental home early.

We encourage you to make the first visit to our practice more of a “meet and greet”.  We can give you and your child a mini-tour, and introduce you to our team.  It is our belief that a comfortable, caring environment is essential for a lifetime of healthy smiles.  We would love to see your child when their first tooth arrives or by age one.

Keep a routine for the whole family.

Children imitate what they see their parents do.  Chances are, if caring for your own teeth is a priority then you will pass those health habits along to your children.  Try making brushing and flossing something that everyone in your family does as part of your regular routine.

If you haven’t been following these guidelines, it’s not too late to start!  The best time to begin a lifetime of great dental habits is today.  We encourage you to share this blog post with your friends and family who have young children or may be expecting.  And don’t forget to call us if it’s time for a check-up!

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.

Smoothies that are Great for your Teeth!

April 3rd, 2014

 

Tooth Healthy Smoothies

Do you love smoothies? Here are three great tasting and tooth friendly smoothies you and your family will love. Each one uses fresh, basic ingredients is easy to make and provides approximately 4, 8oz. servings. If you try one, we would love to hear your thoughts.

The Super Bright Smile Smoothie

 

Bright Smile Smoothie

 

This smoothie will not only make you smile because it tastes great, but it will also give your entire mouth a healthy boost. The apples in this recipe contain as much fiber as a whole serving of bran cereal. Apples are also mildly acidic, so they act as an astringent by gently killing bacteria and whitening teeth.
Avocados are also great for your smile, containing an average of 18mg of calcium ensuring that your teeth stay strong. They’re also packed with vitamin B6, another essential nutrient for good oral health.
The mint leaves aren’t there just for good looks! They’re natural breath fresheners and have been shown to whiten teeth as well.

3 Apples
2 Kiwis
1 Avocado
1 Orange
3 Mint Leaves

The Healthy Gums Smoothie

 

Healthy Gum Smoothie

 

This smoothie is great for maintaining healthy gum tissues because of the high levels of Vitamin C found in the kiwi and mixed berries. Kiwis contain more vitamin C than any other fruit for their size, including the Vitamin C packed orange. But just in case, we’ve added an orange to this recipe as well! Research has shown that high levels of vitamin C is essential for healthy gums and helps to fight off periodontal disease.
The creamy consistency of this smoothie comes from the addition of Greek yogurt, which is itself a dental super food. A Japanese study of 1,000 adults revealed that the healthiest gums were found in those that consumed the most yogurt. Yogurt has also been shown to strengthen teeth and fight bad breath.

1 Kiwi
1 Banana
½ Cup Frozen Berries
1 Cup Strawberries
½ Cup Orange
8 oz. Greek Yogurt

The Tooth Strengthening Smoothie

 

Tooth Strengthening Smoothie

 

Like the previous smoothie, this great tasting snack contains a huge amount of Vitamin C. But the real tooth strengthening benefits come from manganese, which is found in high quantities in pineapple. Manganese is a trace element that helps to build strong bones. One serving of this smoothie gives you a full daily supply of recommended manganese.
There is one important item to note, however. The high acid level of pineapple along with the sweetness of added honey means that you shouldn’t neglect your regular brushing routine just because the nutrients in this smoothie are good for your teeth. Of course, you’re careful to brush twice a day for at least two minutes, right?

2/3 of 1 Whole Pineapple
1 ½ Tbs. Honey
1 Peach
½ Cup Frozen Pineapple/ Mango
1 Banana
1 Orange

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!

Can Chocolate Actually be Good for Your Teeth?

February 6th, 2014

Is chocolate good for your teeth?

 

Whether we are giving chocolate to the ones we love or whether we just love chocolate, we also care about our teeth. 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 good news for chocolate lovers. Crest's new line of toothpaste has seized on the connection between chocolate and oral health by even including a chocolate flavor! Here are four reasons why chocolate is good for your teeth:

1. 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.

Crest_Be_Images

2. Chocolate contains a high level of tannins.

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.

3. Chocolate is a good source of 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.

 

chocolate and your teeth

4.Chocolate contains a flavonoid compound called epicatechin.

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

Remember, chocolate should be at least 70% cocoa for most of these benefits to your teeth and body. However, any food should be eaten in moderation, regardless of its health promises. And of course a chocolate bar is no excuse to skip brushing for at least two minutes twice a day.

Brushing Right After Eating May Harm Your Teeth

November 28th, 2013

Brushing after meals can harm teeth

 

One of the most surprising facts of caring for your teeth is that you should actually wait at least an hour after eating before brushing.  In fact, brushing right after a meal may actually do more damage than good.

Here’s why you shouldn’t brush your teeth immediately after eating.

Your tooth enamel, the hardest substance in your body, works to protect your teeth.  But acids created by food can wear away that protective enamel.  During meals, that acid level gets elevated and your teeth are at their weakest state.

Your body has a natural way to correct the high acid levels in your mouth and return it to a proper pH level.  It’s the work of saliva to naturally wash away food particles and give your enamel the balance it needs to continue its protective work.

Brushing right after meals can mean that you are actually attacking your teeth! 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.  You can help the process along by rinsing your mouth with water or chewing sugarless gum which will help to increase the amount of saliva in your mouth even more.

But don’t forget to brush!

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.

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.

 

 

Ideas For A Candy Free Halloween

October 3rd, 2013

What if you want to hand out tooth friendly Halloween treats but don’t want to get on the “trick” list?  We believe that a candy free Halloween can be even more fun than one coated in sugar.  Here are 5 ideas to help you be the most popular house on the street while saving tiny teeth from cavities one trick-or-treater at a time.­

Candy Free Halloween Treats

Give a “prize” instead of a treat.

Retailers that sell party favors and supplies are a great place to find prizes that you can hand out to kids.  These small trinkets last long after the candy has been eaten and will be remembered much longer as well.

 

Candy Free Halloween Play Dough

Help kids get creative with clay!

Multi-packs of mini play dough containers are available to purchase or you can even make your own.  You could put small batches of homemade play dough in plastic baggies with a quick note explaining that the dough is for play and not food.

 

Candy Free Halloween Ideas Glow Sticks

Keep kids safe with glow sticks!

Glow sticks are available at really low prices at craft and discount stores.  Kids love glow sticks (and so do we!)

 

Candy Free Halloween Stickers

Give fun Halloween stickers.

Who doesn’t love a cool sticker?  If you have a variety, you can let kids choose their own design that they can then save for later or wear while trick-or-treating.

 

candy_free_halloween Pinterest Ideas

 

Get awesome ideas on Pinterest.

A quick search on Pinterest reveals a TON of ideas for a candy free Halloween.  You can find craft ideas, inexpensive gifts and handouts that will make every child who comes to your door smile.  While your at it, check out our Pinterest boards for even more dental health ideas!

 

Have more ideas?  We would love to hear from you.  Leave us a comment below!

 

Why Do Pirates Have Bad Teeth? ­­­­

September 19th, 2013

Pirates and Bad Teeth

 

Have you ever noticed that pirates all seem to have bad teeth?  Have you ever wondered why? Probably not, but in honor of “International Speak Like a Pirate Day” we thought we would share why pirates have such a poor reputation for terrible chompers!  And the answers might also give us some helpful ideas for taking care of our own oral health.

Scurvy was a serious problem.

Scurvy is more than just a pirate insult.  It’s a disease caused by a lack of vitamin C and it can cause severely weakened and receding gums.  Pirates were often the victims of scurvy because they spent months at a time on the open seas with no access to fresh fruits and vegetables.  It wasn’t uncommon for pirates to have missing teeth due to poor gums.   What does this mean for us?  Eating a healthy diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables can help us avoid looking like scurvy pirates!

They didn’t brush their teeth.

It wasn’t until 1938 that the modern toothbrush was invented.  Until then, if pirates cleaned their teeth at all it would have been with a “chew stick” which was less than effective at keeping teeth clean and plaque at bay.  Thankfully, today we have a lot of tooth-brushing options, the best being soft bristled and made to fit the size of your particular mouth.  Brushing for at least two minutes, twice a day can help you keep your teeth ship-shape.

Cavities were left untreated.

It’s hard to make oral care a priority when you’re sailing the ocean and looking for innocent ships to plunder!  Modern technology has made a tremendous difference in early cavity detection, but pirates would have had to rely on pain as an indicator that something was wrong with their teeth.  By the time a cavity is severely hurting, however, it means that tooth decay has grown so severe that enamel and dentin have been worn away exposing sensitive nerves located in the pulp of your tooth.  While we may not be able to enjoy the thrills of the open sea, we’re pretty thankful that regular dental visits can keep bacterial invaders at bay.

There were no real dentists!

In times past, dental services were practiced by people who had many trades.  A pirate “dentist” may very well have also served as the ship’s cook, boatswain or master gunner.  And while they may have tried their best at helping with dental care, being good with a cutlass doesn’t necessarily mean a pirate would make a good dentist!   We love what we do, and we’re focused on proving the best dental care possible in a caring and relaxed environment.  Pirates may not have had access to professional dental care, but you do, and we hope to see you soon, matey!

 

Yogurt and Your Teeth.

July 18th, 2013

Yogurt for dental health

 

Yogurt is a dental super food.  Yogurt is more popular than ever as a healthy choice for those seeking to supplement their diet with a food that will help their overall health.  Several respected studies over the last few years have continuously shown that yogurt has benefits far beyond digestive health.  Here are a few of the exciting ways that yogurt can help keep you smiling:

Yogurt helps gums.

A Japanese study of 1,000 adults revealed that the healthiest gums were found in those that ate the most yogurt.  Probiotics, the “good bacteria” found in yogurt are the possible reason as these active cultures may help to slow the growth of cavity causing bacteria.  Healthy gums are essential to your overall health because gum disease can put you at an increased risk for a wide range of complications including heart disease.

Yogurt strengthens teeth.

Yogurt is high in calcium which helps to keep your teeth strong.  Calcium works by maintaining the density of your skeletal bones through years of deposit while your body is growing the most.  For this reason, children especially benefit from the calcium found in yogurt.  Once permanent teeth appear, calcium continues to help prevent tooth decay by keeping enamel strong.

Yogurt fights bad breath.

Researchers have discovered that eating six ounces of yogurt each day greatly reduces the bad breath causing compounds like hydrogen sulfide.  It turns out that the probiotics found in yogurt help to keep “smelly” bacteria in check.

Yogurt makes your mouth less acidic.

Cavity-causing bacteria love an acidic mouth.  Yogurt counters this by balancing your mouth’s PH levels and creating a less hospitable place for bacteria to thrive.

The best yogurt for your dental health is plain and sugar free.  Greek yogurts are an even better option because they often contain the highest amount of probiotics.  If you or your children crave a sweet addition to your yogurt, you might sparingly choose a small amount of fresh fruit or a natural sweetener

Soda vs. Teeth

June 6th, 2013

Soda is bad for your teeth

Good news for teeth: Soda consumption in the U.S. is falling.  For the eighth-straight year soda consumption has decreased to its lowest level since 1987.  Many school districts have banned sugary carbonated beverages from their cafeterias.  Well-known politicians have attempted to limit access to large quantities of soda, and even the national “Let’s Move” campaign is urging kids to drink water instead of soda.

But there’s still a lot of soda being consumed, especially by kids.  Estimates have shown that one in five children consumes as many as four servings of soda every day.  Many teens drink as many as twelve soft drinks a day!

Soda is not only bad for your body, being a major contributor to obesity, but it’s incredibly damaging to your teeth because its war on them hits in two major fronts: acidity and sugar.  You may have seen the popular science experiment where an egg is placed in soda and left overnight.  Not only will the egg be permanently stained, but if left long enough the acid in the soda will completely dissolve the shell.  Just like in the experiment, every time you drink soda it bathes your teeth in acid that eats away the hard enamel protecting your teeth.

This is where the second attack occurs.  Soda is extremely high in sugar, containing more than 4 tablespoons in a 20 ounce bottle.  Sugar feeds the bacteria that cause cavities.   Teeth that are already softened by a constant washing of highly acidic soda are further damaged by this increase in bacteria.

The good news is that it’s never too late to make healthier choices.  Replacing soda with water is not only better for your teeth, but also better for your overall health.  You can also help reduce the effects of the occasional soda by rinsing with water after consumption and using fluoride toothpaste.   Don’t forget to brush two minutes, two times each day and make sure that you are up to date on your dental appointments!

Call Dr. Greenhill at Union Pediatric Dentistry to make an appointment today!

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