Smile For Your Health!

THERE ARE SO MANY things that can make us smile, from seeing an old friend to watching a good movie to randomly remembering a great joke we heard years ago. Well, we’re about to give you another reason to smile: it’s good for your health! That’s right, smiling has actual health benefits, so prepare to flash those pearly whites as you read all about them!

Smiling And The Feel-Good Hormone

When we smile, it triggers a chemical reaction in our bodies: the release of endorphins. Endorphins are natural hormones that inhibit pain and produce feelings of euphoria. We get them after a good workout, and we also get them when we’re happy. What’s really cool is that our brains associate smiling with happiness so strongly that even a fake smile will trigger that endorphin release. So if you get injured, take advantage of this trick to reduce your pain levels!

Smile To Reduce Your Stress

Another benefit of endorphins released by smiling is that they help relieve stress. When we become stressed, our heart rate increases. Smiling (fake or real) has been proven to bring heart rates back down more quickly and lower blood pressure.

A study from 2012 involved giving subjects a stressful task to complete. One group had to complete the task while clamping a pencil between their teeth, forcing them to smile the whole time. The other group had to grip the pencil between their lips, forcing them to maintain a more neutral face. Those with the larges smiles returned to their resting heart rates the fastest!

Strengthen Your Immune System With Smiles

The more endorphins we get from smiling and the more we reduce our stress, the easier it is for our immune systems to keep us healthy. Our cells become less rigid when we are less stressed, and this makes quicker paths for our immune response cells to react to pathogens and other threats to our health. It can even lower our chances of getting cancer by reducing the number of stress-induced mutations in our cells!

The cumulative effect of all of this is that we can even add years to our lives by smiling! So get started earning those laughter lines!

Bonus Benefit Of Smiling: Productivity Boost!

When we are in a good mood, we tend to get more done. And because we can actually make ourselves feel better just by the physical act of smiling, we can improve our productivity at work by smiling more! Your coworkers could even catch the smiling bug because we all know how contagious smiles are!

Let Us Give You Reasons To Smile

Even with all these benefits, it can be difficult to smile with confidence without healthy teeth and gums. Make sure to maintain those good brushing and flossing habits to keep your smile in good shape, and visit your dentist twice a year for hygiene therapy and to stop any dental problems in their tracks!

We love seeing our patients’ smiles!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Thumb-Sucking, Pacifiers, And Oral Health

THE WORLD IS A big, new, confusing place for a young child, so it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that they like having something familiar to help them cope. Sometimes this means a stuffed animal or favorite blanket they carry everywhere, but for many children, it’s a pacifier or a thumb.

As parents, it’s important to be able to strike the right balance for our children when it comes to thumb-sucking or pacifier habits. Forcing them to stop too early can bring them unnecessary stress, but allowing them to continue sucking that thumb too long can cause significant problems for their oral health.

When Thumb-Sucking And Pacifiers Are Beneficial

Sucking on things is a reflex babies develop before birth, and it can be very comforting for them. Sucking their thumb or a pacifier will help them feel safe and happy in their earliest years of life. Benefits to thumb-sucking or pacifier use at this stage include helping them sleep (which also helps you sleep), keeping them calm when separated from you, and reducing the risk of SIDS.

When Is It Time To Stop?

Many parents worry that their toddler’s thumb-sucking or pacifier use will cause their adult teeth to grow in crooked, but there’s no need to worry at this age. Most children stop sucking their thumbs on their own by age four, and when they begin school, the desire to appear as grown-up as their peers will encourage them to stop.

If they don’t stop on their own around kindergarten age, this is when it’s important to intervene. Once the permanent teeth start coming in, vigorous thumb-sucking can lead to changes in the shape of the palate and an open bite between the upper and lower teeth, which will mean expensive orthodontic treatment down the line.

Tips For Discouraging Thumb-Sucking

Bite and dental alignment problems are less common with pacifiers because parents can simply take the pacifier away if the child doesn’t stop using it on their own by age three, but if your child is getting close to age six and still sucking their thumb, here are a few safe strategies you could use:

  • Praise their successes rather than scolding them for continuing to suck their thumb.
  • Create a rewards chart so they can see the progress they’re making and what they’re working for.
  • Keep their hands and minds occupied with activities like arts and crafts. Sometimes they thumb-suck because they’re bored!
  • Cover their hands with socks at night to keep them from thumb-sucking in their sleep. (You may need to tape these in place so they can’t remove them.)

Don’t forget that these strategies are for kindergarten-age and older children, not toddlers! Toddlers are too young to understand why you want them to stop sucking their thumb, so attempts at discouragement will only upset them.

Come To Us With Your Concerns

If you’re worried about your child’s pacifier use or thumb-sucking habit, don’t hesitate to talk to us! We can answer your questions and help you develop an effective strategy to ensure your child’s healthy dental development.

We love having you and your child as part of our practice family!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Defeating Your Dental Anxiety

FOR PEOPLE WITH DENTAL anxiety, the prospect of an appointment with the dentist can be so intimidating that they’d rather suffer tooth pain in silence than get it treated. That’s why we’re dedicating this post to helping our patients triumph over their dentist-related fears!

Don’t Let Pop Culture Give You The Wrong Idea About Dentists

Whenever dentists appear in movies and TV shows, we tend to be portrayed in a very over-the-top way that can make us seem much scarier than we are. These fictional stereotypes are relics of the pre-World War II era, before anesthetics where the norm, but modern dental offices have high standards for the care and comfort of patients.

Don’t Be Embarrassed; Dental Anxiety Is Normal

If you’ve been struggling with a fear of the dentist, that’s nothing to feel embarrassed about. Between 9 and 15 percent of Americans are so nervous about the idea of going to the dentist that they avoid it completely! But just because it isn’t uncommon doesn’t mean it’s healthy. Preventing serious dental problems through regular, twice-a-year cleaning appointments is always better than allowing those problems to develop further.

Tips For Overcoming Dental Anxiety

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How Our Practice Can Help

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Get To Know Our Team!

If you or someone you care about struggles with dental anxiety, feel free to schedule a time to come to our practice, meet our team members, and get used to the facility. We want you to feel safe and comfortable when you’re with us, and we’ll answer any questions you may have!

We look forward to seeing you!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

What To Do About White Spots

HAVE YOU EVER NOTICED white spots on your own or someone else’s teeth? When we think of stains, we usually think of dark colors, but stains on teeth can just as easily be whiter than the surrounding area. These white spots can happen for a few different reasons, and there are a few different ways to remove them.

Causes Of White Spots

Stains can affect the outside of the tooth and the inside. White spots are surface stains affecting the enamel, and they can occur on an otherwise healthy tooth. These spots are most commonly caused by fluorosis and demineralization.

Fluorosis occurs when the adult teeth are exposed to too much fluoride while still developing beneath the gums. This doesn’t damage the teeth, it just unevenly bleaches them. The best way to avoid fluorosis is to make sure your child doesn’t use too much toothpaste before their adult teeth start coming in. Just a pea-sized dab is enough for a young child, and no more than a smear the size of a grain of rice should be used for babies and toddlers.

Demineralization is far more harmful than fluorosis, as it involves the leaching of minerals out of the enamel through exposure to acids. This happens when plaque isn’t cleaned away effectively. Good brushing habits and regular dental cleanings are crucial for preventing this problem. Demineralization is a particular risk for people with braces, so make extra sure to clean around those brackets!

Another cause of white spots is enamel hypoplasia, meaning enamel is thinner than usual, leaving the teeth more vulnerable to stains and decay. This condition can be caused in a child’s teeth when the mother smokes while pregnant, and it can also be caused by malnutrition and premature birth.

Treatment Options For White Spots

The best thing to do is always to prevent the white spots from developing in the first place, but when they do form, there are a few different ways they can be treated. With the microabrasion route, a thin layer of enamel is carefully removed to give the teeth a more uniform appearance. This can be paired with whitening treatments.

Another way of giving your teeth more balanced color is bleaching. Over-the-counter bleaching kits do help, but we recommend professional whitening in the dentist’s office or dentist-approved take-home kits for best results.
In cases of particularly severe staining that can’t be corrected with bleaching, veneers are an excellent option. The dentist attaches thin porcelain to the teeth, which gives them a natural, white appearance.

If you’re more worried about yellowing teeth than white spots, check out this video:

Let’s See Those Pearly Whites!

If you have white spots on your teeth, come see us so that we can figure out the best way to get you the bright, beautiful smile you deserve. We’re committed to our patients’ dental health and happiness!

Keep taking care of your beautiful smile between visits!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

All About Baby Teeth

A BABY’S FIRST TOOTH is a major milestone, and a child losing their first tooth is another! As parents, it’s important for us to know what to expect when it comes to our children’s baby teeth, from when they come in to when they lose them, and how to take good care of them in between. That’s why we’re dedicating a blog post to baby teeth!

The Purpose Of Baby Teeth

Just because baby teeth don’t last our whole lives, that doesn’t mean they don’t serve important purposes or that we can slack off taking care of them. Baby teeth help children chew, speak, and flash those beautiful smiles. Most importantly, they hold the places of permanent teeth so that they can come in where they’re supposed to once there’s room for them.

Keeping Baby Teeth Healthy

When your child has baby teeth, it’s the perfect time to teach them good life-long dental health habits. This way, by the time those adult teeth start coming in, they’ll already be pros at brushing and flossing so that they’ll be able to keep their permanent teeth healthy for life!

Before your children are old enough to start taking care of their teeth by themselves, there’s plenty you can do for them. Even before the first teeth appear, it’s important to gently clean away any residue from breast milk or formula so that the sugars in the milk can’t linger and feed oral bacteria.

Baby Teeth Timeline

Most children follow a similar timeline in getting their baby teeth, but not every situation is the same, so don’t get worried if your child doesn’t fit perfectly into these windows. The first two teeth (the bottom central incisors) typically show up between 4-7 months, followed by the top central incisors at around 8-12 months. The lateral incisors come in between 9-16 months, and the first molars make their appearance any time between 13-24 months, followed by the canines and, finally, the second molars.

The full set of baby teeth will usually have grown in by age three. Around age six is when those baby teeth begin to be replaced by adult teeth, in about the same order they first came in. From ages six through twelve, a child will lose teeth and grow their new ones pretty rapidly.

We Have The Answers

Besides knowing the basics about what baby teeth are for and when they’ll come in and fall out, it’s also important to know when to start bringing your child into the dentist. The best time for that is when that first tooth arrives! We can’t wait to see you and your child and help you get them on a path to lifelong healthy teeth!

Keep taking care of those teeth, whether baby or permanent!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

In Case Of Dental Emergency

WHEN WE THINK OF an emergency, we probably don’t imagine it could have something to do with our teeth. However, any chip, crack, or toothache should be treated as a priority because even if they seem like minor issues, they can lead to much worse (and more expensive) problems down the line.

Know Where To Go

Before an emergency happens, there are steps you can take to prepare yourself and your family. The first is to find a dental practice that is right for you. This way, you’ll know where to turn when something goes wrong unexpectedly, and you won’t have to waste precious time looking up dental practices. You want a dentist who is within easy driving distance, has a good reputation, is within your price range, and who makes you and your family feel comfortable.

Common Dental Emergencies

In addition to knowing where to turn when an emergency happens, you can also prepare for dental emergencies by becoming educated on what you can do on the way to the dentist. Here is the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry’s recommendations for three common dental emergencies:

1. A Knocked Out Baby Tooth

If a baby tooth is knocked out, contact your dentist immediately. Most likely, even if the tooth was not loose, they will not replant it because it could compromise the developing permanent tooth underneath.

2. Fracture Of A Tooth

If a tooth is cracked, chipped, or broken, contact your dentist right away because this will need treatment as soon as possible. Rinse out your mouth with water and find any broken fragments of the tooth, then place them in cold milk to preserve them and bring them with you to the dentist. Do not ignore a crack or chip! If the dental pulp is exposed, it is in danger of infection unless treated quickly!

Watch this video to learn about bonding, one way a dentist may repair a chipped tooth:

3. A Knocked Out Permanent Tooth

If a permanent tooth is knocked out, head straight to the dentist. In most cases, a knocked out tooth can be saved if the dentist sees you within an hour of the accident. Before you get there, you can help preserve the tooth by replacing it in the socket and holding it in place with clean gauze or a washcloth. If it won’t go back in, store it in cold milk.

A few things you should NOT do if a permanent tooth gets knocked out are letting it dry out, handling it by the root, scrubbing it clean, or using soap, alcohol, or peroxide on it. Doing any of these things will damage the root of the tooth, reducing the chances the dentist will be able to successfully replant it.

Your Dentist Is Ready To Help!

Even if your tooth shows no external damage, a toothache is a sign that something could be wrong on the inside, and that should be seen by a dentist as soon as possible. Now, hopefully, you will never have to put any of this preparation to the test, but if you do, you now know where to go! If you have any questions about what else you can do to prepare for a dental emergency, don’t hesitate to ask us.

Your dental health is our top priority!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

The Dangers Of DIY Teeth Whitening

A GOOD-LOOKING SMILE with white, even teeth is a major confidence booster and really helps make a good first impression, whether you’re going on a date or sitting down for a job interview. The widespread desire for whiter teeth in today’s society, combined with internet culture, has given rise to a number of popular do-it-yourself teeth whitening methods. While these might seem like great life-hacks to try, many of them can actually do serious damage to our teeth.

Common DIY Whitening Trends

Over the last couple of years, you’ve probably heard about some of these trendy teeth whitening approaches, such as activated charcoal, lemon juice, and oil pulling. Oil pulling is an ancient folk remedy, but there is no scientific evidence to back up the claims about its health benefits. Lemon juice is absolutely a bad idea because you’re essentially applying a strong acid directly to your teeth. Tooth enamel is highly vulnerable to acid, and enamel loss is permanent.

Activated charcoal might be able to absorb stains and toxins, but those benefits are debatable when it comes to teeth because charcoal is also abrasive so it could be scraping away enamel even as it removes stains. Hold off on buying that tube of charcoal toothpaste until you see the ADA Seal of Acceptance, and definitely don’t mix up your own.

What About Peroxide And Baking Soda?

Another recent DIY whitening trend is using the baking soda in the pantry and the hydrogen peroxide in the medicine cabinet to bleach teeth. The reasoning behind this idea is that hydrogen peroxide is used in professional whitening and baking soda is present in many ADA approved whitening toothpaste, and both proven to be effective at removing stains.

While it is true that peroxide and sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) are used in professional and approved whitening products, that doesn’t mean these are safe chemicals to apply to our teeth however we want. There is a delicate balance between using too little, which won’t produce much of a whitening effect and using too much, which can damage the enamel and the soft tissues of the mouth. Only dental professionals have the knowledge, training, and materials needed to strike that balance.

Come To The Right Place For Whitening

Your teeth will thank you if you put your trust in dental professionals for your whitening needs rather than trying something risky at home, so bring your teeth whitening questions with you to your next appointment. Together, we can make a plan for how best to whiten your smile. In the meantime, the best things you can do to keep your smile healthy and bright are to keep up with your daily brushing and flossing habits, avoid foods and drinks that can stain your teeth, and don’t smoke.

We’re here to help you get the smile of your dreams!

Top image by Flickr user Rupert Taylor-Price used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Top Causes Of Childhood Tooth Decay

42 PERCENT OF CHILDREN will get at least one cavity between ages 2 and 11, and tooth decay is the most common childhood disease. Why is it so common, and what can we as parents do to keep our children’s teeth healthy? Well, before we can fight childhood tooth decay, we have to understand what causes it.

Sippy Cups And Baby Bottle Rot

One of the biggest dangers to a child’s oral health comes from sugary drinks and the way children consume them. Whether the drink is soda, fruit juice, or even milk, the sugars in the drink will feed your child’s oral bacteria and increase the risk of decay. Sugars in drinks become particularly dangerous if a child has access to a bottle or sippy cup that they can keep drinking from over a long period of time because their teeth are constantly exposed to more sugar.

This is such a common problem that it has actually earned its own name: baby bottle tooth decay, or bottle rot. Now, we aren’t suggesting a total ban on all sugary drinks, but the less time your child’s teeth are exposed to them, the better. Sugary drinks are much safer for teeth when consumed quickly at mealtimes. If a sippy cup or bottle is the only thing that helps your child fall asleep at naptime and bedtime, then the healthiest option for their teeth would be to fill it with water.

Sugary Snacks And Candy

Sugar doesn’t have to be in liquid form to cause trouble for the teeth, which brings us to our next oral health danger for children: snacks. Everything from candy to healthier options like cheese and crackers contains sugar. Every time we eat, our saliva needs at least half an hour to wash away all the remnants of the food, but when children have access to snacks all the time, their mouths never have a chance to recover.

So just like with sugary drinks, it’s best to consume sugary foods during mealtimes instead of nibbling on them throughout the day. Cutting back on treats with the most sugar, like candy, is also a good choice for dental health.

What Parents Can Do

Apart from cutting down on juice-filled sippy cups and sugary snacks, there is a lot that parents can do to ensure that their children remain cavity-free. The most important thing is to teach them how to effectively brush their teeth and help them get to a point where it becomes a routine rather than a chore. Giving them a toothbrush and toothpaste they like will make this easier. And don’t forget to teach them about flossing! Also avoid doing things that will spread bacteria, such as sharing spoons or cleaning a dropped pacifier with your own mouth.

Here’s a fun demonstration you can do with your kids to show how soda affects teeth:

The Role Of Your Child’s Dentist

Even if you’re already doing everything in this post with your children, sometimes a cavity will still appear. Don’t get discouraged! Everyone’s teeth are different, which is why the final crucial thing you can do as a parent to help your child keep their teeth healthy is bringing them in to see us for cleanings and dental exams!

Keep up the good work raising kids with great oral health!

Top image by Flickr user Upsilon Andromedae used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Side-Effects: Medications And Oral Health

 

MEDICAL PROBLEMS ARE things none of us ask for but many of us have, and with medical problems come medications. Unfortunately, along with medications come side-effects, and these often have a negative impact on oral health.

The Delicate Balance Of Our Mouths

Our oral health does best when our mouths can stay close to a neutral pH — neither acidic nor basic. The food and drink we consume tends to temporarily disrupt this pH balance, and so does medicine. When children eat chewable vitamins or drink syrupy medicine that contains sugar, it feeds their oral bacteria, which excrete acid onto their teeth. This acid wears away at their tooth enamel.

Another common problem with children’s medication comes from asthma inhalers, which can lead to the development of oral thrush (white fungus patches in the mouth). The easiest way to avoid any of these issues is to encourage our children to rinse with water after eating vitamins, using their inhalers, or drinking cough syrup.

Oral Side-Effects Of Medications

Even if the medication doesn’t do any damage while you’re ingesting it, it can still be harmful to your mouth over time, so let’s look at some of the side-effects that might show up after starting a new medication.

  • Dry Mouth. This is the most common oral side-effect of over-the-counter and prescribed medications. Our saliva is our first line of defense against bad oral bacteria, and when it dries up, it leaves us vulnerable to tooth decay and gum disease.
  • Abnormal bleeding. Some medications contain blood thinning components, and this makes it easier for us to bleed. If you start noticing more bleeding from your gums after brushing, it could be because of the medication.
  • Inflamed gums. Gingival overgrowth (or excessive growth of gum tissue) is a side-effect of several medications, and it increases the risk of gum disease.
  • Change in taste. Heart medications, nervous system stimulants, and anti-inflammatory drugs can leave a bitter or metallic taste in your mouth or interfere with your sense of taste in general. While unpleasant, this side-effect isn’t necessarily serious.
  • Bone loss. In rare cases, drugs used to treat osteoporosis can cause a loss of bone tissue in the jaw, putting patients at risk of tooth loss and gum recession.

Your Dentist Can Help!

No matter what medication you take on a regular basis, whether prescription or over-the-counter, it’s critical that your dentist knows about them. Sometimes, the oral health side-effects can be minimized or stopped, but only if the dentist knows! So if you’re taking medications, especially if you’ve noticed any of the above problems, make sure to mention them during your next dental appointment!

Remember to speak up about your medications!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth The Healthy Way

EVERYONE LOVES A good sweet snack once in a while, but unfortunately, that includes the bacteria in our mouths. Those little germs’ favorite food in the world is sugary treats, and the more sugar they get, the more they put our teeth at risk of tooth decay. So how can you satisfy your sweet tooth without giving your harmful oral bacteria a treat? By snacking healthy!

A Few Healthy Treats To Enjoy

Sometimes it seems like the healthy snacks are the ones that take longer to make or cost more, but that isn’t always true! So before you reach for that jelly-filled doughnut or bowl of ice cream, take a look at some of these quick, affordable, tasty options that are better for your teeth:

  • Coconut whipped cream with strawberries. Coconuts are exceptional bacteria killers and they can also reduce the amount of plaque build up, and strawberries are great for scrubbing away plaque too! Coconut whipped cream is a great substitute for dairy whipped cream because it’s low in sugar and high in healthy fats.
  • Frozen dark chocolate bananas. This treat is great because bananas are full of important nutrients that help keep teeth and gums strong, and dark chocolate is good for your teeth too. (You could also switch things up and put the coconut whipped cream on the bananas and the dark chocolate on the strawberries!)
  • Fruit smoothies with yogurt and applesauce. Toss your favorite fruits in a blender, but instead of adding sugar or ice cream, use unsweetened applesauce and frozen yogurt for a refreshing smoothie that is low in sugar!
  • Yogurt and granola. Yogurt is one of the best sources of probiotics. Crowd out that harmful bacteria in your mouth with the good bacteria in yogurt. Yogurt is also a great source of calcium for building strong teeth.
  • Fruit Bowls. You can never go wrong by throwing together a bowl of berries and sliced fruit. While fruit does contain natural sugar, eating it whole is much healthier than drinking fruit juice (which isn’t much better for your teeth than soda). The fiber in the whole fruit makes it harder for the sugar to reach your teeth (or your digestive system!), and you get all the great vitamins too!

Check out this video for a brownie recipe that leaves out the refined sugar!

 

Want More Healthy Snack Ideas?

If you like these healthy treats and want more, we can help you find them! From sugar substitutes in baking to easy on-the-go snacks, we have you covered! And don’t forget to keep up your other good oral health habits, such as brushing twice daily for two minutes, flossing, and scheduling those regular dental appointments!

And don’t worry, we have sweet teeth too!

Top image used under CC0 Public Domain license. Image cropped and modified from original.

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.