Calming your kids at the dentist

by MikeMeehan 10/10/2018 9:09 AM

One of the most important ways to keep your kids cavity free, especially during the season of sweets, is to see the dentist regularly. Routine checkups and cleanings are completely covered by most dental plans, so there’s no reason to skip a visit.  There’s one deterrent, though, that you might run into – kids getting spooked by the dentist. If this happens to your children, check out our tips to help make their next appointment a little easier.  Start early. The American Dental Association recommends children visit the dentist within six months of their first tooth or by age 1. Early visits give kids a chance to become familiar with the dentist and may help reduce anxiety down the road.  Lead by example. If you’re nervous about the dentist, your kids might pick up on it and adopt the same attitude. According to a study in the International Journal of Pediatric Dentistry, adults can transfer their dental fears to family members. Make a conscientious effort to demonstrate a positive attitude toward the dentist while articulating the value of regular visits. By modelling relaxed behavior, you can let your kids know there’s nothing to be afraid of.  Leverage entertainment. Reshape their attitudes with the power of the page. Pick up library books that explain dental appointments in kid-friendly language. Popular options include Curious George Visits the Dentist by H.A. Rey, Just Going to the Dentist by Mercer Mayer and Open Wide: School Tooth Inside by Laurie Keller. To build even more positive associations with the dentist, try bringing their favorite toy or game to appointments.  Take baby steps. Stop by the dental office beforehand so your kids learn what to expect in a lower-pressure situation. Introducing them to the dentist and staff without the stakes of an actual appointment can help them feel more comfortable in the environment.  Practice beforehand. Create a mock dental visit in your own home to remove any confusion they have about what happens in the dental chair. Pretend to clean your child’s teeth while explaining how visiting the dentist helps keep their smiles in tip-top shape.  Use relaxation techniques. If you’ve tried everything and your kids still get the heebie-jeebies in the dental chair, don’t fear! Try calming them down with some simple relaxation exercises. Instruct your child to inhale and exhale slowly and steadily. You can also try a technique where they tense different muscle groups as tight as can be, then release.  It may take some time, but helping your children feel comfortable at the dentist will make lifelong dental care much easier in the long run. 

Oral health issues that may arise with age

by MikeMeehan 9/13/2018 2:09 PM

As you age, your body can experience shifts in health that affect your mouth in ways you might not expect. In honor of Healthy Aging Month, take a look at two conditions people may encounter with age that can affect their oral health – Sjögren’s syndrome and bone loss. Sjögren’s syndrome People age 40 and older can develop a chronic autoimmune condition called Sjögren’s syndrome. Currently, as many as 4 million Americans are living with Sjögren’s. While experiences with the disease vary widely, some of its symptoms include difficulty talking, chewing or swallowing; a sore or cracked tongue; a dry or burning throat; dry or peeling lips; and severe fatigue.  One symptom that’s shared to some degree among almost every person with Sjögren’s, however, is dry mouth. Without adequate levels of saliva to help remove mouth debris, your teeth become increasingly vulnerable to decay. Fortunately, there are ways to lessen the effects such as taking frequent drinks of water, reducing alcohol and caffeine consumption, avoiding tobacco and limiting the number of carbonated beverages you drink. Additionally, chewing sugar-free gum, using artificial saliva and trying an oral rinse may help.  Bone loss As you age, you become increasingly vulnerable to bone loss. One of the more common causes is osteoporosis, which causes bone density to decrease. In the United States alone, over 53 million people already have osteoporosis or are at high risk for developing it. Women are especially susceptible to bone loss, since many experience lower estrogen levels after menopause. What does all this have to do with your smile? When your jaw bones lose density, you become more susceptible to loose teeth and tooth loss. It can also cause your gums to recede, leaving more of your tooth exposed and susceptible to tooth decay.  With these threats to your oral and overall health, it’s important to take proactive measures to stay in control. Calcium and vitamin D are both critical to preventing bone loss. It can also help to avoid smoking, limit alcohol consumption and engage in regular weight-bearing exercise such as walking, jogging and weight training. Work with your dentist to prevent bone loss or to treat it if you’ve already begun experiencing symptoms.  By staying vigilant and working with your dentist and physician, you can help ease the effects of Sjögren’s syndrome and bone loss.

How the sun can be great for your smile

by MikeMeehan 7/5/2018 9:00 AM

Going outside to bask in the sun isn’t just fun – it also provides a healthy dose of vitamin D! That’s good for both your overall health and your oral health. Calcium is often praised for its many health benefits like strengthening bones and teeth, but your body won’t experience those benefits if it doesn’t have enough vitamin D to absorb the calcium. Getting adequate amounts of calcium and vitamin D helps reduce bone loss over time and may also decrease your chances of losing teeth. On the flip side, not getting enough calcium could increase your risk for osteoporosis. Developing osteoporosis can cause the jaw to weaken, leading to possible tooth loss.  So how do you make sure your body gets the vitamin D it needs? UVB rays from sunlight and vitamin D supplements are the main sources, but they aren’t the only ones. Some foods naturally contain vitamin D like cheese, egg yolks, beef liver and fatty fish (tuna, mackerel and salmon). Because natural foods rich in vitamin D are somewhat limited, manufacturers sometimes fortify products like milk, margarine and yogurt. The amount of vitamin D you absorb from the sun varies significantly based on factors like where you live, air quality, skin color and more. Additionally, the amount you need largely depends on your age. Check with your physician to determine if you’re getting enough or if you should take a supplement. For the sake of your smile, get outside and enjoy the sun! Just make sure to apply plenty of sunscreen and lip balm with an SPF 30+ rating to protect your skin and lips from sunburn.  

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