The role a dentist plays in your child’s oral health

by MikeMeehan 1/23/2019 8:54 AM

Schedules may get hectic with school, extracurriculars and homework, but making it to the dentist is always worth it. Dentists play a central role in children’s oral health that goes beyond checking teeth for cavities.  The most obvious benefit dentists provide is preventive care through regular exams and cleanings. During these appointments, dentists or hygienists remove plaque and tartar to prevent the formation of cavities, which is one of the most common chronic diseases in childhood. For additional cavity prevention, they can place sealants on teeth that have the highest risk for tooth decay. This preventive care and consistent monitoring help dentists prevent or curb the effects of dental threats like thumb sucking, teeth crowding, fluorosis, neglecting oral health and more.  Dentists are a meaningful part of educating kids on proper oral health habits. While smile maintenance might be straightforward to adults, children have to learn it all from scratch. Dentists understand how their cognition develops and how to properly explain dental care principles in kid-friendly language. They can help convey the importance of brushing, flossing, eating healthy and visiting the dentist. And because parents have the most important role in establishing healthy smiles, dentists advise them on providing proper instruction and how to model good oral health habits. Children’s attitudes toward dental care begin taking shape in early childhood, and dentists can help ensure those attitudes are pleasant. Dentists provide positive reinforcement that creates enjoyable memories of appointments. When the exam is over, dentists often give kids toys or other rewards, and they build a rapport to establish trusting relationships. On the flip side, by preventing cavities and toothaches, the dentist minimizes unpleasant experiences, helping children avoid anxiety toward dental appointments. Finding a dentist you trust early on and maintaining regular visits is an important part of a child’s dental care. It not only helps teeth stay healthy, but it also teaches children the proper way to take care of their smile for years to come.  

Eating and drinking to promote healthy gums

by MikeMeehan 11/28/2018 3:50 PM

Nutrition is vital for your entire body, even when it comes to your gums. In honor of Good Nutrition Month, take a moment this November to learn which nutrients help prevent periodontal (gum) disease. To get the full picture, it’s good to know why periodontal disease occurs. When plaque and tartar stay on teeth for an extended period, the bacteria can inflame gums, resulting in gingivitis. Symptoms of gingivitis include red, swollen, tender or bleeding gums. When gingivitis isn’t treated, it can advance to periodontitis (gum disease), meaning “inflammation around the tooth.” Pockets or spaces form as gums pull away from teeth and then become infected. This can cause damage to structures that support teeth and can eventually lead to tooth loss.  More immediate symptoms include persistent bad breath, tender or bleeding gums, pain while chewing, tooth sensitivity and even loose teeth. Depending on the severity, treatments range from deep cleanings that remove plaque and tartar to more involved dental surgeries.  In addition to good oral health habits and regular dental visits, nutrition is an important factor for preventing or recovering from periodontitis. Without proper nutrients fueling your body’s natural processes, you may not be able to fight off infections as easily. This can make you more vulnerable to quicker progression and harsher severity of periodontitis.  Some of the nutrients that encourage gum health include vitamin C, vitamin B12, folic acid and calcium. These key nutrients are easily accessible on a daily basis. Check out some of the richest sources of each. Vitamin C: bell peppers, strawberries, broccoli, tomatoes, snow peas and kale Vitamin B12: fish, beef, fortified cereals (watch out for the sugary kinds!), fortified tofu, low-fat milk, Swiss cheese and eggs Folic acid: edamame, lentils, asparagus, spinach, avocados, mangoes and lettuce Calcium: milk, yogurt, cheese, kale, broccoli and fortified cereals (we recommend whole-grain varieties) Always make sure to brush for two minutes twice a day and floss once a day. It’s also best to avoid or quit smoking, which is one of the most significant causes of periodontitis and can decrease your chances for successful treatment.  

Better breakfasts for brighter smiles

by MikeMeehan 9/6/2018 1:32 PM

Before rushing off to school in the morning, many kids sit around the table to fuel up with the most important meal of the day. Unfortunately, one of the more common breakfast options – cereal – might have some unintended consequences for teeth. Too much sugar at breakfast time isn’t a great way to start the day, and some cereals have more sugar than you might think. A report by the Environmental Working Group noted that 2 out of 3 cereals marketed to children had more than a third of the recommended daily sugar intake in just one serving. When these refined sugars come into contact with teeth, dental plaque reacts with them to create acids. Over time and with enough exposure, those acids can cause cavities.  The good news for parents is that there are lots of ways to avoid this cavity-causing effect. Opting for healthier cereals is a great place to start. Look for low-sugar options, preferably with four grams of sugar or less in one serving. You should also choose varieties made from whole grains to maintain nutrients like fiber, which stimulates saliva flow to help keep teeth clean. To navigate through the multitude of options, read the packaging, paying close attention to the valuable nutrition information that is typically on the back or the sides. Regardless of which cereal you choose, there are ways to minimize the effects it can have on your teeth. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Dental Association, drinking milk after eating sugary breakfast cereals can help decrease your risk of cavities. It can also help to brush after your meal, to avoid drinking fruit juice and to only eat cereal at breakfast time instead of snacking throughout the day.  If you choose to limit the amount of sugary cereals you eat, make sure you’re still enjoying a hearty breakfast. Take a look at our list of alternatives that’ll give you the boost you need without hurting your teeth: Fruit – apples, berries, cherries, melons and pears  Dairy products – yogurt, cottage cheese and cheese slices Protein – chicken, ground turkey and fish Eggs – sunny-side up, omelets and crustless quiche Smoothies and smoothie bowls (but avoid using sugary fruit juices) Whole-wheat toast and whole-wheat bagels With slight adjustments to your morning routine, you can start off the day on the right note while curbing your risk for tooth decay. 

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