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Sugar Sweetened Beverages & Their Impact on Your Teeth

It is well-known today that sugary drinks and foods can cause some serious damage to your teeth, mainly in the form of tooth decay, in some cases resulting in the loss of teeth. According to a study by the Journal of Public Health Dentistry, tooth loss was positively associated with sugar-sweetened beverages among young adults (18-39). 

As one would expect, the study went on to say that the more a person drinks these sugar-filled beverages each day, the higher the chance of losing teeth. But why does sugar do so much damage to your teeth? For the most part, it comes down to chemistry.

Good vs. Bad Bacteria

Our mouth is filled with bacteria, some good, some not so good. Typically, the good kinds of bacteria help to maintain and protect your mouth and teeth from the bad. The good bacteria produces certain types of proteins that control other types of harmful bacteria. Sugars tend to create a better environment for bad bacteria to thrive. The result, dry mouth, bad breath and over time tooth decay.

Acids

Some studies have shown that a specific type of bad bacteria actually can produce acid in your mouth whenever they encounter sugar. The acid that is produced from this process can begin to remove minerals from your enamel, which is a key line of defense and protector of your teeth. Without this strong, protective outer layer, your teeth become much more vulnerable to tooth decay and other dental issues.

What You Can Do

Luckily, our mouth is constantly working to reverse any damage taking place to teeth through the process of remineralization. Saliva carries mineral rich elements such as calcium and phosphate that can strengthen your teeth. Still, the greater your sugar intake, the harder it is for your saliva to combat these acids.

Moderation is always the best approach to sugar. But going one step further, here is how to help improve the regenerative aspects of your saliva:

  • Fluoride from toothpastes helps repair your teeth health.
  • Fluoride in water can also support your mouth health so drink lots of water.
  • In some cases, a professional fluoride treatment is necessary. 
  • Find beverage alternatives with less sugar.
  • Regular brushing, flossing and dental visits are key.
  • See a professional immediately if you suspect a cavity or are noticing any pain.

You’ve probably heard it a million times, but it is critical to moderate the intake of sugar and incorporate healthy dental habits and routines into your life. The greatest way to protect against a cavity is to prevent one in the first place, and your ability to moderate your intake of sugar is key in prevention.

If you think you might be suffering from excessive tooth decay as the result of sugary drinks, come in for an appointment and consultation. We’ll take a look and offer you some guidance on how to improve the health of your mouth and teeth. Contact us to make an appointment. 

Causes, Signs & Solutions to Teeth Grinding (Bruxism)

Teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, can cause serious damage to your teeth that might require restorative or cosmetic procedures in order to repair the teeth. However, teeth grinding varies from person to person when it comes to how intense the grinding is. Those who clench and grind often will likely experience some symptoms while others may not get any symptoms at all.

It can be difficult to know if you grind your teeth without having a professional exam your teeth, especially when the majority of teeth grinding happens during sleep. Even then, your grinding might be a such a dull intensity that the impact might take years until any changes in your teeth become noticeable. This is where preventative measures can go a long way.

Whatever the case, here is some guidance on how you can spot and treat teeth grinding.

Causes of Teeth Grinding

As to the reasons we grind our teeth, the most common explanation has been associated with stress and anxiety. High pressure careers or life circumstances often can lead to teeth grinding. Additionally, an abnormal bite, missing teeth or crooked teeth can also cause grinding due to the misalignment of teeth. Finally, sleep apnea and other sleep disorders have been linked to teeth grinding.

Signs You Might Be Grinding Your Teeth

In most cases you’re going to need to see a dentist in order to determine if you show signs of teeth grinding. However, in some cases there are two common symptoms that you might experience if you grind or clench your teeth: you experience headaches upon waking or your jaw is sore in the morning. Other, more advanced symptoms could be fractured or loosened teeth or actual loss of teeth.

Treating Teeth Grinding

The plan of treatment for teeth grinding will depend on how much the grinding has impacted the teeth. In some advanced cases where teeth have fractured, loosened or have been worn down to stumps, a variety of dental treatments are available including bridges, crowns, root canals, implants and dentures.

However, for those experiencing teeth grinding but have very few symptoms or issues, your dentist can help you develop a program to protect your teeth and treat the grinding habit. One of the most common preventative measures of teeth grinding is to get a bite guard or mouth guard. (Below is our digital imaging tool we use to fit you for bite guards.)

Your dentist might also recommend the following:

  • Start an exercise program to alleviate stress
  • Research additional methods for minimizing or reducing stress
  • Avoid caffeine and alcohol
  • Avoid chewing gum and chewing on non-food items (pens, pencils, straws, etc.)
  • Pay attention and stop your clenching during the day
  • Relax jaw muscles at night by holding a warm cloth against the cheek before bed

If you think you might be grinding your teeth, make an appointment today and we’ll help you address the issue.

Bleeding Gums? Here’s What Might Be Causing It & What You Can Do About It

Given that roughly 20% of Americans never floss and only about 4 in 10 floss every day, bleeding gums during flossing is a common occurrence for many Americans. While this might happen to you, it doesn’t mean it should. In fact, bleed gums of any kind can be a sign of a gum disease and other dental issues.

In order to diagnose why your gums might be bleeding, you should schedule an appointment with a dentist who can assess your overall dental health. If you have bleeding gums it is most likely the result of plaque build up around the teeth. This is why dental cleanings and great dental hygiene is so important.

Here’s a look at what can cause bleeding gums as well as some tips on what you can do about it.

Gingivitis – Early Signs of Gum Disease

If plaque build-up occurs, gums can inflame and become irritated which might result in bleeding during brushing or flossing. In many cases this is diagnosed as gingivitis and is an early stage of gum disease. Gingivitis is usually painless and bleeding gums may be the only symptom. However, gingivitis can cause tender and red gums, bad breath, loose teeth and misalignment. The sooner you are able to spot gingivitis the better chance you have to reverse it.

Periodontitis

When gingivitis or early stages of gum disease go unaddressed, the gums often separate and reced from the teeth. When gums recede like this, they leave behind pockets or gaps between the teeth and gums opening them up to bacteria and germs that become trapped in these pockets. Bleeding from brushing or flossing is common in these situations.

Periodontitis is the next phases of gum disease and can cause tooth and bone loss if the issue remains untreated. In addition to tooth and bone loss, abscesses, misalignment of teeth and aesthetic changes can also occur as a result of periodontitis. Finally, gum disease has also been linked to diabetes and heart disease as well as pregnancy complications.

Other Causes of Bleeding Gums

Some additional, less common causes of bleeding gums can be related to nutritional deficiencies like a lack of Vitamin C and K. Also, pregnancy can cause inflamed gums as well which may result in bleeding during brushing or flossing.

How to Stop & Prevent Bleeding Gums

The first step to treating bleeding gums is to see your dentist in order to understand what exactly is causing the bleeding gums and if gum disease is present. From there, your dentist will guide you in an approach to restore the health of your gums, most likely including the following tactics:

  • Increase in the daily brushing recommendation – after each meal and before bedtime
  • Use of a toothpaste that is gentle on the teeth/gums, has fluoride and doesn’t have Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
  • Floss twice a day
  • Rinse with a suggested mouth wash after you brush
  • Schedule a follow up after a set period of time to see how your gums are progressing 

The reality is that the best way to treat bleeding gums is to prevent them in the first place. That means following dental standards as they relate to dental hygiene and seeing your dentist at least every 6-months. With strong hygiene and a good diet, you minimize your chance of dealing with bleeding gums and can prevent gum disease.

If you are dealing with bleeding gums, make an appointment today.

Top 5 Most Popular Dental Tips of 2019

At Dr. Balog’s office we are constantly trying to find new insights and tips to share with our patients in order to help them enjoy a healthy mouth with strong teeth. While your dentist and regular professional check-ups are critical, the food you eat, and your dental hygiene practices are equally as important to having and keeping a healthy smile.

From preventative maintenance to dental products, we’ve offered many tips and tricks on our blog in 2019 to help you get more informed about your dental health. Based on blog post traffic and shares, we have compiled the five most popular dental tips from 2019. Here they are and do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions.

5 Foods to Eat for a Healthier Mouth & Stronger Teeth

When it comes to tooth decay, your tooth enamel is your greatest defense. The enamel is the hard, outer surface of the tooth and is the hardest mineral substance in your body. While the enamel is the mouth’s natural defense against decay, your diet is what determines how strong your enamel is.

While there are a variety of treatments to address eroded enamel, the best treatment is preventative in nature. In addition to regular dental cleanings and checkups, avoiding acidic foods, alcohol, caffeine and foods high in starches and sugars is a step in the right direction. In addition to avoiding these foods, there are foods you should incorporate more of into your diet.

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Common Causes of Bad Breath & What You Can Do About It

Nobody likes having it or smelling it on someone else, but pinpointing the cause of your bad breath (halitosis), can sometimes be a challenge because there are some many factors that can contribute to it. In some cases, brushing and mouthwash simply isn’t enough.

Before you start cutting foods out of your diet or carrying a toothbrush with you everywhere you go, you must first get a sense of what could possibly be causing your bad breath. Especially if you seem to have bad breath on a consistent basis, you’ll need to consider the common causes.

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Are You Using the Right Toothbrush?

The bottom line when choosing a toothbrush comes down to a few key things: selecting a brush that works for your lifestyle, choosing a brush that doesn’t make your teeth hurt or your gums bleed, and looking for the American Dental Associations (ADA) seal of approval, which means that it meets the standards for both cleaning your teeth properly and doing so safely.

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Here’s What You Should Do If Your Tooth Gets Knocked Out

It might make you cringe thinking about having a tooth knocked out, but your response to something like this could be the difference between salvaging the tooth and requiring significant dental work. The good news is that a tooth that has been knocked out of the socket can often be successfully replaced if you take the right action as soon as possible.

A tooth can be knocked out of the socket in many ways, typically from some sort of trauma or blow to the mouth. We see this most often with people who play contact sports. Preventing these kinds of incidents is key, which is why we recommend athletes wear mouthguards.

If you find yourself or a loved one in this situation where a tooth has been knocked out, it is important to remain calm in order to address the issue effectively. In addition to immediately scheduling an emergency appoint with your dentist, there are some questions you need to ask yourself.

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Dry Mouth (Xerostomia) Isn’t Just Uncomfortable – It Causes Tooth Decay

One of the biggest contributors to tooth decay is dry mouth. Combine dry mouth with sugary drinks like juices, sodas, teas or sweetened coffees and the likelihood for tooth decay or cavities increases dramatically. While you may just see dry mouth as an annoyance, it’s much more than that, and if left untreated, it can cause further oral health concerns.

The technical term for those experiencing chronic dry mouth is xerostomia (zero-stow-me-uh) and is a condition impacting the production of saliva in the salivary glands. There are a number of symptoms for dry mouth.

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7 Cosmetic Dentistry Techniques to Improve Your Smile, Confidence & Comfort

While many seek cosmetic dentistry techniques to improve the look of their smile, the reality is that cosmetic dentistry helps to improve the overall health of your mouth and your comfort. It’s a win-win, where not only do you enjoy the benefits of a more balanced and confident smile, but it helps to prevent future complications and restore the health of your teeth.

There are a number of procedures and techniques for improving your smile ranging from teeth whitening to bonding to bridges. Here’s a look at seven of the most common cosmetic dentistry procedures with some insight into what you can expect from each.

Teeth Whitening

Over time it is common for our teeth to discolor, darken and become stained, especially for those who often drink fluids that stain the teeth like coffee or tea. Teeth whitening helps to restore your smile and brighten your teeth. However, the impact of these treatments is not permanent and must be coupled with regular dental cleanings, daily brushing, flossing and moderating foods and drinks that led to the discoloration in the first place.

Typically, you’ll have various teeth whitening options including a professional, in-office treatment, or your dentist can recommend and provide an at-home teeth whitening option. Whatever you decide, first meet with your dentist to make sure your teeth and mouth are healthy enough for a whitening treatment.

Bonding

One of the most common ways dentists treat chipped, stained or cracked teeth is via dental bonding. Dental bonding is typically a painless procedure that doesn’t usually require anesthesia. Reason being, dental bonding is often used on areas of the teeth that have very little sensitivity.

The procedure is fairly straightforward and, depending on the case, can be performed quickly by your dentist. The process of bonding is simply the act of adding a resin that is intended to match the color of your teeth and then this resin is shaped to match the contours of the teeth. Minor chips are almost always treated with bonding to restore the shape of the affected tooth.

Porcelain Veneers

Porcelain veneers are a more permanent solution aimed at improving the color, appearance and function of your teeth. Veneers recreate the natural appearance of your teeth while also providing the best strength and flexibility possible, comparable to your natural tooth enamel.

At our dental office in Monroe, MI, we utilize veneers to reshape teeth, improve the aesthetics, close gaps, and fix chipped crooked or broken teeth as well. Porcelain veneers are custom-made to fit over your natural teeth. However, the foundation of your natural teeth must be strong and healthy in order to be a candidate. The benefit of veneers is that the results are instant and they are also more resistive to stains from coffees, teas and smoking.

If teeth whitening hasn’t worked for you in the past, dental veneers might be your best option.

Crowns

Dental crowns are used to renew the appearance and function of teeth when they begin to weaken and become more susceptible to problems such as decay, cracks or discoloration. A crown isn’t limited to just replacing the original tooth, but can be designed to create an even better aesthetic appearance than you had before.

The most common reason your dentist will recommend a crown is:

  • To protect a weak tooth from breaking or to hold together parts of a cracked tooth.
  • To cover and support a tooth with a large filling when there isn’t a lot of tooth left.
  • To cover severely discolored teeth.
  • To restore an already broken tooth or a tooth that has been severely worn down.

Also, crowns are often used in conjunction with root canal therapy, dental implants or as an anchor for a bridge. Crowns are typically made from porcelain in order to maintain strength and a natural appearance. Your dentist will be able to guide you in determining if a crown is right for you.

Bridges

Bridges, or “fixed parital dentures” are simply used to replace missing teeth with artificial ones. This is commonly how to treat permanent teeth that have been knocked out or removed. The success of a bridge is largely a function of the foundation and keeping a healthy mouth and gums is critical for bridges to have a long-lasting impact on your teeth.

Most common procedures require your dentist to anchor the bridge onto surrounding teeth after preparing them for crowns. From there an artificial tooth is joined to the crown and the bridge gets cemented on the neighboring teeth. After getting a bridge it is critical to maintain your mouth health with good dental hygiene.

Implant

Implants are a more permanent solution for missing teeth, but a far more involved and expensive procedure. There a single tooth implants as well as multiple tooth implants all of which require a titanium metal anchor that must be fused into the jawbone.

Often implants are a last resort given the extensiveness and expense of the procedure, but your dentist will be able to guide you and provide direction on if it is the best solution for your particular case.

Conclusion

All in all, it is critical to discuss these various options with your dentist and allow them to guide you in the best treatment plan for your particular situation. Whatever the case, the utilization of cosmetic dentistry is critical for improving your smile/confidence, but also your comfort and overall mouth health. For a consultation, schedule an appointment with us today.

Study: 9 in 10 Adults Affected by Cavities, 1 in 4 Affected by Untreated Tooth Decay

While our understanding, technology and capabilities when it comes to dental health have improved drastically over the years, there are still many adults in the US that are impacted by common dental health issues like cavities and untreated tooth decay. The reality is these kinds of issues are largely preventable.

According to a study conducted by the Center for Disease Control (CDC), roughly 90% of US adults are affected by caries (cavities) and 1 in 4 are affected by untreated tooth decay. The study pointed to additional findings across various age demographics. Here are some of the key stats from the study:

  • The prevalence of untreated tooth decay in primary teeth was 10% among children aged 2–8 years which was a 10 percentage point decrease since 1999–2004.
  • The prevalence of untreated tooth decay in permanent teeth was 5% for children aged 6–11.
  • More than half of adolescents (ages 12-19) had cavities, and about 1 in 6 had untreated tooth decay.
  • Similar to 1999–2004, about 1 in 4 adults aged 20–64 years and 1 in 6 older adults aged 65 years or older had untreated tooth decay in 2011–2016.

The conclusion from the report is that although there are still many that suffer from cavities and tooth decay, overall, the findings show that there have been improvements among children and adolescents. The improvement comes in the form of a decrease in untreated tooth decay across a variety of sociodemographic groups.

These improvements among children are largely a function of increased dental insurance accessibility. According to the study:

Improvements in children’s oral health status likely reflect increased access to preventive and restorative care…A near-doubling of the percentage of children with public dental insurance from 1996 to 2015 resulted in a 15 percentage point increase to 88% in any dental coverage among all children.

While the findings show improvements among children, working-age and older adults experienced roughly the same rates of cavities and tooth decay, highlighting an area of opportunity.

With the right preventative approach to your dental health, you can better manage dental issues when they arise and work to keep them from happening in the first place. You’ve probably heard it a million times, but the foundation of any preventative dentistry approach includes the following:

  • Dental checkups and cleanings with a dentist every 6 months
  • Brushing twice daily
  • Regular flossing

In addition to the basics, a healthy diet and drinking a lot of water each day also helps keep your mouth healthy. If you haven’t been to the dentist in over six months or you have some untreated decay, it’s time to make an appointment. Contact us today.

Study: 92% Felt Much More Confident After Improving Their Smile

Like it or not, our smile and teeth have a major impact on how people perceive us and also how we feel about ourselves. A study conducted by Invisalign found that 92% of survey respondents said they were much more confident after improving their smile than they were before.

In addition, while teeth aren’t an indicator of how trustworthy or reliable someone is, studies show that people form perceptions and opinions of a person just by what their smile and teeth look like. This isn’t always the case, but for many someone’s smile has a major impact on the impressions and perceptions formed about that person.

A different study conducted by Kelton on behalf of Invisalign, looked at how teeth and smiles impact a person’s perception of someone’s success, popularity, intelligence and general health. Perceptions are dangerous, but our reactions to what we see is a very human instinct. 

“Whether we like it or not, we are often judged by our appearance,” said Dr. Michelle Callahan. “Your smile has more of an effect on what others perceive about you than you think.”

Here are some of the stats from the study:

  • 29% of Americans said the first feature of someone’s face they notice first is his or her teeth
  • Americans perceive those with straight teeth as 58% more likely to be successful
  • Respondents said they would be less likely to go on another date with someone who had misaligned teeth than someone who lives with their parents
  • 73% said they were more likely to trust someone with a nice smile than someone with a good job, outfit, or car
  • 87% said they would give something up for an entire year in order to have a nice smile for the rest of their life

From an evolutionary perspective, people have needed to analyze other people, places and things in order to determine if something presents a threat. This instinct continues today, in more subtle and nuanced ways. While a person’s character can’t be measured by the health and aesthetics of their smile, people form impressions of others using whatever information they have, even if that information is extremely limited. 

The more important aspect of all of this is the health of your teeth and mouth. Yes, a straight and well-cared for set of teeth will look better, but the benefits of healthy, aligned teeth go well beyond that. Caring for your teeth will help to prevent other dental issues like excess wear and tear on teeth, gums and jaw muscles which can result in cracks in the teeth, strain, headaches, speech difficulties and more.

The bottom line is that taking care of your teeth and mouth via cosmetic and preventative dentistry is critical for much more than how people perceive you. It is a health concern that you need to take seriously by seeing a dentist regularly and having any dental problems addressed immediately.

To start the process of improving the health and appearance of your smile, contact us today to make an appointment.

In-Between Brushing: Keeping a Clean & Healthy Mouth Throughout the Day

Brushing your teeth is part of everyday life, whether you’re a fan of the task or not. That’s why knowing tips on how to get through your day with a clean mouth can do more than give you a healthy smile. The American Dental Association (ADA), recommends brushing your teeth twice a day for two minutes each time. There are benefits to brushing twice a day, and consequences if you don’t. 

What Happens to Your Teeth During the Day

During the day, plaque, which contains bacteria, builds up on your teeth. This can lead to tarter, a hard substance that makes teeth challenging to clean and causes inflammation of your gums. Eventually, you can develop cavities and gum disease if these issues aren’t dealt with, which is why brushing is so important to begin with. When you brush, you’re removing a significant portion of the plaque build-up as well as any food that’s been left behind. While brushing does help, there are other things you can do to ensure your mouth stays clean throughout the day when you don’t have a toothbrush handy.

Eat and Drink with Your Teeth in Mind

Certain food and drink can be problematic for the health of your teeth, especially the enamel. Whether it’s staining, weakening, bacteria-causing, or another issue, knowing some potential culprits can make that in-between brushing time less stressful on your teeth. 

  • Sugary food and drinks give the harmful bacteria that live in your mouth something to feed on, creating acids that break down the enamel of your teeth and lead to cavities. 
  • While eating citrus fruits seems healthy, acidic foods erode enamel, making your teeth more susceptible to decay.
  • Coffee, tea, and wine stain your teeth, causing a cosmetic issue for most people.
  • Sticky foods stay on your teeth longer, causing more damage long term.
  • Crunchy chips and other starchy foods can get stuck between teeth easily, and trapped starchy food leads to decay.
  • Alcohol and even caffeinated drinks can dry out your mouth. The less saliva you produce, the more tooth decay you’re at risk of having.

Fight Back Against a Dirty Mouth

Besides knowing what food and drink can be harmful to your teeth, it’s also good to know how you can fight back against a dirty mouth. Things like flossing daily, using mouthwash, replacing your toothbrush often, and seeing your dentist are all important, but what else can you do? Here are some top tips to keep that mouth clean in-between brushings. 

  • Drink plenty of water. Water, like saliva, washes away some of the bad guys. You can also rinse your mouth with water after a meal. 
  • Avoid frequent snacking, especially on the items mentioned above that are known to cause issues.
  • The ADA recommends chewing sugarless gum in-between meals to help loosen and remove some of the trapped gunk. 
  • Don’t brush right after eating anything that weakens your enamel, like acidic food or drink. Brushing too soon could remove enamel that’s been weakened.
  • Use a straw for drinks, especially ones that stain your teeth. It’ll save you some staining, as well as keep more sugars off your teeth.

Clean Mouth, Happy Mouth

When you take advantage of these tips in addition to brushing your teeth as recommended, you’re saving your smile. You’re freshening your breath, preventing gum disease, removing stains, and saving money by reducing dental bills. There are so many benefits to keeping your mouth clean and healthy throughout the day, so it makes sense to take the extra steps to do so.

Your Child’s Dental Health Starts at Infancy

Teeth are essential to our health, but did you know that baby teeth are also necessary? Many people fail to keep up with their child’s dental health, in part because of misunderstandings surrounding the function of baby teeth. 

Additionally, when it comes to protecting baby teeth, diet is a huge factor, especially since toothpaste shouldn’t be used on infants. That means limiting the amount of sugar in your child’s diet is essential to protecting their teeth.

The Importance of Baby Teeth

Your child’s teeth are important to their health, and caring for them starts before they even form. Baby teeth help your baby eat, form sounds and words, and are a placeholder for where the permanent teeth will reside. 

But tooth decay is the most chronic infectious disease in childhood, and decay doesn’t know to stop at the baby tooth. It can spread down into the adult tooth, too. Bearing this in mind, baby teeth should be taken care of until they’re gone.

What Dentists Recommend

Dentists agree that you should begin regular dental care by your child’s first birthday. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry suggests the following timeline to help create good oral habits in infancy:

  • Birth to 6 months old: Establish regular feeding habits; use water and a soft cloth to clean your baby’s mouth after feedings.
  • 6 to 12 months old: Once your child’s first tooth comes in, make your first pediatric dentist appointment; brush any teeth after feedings using a small, soft-bristled brush but we advise against using toothpaste at this age. 
  • 1 to 3 years old: Continue visiting your dentist as often as they recommend, which is generally every six months; once your child learns to spit, use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste, brushing at least twice a day for 2 minutes each time

Tips for Parents

There are some things you can do, starting with your infant, that will help your child get used to daily oral health practices.

  • Avoid putting your child to bed with a bottle as soon as possible
  • Have your child drink from a cup as soon as possible
  • Use fluoridated water or talk to your dentist about fluoride supplements
  • Don’t share utensils or use your saliva to clean pacifiers – doing so can spread bacteria that causes tooth decay
  • Invest in products that help your child learn to accept a toothbrush in their mouth

Things that Help & Harm 

Some things can harm the development of growing teeth, such as sleeping with a bottle, drinking or eating too much sugar, and thumb-sucking or using a pacifier. While it is okay to do the latter, the habit should not continue after age five so that permanent teeth are not affected.

Some products are helpful for developing teeth, many of which are great for infants and toddlers. Dental wipes are an alternative to a washcloth. Silicone finger brushes with nubs can be a good transition between a washcloth and a toothbrush. Toothbrush teethers and other teething toys can mimic toothbrushes while helping with teething. 

Why it all Matters

With so many issues that can be caused by neglecting your child’s dental health, taking action now can help set up proper oral care habits and prevent infection, disease, or other teeth problems. Knowing that it starts from birth and how important baby teeth are makes a difference in the action steps parents may choose to take. So even though these cute baby teeth eventually fall out, they matter, and so does taking care of them.

Back to School: Mouth Healthy Food & Dental Tips for Kids

Back to school time is the perfect opportunity to get into a better routine, whether it’s bedtime or brushing or what they eat. From a dental perspective, here are three things that would make your dentist happy to know you and your child are doing.

Create a Daily Brushing Routine

Did you know that children that have poor dental health tend to miss more school and get lower grades than their peers? Cavities can be prevented, and there are several things you can do to establish good oral health, like teaching your child good oral hygiene. Here’s what your child needs to do to keep their mouth in tip-top shape. 

  • Brush teeth twice a day for two minutes using a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Choose a toothbrush that is soft with a smaller head and bristles so that it fits comfortably in their mouth.
  • Your child only needs a pea-sized amount of toothpaste, and they shouldn’t swallow their toothpaste. 
  • Begin flossing when your child is ready. Try floss picks since they can be easier to hold. 
  • After the age of six, consider using a fluoride rinse. This can help prevent cavities.

Make it Fun

There are many ways to make brushing fun for your child. The American Dental Association (ADA) has a video showing more about cleaning your child’s teeth that is helpful, but here are a few ways to encourage your child.

  • Let your child choose their toothbrush and toothpaste. 
  • Use a timer to help track the two minutes of brushing.
  • Use a rewards system to further encourage your child.
  • Limit sugary foods and aim for healthy lunches and snacks.
  • Explain the benefits of brushing, as well as what happens if they don’t take good care of their teeth.

Dentist Approved Snacks and Lunches

Your child’s diet also plays a key role in their dental health, so it’s important to help your child make good choices. The more frequently your child is exposed to sugary foods, the greater the chance they’ll develop cavities. Tooth-healthy foods are foods rich in calcium, vitamins C and D, and folic acid. 

Tips for Choosing Food

  • Real fruit: go for the real deal, not fruit snacks, juice, or even applesauce. Choose bananas, apples, strawberries, grapes, and other real fruit options.
  • Go plain: drink plain milk instead of sugary flavored milk. Or go for water, but skip the soda or juice.
  • Add color: add veggies to your lunch, which are a good source of vitamins and minerals. The more colorful, the better, as it’s more appealing to kids. Things like steamed broccoli, cherry tomatoes, snap peas, baby carrots, or slices of bell peppers work well.
  • Choose the right crunch: some crunchy starches like chips aren’t great for your teeth because they break down into sticky sugar. Instead, try seeds or nuts. 

Putting it all Together

Here are some ways you can put these ideas together for snacks or lunches:

  • Rainbow Salad: Fill a Tupperware dish with salad and top it with sunflower seeds, nuts, colorful vegetables or fruits, cheese, and some bites of chicken.
  • Cottage Cheese or Yogurt with Fruit: Both come in portable containers and can be topped with berries.
  • Sandwich and Fruit: Whole grain bread with chicken or turkey and some low-fat cheese makes a great sandwich option. Then, add in some crunchy fruits.
  • Hard-Boiled Eggs with Chicken and Veggies: Eggs are a filling option, and add in some diced chicken and colorful veggies for a winning combo.
  • Hummus with Fruit and Veggies: This is a great way to get them to eat their fruits and vegetables. From cucumber slices to apples to carrots and more, anything goes with hummus.

The Bottom Line

No matter what you decide to feed your child or how you go about teaching them how to brush, the important thing is that you’re aware of how to give them the best start at oral health. Remember to visit your dentist regularly so they can handle any problems that come up, and your child will be on the road to a healthy back-to-school mouth.