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.