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.

Sugar and Your Teeth

by MikeMeehan 1/15/2018 10:47 AM

When you reach for a cookie or a piece of candy and you place that sugar-filled food in your mouth, you might only think about how wonderful and delicious it tastes. Now I’m going to challenge you to think of it from a different perspective. Here’s what happens to your teeth when that sugar enters your mouth. Bacteria in your mouth There’s good bacteria and bad bacteria in your mouth. The harmful bacteria uses the sugar from the cookie or piece of candy to create acid. Acid hurts your enamel The acid that was just formed from the bacteria and sugar in your mouth will now work to destroy the enamel of your teeth. Enamel is like a protective coating on your teeth. But the acid removes important minerals on your enamel, and eventually causes it to weaken and form a hole in your tooth, also known as a cavity. A cavity forms With the destroyed enamel and hole in your tooth caused by the acid, that cavity can actually continue to spread into the deeper layers of your tooth. This is when you will feel pain or sensitivity. Reverse the damage Even though this process is happening when you eat sugar, there are other things going on in your mouth to fight against a cavity. Saliva is working hard to repair your teeth through a process called remineralization. The minerals in your saliva, calcium and phosphate, help to replace the minerals attacked by the acid. Fluoride in your water or in your toothpaste do the same thing to help your enamel. Other steps to take Besides cutting back on sugary foods and beverages, there are other steps you can take. If you’re eating sweets, try to do so during a meal. Avoid sticky foods because they will stick to your teeth and that gives them more time and opportunity to do damage. Sticky foods include starchy foods like crackers and chips. Drinking and rinsing with water can help. Choices like cheese or other dairy foods have calcium and phosphates. Those minerals help your enamel, like described above. Also, chewing sugarless gum or eating fresh fruits and vegetables, like celery, increases saliva production. And, of course, there is our ever constant reminder to brush twice a day for two minutes to prevent cavities. We care about the health of your smile and sugar is a big deterrence from keeping your smile cavity-free. Remember what’s going on in your mouth when you chew on that candy bar!

Oral Health Reads for Your Bookworm

by MikeMeehan 8/8/2017 12:51 PM

It’s back-to-school time for the kids, and now that we’ve covered tooth care tips to keep their smiles bright, let’s back up those healthy habits with some good reading material. Besides the importance of reading and encouraging it for our back-to-school theme, books about oral health can work as a way to get your kids excited about taking care of their teeth. With some assistance from you, what they read can inspire them to be more independent when taking care of their teeth. Using books as a tool to teach dental health can be fun and helpful. Books can also work as a buffer for push-back from kids who don’t want to brush and floss. Books can also help calm fears if your child is apprehensive about a visit to the dentist. Add to your children’s library We’ve put together a list to add to your children’s bookcase: Brush, Brush, Brush by Alicia Padron, for children ages 1-3, may be helpful if your child is scared or fussy when the little toothbrush comes out. Because it’s a board book, it’s easy for little hands to grip. Cheerful pictures demonstrate each step of brushing, like putting toothpaste on the brush and rinsing with water. The Tooth Book by Dr. Seuss, for children ages 2-5, might be the most recognizable book about teeth because it’s from one of the most adored children’s authors. It’s another good introduction to dental hygiene for the little ones. The book illustrates who has teeth and who doesn’t, and how to take care of your teeth. Going to the Dentist by Anne Civardi, for children ages 3-5, will teach your kids what to expect when they visit the dentist. This could help with any fear or anxiety. The book explains the different tools the dentist will use during the visit with an amusing and friendly tone. If you need a few more with this subject matter, there are similar ones from character favorites like Curious George and the Berenstain Bears. Famous author Mercer Mayor also has a book about visiting the dentist. Brush, Floss, and Rinse by Amanda Doering Tourville is for children ages 5-8. The book teaches readers about the importance of brushing and flossing. It describes how brushing keeps plaque and cavities away and explains how flossing keeps gums healthy. Other details in the book include when to get a new toothbrush and wearing a mouth guard for sports to protect teeth. For kids who don’t want to brush Here’s more titles to help if your kids are not cooperating when it’s time to brush their teeth: Pony Brushes His Teeth by Michael Dahl (ages 2-4) Ethan in the Kingdom of the Toothbrushes by Yael Manor (ages 2-4) Brush Your Teeth, Please by Leslie Mcguire (ages 2-5) For the first dentist visit These additional titles are helpful if your child is nervous about their first dentist appointment. Maisy, Charley, and the Wobbly Tooth by Lucy Cousins (ages 2-5) Dentist Trip from the Peppa Pig series (ages 2-5) All these books will coincide with your kids’ upcoming back-to-school dental and vision appointments and provide preparation for the school year. There are lots more titles to choose from, so spend a little time at the bookstore and find the ones that best suit you and your kids. And if you’d like to complement your child’s reading with some educational videos, visit our Land of Smiles website, and click on Curriculum Videos.  

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