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!
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.
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!
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.
One of the most surprising facts of caring for your teeth is that you should actually wait at least an hour after eating before brushing. In fact, brushing right after a meal may actually do more damage than good.
Here’s why you shouldn’t brush your teeth immediately after eating.
Your tooth enamel, the hardest substance in your body, works to protect your teeth. But acids created by food can wear away that protective enamel. During meals, that acid level gets elevated and your teeth are at their weakest state.
Your body has a natural way to correct the high acid levels in your mouth and return it to a proper pH level. It’s the work of saliva to naturally wash away food particles and give your enamel the balance it needs to continue its protective work.
Brushing right after meals can mean that you are actually attacking your teeth! 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. You can help the process along by rinsing your mouth with water or chewing sugarless gum which will help to increase the amount of saliva in your mouth even more.
But don’t forget to brush!
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.
There are a lot of myths and misconceptions about a child’s first teeth. Primary teeth, also called milk teeth or baby teeth, are the temporary teeth that end up under pillows and provide plenty of business for the tooth fairy! Here are four myths about baby teeth that every parent should know:
#1 Baby teeth aren’t important.
Many parents mistakenly 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. A baby tooth lost too early can lead to crowding of adult teeth, for example.
#2 Cavities in baby teeth do not matter.
This one is similar to dismissing the importance of a baby tooth because it’s based on the idea that since these teeth will eventually come out, what happens to them beforehand doesn’t matter. Unfortunately, cavities cause more than just a cosmetic blemish. Cavities can cause pain or discomfort for children and even abscess if left untreated. Further, cavities harbor bacteria that can spread through the bloodstream and effect your child’s overall health.
#3 There’s no need to brush baby teeth.
Parents should begin brushing teeth as soon as they appear. Not only will this help prevent tooth decay, but it also begins a lifetime of good dental habits. It’s even a good idea to begin oral care before teeth appear. A soft, damp rag rubbed over your baby’s gums reduces bacteria and helps emerging teeth get off to a great start.
#4 Kids don’t need to see a dentist until they are older.
Unfortunately, many parents don’t take their child to the dentist until there is a problem. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD) suggests that parents bring their children for a first dental visit as soon as the first tooth emerges or by age one at the latest. Establishing a “Dental Home” early will ensure that your child has a good experience on their first visit and develops a trusting relationship with the dentist.
Do you have questions about your baby’s teeth? Don’t hesitate to ask! We would love to talk to you about any questions or concerns you might have!
Is it time to get rid of your old toothbrush and pick up a new one? Great oral health begins with the right tools and your toothbrush is the first line of defense. Here are four great tips to help make sure your toothbrush is in top shape!