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. 

The seeds of good oral health

by MikeMeehan 4/3/2018 1:21 PM

As we grow, our oral health needs continue to evolve. Cultivate strong teeth by planting the seeds for good oral health early and knowing what to watch for at different life stages.  Babies and Toddlers Baby teeth are susceptible to cavities and need daily upkeep from the very beginning. Before the first tooth arrives, wipe your baby’s gums with a soft, clean cloth after each feeding to get rid of unwanted bacteria. When the first tooth appears, brush with fluoride toothpaste and toothbrushes designed for babies and younger children. For children under 3, use no more toothpaste than the size of a grain of rice and no more than a pea-sized amount for kids between 3 and 6 years old. Babies should also have their first dentist appointment six months after their first tooth or before age 1. During these early years, it’s crucial that children learn oral health routines that will keep their smiles healthy into adulthood. Teach your little one good habits early by demonstrating how to brush, reiterating the need to brush for two full minutes twice a day and making it fun (try playing music during your brushing session or rewarding your child with a sticker for remembering to brush). Children and Adolescents Childhood and adolescence are the times to reinforce good habits and take steps to guard against common mouth issues. Supervise your child’s brushing until age 8 and flossing until age 10. You can also talk with the dentist about preventive measures like sealants to protect against cavities and mouth guards to protect from mouth injuries.   The risk of cavities is highest in adolescents for multiple reasons, including immature enamel, unhealthy diet and lack of oral health care. To help, make sure your child sticks with good oral health practices like brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, flossing once daily, choosing healthy snacks, drinking fluoridated water and visiting the dentist regularly.  In addition, pay attention to gum health as adolescence is often the time when gingivitis begins. Symptoms like gum redness, swelling, bleeding and tenderness can indicate the presence of gingivitis. Alert the dentist if any of these symptoms are present.  Adults As an adult, the wear and tear your teeth experience over time can become noticeable by causing symptoms like discoloration, cavity susceptibility and tooth cracks or chips. Keep them strong by maintaining a proper oral health routine that includes brushing and flossing daily, eating mouth-friendly foods and scheduling regular dental visits.  Avoid harmful substances like tobacco and excessive alcohol consumption that put you at higher risk for oral cancer, which occurs most often after age 60. Take steps to prevent oral cancer and lookout for early signs with home screenings. Mouth symptoms can include sores, red or white patches, persistent pain or numbness, lumps or rough spots, and issues chewing and swallowing. If you experience any of these symptoms for longer than two weeks, speak to your dentist. Another factor to consider is that the nerves in your teeth may grow less sensitive, making it less likely that you’ll notice the development of cavities. Maintain regular checkups so your dentist can catch any mouth issues early before they progress. Good oral health requires dedication, but by tending to your mouth with care, you can keep your smile healthy at any age.

A Visit from the Tooth Fairy Can Be a Learning Opportunity

by MikeMeehan 2/28/2018 9:44 AM

It’s fun to celebrate a visit from the Tooth Fairy, but it’s also a fantastic opportunity to talk about and focus on dental health with your kids. While we give a special shout-out to the Tooth Fairy and all the hard work she does collecting little teeth from under pillows, we also want the message of her day to be about keeping all those teeth clean and healthy.  The Tooth Fairy is a big celebrity at Delta Dental. While she works collecting teeth at night, you might also see her working one of her side jobs – visiting area schools with the Land of Smiles® program. She loves teaching kids about how important it is to keep smiles healthy and bright.  3 messages for kids When your child has a tooth loose, or is ready to leave a tooth under the pillow, it’s a great opportunity to celebrate healthy habits and a healthy smile. Tips for the kids can be simplified to 3 main messages:  1. Brush twice a day 2. Brush for two minutes 3. Floss daily The Tooth Fairy can visit and leave reminders and gifts even if there isn’t a tooth to pick up!  A few things to look for Common mistakes for little ones include overusing toothpaste and brushing too hard. As a parent, here are some things you can do to help mentor your little ones. -If under the age of 6, supervise and help your kids while they brush. Sometimes kids lack the coordination to effectively reach all their teeth. -A small, pea-size amount of toothpaste is best. Too much toothpaste is unnecessary and can create lots of foam, which makes brushing difficult. -When done, children should spit out toothpaste ― swallowing it can lead to fluorosis, a cosmetic condition in which spots may appear on the teeth. How to encourage healthy dental habits And if the kids aren’t too thrilled about brushing, try getting them excited to brush their teeth with these ideas: -Develop a fun ritual around brushing. Sing a song about brushing teeth or “brush” the teeth of your child’s stuffed animals. -Place a stepstool near the sink counter that allows your child to see the basin.  -Have fun choosing a cool toothbrush. Let your child pick from the great selection of colors, characters and gizmos available today. -Grab your own toothbrush and brush with energy. Show your children just how fun it is to brush – they’ll want in on the fun. By playing a positive, active role, you can encourage your kids to learn good habits for a lifetime of dental health. And to celebrate a visit from the tooth fairy, along with the money the tooth fairy leaves, she could also leave a new toothbrush or a personalized note with a dental health tip, like, “Don’t forget to brush twice a day for two minutes!” Or how about reading a fun tooth-themed book together? Want more information on children’s dental health? The Delta Dental Oral Health Library is a great resource. You’ll find lots of articles that focus on children’s dental health, including infant, toddler and adolescents.

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