Make Your Game Day Snacks More Smile-Friendly

WATCHING FOOTBALL IS ONE OF AMERICA’S GREAT TRADITIONS. Many families and friends gather together on a weekly basis to watch their favorite teams go head to head. And while people come for the football, we all know what they’re really there for… the food!

Traditional game day snacks may be delicious–think wings, sliders, nachos, pizza–but they are certainly not the healthiest for our bodies, or our teeth for that matter.

Make Healthier Choices On Game Day

October is one of the busiest sports months of the year. For all you sports fans out there, you’re going to have a lot of games to watch and, as a result, a lot of unhealthy finger food you may be planning to eat. Making healthier choices for the big game is easy… and well worth it!

For more smile-friendly snacks, try these healthy alternatives to traditional game day food:

  • Veggie-filled wraps instead of sliders. Leafy greens contain vitamins essential for healthy teeth and gums.
  • Yogurt instead of ice cream. You know dairy is good for your teeth! But watch out for added sugars you can find in ice cream and some yogurts. Make a greek yogurt parfait or a yogurt-based dip for fruit to protect those chompers.
  • Bruschetta instead of pizza. Fresh-made bruschetta, especially with calcium-rich cheese on top, is a great substitute for greasy pizza.
  • Vegetables instead of chips. Refined, starchy foods can be worse for your teeth than sugar. Bake your own kale chips or substitute cucumbers, celery, and carrots for greasy chips. You’ll get that crunch factor you crave as well as protect your teeth from decay.
  • Zucchini or sweet potato fries instead of french fries. Bake your fries instead of deep-fry them. Sweet potatoes have a lot of vitamin C which promotes healthy gums. Zucchini has an extremely high water content which will get your saliva flowing.

You could even try this healthy spinach and artichoke dip at your next watch-party!

Here’s another fun fact: including apples and strawberries in your snack game plan can actually help whiten your teeth! These fruits contain malic acid which removes surface stains from your teeth and whitens enamel.

In addition, nuts, celery, carrots and again, apples, are great finger foods that work as natural toothbrushes. That’s right! Because of their abrasive texture, they naturally remove bacteria and plaque. They also increase saliva production, helping to wash away food particles and bacteria in your mouth. So the next time you want to just eat the wings and leave the celery, think again.

Eat Right For A Winning Smile

We know you want your team to win the big game, but it’s even more important to have a winning smile! What are your favorite healthy game day snacks? Let us know in the comments below. We’d love to get some more ideas!

Happy watching to all our football fans!

Top image by Flickr user Abdulla Al Muhairi 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.

Helping Your Kids Learn And Love To Brush Their Teeth

ANY PARENT KNOWS that getting your child to do certain things like eat their veggies, clean their room and even brush their teeth can be difficult. But the reality is that tooth decay is the number one disease affecting young children today.

To combat this, kids need to learn and love to brush their teeth early on in their lives. Our goal is to help your children maintain bright, healthy smiles and help them learn early the importance of good oral hygiene.

Let’s Catch Up On Some Of The Basics

Your child’s first dental visit should be when their first tooth appears, or around their first birthday. Once teeth emerge, you can start brushing them. Brush your child’s teeth twice a day with a child-sized toothbrush and only a smear of toothpaste (the size of a grain of rice). When two teeth begin to touch, it is time to start flossing!

From the ages of three to six, you can use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Remind children not to swallow the toothpaste. Continue to help your child brush their teeth until you feel that they can correctly do so on their own.

Our Top Tips On Teaching Your Kids Good Oral Hygiene

It may not be easy, but it will definitely be worth it to teach your kids the value of taking care of their teeth. Here are some things you can do to help them understand just how important a task it is, and even how fun it can be!

Teach Them Why

When kids understand the reason behind something, they are more inclined to do it. You can even make it more interesting by spinning it into a fun story and giving the bacteria in their mouths a name, like the plaque monsters or tooth bugs!

Let Them Participate

Allowing your child to pick out their toothbrush, toothpaste and floss is a great way for them to participate. If you use a timer to help them brush their teeth for the full two minutes, let them press the button. Find ways to get them involved!

Use Positive Reinforcement

Parents know better than anyone what kids will do for prizes. One idea is to use a sticker chart. Every time they brush their teeth well, without complaining, they get to put a sticker on the chart. When the chart is full, they get a prize!

Make It Fun

Whether you turn on their favorite two-minute song or have them brush their stuffed animal’s teeth first, making it fun is key to helping your child love brushing time. There are also many smartphone apps out there dedicated to making oral hygiene more fun!

You can even show them this fun video to help encourage them to brush their teeth!

We Are Proud Partners Of Parents

Although getting your child to love brushing and flossing their teeth is difficult at times, remember that we are your allies in helping ensure their lifelong oral and overall health. If your child is still struggling with brushing and flossing, let us know, we are here to help.

Have any other suggestions that have worked for you and your child? Tell us in the comments below!

Thank you for your trust in our practice.

Top image by Flickr user Abigail Batchelder 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.

4 Tips To Soothe A Toothache Before Your Appointment

 

SUDDEN TOOTHACHES ARE painful and far from convenient in today’s busy world. However, getting to a dentist as quickly as possible is the best thing you can do to treat and relieve your pain as well as prevent any further problems.

Your Dentist Can Provide Effective Treatment And Long-Term Relief

It’s important to remember that there is always an underlying cause for a toothache, such as decay, gum disease or tooth enamel erosion. They usually never go away on their own and only get worse–and more painful–over time.

Paying a visit to the dentist as early as possible is the best course of action for tooth pain. Your dentist will not only relieve your pain and provide long-term relief, but will also work to treat the cause of your toothache, preventing further discomfort and damage in the future.

Take a page out of our crocodile friend’s book…

In The Meantime…

With that being said, we know that not everyone can come in to see us the moment they feel tooth pain. We also know that the time between the start of a toothache and actually getting to the dentist can be excruciating. Between making your appointment and getting to the dentist, try some of these at-home, temporary toothache remedies to help relieve your pain.

Over-The-Counter Pain Relievers

OTC pain relievers–such as acetaminophen, ibuprofen and the like–can provide short-term pain relief. If you use aspirin, swallow it as you normally would. Do not put it right on your tooth or gums as this will not relieve any pain and can damage the soft tissues of your mouth.

Salt Water

Swishing salt water around your mouth can help clean out an infected area and loosen any food debris present. This can help relieve some discomfort, depending on the cause of your toothache.

Garlic

Garlic is said to have properties that help it inhibit the growth of bacteria and temporarily relieve pain. Simply chew some garlic or mash a clove of garlic into a paste and apply it to your tooth.Warning: this remedy may cause severe bad breath!

Clove or Peppermint Oil

Both clove and peppermint oil contain natural anesthetics and can act as numbing agents. They are very strong and can do damage to your mouth’s soft tissues, however, so you’ll want to be careful. Drip a drop or two of oil onto a cotton ball and apply it to the throbbing tooth.

Be sure to check with your dental or health care provider before you try any of these at-home remedies, especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions.

Don’t Wait To Treat Your Toothache

Remember, toothaches only get worse over time, so don’t wait to come in and see us. These at-home toothache remedies are meant to help with short-term pain relief and are in no way a substitute for the treatment and care you’ll receive from the trained professionals in our practice!

Our specialty is serving YOU!

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 Spooky Truth About Sugar

MONSTERS AND GHOSTS AND SUGAR, OH MY! Wait… sugar? That’s right. The scariest thing you’ll encounter this Halloween may just be sweets.

Here are some hair-raising statistics about Halloween candy consumption:

  • Americans purchase around 600 million pounds–or 2 billion dollars worth–of candy each year for Halloween.
  • Kids consume up to 7,000 calories on Halloween and the average trick-or-treater intakes about three cups of sugar.
  • The average child would need to trick-or-treat for over 100 miles to burn off what they eat during Halloween.

These statistics may be a bit shocking but what is perhaps even more frightening is how much sugar the average American consumes on a daily basis, not just around October 31st.

According to a study done by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, sugar makes up 16 percent of the average american child’s daily caloric intake. The American Dental Association recommends that added sugar should make up no more than 10 percent of total energy intake and ideally less than five percent.

More Sugar, More Cavities

It’s no secret that sugar in excess can be harmful to your health. High sugar consumption has been linked to obesity, diabetes and poor heart health. We also know it can be especially damaging to teeth and gums.

When we eat foods that contain sugar, we are not the only ones enjoying the meal–so are the harmful bacteria in our mouths. As a result, these bacteria produce acids that eat away at our teeth and cause tooth decay, or in other words, cavities.

Watch Out For Added Sugars And Try To Cut Back

Almost all foods have some type of sugar in them. Naturally occurring sugars–like those found in milk, and fresh fruit and vegetables–are less worrisome, since these choices are healthy overall. What you want to keep an eye out for are added sugars.

Here’s how we recommend you lower your daily sugar intake:

Read food labels.

Many times we don’t realize just how much sugar we are consuming. You may think you’re making a healthy choice for your child with dried or canned fruit, granola bars, or even yogurt. But many of these food items have a surprisingly high amount of sugar.

Think about your drink.

Did you know that one can of soda is equivalent to three times the daily recommended sugar intake for a child? Even seemingly healthy beverages such as fruit juices contain far too much sugar. The best options for beverages are water and milk.

Cook at home.

By cooking at home you can know exactly what is going into your child’s meals and snacks. You’d be surprised by how much hidden sugar there is in fast food!

Trick Or Treat?

Don’t let Halloween trick you into thinking it’s the only time of year you need to think about your treats! The amount of sugar we consume in October is scary, but our daily sugar intake needs our attention too. Let this Halloween mark the start of your family’s journey to cut back on sugar!

Happy Halloween!

Top image by Flickr user Micah Sittig 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.

How Breastfeeding Affects Your Child’s Oral Health

CHOOSING TO BREASTFEED a child is a personal and special decision for a mother. Not only does nursing provide a valuable bonding experience for mother and baby, it also has many health benefits, such as decreasing the child’s risk of SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome) and lowering the chances of mom developing breast and ovarian cancer. But what effect can breastfeeding have on baby’s oral health and development?

Breastfeeding Aids in Bite Alignment

You may not have known that the sucking mechanisms are different for bottle-fed and breastfed babies. Breastfeeding stimulates muscle tone in the jaw because it requires the use of the jaw muscles more so than bottle-feeding. A study published in “Pediatrics” also showed that babies who were exclusively breastfed for six months were 72 percent less likely to have crooked teeth.

With that being said, it is important to remember that every child is different.Breastfeeding does not guarantee that a child will not have future orthodontic problems just as bottle-feeding does not always lead to bite misalignment. There are many factors that go into bite alignment such as thumb-sucking, pacifier use and genetics.

Decrease Your Child’s Risk of Tooth Decay

Breastfed babies have a reduced risk of cavities. This is because they aren’t at risk for baby bottle tooth decay. Baby bottle tooth decay happens when a child is put to bed with a bottle that contains formula, milk, or fruit juice. Cavities and decay can still occur in breastfed babies, however, if parents aren’t careful.

To prevent decay, whether bottle feeding or breastfeeding, gently wipe your infant’s gums with a wet washcloth or soft towel after feedings. Later, when your child’s teeth finally make an appearance, start brushing them with a small toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste twice daily. For children under three, use no more than a smear of toothpaste, approximately the size of a grain of rice.

And good news, moms. The eruption of teeth doesn’t mean you have to stop breastfeeding. Every mother and every child is different. Start weaning your child whenever it is right for both of you.

Moms, Don’t Neglect Your Own Oral Health

Mothers with newborns are completely focused on taking care of the new addition to their family. But, moms, don’t let that get in the way of setting enough time aside to focus on your oral hygiene. Cavity prevention is even more crucial for new parents, as bacteria can be transferred from you to your baby.

We Want Healthy Smiles for Mothers and Their Children

Whether you choose to breastfeed or bottle-feed your baby, or a combination of both, it’s up to parents to start their children off right when it comes to their oral health and development. If you have any questions concerning pediatric oral health care, give us a call. Our job is to keep families smiling!

To our patients and friends, thank you.

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.

Calcium Isn’t Just Good for Bones—It Benefits Your Smile Too!

WE’VE ALL BEEN TOLD (and many of us tell our children) that milk builds strong bones. But our nutritional and dietary preferences are not only widely varied, they also change from time to time. Does milk really “do a body good”? Some believe it does, and others believe it doesn’t.

Regardless of your take, you’re not alone. Today, millions of people follow vegan or vegetarian diets, and tens of millions of people are lactose intolerant. Whether or not you choose to avoid dairy for health or other personal reasons, here are some thoughts from our team.

Calcium and Vitamin D Play a Key Role in Oral Health

It’s true that dairy products are full of calcium, and often supplemented with vitamin D (which helps your body absorb calcium and other bone-building minerals). While people on specialized diets (including vegans and vegetarians) are typically very careful about eating healthy, there’s still a risk of calcium and vitamin D deficiency.

One of the dangers in calcium and vitamin D deficiency is the increased risk of periodontal (gum) disease. In addition, these deficiencies can weaken your teeth and lead to tooth decay. Without the right vitamins and minerals, your mouth’s defenses may be down.

Need a Good Source of Calcium? Dairy Isn’t the Only Option!

The good news is that, if you choose, you can get these nutrients from alternative sources. For example, just one ounce of sesame seeds contains almost as much calcium as an entire glass of milk. Other major sources of calcium are dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, and collard greens.

When it comes to vitamin D, surprisingly, your best source is the sun! When exposed to the sun’s radiation, your body naturally produces vitamin D. But of course, be careful and use common sense—you also know the potential problems associated with prolonged/unprotected sun exposure.

There are also a number of things we can eat and drink that are “fortified” with calcium and vitamin D including soy milk, orange juice and some breakfast cereals. You can also consider taking supplements.

Do you have questions about this topic? Contact us! Do you have suggestions for others who may be wondering about other sources for their daily calcium? Let us know! Leave a comment below, or on our Facebook page. We love hearing from you!

And, as always, thank you for being our valued patient!

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.

Saliva: The Unsung Hero of Oral Health

EVER THINK ABOUT HOW GREAT your saliva is? Probably not. We’d love to enlighten you! Saliva has an all-important role in your oral and digestive health.

Saliva Has Many Important Functions

Our bodies make two to four pints of saliva a day. That means that over a lifetime, a person will create enough saliva to fill two swimming pools! So, why is saliva important? Well, there’s more than one answer to that. Besides allowing us to give wet willies or make spit wads when we were kids, our saliva has many important functions.

First, saliva aids in digestion. It begins the process of breaking down food and helps us chew, taste and swallow. In fact, without our spit, we wouldn’t be able to taste at all!

Additionally, saliva is essential to maintaining our oral health. Our spit contains antimicrobial agents that protect teeth and defend against bacteria. It also contains minerals such as calcium and phosphate that remineralize our teeth, strengthening the enamel.

Your saliva plays an especially important role after eating and drinking. It washes away that extra food and debris left in your mouth that contributes to decay. It also helps neutralize the acids created by bacteria that break down enamel and cause cavities. Thank you, saliva!

Some People Do Not Create Enough Saliva

Some people have a condition called dry mouth, where they aren’t producing enough saliva. Certain illnesses and medications can cause dry mouth, and those who have it are more prone to tooth decay and gum disease as a result. For those with and without dry mouth, here are some tips to increase saliva production and protect your teeth:

  • Chew sugar-free gum, especially after meals
  • Suck on sugarless candy
  • Drink plenty of water

Saliva Works Around the Clock to Protect Our Smiles

Saliva may just be the unsung hero of our oral health. It is constantly strengthening and defending our teeth against bacteria, decay and dental disease. At the end of the day, all we can say is that our bodies are amazing and our spit is awesome!

Thank you to our wonderful patients and friends!

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.

Don’t Forget To Clean Your Tongue!

A HEALTHY TONGUE is incredibly important for a healthy mouth. We know we talk a lot about your teeth, but it’s time we told you more about your tongue, that amazing muscle that allows us to speak, taste, and swallow!

Get Rid of Bacteria by Cleaning Your Tongue

You’ve already brushed your teeth for two minutes and you’re ready to be done. Not so fast! Cleaning your tongue is just as important as cleaning your teeth. Did you know that almost 50 percent of the bacteria in your mouth is on your tongue? If you don’t worry about cleaning your tongue, that bacteria will transfer to your teeth even after you’ve brushed. Your oral health care routine should always include a good tongue cleaning!

Here’s another interesting fact: 90 percent of bad breath comes from a dirty tongue! Until you learn how to clean your tongue, you may not be able to get rid of that lingering halitosis.

Cleaning Your Tongue Is Easy

There are three tools to choose from when it comes to cleaning your tongue: a tongue scraper, a tongue brush, or your handy dandy toothbrush.

  • Use a tongue scraper for a thorough cleaning. This tool is usually made of soft, flexible plastic, sometimes metal. It gently peels the thin mucus-based layer of debris from your tongue. You should scrape from the back of your tongue to the front. Rinse the scraper after each swipe of the tongue.
  • A tongue brush works just as well as a scraper. Some opt for a tongue brush that has bristles specifically designed to clean out the crevices of the tongue. Again, start cleaning at the back of your tongue and work your way forward. Rinse the brush well after use.
  • Toothbrushes work best for teeth. While it’s better to use a toothbrush on your tongue than nothing at all, toothbrushes were designed to clean the hard enamel of your teeth, not the soft surface of your tongue. You may not get as thorough a clean using your toothbrush. However, the mechanism is the same; start at the back and work your way to the front.

Your Mouth Will Thank You

Your mouth will thank you for a clean, healthy tongue. Cleaning your tongue once or twice a day before or after brushing will greatly improve your oral health, not to mention your breath! It’s a win-win!

Our patients rock!

Image by Flickr user Chase Elliot Clark used underCreative 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.

How Stress Can Affect Your Oral Health

DID YOU KNOW THAT STRESS can have an effect on your oral health? As if you needed any more on your plate! Knowing how stress and oral health are connected can help you combat any problems that might arise.

Stress May Contribute to Teeth Grinding

Bruxism is the technical term for habitual teeth grinding and jaw clenching. For some people, clenching and grinding are natural responses to stress and frustration. Teeth grinding, however, usually occurs during sleep, meaning thatpeople are often unaware of the problem. Flatter tips of the teeth and a sore jaw are common signs of bruxism.

Stress Can Worsen Symptoms of TMD

TMD, or temporomandibular joint disorder, affects the jaw joint and associated muscles used in moving the jaw and neck. Similar to bruxism, stress is thought to be a contributing factor in TMD, causing jaw clenching, joint pain, headaches and even popping and clicking of the jaw.

Your Immune System Is Weakened During Times of Stress

Stress can actually compromise your immune system, increasing your risk of oral infections. Some people experience dry mouth, putting them at a higher risk of developing cavities. Others contract canker sores when stressed. Stress can even increase your chances of experiencing gum disease.

Maintain Good Oral Hygiene and Health, Even During Difficult Times

Keeping your oral health routine in tip-top shape, especially when you are stressed, is essential! Continue to practice good oral hygiene and you will protect your mouth from infection and decay.

For most people, it’s difficult to see the effects of stress on their bodies until something happens. That’s why it’s important to visit your dentist regularly, as he or she can detect the telltale signs of stress in your mouth and help you to remedy any problems.

We Want To Make Life Easier For You

When you’re under a lot of pressure or life gets tough, the last thing you think about is your oral health. We want to make things easier for you by helping you to avoid any oral health issues not only when you’re stressed out, but all the time!

Learning to deal with the inevitable stresses of life in a positive way will boost your oral and overall health. However, if you do feel you are experiencing any symptoms of bruxism, TMD or other oral health problems, call us and schedule an appointment. We have solutions for you!

Keeping our patients happy and healthy is our priority!

Image by Flickr user web4camguy used underCreative 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.

Are Sports and Energy Drinks Damaging Your Teeth?

DRINKING ENERGY AND SPORTS DRINKS on a regular basis is becoming increasingly popular, especially among young people. But did you know that these drinks can be extremely damaging to your teeth?

Sports and Energy Drinks Are Highly Acidic

It’s important to remember the purposes of each of these drinks so as not to consume them more often than you should. Energy drinks may provide a pick-me-up during a long day at work, but drinking one or more energy drinks everyday can damage your teeth in the long run.

Sports drinks were made to keep your body hydrated and energized during bouts of intense exercise. While they may be beneficial during a good workout, these drinks should never take the place of water and should not be consumed casually or on a daily basis.

The reason for this is that both energy and sports drinks are highly acidic.Regularly consuming food or drink with high acidity levels wears away your tooth enamel. This makes teeth more susceptible to cavities, tooth discoloration, and sensitivity.

The Combination of Sugar and Acid Packs a Mean Punch

Energy and sports drinks launch a twofold attack on your teeth: while acid weakens the enamel, sugar feeds cavity-causing bacteria and contributes to decay. Not a good combo! While sugar-free options are available, the majority of these types of drinks are chock full of sugar. Unfortunately, even the sugar-free versions are still as acidic as their sweet counterparts.

Consume Acidic And Sugary Beverages Wisely

Here are some tips to protect your teeth if you are drinking energy and sports drinks:

  1. Don’t make it a daily habit. Drink sports drinks only during high intensity workouts, not on a regular basis, and minimize the amount of energy drinks you consume.
  2. Drink it all at once instead of sipping throughout the day.
  3. Rinse out your mouth or chew sugarless gum afterward. This will help increase saliva production and counteract acidity.


Know The Facts, Protect Your Smile

Believe it or not, the adverse effects these drinks have on teeth isn’t widely known. With 30 to 50 percent of U.S. teens consuming energy drinks, and as many as 62 percent consuming at least one sports drink per day, it’s important that people understand how damaging they can be to teeth.

If you have more questions about sports or energy drinks, call us or send us a Facebook message!

We’re always happy to hear from our patients.

Image by Flickr user Keith Allison used underCreative 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.