Tag: healthy smile

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

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).

 

‘Smile healthy’ holiday gift ideas for all ages

Here are some ideas for gifts and stocking stuffers that are not only fun, but will help protect the smile of a friend or family member:

  • Sugar-free gum or mints
  • Single-use toothbrushes, preloaded with toothpaste (Ex: Colgate Wisps)
  • Travel size dental floss, mouth rinses, toothpastes, toothbrush and toothbrush holder (can be packaged nicely in a travel bag too!)
  • New toothbrushes (cartoon characters and bright colors are popular for children)
  • New toothpaste and/or mouth rinses in fun flavors
  • Hourglass timer in fun colors for kids to time brushing
  • Tooth fairy pillow/box
  • Sports mouth guard (in team colors)
  • Zoom! Whitening pens
  • Electric toothbrush
  • A gift certificate for professional Zoom! teeth whitening

Another idea is to offer to pay for (or a portion of) a dental procedure your loved one has been putting off.

Tips for getting rid of bad breath

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.

Guide to dental floss

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

man chewing on a pencil

Habits that damage your teeth

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.

Taking care of teeth at work

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.