Dental Care Tips for Parents of Young Kids

THE LIFE OF A PARENT is a hectic one. Keeping track of everything your growing child needs can be a real juggling act, so maybe we can take one of the balls out of the air by offering a few easy tips for how to stay on top of your kids’ dental health (without neglecting your own)! 1. Choosing the Right Toothbrush Brushing (whether with a manual or electric toothbrush) is the easiest and most important method of cavity prevention, but it can be tricky to find the right toothbrush for your child with so many different options available. A good place to start is by looking for a toothbrush with soft, polished (round-ended) bristles. These brushes clean effectively but are still gentle to the gums. Make sure the brush is designed for small hands and mouths, and try to replace it every few months or so. A brush with frayed, smashed

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Dental Health of Early Native Americans

WHEN WE PICTURE people of earlier eras, particularly pre-industrial ones, we tend to assume that they must have had really bad teeth. While it definitely is easier to get high-quality dental care these days, not to mention modern orthodontics and modern root canal therapy, the people of the past didn’t always have terrible dental health. Especially in cultures with no access to refined sugar. Food Played a Big Role for Native American Dental Health The ancient Native Americans ate a diet mostly of corn (maize), beans, squash, fish, and game, as well as fresh fruit and nuts. Their high-fiber diet helped keep their teeth and gums healthy. The harmful bacteria in our mouths need plenty of sugar and starch to multiply. Foods high in fiber have the benefit of scrubbing our teeth as we eat them. How Did Early Native Americans Clean Their Teeth? Just because tooth decay was uncommon doesn’t

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Diet and Oral Health

WHAT WE EAT and drink obviously plays a big role in our overall health, but in a way, it affects our oral health twice. Food and drink affect teeth and gums directly while we’re consuming them, and then again indirectly after they’ve been digested. Food and Drink’s Direct Effects on Teeth and Gums A lot of the tastiest things we eat and drink can be pretty bad for our oral health. Harmful bacteria love to snack on any leftover traces of sugar when we eat empty-calorie foods like candy, cookies, cakes, or muffins. The more of these things we eat, the more the harmful bacteria are able to multiply and release acids onto our teeth, increasing the risk of decay. Sugary drinks and sodas are especially harmful, especially when we sip them throughout the day, because that leaves our teeth constantly bathed in sugar and acid. Better Foods to Choose for Our Mouths On

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The Tooth Fairy Then and Now

WE CAN ALL REMEMBER what it was like to put a baby tooth under the pillow and find a shiny quarter there in the morning. The Tooth Fairy is a prominent figure in the magic of childhood, and it’s fun to look at how cultures have approached lost baby teeth differently throughout history. The Superstitions That Preceded the Tooth Fairy Long before the Tooth Fairy was sneaking teeth out from under pillows, she was digging them out of the ground. Medieval Europeans would burn or bury baby teeth because they believed that a witch could control people if she got hold of their teeth. In addition to protecting themselves from witches, kids would burn their baby teeth to help ensure a peaceful afterlife, because they might be doomed to an eternity of searching for their teeth as ghosts if they didn’t destroy them! That sounds pretty intense. Unlike their neighbors to the south, the

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Medicine’s Relationship With Oral Health

POTENTIAL SIDE EFFECTS are a concern with pretty much every medication that exists. We can all hear the drug commercial voice rattling off a list of them in our heads. Unfortunately, side effects from medications often overlap with oral health concerns, even when the medications aren’t treating conditions related to teeth and gums. How Medicine Interacts With Oral Chemistry In some cases, medications (or even vitamins) can be directly harmful to our teeth. This is a problem particularly with children’s medication, which tend to come in the form of sugary syrups and candy-like multivitamins. Adult medicine is usually in pill form so it doesn’t have a chance to directly interact with teeth or gums, but not always. Inhalers may lead to oral side effects like oral thrush (painful or irritating patches of white fungus that grow on the tongue, the roof of the mouth, and the inside of the cheeks). A good preventative

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Dental Sealants for Cavity Prevention

THERE ARE MANY pits and grooves in the chewing surface of a molar where bacteria can grow and lead to cavities. That’s where sealants come in. Since the ‘60s, sealants have been a simple but effective way to keep bacteria out of those vulnerable areas in molars, and they reduce the risk of tooth decay by up to 80%! How Much Do Sealants Help? Kids who don’t get sealants are about three times as likely to get cavities. No matter how good they are about brushing twice a day, they might not have enough dexterity to do an effective job on those tricky molars. Sealants make effective brushing much easier for them. An Overview of the Sealant Process How do we add sealants? Easy! It takes just a few minutes during a regular visit. We first prepare their molars by cleaning away any food debris, plaque, or tartar and give them

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Finding Your Perfect Toothpaste

HOW DO YOU choose the right toothpaste out of the wall of colorful boxes on the store shelf? Is it better to get the one that claims cavity prevention, breath-freshening, whitening, sensitivity, or tartar-fighting? Let’s see if we can help our patients narrow things down and find the best toothpaste for their individual dental health needs. Whitening Toothpaste: Does It Work? Whitening toothpaste can help remove surface stains from drinking coffee or smoking, but it doesn’t change the natural color of teeth or fight stains that go deeper than the tooth’s surface. They contain ingredients like abrasives that polish the teeth and peroxide to break down surface stains, and using them twice a day can produce results after several weeks. If you’re looking for a whitening toothpaste, make sure to get one that has the ADA Seal of Acceptance. However, orthodontic patients with braces should wait on any whitening products, including toothpaste, until after

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Protecting Your Gums From Recession

YOU’VE PROBABLY HEARD the expression “long in the tooth.” It conjures up the image of gum recession as a synonym for growing old, and yet gum recession isn’t always connected to age. This oral health problem is when the gingival tissue shrinks away from the crown of the tooth, slowly exposing more of the root. The extremely gradual nature of gum recession is why we tend to associate it with age, but it can start as early as childhood for a number of reasons. Genetics and the Risk of Gum Recession One risk factor for gum recession that we can’t do anything about is genetics. Some people are unlucky enough to have more fragile gum tissue or less jaw bone to support the gums all the way up to the crowns of their teeth. The good news is that other factors that contribute to gum disease are easier to control, so even

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How We Breathe Impacts our Teeth for Life

MOUTH-BREATHING CAN cause all kinds of short-term issues, many of which are connected to poor sleep quality from getting insufficient oxygen by breathing through the mouth. Short-Term Consequences of a Mouth-Breathing Habit If a child exhibits the following symptoms, it could be due to mouth-breathing: Impaired speech. When a child’s mouth is always open, certain sounds become more difficult to say. Halitosis (chronic bad breath). An open mouth tends to be a dry mouth, which means there isn’t enough saliva to clean out the germs. Tooth decay. Other serious byproducts of dry mouth are tooth decay and cavities. Irritability, lethargy, and inattention. Less oxygen means worse sleep, which makes it much harder for kids to pay attention in school and to be their bright, happy selves. How Mouth-Breathing Impacts Health Long-Term While the above issues are bad enough, the problems that come from mouth-breathing don’t stop there. If left unchecked throughout

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Improving Our Mood and Health With Smiles

THE OLD LINE “it takes fewer muscles to smile than frown” isn’t actually true. It takes at least ten muscles to smile but as few as six to frown, so maybe the saying should be something like “you burn more calories when you smile than when you frown!” instead. However, getting a better workout isn’t the only benefit we get from smiling! The Feedback Loop Between Smiling and Happiness Obviously, we smile when we’re happy, but evidence shows that the very act of smiling might make us feel happier. Smiling is so closely linked to the feeling of happiness in our brains that even a fake smile can release endorphins — the feel-good hormone — and make us feel better. The next time you’re having a rough day, try flashing a smile and see if that helps a little! We Reduce Pain and Stress by Smiling Those endorphins we get from smiling can

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