5 Dental Tips for Busy Parents

 

BEING A PARENT can be incredibly hectic. It can be hard to keep track of all the things growing kids need, which is why we’re giving our patients a list of five simple tips for staying on top of their children’s dental health — and their own!

Tip #1: Know What to Expect from Whitening Toothpastes

We all love having pearly white teeth, parents included, but it’s important to know how whitening toothpastes work so that we can manage our expectations. These toothpastes contain polishing agents and mild abrasives to remove surface stains, but they won’t affect deeper stains. Those require more thorough whitening treatments like bleaching or microabrasion.

Tip #2: Teens and Pediatric Dentistry

When you hear the term “pediatric dentist,” you might think that means kids only, but we’re still the best type of dentist to take care of a growing teenager’s teeth. Caring for an adolescent’s oral health is part of our specialized training. Your child’s face and jaws will experience a tremendous amount of growth and change in these years, and their last few permanent teeth will be coming in. It’s an incredibly important period, which requires the attention of a specialist.

Tip #3: Looking for Teeth-Friendly Snacks? Try Cheese.

Recent research shows that one of the healthiest snacks your child can eat, particularly where their teeth are concerned, is cheese! On top of being a great source of calcium (which remineralizes tooth enamel), it also works to fight cavities by stimulating the salivary glands, which then help clear the mouth of debris and neutralize harmful acids.

Tip #4: Seal the Deal for Healthy Teeth with Sealants

A great way to protect a child’s teeth from tooth decay is sealants. Sealants are a clear plastic material painted over the deep pits and grooves on the chewing surfaces of teeth to block out bacteria and prevent decay. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends sealants, particularly for children with a history of tooth decay.

Tip #5: Brush Up on Brushing

The easiest and most important method of cavity prevention is brushing your teeth, but finding the right toothbrush can be tricky. Whether you get your child a manual or electric toothbrush, it will be an essential tool in keeping their teeth healthy.

We recommend that you look for a toothbrush with soft, round-ended (polished) bristles. These will clean effectively while being gentle on the gums. Look for a brush designed for small hands and mouths, and don’t forget to replace it every three months or so. Worn out brushes aren’t as effective!

Your child will need help brushing until they’re about 7 to 8 years old, so be sure to work with them and supervise their brushing when they begin doing it themselves so that they learn good techniques to get every tooth surface clean

Bonus Tip: Your Best Resource Is the Dentist

Any questions you have about caring for your child’s teeth or helping them learn how to do it themselves are questions we are happy to answer. We look forward to seeing your child twice a year for their cleaning appointments. It’s an important step on the road to having healthy teeth for life!

We love to see our patients’ smiles!

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.

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Pacifiers, Thumb Sucking, And Baby’s Teeth

IT’S NOT ALWAYS easy to know the best thing to do as a parent. Every child is different and there isn’t a handy instruction manual. One question on many new parents’ minds is when to start discouraging a child from sucking their thumbs or using pacifiers. We might not be able to answer all of your parenting questions, but we have this one covered.

Babies And Toddlers Benefit From These Habits

Sucking on anything and everything is a natural reflex for babies. It’s soothing and comforting for them, especially when they’re teething. There’s no reason to discourage thumb sucking or pacifier use for babies and toddlers. It will help them sleep, stay calm when separated from you, and even reduce the risk of SIDS.

When Should Thumb Sucking Stop?

Many parents are anxious to curb a pacifier or thumb-sucking habit behind as soon as possible because they worry it will cause the adult teeth to grow in crooked. This is a valid concern, but not before a child is about four years old, at which point most will stop sucking their thumbs on their own. If they don’t, it’s time to start weaning them off it.

Vigorous thumb sucking beyond age four can change the shape of the palate and cause an open bite in the permanent teeth. An open bite is where the front upper and lower teeth slant outward and do not touch when the teeth are closed, which causes problems with chewing and speaking clearly.

Strategies For Breaking The Thumb-Sucking Habit

These dental problems are a bigger risk for thumb suckers than pacifier users, because you can simply take the pacifier away if they won’t stop using it on their own. Hopefully you’ll be able to get your child to stop sucking their thumb by age five, but if they’re close to their sixth birthday with no signs of stopping, it’s time to get serious. Here are a few strategies to try:

  • Focus on positive reinforcement. Praise successes rather than punishing continued thumb sucking.
  • Make a rewards chart so that they can see what they’re working towards.
  • Keep their hands occupied with activities like arts and crafts.
  • Be careful using topical aids to make their thumbs taste bad, because many don’t work and some are actually harmful.
  • To prevent nighttime thumb sucking, restrict access to their thumbs by putting socks on their hands. (You might need to tape them in place.)

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.

Train Your Child To Be A Flossing Ninja

BEING A GOOD NINJA isn’t just about mastering the nunchaku and learning to move about completely undetected; it’s also about keeping one’s teeth and gums healthy and strong. One of our greatest weapons against gum disease and tooth decay is a good flossing habit.

The Importance Of Flossing To The Path Of The Ninja

You might wonder why it’s so important for a young ninja-in-training to floss. If baby teeth are only temporary, then why does it matter to keep them healthy, and does flossing really make a difference? While it is true that baby teeth will soon be replaced by adult teeth, it is still critical to keep them healthy and strong so that the adult teeth can come in where they should. A toothbrush isn’t enough to keep them clean, which is where flossing comes in.

When To Begin Flossing Training

It takes time for all shinobi to develop good dexterity and hand-eye coordination, so we recommend that you start flossing for them around age two and a half. If you make it into a daily habit, they will be ready to learn how to floss on their own by about age five. The most important thing is consistency. They will be much more likely to maintain a good flossing habit on their own if they are already used to it being a part of their day.

The Way Of The Flossing Master

Here are a few tips to help parents pass on the noble technique of flossing to children who are ready to learn, because what is second-nature to an adult may not be so easy for a child:

  • Explain the importance of flossing. If they understand why it matters, they will be more motivated to do it.
  • Emphasize that flossing is a Big Kid skill. Like learning to tie their shoes and ride a bike without training wheels, they’ll be eager to prove how grown up they are by flossing their own teeth.
  • Use flossers or floss picks if traditional floss is too tricky.
  • If you’re sticking with traditional floss, show them how to pull out the right amount (a foot and a half) and loosely wrap it around their middle fingers, leaving just an inch or two to slide between the teeth.
  • Show them how to effectively clean by using a back-and-forth motion without snapping their gums. Curve the floss around each tooth in a C-shape to make it more gentle.
  • Teach them how to move down the strand so they use clean floss on each tooth. We want to get rid of the plaque, not move it around!

Seek Wisdom From Your Dentist

Teaching your child good dental hygiene habits is as much about giving them the right perspective as it is about the proper technique. Ideally, they’ll see tasks like brushing and flossing as quick and easy ways to keep their teeth feeling great, rather than unpleasant chores. If you need help or advice on how to convince your young ninja that dental hygiene matters, we are always happy to provide a demonstration at our practice!

Keep up the great work training a new generation of flossing ninjas!

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.

How To Help Your Teething Child

CUTTING NEW TEETH is never a comfortable experience. Maybe you remember what it was like to get your adult molars, but it’s particularly hard for babies and toddlers who don’t understand why their gums are so sore. It’s hard for parents too, but we’re here to give you the information you need so that you’ll know what to expect while those new teeth come in and how to help your child through it.

Teething Happens In Stages

The first stage of teething is called erupting when the baby teeth begin moving from the jaw bones through the gum tissue. The second stage is called cutting, and this is when the teeth begin to break through the surface of the gums. Both of these stages are commonly painful for babies and toddlers, but they don’t know how to explain this to their parents, which is why they will often act tired, hungry, or picky about their food.

Recognize The Symptoms Of Teething

You can usually expect to see your baby’s first teeth when they’re between four and six months old. However, anything between three and fourteen months is normal, so don’t be too alarmed if your baby’s teeth are taking some extra time to appear. No two children are the same, but some of the most common symptoms of teething include:

  • Avoiding breastfeeding
  • Biting, chewing, and sucking on everything
  • Refusing to bite, chew, or suck on anything
  • Irritability
  • Rejecting foods they usually like
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Excessive drooling

Symptoms that are not common in teething babies include diarrhea, a runny nose, and a fever. These are more likely the symptoms of a virus, and if they persist or get worse, it’s time to see the pediatrician.

Strategies For Soothing A Teething Child

As parents, there’s a lot we can do to help our little ones through the teething process. The first is to continue breastfeeding, if possible. One of the benefits of breast milk is that it reduces the pain of teething. Teething toys will be your child’s best friend. Being able to chew on things helps their teeth cut through the gums, so teething toys are essential.

Choosing The Right Teething Toys

Before you go out and buy a bunch of teething toys, it’s important to know which ones to avoid. Make sure the toys you select are free of PVC, BPA, and phthalates (chemicals that make the toys last longer, but which can be harmful if consumed).

You also want to consider what the toy is made of. Is it solid all the way through, or does it have some kind of gel filling? If the latter, is it sturdy enough that your child won’t chew through it and cause it to leak? Can it be cooled in the fridge? Does it have a clip to fasten it to your child’s clothing? Will it be easy for them to handle?

Bring Us Any Concerns About Teething

If you’d like more information about teething, or if you’ve tried everything and it still doesn’t seem to be enough, we’d be happy to help! Schedule an appointment with us so that we can check that those teeth are coming in on schedule and give you advice on managing your child’s teething discomfort.

We’re here to help your children start their oral health journey right!

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.

Conquering Dental Anxiety

EVEN THOUGH WE know, logically, that going to the dentist is a safe, normal, and important part of staying healthy, many of us don’t find it particularly fun to lie flat on our backs while someone pokes around our teeth and gums. For some people, the very thought of visiting the dentist fills them with anxiety, and it could even be a full-blown phobia. That’s why we’d like to put our focus on helping our patients overcome their dental anxieties and fears.
Dental Anxiety Statistics: You Are Not Alone
Fear of going to the dentist is fairly common, with an estimated nine to 15 percent of Americans completely avoiding visiting the dentist because of anxiety and fear. That means up to 40 million Americans are taking a serious gamble with their dental health. Putting off a basic twice-a-year cleaning out of fear leaves patients much more susceptible to tooth decay and painful infection. It’s always better (for your wallet as well as your health) to view dental care as preventative, not just reactive.
Why Does Dental Anxiety Happen?
A lot of people who avoid the dentist due to dental anxiety or fear do so because of a previous negative experience they had that soured them on the concept of dentistry altogether. The feeling of not being in control is another reason people might be nervous. We understand this, and we’re dedicated to helping our patients feel comfortable so that they can move forward with the right professional oral health care to keep their teeth strong and healthy for life.
History and Pop Culture Skew Versus Modern Dentistry
If you’re worried about going to the dentist, that might be because history and pop culture have given you the wrong idea. Before World War II made anesthetics the norm, dental procedures were uncomfortable, to say the least. The field has come a long way since then, even though movies and TV haven’t done much to update cultural expectations. Modern dental offices maintain a high standard of comfort and care for patients.
Tips for Overcoming Dental Anxiety
There are a few things you can do to reduce your dental anxiety.
Come visit our practice before your appointment, especially if this is your first time coming in. Familiarize yourself with our space and members of our staff so that it doesn’t seem so foreign on appointment day. You might even want to bring someone you trust along with you.
Learn as much as you can about what happens in a typical dental appointment. If you take away the mystery, it will help you regain a sense of control.
Talk to us about your anxiety. When we know this is something you struggle with, there’s more we can do to help you.
Bring a distraction like headphones and a playlist of relaxing music to your appointment.

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 Bad Breath

WE’VE ALL BEEN THERE BEFORE — sitting in the middle of a job interview or a first date and realizing that our breath is far from minty fresh. Even when everything else is going perfectly, bad breath can be enough to ruin your confidence and turn a good experience sour. Why do we get bad breath, and what can we do to stop it?

Oral Bacteria And The Food We Eat

In order to effectively fight bad breath, it’s important to figure out what’s causing it. The simplest and most common cause is leftover food particles stuck between our teeth after a meal. The bacteria in our mouths break down these particles, and the end result doesn’t smell good. We can combat this with a good daily hygiene routine, including daily flossing, twice-daily brushing, scraping our tongues clean, and chewing sugar-free gum.

Causes Of Chronic Bad Breath

Chronic cases of bad breath (also called halitosis) might not be solved by good oral hygiene practices alone. Halitosis may be caused by:

  • Chronic conditions. Sometimes, bad breath is linked to conditions that you wouldn’t think are connected to oral hygiene, such as diabetes, liver or kidney disease, and acid reflux.
  • Medications. A common side-effect of medications is dry mouth. Without saliva to wash away food particles and neutralize acid, the mouth is vulnerable to problems like bad breath.
  • Mouth-breathing. Whether it happens by habit or because breathing through the nose is difficult, mouth-breathing tends to dry out the mouth, leading to the same problems as described above.
  • Mouth, nose, and throat infections. Bad breath can be the result of increased mucous when we have a cold or a sinus infection.
  • Pregnancy. Symptoms such as morning sickness and nausea can cause bad breath, because of the extra acid in the mouth. This is also a problem for people struggling with bulimia.
  • Tobacco products. Tobacco in any form leaves smelly chemicals in the mouth and can also dry it out. In addition, it increases the risk of oral cancer and gum disease, which negatively impact breath as well.
  • Tooth decay and gum disease. Poor dental health often goes hand-in-hand with chronic bad breath because cavities and periodontitis are caused by the same bacteria that produces those nasty-smelling chemicals.

Keeping Your Breath Fresh

Even if strict oral hygiene isn’t enough to keep the bad breath completely at bay, it will help to manage it, and treating the underlying cause may be able to eliminate it. If you are a habitual mouth-breather, try breathing through your nose more. Quitting smoking will eliminate a major cause of bad breath. If dry mouth is the problem, chew sugar-free gum and mints to stimulate saliva production, sip water, and use a humidifier to help keep up the moisture.

Your Dentist Can Help

Discovering the underlying cause of bad breath is a crucial step in fighting back, and the dentist is your best ally here. Schedule an appointment so that you can get the answers you need to fight bad breath the best way.

We want all our patients to feel confident about their breath!

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.

Why Are My Teeth So Sensitive?

 

IS A SIMPLE SPOONFUL of ice cream enough to make you cringe because of the pain in your teeth? Do you have to be careful when you drink hot coffee that none of it touches your chompers? If you know the feeling, then you’re one of the millions who experience tooth sensitivity. Let’s take a closer look at what causes tooth sensitivity and what can we do about it.

How We Feel Sensation In Our Teeth

Each of our teeth is covered in a layer of protective enamel. Underneath this is dentin, which is a lot like bone. Dentin contains thousands of microscopic tubules that run through it from the inside of the tooth out to the enamel. At the core of each tooth is the pulp chamber, which contains nerves and blood vessels. Because of those tubules, the nerves inside the tooth can detect what’s happening on the tooth’s surface.

Common Causes Of Tooth Sensitivity

If the enamel wears away, the tubules become exposed and the nerves in the dental pulp suddenly get much more stimulation than they like. This is what makes enamel erosion one of the main causes of tooth sensitivity. Without enamel, the nerves get a nasty shock whenever anything too hot or cold, or even too sweet or sour, touches the outside of the tooth.

Root exposure from gum recession also leads to sensitivity. The enamel only covers the crown of the tooth, not the roots. Those are protected by the gums. If the gums recede (sometimes as the result of teeth grinding or improper brushing over time), it exposes the roots.

Cavities and tooth injuries can cause sensitivity as well, even if you’ve been taking great care of your gums and enamel.

Use The Right Tools To Protect Your Teeth

Fortunately for all of us, there are ways to fight back, even if our teeth are already sensitive. Using a soft-bristled brush will help prevent further enamel erosion or gum recession. There is also special toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth. Avoiding sugary and acidic foods and drinks (particularly soda) is another way to help your teeth.

We Can Help You Fight Tooth Sensitivity

Your best ally in the fight against tooth sensitivity is the dentist! Schedule a dental appointment as soon as you notice a change in your sensitivity level, or if you’ve been struggling with it for a while. The dentist can help protect your teeth with a fluoride varnish, perform restoration work to combat enamel erosion, and may recommend a gum graft for receding gums or prescribe a toothpaste to help with sensitivity.

Together, we’ll keep your smile happy and healthy!

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.

Our Favorite Quotes About Smiling

WORKING IN THE DENTAL health business, one of our favorite things to see is our patients’ smiles. So today, we thought we’d celebrate those happy faces by sharing some of our favorite quotes about smiling!

Smile For Yourself

“Lighten up, just enjoy life, smile more, laugh more, and don’t get so worked up about things.” –Kenneth Branagh

“Smile, smile, smile at your mind as often as possible. Your smiling will considerably reduce your mind’s tearing tension.” –Sri Chinmoy

“Smiling is definitely one of the best beauty remedies. If you have a good sense of humor and a good approach to life, that’s beautiful.” –Rashida Jones

A smile is the best way to get away with trouble, even if it’s a fake one.” –Masashi Kishimoto

“Life is like a mirror. Smile at it and it smiles back at you.” –Peace Pilgrim

“I love those who can smile in trouble.” –Leonardo da Vinci

“You’ll find that life is still worthwhile, if you just smile.” ― Charlie Chaplin

Smile For The People Around You

“A simple smile. That’s the start of opening your heart and being compassionate to others.” –Dalai Lama

“A warm smile is the universal language of kindness.” –William Arthur Ward

“Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful.” –Thich Nhat Hanh

“Let us always meet each other with smile, for the smile is the beginning of love.” –Mother Teresa

“Smile at strangers and you just might change a life.” –Steve Maraboli

“Share your smile with the world. It’s a symbol of friendship and peace.” –Christie Brinkley

“It was only a sunny smile, and little it cost in the giving, but like morning light it scattered the night and made the day worth living.” –F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Nothing you wear is more important than your smile.” –Connie Stevens

And Now For Our All-Time Favorite Smile Quotes

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.” –Thich Nhat Hanh

Smiling is so closely linked to happiness in our minds that we can actually trick ourselves into feeling happier by smiling. See if you can make your day better just by smiling, even if no one else can see you.

“Wrinkles should merely indicate where smiles have been.” –Mark Twain

Whether we have frown lines or laughter lines when we grow old is completely up to us!

Laughing is important too! This video will prove it:

We Love To See Your Smiling Face

We know that having dental health struggles can make you want to hide your smile away, but we’re here to help all of our patients find an extra reason to smile by helping them get and keep a smile they can be proud of! If it’s been a while since the last time we saw you, give us a call to schedule an appointment today!

Now go share that smile!

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.

A Closer Look At Our Teeth

WE USE OUR TEETH all day, every day, for chewing, talking, and flashing big smiles at friends and family, but what are the structures that allow our teeth to do so much? Let’s take a look at what our teeth are made of.

Layer 1: Tooth Enamel

The portion of each tooth that we can see above our gum tissue is the crown, and it has three different layers. On the outside is a protective layer of enamel, the hardest substance in our entire bodies. It has to be so that we can chew our food effectively. Unlike bone, enamel isn’t made of living cells, so it can’t repair itself as easily. It’s also vulnerable to acid erosion. We can protect it with regular brushing and flossing, dental visits, and by cutting down on acidic and sugary foods and drinks.

Layer 2: Dentin

Underneath that hard layer of enamel is dentin, which is softer and more yellowish. Like bone, dentin is calcified living tissue. Microscopic tubules run through it from the pulp to the enamel, which is how we are able to feel temperature in our teeth. If you’re experiencing tooth sensitivity, your enamel might have worn down enough to expose these tubules.

Layer 3: Dental Pulp

At the very core of each tooth is a chamber containing dental pulp, a tissue consisting of nerves and blood vessels that keep the tooth alive and give sensation. This includes pain receptors that warn us when something is wrong with the tooth, such as tooth decay reaching the pulp.

Getting Down To The Roots

Like with icebergs, there’s more to teeth than we can see on the surface. The root extends deep into the jawbone, held in place by tiny periodontal ligaments and supported by gum tissue. The roots themselves are hollow. Nerves and blood vessels run through canals in the roots up to the pulp chamber in the crown.

Unlike the crown, the root of the tooth isn’t protected by enamel. Instead, it’s covered in a slightly softer substance called cementum. Cementum and healthy gum tissue work together to protect the root, but gum recession can leave it vulnerable.

Taking Care Of The Whole Tooth

We need all of these components for our teeth to stay strong and healthy, which is why we should keep oral health and hygiene as a high priority. Regular dental appointments and good brushing and flossing habits are essential for taking care of the outside of our teeth, and good nutrition helps keep them strong from the inside out!

Thank you for being 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.

The First Loose Tooth: A Rite Of Passage

DO YOU REMEMBER losing your first tooth? Maybe it happened later than for your classmates, or maybe you fell down on the playground and it came out before you knew it was loose. However it happens, losing that first tooth is a big deal for every kid. As parents, we want to make sure it’s a positive experience.

The Right Mindset Is Key

Even though losing our baby teeth is a perfectly normal part of growing up, it can be scary for a little kid, especially when it’s their first loose tooth and they aren’t used to the process yet. We can make it easier by helping them get in the right mindset: losing a tooth means they’re a big kid now! If you can help your child focus on how cool and impressive it is to lose a baby tooth, rather than how it might hurt a little bit, they’ll hopefully be less afraid and more excited.

How Parents Can Help With A Loose Tooth

Helping with a loose tooth isn’t just about mindset, it’s also about technique. Chasing your child around with pliers is not the best way to handle the situation, and neither is that old “I just want to feel it!” trick where you pull the tooth instead. A couple of good things to do are to encourage your child to gently wiggle the tooth on their own with a clean finger, their tongue, or a tissue. It’s also a good idea to let them set the pace and only help them pull the tooth if they ask you to.

Another way to make it fun is to think of an interesting way to pull the tooth!

Find Creative Ways To Reward Success

The Tooth Fairy is the standard way of giving a child a good incentive to take care of those loose teeth, but there’s no reason to reward them the same way everyone else does. Maybe your child would be more motivated by the promise of a trip to the ice cream shop or getting a new toy. Think of something your child would really appreciate.

Still Have Concerns? Bring Them To Us!

If your child is still afraid of losing a tooth after you’ve done everything you can to make it a fun and exciting rite of passage for them, then leave it to us! As a pediatric dental practice, we specialize in working with children. You can also bring them to us if their teeth aren’t becoming loose when they should or if a loose tooth doesn’t seem to want to come out.

We can’t wait to hear about your child’s loose tooth adventures!

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.