National Children’s Dental Health Month

Proper dental health starts at an early age and there is no better time to highlight the importance of correct dental care for kids than in February, National Children’s Dental Health month.

Celebrate the month and elevate the importance of brushing and flossing with some fun activities designed to educate youngsters about proper teeth maintenance.

Toothy trivia—While in front of the sink, test your child’s knowledge (and your own) on all things dental with these fun facts:

  • Ancient Egyptians even brushed their teeth using a powdery substance made from pulverized eggshells and oxen hooves
  • The modern toothbrush was not developed until the 1700s, brushes with nylon bristles and ergonomic handles were developed in the 1930s
  • Which animal has the greatest number of teeth – dog, cat, pig or snail? A snail can have between 1000-12,000 teeth!
  • An average toothbrush has around 2000 bristles.
  • Americans buy more than 14 million gallons of toothpaste every year.
  • Teeth start to form before we are born.
  • It takes 43 muscles to frown and only 17 to smile.
  • A fossilized T-Rex tooth can weigh up to a pound.
  • Mosquitoes have 47 teeth.

Gummy games—Bring a smile to youngsters faces with these fun games sure to encourage proper brushing at an early age:

Toothbrush Tales: Make your child’s toothbrush the star of a goofy, adventure-packed story, but only when a child is brushing. Give the toothbrush a name and a voice and make Toothpaste, Floss or Mouthwash trusty sidekicks and give them a storyline.

Brush Your Body: Take the toothbrush, get in close and tells your child it’s time to brush teeth. But then pretend to scrub the child’s ears / elbows / toes / nose until they say, “No! My teeth, my teeth!” and show you how.

Practice makes perfect: Ask your child to help their favorite stuffy brush their teeth for them. A crocodile stuffed animal makes a great friend to practice on.

Other ideas to help celebrate National Children’s Dental Health month include:

  • Buy a bunch of colorful, soft and child-sized toothbrushes, along with a variety of toothpaste flavors, so a child can pick and choose their own dental tools.
  • Make up a song to hum to during teeth-brushing time.
  • Let your child select a special, fun timer to use only for toothbrush time. Dentists recommend two minutes of brushing.
  • If you haven’t introduced your child to the dentist, do so on your next visit. When a child see’s a parent experiencing a good checkup, they are more apt to have a good dental experience themselves.

New Year Resolutions for Dental Health

If you usually include a healthy effort as a New Year resolution, why not this year put your money where your mouth is, literally, and turn your attention to making dental health a top priority in 2020.

The cool thing is, even if your resolution doesn’t include brushing or flossing, many other typical resolutions will also have benefits on your oral health. Quitting smoking, eating healthier and limiting alcoholic drinking will all help improve your teeth and gums as well as your overall health.

Here are some good dental habits to begin the new year right!

2 x 2—Scientists say it takes 66 days (just over two months) to form a good habit. If you start today, by mid-March, the healthy routine of brushing twice a day for two minutes and flossing at least once a day will be totally second-nature for you. Make sure one of those times is before bed to clean off the accumulation of food from the day.

See ya, soda—Soda, especially energy drinks, are basically liquid sugar, which is extremely detrimental to your teeth’s protective enamel layer and can lead to all sorts of oral health issues including decay and tooth loss. Diet or sugar-free sodas are not much better as the acid content in them can do serious damage to the drinker’s teeth. Consider seltzer water as a refreshing alternative.

Make a date—Resolve to making you and your family’s cleaning appointments within the first month of the new year; as well as scheduling recommended dental work like crowns, implants and fillings for later on.

Change it up—When you change out all the batteries (and recycle them!) in the house, don’t neglect changing your toothbrush. Old, crushed and corroded toothbrushes don’t clean effectively and are just harborers of germs and crud.

Healthy eating—You know the foods to avoid, but did you know that there are some foods that are actually helpful in protecting your teeth? Cheese and cranberries have been shown to protect tooth enamel by “sticking” to your teeth and forming a protective coating on the enamel, while other foods like apples, celery and carrots naturally help clean your teeth while snacking on them.

Present a new smile

Give yourself the gift of an even more beautiful smile this holiday season with a whitening treatment that will make your smile rival the shiniest ornament!

When your smile is gleaming white, the whole world seems to shine a bit brighter. A whitening session at our office is a quick, painless procedure that offers lasting benefits. We also offer at-home treatments, if you prefer.

Another gift that keeps on giving is a new veneer or a dental implant to cover up or replace chipped, broken or discolored teeth.

Like a beautiful bow adorning a gift, a stunning smile is something everyone can have, enjoy and share.

Call the office today at 586-992-9222 to make an appointment and have a happy holiday smile for seasons to come.

Cashing in on the Tooth Fairy

The trauma of losing a tooth is often softened by a visit from the friendly Tooth Fairy. But how much money left per tooth, though, is purely a parental decision, often dictated by how much cash or coin is on hand.

In Michigan, the average amount the Tooth Fairy left in exchange for a tooth was $3.33; Delaware kids receive an average of $4.46 per visit and kids in Massachusetts only get an average of $2.56 per tooth.

Here are some ideas for all the Tooth Fairies out there:

  • Remind children that the tooth fairy won’t be able to visit if their rooms are messy.
  • Keep a stack of $2 bills or some silver dollars handy for a unique deposit on dentals.
  • Give a special Tooth Fairy pillow or box and have your child begin a tradition of leaving it in a more accessible spot, like hanging from the bedroom door handle.
  • Cash strapped? Leave a fun fairy letter complimenting the child on their dental habits.

Children typically begin losing baby teeth at age six. If you have any concerns about your child’s tooth development, contact Dr. Baker at 586-992-9222.

Now that’s scary!

Halloween is a time-honored tradition in the United States, but the potential damage from all those sugary sweets on children’s teeth is downright frightening.

It takes only 20 minutes of a sugary attack on the teeth to lead to cavities. Sugars and starches greatly contribute to the production of plaque acids that attack the tooth enamel and create cavities.

Here are some tips to help keep your little ghoul’s and goblin’s teeth healthy:

  • Avoid long-lasting, hard candy (unless it is sugar-free) as these types of treats remain in the mouth for a much longer time, continuously coating tiny teeth with sugar.
  • Dole out candy with meals so the sugars are carried away by the saliva generated by eating.
  • Sticky candies, like gummy bears, take longer to get washed away by saliva, increasing the risk for tooth decay.
  • Sour sweets are highly acidic and can damage tooth enamel.
  • Brush your teeth after eating sugary treats.

This Halloween, consider offering teeth-friendly treats like sugar-free gum or lollipops as an alternative. Chewing gum or enjoying a sucker produces saliva, which helps remove cavity-creating acid from teeth.

Use it, don’t lose it

Most dental insurance policies or Flexible Spending Accounts (FSAs) run out at the end of December and it would be a shame to not use those dental dollars. Dental insurance is a very nice option to have, so don’t let your investment go to waste.

While it’s common to have two cleanings per year, some policies actually cover additional preventive cleanings so take advantage of that opportunity and polish up those pearly whites once more. Call 586-992-9222 and schedule a cleaning today.

Stop putting off necessary dental work. At this point in the year, your deducible should be covered, so there is no excuse for putting off needed work. Remember too, the longer you put off a dental issue, the worse it will become.  Call us and make an appointment today.

Do you have questions about your dental insurance or FSA? Call our office and we can help you sort out any issues you have.

Causes and treatment for teeth grinding

If you often wake up with a sore jaw, headache, and/or you feel your teeth are sensitive to heat and cold, you may be a grinder. Also called bruxism, teeth grinding affects up to 50 percent of the population. Clenching your teeth and grinding while you sleep may seem harmless, however if not treated it can lead to fracturing, loosening or even loss of teeth.

Some effects of bruxism include:

  • Pain and damage to the gums and teeth
  • Sore facial muscles, headaches and earaches
  • Shortened teeth, from being ground down
  • Sensitive teeth, due to worn enamel
  • Fractured teeth and cracked fillings from the pressure of grinding
  • Damaged TMJ (the small joint connecting the lower jaw with the upper jaw)

 Treatment

The first thing you should do if you think you grind your teeth in your sleep is to see your dentist. Dr. Baker will examine your mouth for signs of grinding. You can be fitted for a mouth guard to wear at night, that will keep you from grinding in your sleep.

Here are some tips you can do to cut down on grinding:

  • Avoid or cut back on caffeine
  • Avoid alcohol, which can intensify grinding
  • Do not chew on anything other than food. Avoid chewing gum, as it makes your jaw muscles used to clenching, making you more likely to grind your teeth.
  • Train yourself. If you notice you are clenching or grinding during the day (like in traffic), position the tip of your tongue between your teeth. This will help your jaw muscles relax.
  • Try holding a warm washcloth against your cheek, in front of your earlobe to relax your jaw muscles at night.

Sources: Michigan Dental Association and WebMD

Switch up your summer routine by adding these healthy habits

Apply sunscreen every day. The American Melanoma Foundation (AMF) recommends applying sunscreen if you are going to be outside for 20 minutes or more. Most of us reach this with our usual day-to-day activities. Make applying sunscreen part of your morning routine (ladies, apply before makeup). AMF recommends applying 30 minutes before you go outside and to reapply every two hours, after swimming or perspiring heavily.

Drink more water. We hear this every day. It seems simple, but some of us have a hard time making the switch. It is convenient to grab a bottle of pop or a sports drink when you are on the go, but you are causing more harm than good to your body and teeth. An easy way to drink more water is to substitute your mealtime drink with water. Here’s a tip: stock the fridge with water bottles of instead of pop. They’ll be easy to grab and take on the go.

Switch to sugarless gum. Recent studies show chewing sugarless gum for 20 minutes after eating can help prevent tooth decay. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), “If you chew after eating, the increased salivary flow can help neutralize and wash away the acids that are produced when food is broken down by the bacteria in plaque on your teeth.” Over time, this acid will break down your enamel, causing decay. Sugarless gum brands with the ADA seal of approval include: 5 Sugarfree Gum, Bazooka Sugarfree Bubble Gum, Eclipse Sugarfree Gum, Extra Sugarfree Gum, Icebreakers Ice Cubes Sugarfree Gum, Orbit Sugarfree Gum and Trident Sugarfree Gum,

Go outside. It’s summer and arguably the best time to be outdoors. So why do we spend time sitting in front of the TV or computer? Go outside and take a walk, ride a bike, work in the yard or play a game with the kids. Staying active will improve your overall health.

Source: American Dental Association

What is the “correct” way to brush my teeth?

  1. Place your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle and gently brush teeth in a circular motion.
  2. Since your toothbrush can only clean one or two teeth at a time, change its position to properly clean each tooth.
  3. Gently brush the outer tooth surfaces, the inner tooth surfaces and the chewing surfaces of all your teeth.
  4. Use the tip of your brush to clean the inside surfaces of your front teeth using a gentle up-and-down stroke.
  5. Be sure not to brush your teeth too hard or use a hard bristled toothbrush, as this can cause your gums to recede and also wears down the tooth structure. These conditions can lead to tooth sensitivity.
  6. Last but not least, remember to brush your tongue to remove bacteria and freshen your breath.

Do this for two minutes, two times a day, and floss once a day to keep your smile healthy.

For tips on selecting a toothpaste, read “Are you using the right toothpaste?”

 Source: American Dental Association

Tips for choosing a mouthguard

Is your child participating in a spring sport? Make sure their smile is protected by wearing a mouthguard during both games and practices.

Types of mouthguards:

  • Stock or ready-made mouthguards are the least expensive and can be purchased at most sports stores. These mouthguards are pre-formed, so often they don’t fit perfectly.
  • Boil-and-bite mouthguards can be molded to fit your child’s mouth by boiling them in water and then biting into the warm plastic. They are available at most sporting goods stores.
  • Custom-fitted mouthguards are designed and constructed by your dentist. This type of mouthguard can be more expensive than others, but ensures a perfect fit.

Caring for your mouthguard is simple. Just rinse it under cold water after each use and occasionally clean it with soap and cool water. Since mouthguards can tear or wear out, be sure to replace it after each sporting season.

To learn more about mouthguards and take a fun quiz, visit the American Dental Association’s Mouth Healthy website.

Source: American Dental Association