The basics of tooth bottle decay

by MikeMeehan 2/6/2019 1:42 PM

When parents put their little ones to sleep, sometimes they leave them with a bottle. While that might be soothing as they drift off to dreamland, leaving a bottle in the crib can be problematic for tiny teeth. In celebration of National Children’s Dental Health Month this February, take a moment to brush up on the basics of baby bottle tooth decay. What is baby bottle tooth decay?Put simply, baby bottle tooth decay means cavities in baby teeth and can begin soon after teeth appear. It occurs when a baby’s teeth are exposed to sugar for extended periods like at naptime or overnight. During this time, sugar pools around teeth and attacks enamel. With enough exposure, it can lead to high amounts of tooth decay. This sugar can be introduced from baby bottles with liquids such as milk, formula or juice.  Why is it a problem if baby teeth are going to fall out anyway?Even though baby bottle tooth decay relates to teeth that eventually fall out, it can still create lasting consequences. Healthy baby teeth are essential for chewing, speaking and smiling. When kids’ oral health is compromised, they may experience difficulty with these important aspects of growing up. Unhealthy baby teeth can also set the stage for tooth crowding or crooked teeth when adult teeth come in. If the problem isn’t addressed, it could lead to pain or infection, so it’s always a good decision to stay vigilant about oral health from the very start.  How can I prevent baby bottle tooth decay?You have several options to keep your baby’s teeth free from decay. The best way is to avoid putting your baby to sleep with a bottle. Or, make sure to only fill the bottle with water. No matter what time of day it is, be especially careful about juice because it has high amounts of sugar. Make sure to limit juice intake to no more than six ounces per day for preschoolers and 12 ounces for older children. If you do allow juice, it’s better to serve it in a cup rather than a bottle. Most children should be able to drink out of a cup after their first birthday. Preventive care like brushing and regular checkups is key, as well. Experts recommend scheduling your baby’s first visit within six months of the first tooth and no later than the first birthday. Clean their teeth according to infant dental care recommendations. As soon as baby teeth appear, you should begin brushing them with a baby toothbrush and a smear of toothpaste about the size of a grain of rice. Around age 3 you can begin using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste. Begin flossing when your child has two teeth that touch. By keeping your baby’s teeth safe now, you can help them develop a happy and healthy smile when their adult teeth appear!

Tricks to outsmart your sweet tooth

by MikeMeehan 10/24/2018 10:02 AM

It’s Halloween night, and your kids have returned from trick-or-treating with their sugary loots. Before digging in, consider the cavity-causing effects that candy can have on teeth. Enjoying sweets in moderation and managing your cravings can help you avoid tooth decay. Start taming your sweet tooth by learning how much sugar is OK to eat. The Food and Drug Administration recommends no more than 12.5 teaspoons, or 50 grams, daily for those over the age of 3. Because the sugar contents of fun-sized candies vary from 2.4 grams to 14.5 grams, there’s no general rule for how many you can eat each day. Check the packaging and brand websites to calculate the number of candies you should limit yourself to. And remember to factor in the added sugars from all the other foods and drinks you consume. It adds up fast! If you reach your daily limit but the candy bowl is still tempting you, try these tips to defeat the craving:  1. Chew sugar-free gum. Popping in a stick of sugar-free gum instead of a bonbon helps in a couple ways. A study by Louisiana State University found that chewing gum may reduce snack cravings. It’s also useful for cleaning your mouth. Gum washes away leftover food particles and reduces acids that threaten tooth enamel.  2. Distract yourself when a craving hits. Taking a walk has been shown to reduce the urge to eat treats. Plus, it gets you away from the candy bowl. You know what they say – out of sight, out of mind. And if you don’t feel like taking a stroll, do an activity like giving yourself a pedicure. Pick something fun that rewards you for skipping the sweets.  3. Keep healthy substitutes close by. When you really want something sweet but already ate too much sugar, choose naturally sweet foods like fruits and vegetables. Apples, cherries, bell peppers, carrots and others will give you the taste you want along with the nutrients you need. 4. Eat at consistent intervals. You might have heard the saying, “You’re not you when you’re hungry.” Well, that’s especially true when choosing foods. If your tummy’s grumbling, you might make unhealthy decisions like reaching for a candy bar instead of a nutritious snack. Eat every three to five hours to keep blood sugar in check and maintain a level head. 5. Power up with protein. Low protein levels can cause you to start craving sugar. Your body wants an energy boost and sugar is a quick source. Plan to get protein throughout the day with foods such as beans, eggs, nuts, fish and lean meats.  Even with moderation, good oral health habits are still essential for avoiding cavities. Clean your teeth and gums after consuming sugar by brushing for two minutes with fluoride toothpaste and flossing. If you aren’t able to sneak away to the bathroom, chew sugar-free gum and drink plenty of water.  

Seeing your family dentist before school starts

by MikeMeehan 8/2/2018 9:49 AM

Each year, 100 million Americans forego a dental visit, and that’s a big problem when it comes to maintaining a healthy smile. Before your calendar fills up with school activities, athletic events and more, schedule routine dental appointments for your kids (and yourself!). No matter how good your oral hygiene habits are, a dental visit provides benefits that regular brushing and flossing can’t, like removing tartar buildup.  Differences between plaque and tartarPlaque is a colorless film of bacteria that sticks to teeth. These bacteria create acids that decay teeth and irritate gums. Luckily, plaque can be removed with daily brushing and flossing. But when plaque stays on your teeth for too long, it hardens or calcifies along your gumline and forms tartar. Once this happens, regular brushing is not sufficient for removal, and that’s bad news for your gums. By pushing your gums away from your teeth, tartar creates pockets that allow bacteria to grow. If tartar isn’t removed with regular professional cleanings, it can cause gum disease, also known as periodontitis, and can even lead to tooth loss. How your teeth are cleaned at a dental appointmentDuring a routine cleaning, your dentist or hygienist uses a modified mirror to find unwanted residue and a metal instrument called a scaler to remove plaque and tartar. The scaler has a bladelike tip that allows them to scrape above and below your gumline as well as in between your teeth. They might also use a vibrating device called an ultrasonic scaler to shake plaque and tartar free. They can then wash away these bacteria with water. When they have sufficiently removed all plaque and tartar, they polish your teeth with an electric brush and polishing paste. The last step is a thorough flossing to make sure there’s nothing hiding between your teeth. Visiting your dentist regularly is an essential part of your oral health routine. Not only will it keep your smile sparkling, but it will also help spot dental issues early before they progress into more costly problems. Take a moment to prepare your family for a school year full of smiles by scheduling dental appointments today. 

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