5 Tips for Healthy Holiday Smiles

Healthy Holiday Teeth
A season of holiday cheer doesn’t mean a holiday from your family’s dental health.  In fact, the change in your schedule and diet means that it is even more essential to be vigilant in maintaining your beautiful smile.  Here are five pointers for a healthy mouth during the holidays:

Get up to date on your dental visits before the year is out.

Don’t put off needed visits until you return from visiting family.  It’s always a good idea to plan ahead, get an appointment early and take care of your teeth before the rush and hustle of celebrating.  Staying up to date will help prevent dental issues from ruining your time away from home by detecting any underlying issues that need to be treated before your leave.  Holidays and vacation times are also very busy time in dental offices, so you want to make sure your appointments are scheduled and taken care of sooner rather than later.  And don’t forget flex benefits! Many flex pay health care plans require you to spend any accumulated funds before year end.

Make a dental travel kit.

Nearly everything comes in a travel size and we’ve found that the activity of putting together a dental travel kit will encourage great habits while you are away from home.  Don’t forget to pack travel sized mouthwash, floss and a toothbrush for everyone in the family. We’re excited about new convenient options as well, such as quick disposable toothbrushes that can be carried for “in-between” brushing on the go.  Your kids will love their own dental kit.  Help them to pick out a special brush and mini-toothpaste just for their time away.

Protect your toothbrush.

If you’re leaving town for the holidays, you want to make sure that your toothbrush stays covered.  Extra handling, luggage and hotel bathrooms provide bacteria extra opportunity to find its way onto your bristles and into your mouth.  Several options are available, including covers that are anti-bacterial.  A closed cover gives a warm, damp place for bacteria to thrive, so remember to let your toothbrush dry before covering it up.

Watch what you eat.

We are all more likely to indulge in sugary drinks, snacks and desserts during the holidays.  We’re also more likely to allow our children to indulge for special occasions. Why not make a conscious decision to eat a bit healthier this year?  Instead of just planning your days and family activities around food, look for opportunities for more active fun.  You might also decide to pack healthy snacks so that you won’t be tempted to grab a quick treat on the road that may not be good for your teeth.

Keep your routine.

Whatever you decide to eat, don’t forget your regular dental habits.  It may be tempting to just go to bed after a long day of family fun, but forgetting your routine could mean no-so-fun dental problems later on.  Make brushing and flossing an activity that your family does together.  It can be a great opportunity to “de-brief” and discuss the activities of the day or plan for the next.

We wish everyone a great season of love, joy, happiness and healthy smiles!

Four Ways to Say “Thank You” to Your Teeth!

Thanks to your teeth
Your teeth are important!  Not only are they the first stage in eating and digestion, but a healthy set of teeth will keep you looking your best.  So perhaps it’s a idea good to say “Thank You” to your teeth for being so awesome.  Here are a few ways you can show your gratitude.

Hum to your teeth while you brush.

Yes, you read that correctly.  Listening to a song while you brush may help you brush your teeth better.  Most of us don’t brush long enough, so playing a song that lasts at least two minutes can help you brush for a longer period than you’re used to.  This is especially true with children.  The 2min2x.com website has great videos and songs that last exactly two minutes and are a great way to encourage longer brushing times.

Be gentle with your teeth.

Not only do most people not brush long enough, but they also brush too hard.  If your toothbrush shows signs of early wear and bending bristles, then it’s likely that you’re brushing too hard.  Be nice to your teeth and gums by brushing gently with a soft bristled toothbrush.

Give your teeth a drink of water.

One of the easiest, least expensive and most effective ways to care for your teeth is to drink more water.  Staying hydrated not only helps your overall health, but water can wash away food trapped in your teeth after meals, it can help balance the acidity of your mouth and reduce the amount of plaque-causing bacteria.  Additionally, because bad breath is often caused by having a dry mouth, drinking plenty of water can help your breath smell better too!

Take your teeth to the dentist.

How often should you and your child go to the dentist?  Even if you take excellent care of your teeth at home, a regular six month visit to the dentist will help you avoid potential problems and clean areas that are difficult or impossible to get yourself.  Preventative care is always the best way to say “Thanks!” to your teeth.

Should you worry about your child’s teeth grinding?

Teeth Grinding in kids, bruxism
Occasionally parents will reach out to us because they’ve been alarmed by the sounds their children make while sleeping.  It’s not uncommon for children to grind their teeth, especially during sleep.  In fact, some estimates put that number close to 33%.  Tooth grinding, or bruxism, is most common when baby teeth begin to emerge and permanent teeth come in.  And while it generally goes away, there are a few considerations you should be aware of.

What causes bruxism?

We aren’t always 100% sure why children grind their teeth.  Oral discomfort as teeth shift and realign may cause much of the temporary bruxism, as well as allergies and other minor illnesses.  Bruxism may also be caused by minor changes in inner ear pressure, similar to what’s experienced on an airplane. Ongoing teeth grinding may be more serious and can sometimes be the results of anxiety, stress or fear.  While most children stop grinding their teeth over time, it’s often important to look at your child’s overall health as well as the frequency and severity of tooth grinding to determine if intervention is necessary.

When should parents worry about bruxism?

Again, bruxism is extremely common, and most children grow out of the habit.  But as with any issue you are concerned with, please always feel free to reach out to us with your questions.  The following list of symptoms are signs that your child’s teeth grinding may require additional investigation:

  • If your child is having trouble sleeping or is waking frequently throughout the night
  • Jaw pain or soreness
  • Headaches
  • Tooth sensitivity or pain not associated with other dental issues
  • Teeth begin showing signs of wear
  • Damage to the soft tissues of the mouth
  • Loud, persistent grinding that doesn’t seem to subside over time

What can parents do to help alleviate minor bruxism?

If your child occasionally grinds his or her teeth at night, and isn’t showing any serious side effects like those mentioned above, you may try the following tips to reduce or eliminate bruxism without the intervention of a dentist:

  • Work to identify and decrease your child’s stress.  Allow your child to talk openly about his or her feelings.
  • Be sure your child is getting a proper diet
  • Since dehydration may be linked to bruxism, be sure your child is drinking enough water

Of course, you should always make us aware of any issue involving your child’s teeth.  We can help you monitor them for any potential issues.  Never hesitate to reach out to us with any questions or concerns you might have.

Make Brushing & Flossing Fun: 4 Ideas that Work.

Make Brushing Fun
If your family is anything like ours, bedtime is full of activities winding down one day and preparing for the next.  It can be a rush to make certain that homework gets finished, clothes are laid out for the morning, bedtime stories are told and everyone gets tucked in.  Too often, brushing and flossing can become an afterthought, especially when kids are less than excited about it to begin with.  Here are a few tips to make brushing and flossing fun (and regular) in your household:

Pick a fun toothbrush.

One of the easiest ways to make brushing fun is to indulge your kids with a themed toothbrush. You can find tooth brushing gear with everything from Sponge Bob to Finding Nemo and even comic book characters and superheroes. Always pick one with soft bristles and with a brush size that is appropriate for their mouth and age.   Giving your child an opportunity to choose her own toothbrush empowers her to be an active part of maintaining positive dental habits.

Use toothpaste made for kids.

There are a lot of flavored toothpastes  on the market that can help to make tooth brushing less “icky” for kids who don’t like the strong mint or cinnamon flavor of adult toothpastes.  This is another opportunity to involve your children by letting them choose their toothpaste flavor.  Of course, always make sure that toothpaste is approved by the ADA and carries the ADA seal.

Make brushing a family affair.

Make oral hygiene a family activity. Toddlers love to imitate their parent’s behavior.  The same instinct that leads your children to play dress-up in your closet will make them want to take care of their mouth just like you do. Practicing good oral hygiene together will also give you the chance to notice any issues that your children might have with their brushing technique. It’s important that they don’t brush too hard, and that they don’t miss tricky parts of the mouth like back molars, and under the gums.  Remember to help your child brush at least once a day until they develop the fine motor skills to do a good job on their own.

Use music, apps or video.

Music is also a great tool for any repetitive activity. Humming a favorite song together is a good way to ensure that your children are brushing their teeth long enough to thoroughly clean them. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that children brush their teeth twice a day, for two minutes per session, which can seem like an eternity for a restless child. Using music makes this time pass quicker and can even serve as a way to measure how long teeth are being brushed.  Oral care is a repetitive activity that benefits greatly from a little bit of music.

Ultimately, the goal is to make oral care fun.  Just because it is a habit, doesn’t mean it also has to be a chore.  We would love to hear your ideas about how you’re making brushing fun in your home!

Being Prepared for Dental Emergencies

Dental EmergencyWhen a dental emergency occurs, it’s essential to get prompt treatment.  Of course, the first (and best) step is to have an established dental home.  Whether an injury happens on the playground, in school or at home, having a dental home and maintaining regular dental check-ups and cleanings is the first and best way to be prepared.  Not only will you have an existing relationship already established, but you will also have someone to call who can provide guidance, care and support.

Like all emergencies, dental emergencies appear out of nowhere and demand immediate attention. Knowing what to do when an emergency arises is key to having a positive outcome and preventing a bad situation from getting worse. Taking the right action, can mean the difference between saving or losing a tooth. Just as we spend time learning first aid procedures for bodily emergencies, making a special effort to focus on handling dental emergencies means that you are prepared to take care of any situation, no matter what.

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), here are a few best practices for the following scenarios:

  • If a baby tooth is knocked out – Contact the dentist ASAP.
  • If a permanent tooth is knocked out – Find and carefully rinse the tooth in cool water. Do not use soap or scrub the tooth. Simply rinse it in cool water. Replace the tooth in the socket, if possible, and hold it in place with a clean piece of gauze or a washcloth.  If putting the tooth back in the socket isn’t an option, place the tooth in a clean cup with milk, saliva, or water. Contact the dentist immediately.  Prompt treatment is required to potentially save the tooth.
  • If a tooth is chipped or damaged – Contact the dentist immediately. Find any tooth fragments. Rinse in cool water and place in a clean cup with milk, saliva, or water and take them with you to the dentist. Prompt treatment is critical for preventing infection and avoiding potential complications. If there is any injury to the mouth, treat with cold compresses to decrease swelling.

If tooth loss is the result of a more severe or complicated injury, call for emergency services to insure that proper care is given to the entire injury. Call the dentist en route to the hospital or immediately upon arrival.

An emergency situation is no time to try to come up with a plan of action. Instead, it’s best to be prepared well in advance of any unforeseen injuries. Maintaining regular six month check-ups can help lay the groundwork for handling potential emergency situations when you don’t have time to think about what to do next.

Four of the Best Tips to Encourage Kids to Brush

Getting Kids to Brush

Use music or video to keep kids brushing longer.

One of the biggest challenges to adequate brushing is getting kids to brush their teeth for a full two minutes.  The 2Min2X website is a great resource with several cartoons and music videos that last exactly two minutes.  Fun tools like this make it easier for parents to motivate their children and help kids to get excited about caring for their teeth.

Take advantage of positive reinforcement.

Sticker boards and progress charts are tried and true methods to motivate kids.  Choose a small prize that kids can work towards for reaching goals.  Even simple praise can go a long way in making kids enthusiastic about caring for their own teeth.

Pick out a toothbrush they love.

Something as simple as having a new toothbrush is a great way to motivate kids to brush their teeth.  Choose one with soft bristles that’s age appropriate.  If your child is able to brush on their own, be sure to choose one that fits smaller hands and has a head that is made for a smaller mouth.  Getting kids involved in choosing their own toothbrush will create even more excitement when it comes time to use them.

Choose toothpaste made for specifically for kids.

Toothpaste comes in a ton of new flavors these days.  From bubblegum and fruity flavors to chocolate flavored toothpaste, there’s something for everyone.  We’ve even seen bacon flavored toothpaste! Regular toothpaste is generally a version of mint, which children sometimes complain is too harsh or “spicy”. We recommend allowing your child to pick out a flavor. Of course, whatever flavor you choose, be sure to look for the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance.

Stick to a routine.

Having a regular bed-time routine is a great way to reduce stress and make sure that everything “gets done” without having to ask, “Did you brush your teeth?” every night.  At first, you may want to make a list of before-bed tasks.  Before you know it, your new routine will become habit – hopefully one your children will keep for life.

6 Steps to a Cavity-Free Childhood

Steps to a cavity free childhood

Did you know that the most common chronic disease of children and teens is tooth decay?  Even worse, the CDC reports that nearly 20% of children’s cavities are left untreated.  What may be even more surprising is that nearly all cavities are 100% preventable.  In fact, simply by following these 6 steps, you could help your child enter adulthood without suffering from even a single cavity.

Find a dental home by age one.

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists recommends finding a dental home at the emergence of the first tooth or by age one, whichever comes first.  Unfortunately, we see many children whose first visit to the dentist is scheduled because a problem already exists.  Establishing a dental home will help you and your child develop a close relationship with the dentist and begin a pattern of regular visits.

Take advantage of sealants or composite fillings.

Sealants are the most effective, yet most underutilized method of preventing cavities.  Dental sealants involve a temporary, thin plastic coating that is “painted” on the chewing surfaces of teeth which creates a barrier where food often gets trapped.  Composite fillings are sometimes used as an alternative to sealants, but in the same way by filling deep crevices.  The relatively low cost of sealants makes them an obvious choice when compared with the discomfort and higher costs of treating a cavity.

Never put your infant to bed with anything other than water.

Baby bottle tooth decay is pervasive and occurs when liquids such as juice or milk are allowed to coat an infant’s teeth for extended periods of time.  This happens most often during naps or bed time as many children are allowed to fall asleep with a bottle and the natural flow of saliva decreases.  If your child falls asleep with a bottle, be sure that it’s only with water.  Even though baby teeth are temporary, their good health is essential to the proper formation and alignment of emerging adult teeth coming in behind them.

Limit foods that tend to stick to teeth.

Sticky candies like caramel and taffy often stay around for a long time after kids eat them.  But candy isn’t the only food which needs to be limited.  Crackers, potato chips and other starchy foods also tend to get stuck in the nooks and crannies of tooth surfaces.  Without proper brushing, these foods provide sugar to bacteria that feed on it and multiply and attack enamel.  For this reason, these foods should be limited and occasional.  Regular brushing and flossing is essential when these foods are consumed.

Begin good dental habits early.

Oral care can begin even before teeth appear.  Using a soft cloth to clean your baby’s gums can limit bacteria and protect emerging teeth.  Small children should get help with brushing.

Model good dental habits.

One of the most effective ways you can ensure that your children stay cavity free is by modeling good dental habits in front of them.  Do they see you brush?  Are you flossing daily?  Modeling good behaviors will teach your children first hand that you value your own oral health and theirs.

Top 6 Tooth Myths Busted

tooth myths bustedThere’s a lot of misinformation about dental care. While many of the myths are harmless, believing in some of them may actually cause you to neglect or damage your teeth. It’s important to get correct information and find out what’s true and what’s false. Here are the top 6 tooth myths we love busting.

#1 Baby teeth aren’t important.

A lot of people believe that baby teeth are less important than permanent teeth because they are just going to “fall out anyway”. But baby teeth serve a very important purpose as place-holders in growing mouths during early years of development. They help maintain the proper structure of the mouth in providing a guide for permanent teeth to move in behind them when the time comes. Plus, cavities in baby teeth still cause pain and discomfort which often leads to missed school and poor overall health.

#2 You should brush immediately after eating.

You may be surprised to learn that brushing immediately after a meal may actually harm your teeth. Acids created by food can wear away your protective enamel leaving your teeth at their weakest state right after you eat. Your body uses saliva to correct the high acid levels in your mouth. Saliva also naturally washes away food particles and gives your enamel the balance it needs to continue its protective work.

Even soft-bristled toothbrushes can be highly abrasive when enamel is already weakened by high acid levels. It’s best to let saliva do its job after you eat. But don’t forget to brush altogether. Simply wait at least an hour for your mouth to recover from the acid assault. And don’t forget to brush at least two times a day and for two minutes each time.

#3 Cavity-prone teeth are inherited.

Many people assume that just because their parents had few cavities, that they will also have few cavities. Conversely, people too often use genetics as an “excuse” for poor dental care by blaming cavities on family history.

While there is a small genetic influence in determining susceptibility to tooth decay, the fact remains that most cavities are 100% preventable. Babies and young children, for example, often develop cavities as a result of bacteria transferred through the sharing of eating utensils or parents cleaning off pacifiers in their own mouths.

#4 Candy is the worst food for your teeth.

It may be a shocker, but starchy foods like potato chips and crackers can actually be worse for your teeth than candy. That’s because these foods have a high sugar content and they often become stuck to your teeth. While some candies dissolve quickly in the mouth and are washed away by water or saliva, crackers often hang around in the mouth a lot longer.

#5 Chewing gum after a meal is just as good as brushing.

While chewing sugar-free gum after a meal can be better than not doing anything, it’s certainly no substitute for brushing or flossing. Gum that contains the natural sugar substitute xylitol has actually been shown to prevent tooth decay. But brushing and flossing for at least two minutes, twice a day, is the only way to truly clean your teeth and reach the tight spots between them.

#6 Brushing or flossing is bad for bleeding gums.

It’s too often assumed that when brushing or flossing causes bleeding gums, that those activities should be avoided. In fact, the opposite is true. Gums generally bleed because they become inflamed due to food particles trapped between the teeth and gums. A buildup of plaque irritates sensitive gum tissue. Brushing and flossing should always be performed gently, using a soft bristled brush. However, bleeding gums should never be considered “normal”. If you or your child has gums that bleed regularly, they should be examined.

5 Crazy Things We Do to Our Teeth!

Crazy things we do to our teeth

Kids and adults do some crazy things to their teeth! Avoiding our list of the top five is a great way to save yourself from future tooth trouble.

1. Using your teeth as tools.


Using your teeth as tools


Your teeth are not bottle openers, package rippers, string cutters or any of the number of other crazy tools they get used for. Broken teeth can result in repairs that never end up being as strong as the original tooth. Grabbing a bottle opener, pliers or pair of scissors may be less convenient than using your teeth, but the effort saved isn’t worth an emergency trip to the dentist.

2. Chewing on ice.



Chewing on ice


Tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the human body. Its job is to protect the softer tissues below the surface of your teeth. But as tough as your enamel is, it’s still no match for the abuse of chewing ice. Microscopic fractures, gum damage and even broken teeth are all the hazards of chewing ice. The next time you or your child wants something crunchy to chew on, try an apple instead.

3. Drinking tons of soft drinks.


soda and your teeth


Where does most of the sugar from a typical 2 year old child’s diet come from? Soft drinks. In fact, the average toddler gets more total sugar in his or her diet from soft drinks than with cookies, candy and ice cream combined! Sugar feeds the bacteria that eat away at the surface of our teeth making them more susceptible to cavities. What’s the best choice for your home? Fluoridated tap water.

4. Smoking.



cigarettes and teeth


One of the craziest things people do to their teeth is smoking tobacco products. Smoking can cause discolored teeth, bad breath, an increase in plaque and tartar, increased risk of gum disease, delayed healing following dental surgery, inflamed salivary glands, oral cancer…and the list goes on. Plus, teenaged children of smokers are 15 times more likely to smoke themselves.

5. Never flossing.





According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, only 7% of children floss daily. That shouldn’t be surprising considering that 10% of adults in a recent survey admit to never flossing. This is in spite of the fact that flossing is one of the primary means of fighting tooth decay. Most cavities begin between the teeth, where a toothbrush simply cannot go. To ignore flossing is…well, crazy!

Are “Soft Teeth” a Myth?

Soft Teeth Myth
We often hear patients talk about how they or their children have “soft teeth”. We especially hear comments related to how “soft teeth” have been inherited from their parents or have been passed down to their children.

But is there really a condition that causes some people’s teeth to be more susceptible to cavities than others?

Yes…and no.

Most people who suffer from frequent dental caries (cavities) actually have perfectly normal teeth. Their enamel is just as developed and strong as the average person. Poor dental habits are usually the cause of most cavities and with very few exceptions nearly all cavities are 100% preventable. The actual number of people who would have what could actually be called “soft teeth” is quite low.

A condition called Amelogenesis Imperfecta can result in thin, improperly formed enamel. This enamel is often pitted, uneven and brown. Inner layers of teeth can become exposed to damaging acids from food and saliva which leaves these true “soft teeth” more open to cavities.

Babies and young children often develop cavities as a result of bacteria transferred through the sharing of eating utensils or parents cleaning off pacifiers in their own mouths. It’s important to avoid transferring bacteria from one mouth to another and to begin dental care early. A soft washcloth can be used on a baby’s toothless gums, for example, and the American Dental Association has long recommended a small “smear” of fluoridated toothpaste for children under two years of age.

Even though the condition is extremely rare, we can’t rule out “soft teeth” without an exam. But most cavities can be avoided by regular flossing and brushing for two minutes at least twice every day!

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