MOST OF US find ourselves craving something sweet every once in a while—or perhaps more often than that! Unfortunately, as good as sweet treats taste, they can have a big impact on our dental health.
Sugar And Your Teeth
There are many ways that sugar is bad for our overall health, but it’s also specifically bad for our teeth. Our mouths are diverse microbiomes containing dozens of species of bacteria, both harmful and beneficial, that can reproduce multiple times per day. Sugar may taste good to us, but harmful bacteria love it. They eat the sugar that sticks to our teeth and excrete acid that dissolves tooth enamel, leading to tooth decay.
Brushing twice a day and flossing once a day is usually enough to keep the bacteria populations under control, but your teeth will thank your for avoiding excess sugar. So how can we satisfy a sweet tooth craving without also satisfying the cravings of millions of harmful bacteria? By cooking sugar-free desserts, of course!
Healthier Sweet Options
There are a few ways you can cut down on sugar without cutting down on sweets when you’re cooking. Some of them can be pricey, so your budget might play a role in determining which one you use.
Rebaudioside A is a polyol or sugar alcohol produced by Stevia, a leafy South American plant. The FDA has approved rebaudioside A as a safe food additive, which means we can cook with it. But what makes it better for our teeth than sugar? Well, all those hungry bacteria in our mouths can’t digest sugar alcohols. We get to enjoy the sweet taste, but they don’t! The only downside is that it can leave a bitter aftertaste if you use too much. Since you only need one teaspoon to match the sweetness of a whole cup of sugar, it’s easy to overdo it.
Xylitol and Erythritol
Xylitol and erythritol are two more sugar alcohols that serve as excellent sweeteners. You may be familiar with xylitol, because that’s what sweetens sugar-free gum. While it’s even better for your teeth than other sugar alcohols–which is why dentists recommend it–it might not be the best to cook with, as it can cause digestive discomfort if you eat too much of it. Erythritol doesn’t have that drawback, but it can be pretty expensive.
Fruit is another great sugar substitute. If you’d rather work with ingredients you already know, unsweetened applesauce, bananas, dates, and figs are four great replacements for table sugar that you can use in many recipes. You’ll end up with desserts that are still sweet and moist, but which contain far less sugar, which your teeth will appreciate. Fruits are sweet because they contain fructose, a type of sugar, but you’ll use less sugar overall by using pureed fruit instead of table sugar.
Need some extra inspiration for a sugar-free treat? Check out this sugar-free cheesecake recipe below!
Keep Up With Your Oral Health Basics
Even if you completely cut out all foods that are bad for your teeth out of your diet, it’s still crucial to maintain good oral hygiene. Brush your teeth twice a day, floss once a day, and come see us for a cleaning appointment every six months! Be sure to bring your favorite sugar-free dessert recipes the next time you come!
Your Dental Health Is Our First Priority!
BEING A PARENT, though wonderfully rewarding, can also be stressful and full of uncertainties, especially when it’s your first child and everything is new and overwhelming. Our practice might not be able to take away all of the uncertainties, but we can certainly help you out when it comes to pacifiers and thumb sucking and their effects on your child’s dental health.
Benefits of Thumb Sucking And Pacifiers
According to the American Dental Association, it’s a natural reflex for babies to suck on things. They find it comforting and soothing, which means that allowing thumb sucking or giving them a pacifier can help them feel happy and safe as they grow from infancy to toddlerhood. At this stage, are many benefits to pacifiers or thumb sucking, for the baby and for the parents:
- It helps your baby sleep (which also helps you sleep).
- It keeps your baby calmer when separated from you.
- Studies have shown that pacifiers reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
When To Wean
One of the main concerns parents often have about thumb sucking in particular is whether or not it will cause their adult teeth to grow in crooked. This certainly can be a problem, but not for toddlers. Most children will stop sucking their thumbs on their own by age four. If they don’t stop on their own, this is when it becomes important to encourage them to stop.
If vigorous thumb sucking continues around when they start getting their permanent teeth, it can lead to changes in the palate that affect the permanent bite. Dental alignment and bite issues are less common with pacifiers because breaking that habit can be as simple as taking the pacifier away if they’re still using them by age three.
For more information about weaning your child off of their pacifier, watch the video below:
Thumb Sucking And Pacifier Don’ts
Because these sources of comfort don’t cause damage until the adult teeth are coming in, it isn’t necessary to attempt to break your child’s habit before the age of four. Younger toddlers in particular aren’t old enough to understand why parents want them to stop sucking their thumb or pacifier, so they’ll only get upset.
When you do want to wean them off thumb sucking, be careful with topical aids that make the thumb taste unpleasant, because they can be ineffective or even harmful.
Weaning Strategies For Thumb Suckers
Ideally, you’ll be able to wean your child off thumb sucking before they turn five, but if your child is close to age six and is still an avid thumb sucker, it’s definitely time to get serious. Here are some safe strategies you can use:
- Praise them for successes rather than scolding them for continued thumb sucking.
- Use a rewards chart so they can see the goals they’re working towards.
- Make sure they have plenty of activities to do with their hands, like arts and crafts.
- Put socks on their hands while they sleep so that they don’t have access to their thumbs. You may need to tape the socks in place so they can’t pull them off.
Bring Your Concerns To Us
Don’t hesitate to talk to us if you’re worried about your child’s pacifier use or thumb sucking habit. We can answer any other questions you may have and help you come up with a strategy to safeguard your child’s healthy dental development.
Your child’s oral health is our first priority!
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
Top image by Flickr user futurestreet used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original.
FRUIT IS AN ESSENTIAL element of a well-balanced, healthy diet. It is an excellent source of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, and eating it on a regular basis helps boost your immune system and reduces your risk of illness and chronic disease. There are a lot of ways people get their fruit, however, and when it comes to your teeth, some ways are worse than others!
Beware Dried Fruit
Many people think dried fruit is a great healthy snack. Unfortunately, dried fruits have a lot of sugar in them, not to mention the added sugar that many packaged dried fruits come with. Because they’re dehydrated, most of the water is lost from the fruit, but none of the sugar is, making it highly concentrated.
As we’ve said in previous blog posts, more sugar, more cavities! Harmful bacteria in our mouths consume the sugar and produce acids as a by-product, which can cause tooth decay. Dried fruit is also extremely sticky, meaning it sticks to your teeth longer than most other foods.
To learn a bit more about why sugar is bad for our teeth, watch the video below:
Can The Canned Fruit
Most canned fruits you find are bathed in sugary syrup. It may taste good, but it can wreak havoc on your teeth if you’re not careful! Even those that are labeled “light syrup” often have a high sugar content. If you’re a fan of canned fruit as a healthy snack, make sure it doesn’t have any added sugar or is packaged in 100 percent fruit juice.
Watch Out For Fruit Juice
Fruit juice, even if it’s all natural, contains a lot of sugar. What’s worse is that many fruit juices, especially those marketed for children, have added sugar in them. In fact, the majority of fruit juice sold in stores contain just as much sugar as soda, sometimes even more!
Sugar isn’t the only problem–fruit juice is also very acidic. The combination of sugar and acid doesn’t bode well for your teeth: while acid weakens tooth enamel, sugar feeds cavity-causing bacteria and contributes to decay.
Do What’s Best For Your Teeth
As a general rule, try to eat your fruit fresh! Not only is it better for your teeth, but the fiber in whole fruit slows the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream, making it much healthier for your body. Of course it’s okay to have juice and dried or canned fruit every once in awhile. But remember to rinse with water after and brush and floss to protect your pearly whites!
Have you scheduled your next appointment? Call us today and we’d be happy to help!
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.
WE ALL KNOW THAT FEELING… you wake up in the morning to sun shining, birds chirping and happily lean over to your significant other to say hello! Instead you are greeted by the horrible smell of morning breath. Or maybe you run into friends after work and suddenly become conscious of that bad taste in your mouth.We’ve all been there! Unfortunately, bouts of halitosis, or bad breath, are pretty much inevitable. Today we’re going to explain why that is, what causes that nasty smell and what you can do to keep bad breath at bay!
It All Starts With Bacteria
We’re not the only ones who need to eat to stay alive, so do the bacteria living in our mouths. When they snack on whatever’s left behind from our last meal, they release foul-smelling odors as a by-product, causing bad breath.
What you can do: Clean your teeth after every meal! Brush, floss and pop in a piece of sugar-free gum for good measure. This will eliminate food debris and bacteria from your mouth and prevent bad breath. A clean mouth, is a fresh mouth!
Choose Breath-Friendly Foods And Beverages
Keep in mind that certain foods and beverages can make bad breath more likely, such as sugary foods and drinks, garlic, onions, coffee, and alcohol.
What you can do: Choose breath-friendly foods and beverages! Water washes away food debris and increases saliva flow in your mouth, protecting your teeth and mouth from bacteria. Healthy food choices such as carrots, celery and apples are high in water content and actually work as a natural toothbrush, scrubbing plaque bacteria from the surfaces of your teeth.
Good Oral Hygiene Can Reduce Morning Breath
Morning breath seems to be an especially pungent offender. Why is this? It’s mainly because of dry mouth. During the day, saliva works to wash away food debris and keep bacteria in check. When we sleep at night, however, our saliva production goes down, causing our mouths to become dry and allowing bacteria to proliferate. If you sleep with your mouth open, it can be even worse.
What you can do: To make your morning breath less offensive, follow a good oral hygiene regimen. By brushing and flossing your teeth before bed, you’re giving bacteria less food to munch on, which will help your breath be better in the morning.
In addition, we highly recommend cleaning your tongue by either brushing it or using a tongue scraper, since this is where most bad breath-causing bacteria are found. Another tip is to keep water by your bedside. When you wake up at night, take a drink! Keeping your mouth moist will combat the spread of those smelly bacteria.
We’re Here For You
For the most part, bad breath is manageable. If you feel like your halitosis is severe however, especially if you follow the steps above, it can be a sign of something more serious such as gum disease, diabetes, sinus problems, gastric reflux or liver or kidney disease. If this is the case, come in to see us so we can address the issue and find the proper solution. We are here to serve you!
Our patients’ smiles make it all worthwhile!
IF YOU WANTED TO STRAIGHTEN your teeth back in the day, you really only had one option–traditional metal braces. Nowadays, our patients have a variety of different options when it comes to how they would like to have their teeth straightened and what is most convenient for them. At our office, we offer Invisalign®!
Invisalign Treatment Provides Many Benefits
Not everyone is a good candidate for Invisalign, but if you are, it may be a great option to achieve your dream smile!
As the name implies, Invisalign trays are nearly invisible, allowing you to go throughout your daily activities with most people being unaware that you are undergoing orthodontic treatment! The aligners are custom-made for you, ensuring a perfect, comfortable fit.
Of course one of the best perks of choosing Invisalign is being able to eat whatever you want! Because you can take your aligners off while eating and drinking, you don’t have to worry about staying away from the foods that you love. Invisalign trays also don’t affect your oral hygiene routine like traditional braces do. You can brush and floss as you normally would!
You also won’t have to worry about getting used to metal brackets that may cut into your cheeks and lips at the beginning of treatment or during sporting events. With Invisalign, you don’t have to sacrifice comfort to get the smile you’ve always wanted.
As an Invisalign patient, you’ll generally have less office visits than those with traditional braces. So if you have a busy schedule but still want to improve your smile, Invisalign might be just the thing for you!
Watch the video below to hear why Fred chose Invisalign over traditional braces.
Talk To Us About Invisalign
We want your treatment to reflect your unique smile, lifestyle and personality. Call us today to discuss any questions you might have about Invisalign! At our practice, we believe your smile deserves the very best.
Thank you for choosing our practice. We absolutely love our patients!
TEETHING CAN BE an uncomfortable process for both your little one and those who care for them.
We know our patients want to help soothe their babies as best they can through this time, so today we’re going to share our thoughts on teething and how you can help them through this process.
Each Child’s Teething Timeline Is Different
Although this is different for every child, you can expect your baby to begin teething between six and 12 months old—some teeth may appear as early as 3 months or even as late as 14 months, however. Whenever they begin to sprout their first teeth, it’s important to remember good oral care begins long before their pearly whites make an appearance.
Caring for your infant’s smile before their first teeth erupt is important because bacteria in the mouth can leave behind plaque that damage their incoming teeth. You can prevent plaque from adhering to your child’s gums by gently wiping them with a soft, moist washcloth or piece of gauze. We recommend doing this at least twice a day, especially after feeding your baby and before putting them to bed.
Keep An Eye Out For Teething Symptoms
Teething brings about a variety of signs and symptoms, but here are some of the most common that infants experience:
- Trouble sleeping
- Loss of appetite
- Drooling more than usual
- Bumps in the gums
If your child begins to develop a persistent fever, diarrhea, or a rash in addition to these symptoms, however, contact their pediatrician.
Watch the video below to learn a bit more about teething symptoms and how long they should last.
Soothe Your Child’s Discomfort With These Tips
Cutting new teeth may not be the most pleasant experience for your little one, but there are plenty of ways to help soothe their discomfort.
Massaging their gums, for instance, counters the pressure from their incoming teeth and in turn eases teething pain. You can try using a clean finger, a small cold spoon, or a moist gauze pad or washcloth to see which your child most prefers.
Teething rings and toys are another useful tool in the teething process. Chewing on these provides the same pain relief as massaging by countering that pressure in the gums. Refrigerating (not freezing!) these toys before they chew will provide an additional cooling sensation to help soothe your child’s soreness.
Be sure to avoid numbing agents. They may seem like a good idea to ease the discomfort of incoming teeth, but the FDA has issued a warning about the potential harmful effects of numbing agents containing benzocaine and lidocaine. Teething is a normal part of development that can be treated without the aid of prescription or over-the-counter medications. If you have any questions about how this applies to your child’s unique situation, give us a call or contact your pediatrician.
We’re Here Every Step Of The Way
The first few months of a child’s life is full of excitement and lots of changes! We understand that along with those changes come a lot of questions about how to best care for your growing baby. If you would like more information about how to care for your child while they’re teething, or if you have any other questions about their developing oral health, give us a call or make an appointment today!
Thank you for trusting us with your growing family! We love our patients.
WE BELIEVE the more educated our patients are about dental health issues, the better they’ll be able to prevent them. We often warn of periodontal disease and the detrimental effects it has on the mouth and body. But there are also many common misconceptions about gum disease. To help you better understand it, we’ve decided to bust some myths today!
Myth #1: Bleeding Gums Are Normal
This is probably one of the most perpetuated dental health myths. The truth is, bleeding gums are the first sign of gum disease. Gums swell, bleed and become tender when plaque accumulates on the teeth and around the gum line. Keep your gums healthy by removing plaque and food debris with daily brushing and flossing.
Myth #2: People Get Gum Disease Because They Don’t Clean Their Teeth
While poor oral hygiene definitely contributes to the development of gum disease, there can be many other factors involved. Tobacco use, stress, a bad diet, genetics, and certain illnesses such as diabetes can all increase your risk of developing gum disease. And as we’ve explained before, even being pregnant makes you more susceptible!
We also don’t want our patients to think that if they are cavity-free they couldn’t possibly have gum disease. Gum disease is painless in its beginning stages and many people don’t know they have it. That’s why proper oral hygiene and twice-yearly visits to your dentist are essential for your oral health, even if you don’t have a cavity!
Myth #3: Gum Disease Is Irreversible
What we really want our patients to understand is that gum disease is reversible in its earliest stage: gingivitis! The earlier gingivitis is caught, the easier it is to eliminate it before it advances to full-blown periodontitis. Finding out you have gingivitis can be worrisome but here’s the good news: good oral hygiene habits and professional cleanings can, in most cases, rid you of gingivitis and stop gum disease in its tracks.
To learn more about periodontal screenings, check out the video below!
Myth #4: Only Adults Can Get Gum Disease
Gum disease is much more prevalent in adults, but that doesn’t mean that our children are invulnerable. Children can be more susceptible to gum disease if they are genetically predisposed or have certain illnesses such as autoimmune disorders or diabetes. Even puberty, with all its hormonal changes, can put your child more at risk. Their best defense against any dental disease–gum disease and tooth decay included–is to take care of their teeth at home and visit the dentist on a regular basis.
Myth #5: Everyone With Diabetes Has Gum Disease
If you have diabetes, developing gum disease is not inevitable, although you are certainly at a higher risk. Now more than ever you’ll need a good relationship with and frequent visits to your dentist. A rigorous oral hygiene regimen as well as frequent cleanings can help stave off the onset of gum disease. Proper blood glucose control can also help you lower your risk.
Gum Disease Myths… Busted!
Now that you know more about gum disease, keep up the good work avoiding it! Let us know if you have any questions in the comments below or on our Facebook page. Thanks for reading!
As always, thank you for supporting our practice.
The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions
OUR SMARTPHONES are never farther than an arm’s length away and help us do everything from track our calendars to track our calories. Today, we want to show you the wonders they can do for our daily hygiene routines with the help of these apps!
We may only see you twice a year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a “dental expert” by your side every day. The Dental Expert app acts as a patient’s guide to understanding different dental procedures. This app includes a frequently asked questions answered by actual dentists. It also has sections discussing myths vs. facts and things that can improve your smile.
Brushing for two minutes, twice a day is an important part of your oral hygiene routine. It can sometimes be hard to keep track of the time, so why not get some help from your favorite songs with Brush DJ!
Brush DJ is a free app that will play 2 minutes of music from your music library. It also has a visual display guiding you on where to brush and for how long. Brush DJ also lets you set reminders to change your toothbrush, floss and go to regular dental appointments.
Getting your child excited about brushing their teeth can sometimes take a bit of creativity. Luckily, Chomper Chums® has you covered. Chomper Chums is a dental hygiene focused app designed to help parents teach children proper brushing techniques while keeping them engaged and entertained.
Children earn rewards within the app for brushing their teeth which they then use to buy food or drinks for their virtual Chomper Chums pet. Don’t worry though, this is a free app and no actual money is used to buy their virtual pals’ treats! The app encourages children to choose healthy food for their on-screen friends as well, so they learn about healthy eating choices in addition to building better oral hygiene habits.
BracesHelp is an iPhone app for people who have or are considering getting braces. This app has helpful tips, videos and pictures on how to care for braces. It also has information on what to do if you are having troubles with your braces. If used in conjunction with tips you receive during your regular orthodontic appointments, you will have all of the help you need on your smile-makeover journey.
Have You Used One Of These Apps?
Or, do you know of other great dental apps for your smartphone or tablet? Comment and share below! And if you decide to try out one of the apps above, let us know how you like it!
We love giving our patients the resources to not only better educate them about their oral health and hygiene, but to make it fun! If you have any questions about these apps or other dental health topics, please feel free to reach out on social media or give us a call!
We appreciate you, our valued patients and friends.
Top image by Flickr user Brad Flickinger used under Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 4.0 license. Image cropped and modified from original
Dental occlusion information sheet
Dental occlusion is the coming together of teeth ̶ a meeting of two surfaces made of the hardest stuff in your body and the movement of those surfaces against each other. You probably haven’t devoted a lot of thought to making those surfaces do either of those things because, for most of us, it just happens. Thankfully, your brain is able to coordinate 32 teeth and dozens of muscles into a harmonious movement without telling you what it’s doing. When you’re enjoying dinner with your favorite person, this is a very good thing. If you are grinding your teeth away, it’s not so good. Your teeth were designed to last a lifetime, but there are some things that can get in the way of that happening for you.
There are three diseases that negatively affect teeth: decay (cavities), periodontal disease (gum disease), and occlusal disease (destruction of teeth). Most of us are intimately acquainted with the signs, symptoms and treatment of the first two through either personal experience or being told about them at the dentist. Occlusal disease, pathological pushing of the teeth against each other, tends to get less attention. It is often indicative of an underlying problem, and the usually slow progression of any damage means that the signs of destruction are often experienced as “normal.”
All dentists are trained in the diagnosis and treatment of decay and periodontal disease in dental school. Through education and experience, the doctor is able to “look into the future” and recommend appropriate treatment to minimize the effects of these diseases by dealing with them as early as possible. Fewer dentists, however, have been trained to “look into the future” of occlusal disease.
Effects of occlusal disease
Wear, sensitivity, cracks, loose teeth, breaking teeth, sore muscles, painful jaw joints, headaches, acid reflux, breathing disorders, and sleep apnea – these and more can be associated with occlusal disease. An obvious injury, like a broken tooth, often hides the underlying cause.
Your doctor has invested considerable time into developing the ability to recognize the signs of occlusal disease and provide or recommend appropriate treatment to halt, and often reverse, its effects. Recognizing occlusal disease as early as possible increases the probability that you will keep your teeth and have young teeth at an elderly age.
Not many years ago, most senior citizens wore partials or dentures. Today, that number is a small fraction of what it used to be. Since fewer people suffer loss of their teeth today, the effects of occlusal disease can be seen in an ever-increasing number of adults. In fact, many of the restorations and repairs that adults find necessary might have been avoided if the signs of occlusal disease had been recognized and the underlying problems addressed in the early stages.
Silent signs of occlusal disease
The interaction of tooth against tooth can cause painful symptoms such as those noted above, but the real dangers are the underlying causes and the changes that produce effects that are not immediately and readily apparent to you. Whether or not you experience pain, the damage to teeth and the progression of the underlying cause are as real as a painful injury. Our bodies adapt to the things we do and often fail to alert us until something is so damaged or broken that it can be difficult to bring things back to health.
Your doctor routinely incorporates evaluation of the signs and symptoms of occlusal disease into every comprehensive evaluation and periodic examination you experience in this office. He or she knows that “looking into the future” means providing you with information about what’s happening today that will impact your teeth and your life 5, 10, 20 and more years from now.
Keeping your teeth in maximum comfort, function, and esthetics for your entire lifetime depends on us working together to see and address the signs and symptoms of the disease processes that work against that goal. Failure to address them has a profound impact on your overall health and your life. Together we can be an unbeatable team that keeps occlusion working for your health and not against it. Have a nice dinner with your favorite person.
Gary DeWood, D.D.S., M.S., Spear Faculty and Contributing Author