It is hard to resist the sugary treats and candy that seem to appear out of nowhere each October. You don’t have to deprive yourself in order to protect your teeth because Dr. Baker has some tips to keep your smile cavity-free.
Try to avoid the sticky, chewy, hard and crunchy treats. Soft and sticky candies stick to the teeth, giving the decay-causing bacteria time to decay your teeth. Hard candies dissolve slowly in your mouth, coating your teeth with sugar for a long period of time. They can also chip your teeth and cause choking in younger children.
Some Halloween candy alternatives:
- Animal crackers
- Stickers or temporary tattoos
- Pencils, pens or erasers
- Small packs of crayons
- Plastic jewelry
- Lip balm
Not all oral health products are approved by the ADA. Be sure to look products with “ADA Accepted” on the packaging. ADA has approved products in several categories from toothbrushes and toothpastes, to tooth whitening bleaches and sugar-free chewing gum. For a complete list of ADA accepted oral hygiene products visit their website. The ADA also provides names of water filters that do not filter out fluoride from the water supply.
Bad breath can be embarrassing. It can get in the way of our professional and social lives. If you suffer from bad breath, you are not alone.
Here are some helpful tips from WebMD:
- Brush and floss more frequently. The prime cause of bad breath is plaque. It will build up on your teeth and in between teeth, making an ideal place for bacteria to grow. Brush at least twice a day, and floss at least once a day to prevent the buildup of plaque.
- Scrape your tongue. The coating that forms on your tongue can contain foul smelling bacteria. You can brush your tongue with a toothbrush or use a tongue scraper to clean it.
- Avoid foods that sour your breath. Foods like onions and garlic are the worst offenders. They can make their way into your bloodstream and to your lungs where you breathe them out. It is best to avoid these foods before events when you want to be sure your breath is fresh.
- Kick the habit. Smoking will no doubt cause bad breath, as well as other oral health problems. You’ll notice a huge difference after you quit.
- Rinse your mouth. Using mouthwash will freshen your breath and help get rid of bacteria in your mouth. If you don’t have mouthwash handy, simply rinse with water after eating to remove food particles.
- Chew gum instead of mints. Sugary mints will only promote bacteria growth in the mouth. Gum (especially sugarless) stimulates saliva production, which is a natural defense against bacteria.
- Keep your gums healthy. Gum disease is a common cause of bad breath. Regular brushing and flossing will prevent gum disease and keep them healthy.
- Be aware of dry mouth. Lack of saliva promotes tooth decay and bad breath. If your mouth is feeling dry, drink some water or chew sugarless gum (or mints). Be sure to tell your dentist if you are experiencing persistent dry mouth.
- See your dentist. If your bad breath continues be sure to see your dentist. It could be a symptom of a medical condition such as a sinus infection, lung infection, liver or kidney disease.
Visiting the dentist can be scary for young children. Ease your child’s fear with these tips:
- The earlier your child visits the dentist, the better. Dr. Baker recommends bringing your child in for his/her first visit around age 3.
- Prepare your child for his/her first visit but don’t give too much information that will encourage questions. Don’t mention fillings or any other treatments, which will cause anxiety.
- Avoid using words like “shot, hurt or pain” when talking about the dentist. Instead use positive words like “clean, strong and healthy.”
- Before your child’s first visit, play dentist with him/her. You be the dentist and have your child be the patient. Count your child’s teeth and brush them with a toothbrush.
- Don’t bribe your child with the promise of a sugary treat after a dentist visit, as it sends the wrong message. Instead, praise your child for good behavior.
- Teach your child the importance of dental health, telling him/her that visiting the dentist is a necessity for maintaining a healthy smile. Set a good example by visiting the dentist regularly yourself.
If there’s one thing my patients need to do more of, it’s floss. Regular flossing removes plaque buildup between teeth that a toothbrush can’t reach, preventing gum disease.
Types of dental floss:
- Unwaxed floss—a thin nylon floss made of about 35 strands twisted together. It fits into tight spaces if your teeth are close together, but it can be prone to shredding or breaking.
- Waxed floss—a standard nylon floss with a light wax coating. It is less likely to break, but the wax coating may make it harder to use in tight spots.
- Dental tape—broader and flatter than standard floss and comes in waxed or unwaxed versions. People with more space between their teeth often find dental tape more comfortable to use than traditional floss.
Using a “flosser”
If you have trouble reaching the back of your mouth or gripping traditional floss, try a flosser. A flosser is basically a piece of floss on a handle. Like toothbrushes, flossers come in a variety of shapes and colors (even battery-powered!). Look for one with a long handle for easier holding and a compact head that makes it easier to reach behind the back teeth—a particularly tricky spot to clean. Dental flossers also come in a variety of kid-friendly colors and cartoon characters.
The best type of dental floss is the one that is most comfortable for you. The easier to use, the more likely the patient will floss on a regular basis.
Source: Oral B
Many of the things we do every day, often without a second thought are actually harming your teeth.
Chewing on ice—It may seem harmless, ice is just frozen water and water is good for you, right? Wrong. Chewing on hard, frozen cubes can chip or crack your teeth. Try chewing sugarless gum instead.
Tongue/lip piercings—Accidently biting down on a metal stud can crack a tooth. It can cause gum damage if the metal rubs against the gums. And since the mouth is a haven for bacteria, a piercing raises the risk of infections and sores.
Opening things with your teeth—Using your teeth as a tool to open bottle caps or plastic packaging can cause them to crack or chip. Keep scissors and bottle openers handy.
Drinking pop—It can have up to 11 teaspoons of sugar per serving, plus phosphoric and citric acids, which eat away at tooth enamel. Diet pop may have less sugar, but it contains more acid in the form of artificial sweeteners.
Chewing on pencils—Just like chewing on ice, this can chip or crack your teeth. When you feel the need to chew, grab a stick of sugarless gum.
Bedtime bottles—Giving your child a bottle in bed may seem comforting, but it could lead to decay. By sleeping with a bottle in their mouth, their teeth are immersed in sugars all night.
To keep your smile shining bright and healthy, be sure to have your teeth cleaned and examined twice a year.
Pregnant women need to be especially careful when making healthy food choices. The baby’s teeth begin to develop between the third and sixth months of pregnancy and making smart food choices will help in developing his/her dental and overall health.
- Eat a variety of foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole-grains (cereal, breads, crackers) and dairy products (milk, cheese, yogurt)
- Eat fewer foods that are high in sugar, such as cookies, candy, cake and dried fruit
- If you have trouble with nausea, try eating small amounts of healthy foods throughout the day
- Drink water or milk instead of juice, fruit-flavored drinks or pop
- Drink water throughout the day (between meals and snacks). Tap or bottled is fine, as long as it is fluoridated water
- Take your prenatal vitamins daily. Make sure you are getting 600 micrograms of folic acid daily. Foods rich in folic acid include:
- Vegetables—asparagus, broccoli, lettuce, and spinach
- Legumes—beans, peas, and lentils
- Fruits—papaya, tomato juice, oranges and orange juice, strawberries, cantaloupe and bananas
- Grain products fortified with folic acid—breads, cereals, cornmeal, flour, pasta and white rice
You know the guidelines: Your kids should brush teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste for two minutes to help prevent tooth decay, cavities and promote oral health. But how often do your kids actually brush for the full two minutes? To kids, two minutes can feel like an eternity! Here are some ways to make brushing fun and easy for parents and kids:
- Brush with your child–Stand side-by-side in front of the bathroom mirror and brush together. Have fun. Let your child mimic your brushing technique.
- Set a timer–Electronic timers are readily available, but if you can find a small two minute hourglass timer, even better.
- Cute toothbrushes–Great-looking children’s brushes are in stores everywhere. Choose one that’s small enough for your child to hold comfortably, with a small, rounded head and very soft, polished bristles. Every few months you should replace it—particularly for preschoolers who tend to chew while they brush.
- Tasty toothpaste–Use toothpaste made for kids … it’s a safe and non-abrasive version, in mild flavors that kids love.
- Say ahhhhh!–Your child can’t say “ahhh” with his or her mouth closed. As you brush, suggest varying the pitch, tone, and rhythm of the “ahhh” to keep things interesting.
- Bring a friend–At bedtime, invite your child’s favorite stuffed animal into the bathroom to watch the brushing.
- Make a sticker poster–Hang a piece of bright construction paper on the bathroom wall. Each time your child has a thorough brushing, he or she can choose a sticker or star and put it on the poster.
Sources: Orajel and www.sheknows.com
On average, we spend a third of our day at work. While at work, we eat lunch and often grab a snack from the vending machine or birthday cake from the lunchroom. Do you clean your teeth during the long workday? Here are a few tips for keeping your smile healthy at the workplace:
- Keep a toothbrush and toothpaste in your desk, locker or lunchbox and brush after eating.Or try the single-use toothbrushes, preloaded with toothpaste (Ex: Colgate Wisps).
- If you are embarrassed to brush your teeth at work, try rinsing your mouth with mouthwash.
- Chewing sugarless gum will increase saliva production and neutralize acids in the mouth that cause tooth decay.
Diet pop doesn’t have the high sugar content of regular pop, however, it is high in acid. Acid in pop is the primary cause of weakening tooth enamel.
Sports drinks may have less sugar, but they have just as much acid as most soft drinks. Drink water instead of pop and sports drinks. It has no sugar, no acid and no calories.