Category: Your Dental Health

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.

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

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

Prevent bad breath with good oral hygiene

Worried about bad breath? You’re not alone. 50% of adults have had bad breath, or halitosis, at some point in their lives. Bad breath can get in the way of your social life. It can make you self-conscious and embarrassed. Fortunately, there are simple and effective ways to freshen your breath.

  1. Floss daily. Need another reason to floss your teeth at least once a day? Flossing daily helps improve bad breath by effectively removing the food particles and bacteria that contribute to it. That makes flossing one of the easiest ways to prevent and banish bad breath.
  1. Scrape your tongue. The coating that normally forms on the tongue can harbor foul-smelling bacteria. To eliminate them, gently brush your tongue with your toothbrush, or, better yet, use a tongue scraper. They’re designed to apply even pressure across the surface of the tongue area, removing bacteria, food debris, and dead cells.
  1. Drink more water. Drink plenty of water to help maintain the level of saliva in your mouth to help prevent bad breath in addition to following a good oral care routine. After eating, swishing your mouth with plain water also helps freshen your breath by eliminating food particles.
  1. Kick the habit. Bad breath is just one of many reasons not to smoke. Smoking damages gum tissue and stains teeth. It also increases your risk of oral cancer. Talk to your doctor about smoking cessation programs that can help you give up tobacco for good.
  1. Skip after-dinner mints and chew gum instead. Sugary candies promote the growth of bacteria in your mouth and add to bad breath problems. Instead, chew sugarless gum, which stimulates saliva … the mouth’s natural defense against plaque acids.

Sources: American Dental Association WebMD, Oral-B

What are some early warning signs of oral cancer?

Like all forms of cancer, early detection is extremely important. Be sure to check your mouth when brushing and flossing. If you notice any changes, or any of these signs and symptoms, contact Dr. Baker immediately, especially if you’ve experienced them for two weeks or more:

  • A mouth sore that does not heal or that bleeds easily.
  • A white or red patch in the mouth that will not go away.
  • A lump, thickening or soreness in the mouth, throat, or on the tongue.
  • Pain, tenderness or numbness anywhere in the mouth or lips.
  • Difficulty chewing, swallowing food, speaking, or moving the jaw or tongue.
  • A change in the way your teeth fit together when your mouth is closed.

Source: American Dental Association (ADA)

Keeping your child’s smile healthy

February is National Children’s Dental Health Month. Start practicing good dental health habits when they are young. Here are a few tips to keep your child’s smile healthy:

  • Avoid giving your child sweetened liquids
  • Brush your child’s teeth twice a day and floss once a day
  • Make sure your child gets enough fluoride
  • Start regular dental visits by age 3
  • Ask your dentist for advice on sealants and mouth guards
  • Keep your dentist informed of any changes in your child’s health
  • Set a good example for your child!

Patients often tell me they have a hard time getting their young children to brush their teeth. It doesn’t have to be a battle each time. Here are some ideas to try with your kids:

  • Start young. Toddlers love to imitate their parents. Give them a toothbrush and sit with your child on the bathroom floor so he/she can watch you use a toothbrush and try to copy it.
  • Have your child brush the teeth of their stuffed animal or doll.
  • Make it fun! Sign a song, read a story, turn it into a game.*
  • Let your child practice brushing your teeth, while you brush his or hers.
  • Have your child pick out their own toothbrush and toothpaste at the store.
  • Children learn from example. If they see that you are taking good care of your teeth they will want to do the same.

*See 7 Toothbrushing Tunes Kids (and Parents) Will Love from the American Dental Association (ADA).