After-School Snacks For Healthy Teeth

After school snacksGrowing bodies need a lot of fuel, and that means a lot of after-school snacks. The nature of those snacks can have a big impact on a child’s oral health during this critical period when they’re losing baby teeth and growing in their permanent set. So which snacks are the best ones if you’re trying to watch out for your children’s oral health?
 

Snacks To Avoid

Most children would eat cookies and candy, and drink soda pop all day if they could, but these tasty treats aren’t just bad for their health, they’re bad for their teeth. Many types of bacteria live in our mouths, some good for us, some bad. Sugar happens to be the bad bacteria’s favorite food, and after they eat it, they excrete acid onto our teeth as a waste product, which can dissolve our enamel and lead to tooth decay. Carbonated drinks contain acids that can harm our teeth too, and most fruit juice has as much sugar as soda does.

Now, we know it’s unreasonable to suggest that you forbid your child from all sugary foods and drinks forever. However, a great way to reduce your child’s risk of developing cavities is limiting their consumption of these kinds of treats to special occasions, instead of using them as daily snacks.

The Right Snacks

If sugary foods and drinks are the wrong kinds of snacks for healthy teeth, then what are the right ones? You can’t go wrong with fresh fruits and vegetables, and cheese and nuts are great snacks too! Foods like apples and strawberries can actually scrub our teeth clean as we eat them.

If your child is picky about eating fruits and veggies, then try some yogurt with berries mixed in or hummus dip to go with the carrots and celery sticks. And don’t forget to wash those snacks down with a refreshing glass of milk or water! Beyond being a good source of calcium, milk is a mild base and can reduce the impact of eating acidic foods.

Looking for some creative snack ideas? Check out this video:

Healthy snacks for children

Timing Matters Too

After we eat, it takes about half an hour for saliva to neutralize any leftover acids and wash away any remaining food particles from our latest meal or snack. However, if we constantly snack throughout the day, our saliva won’t be able to do its job. This is why it’s better for our children’s oral health if they stick to designated snack times instead of always having something to munch on throughout the day — even when the snacks in question are healthy ones.

Snacks Are One Part Of The Equation

Making sure your children eat healthy after-school snacks is an important part of keeping their teeth healthy and teaching them good dental habits for life, just like brushing their teeth twice a day, flossing, and coming to see the dentist every six months are. We look forward to seeing them again soon, and make sure to bring any questions you have about healthy snacks when you bring them in!

February is National Children's Dental Health Month

Did you know that childhood cavities can affect your child's permanent teeth?

Do you know when you should take your child to their first dental appointment?

What is the best way to prevent cavities in children?

Check out the infographic below for some great tips, as well as our previous blog post for more info on children's oral care. Schedule your child's appointment online here:

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Don't Let Holiday Foods Ruin Your Smile

The holiday season can be a busy and sometimes frustrating time of year, but there’s nothing like sitting down to a delicious holiday meal with loved ones to remind you of how much you have to be thankful for. The familiar food is one of the best things about the holiday season. But what is that Thanksgiving dinner doing to your smile? Unfortunately, some of the things that you’ll find at your holiday feast aren’t great for your teeth. Take a look at some holiday foods you should skip or eat in moderation, and find out what to make instead. 

Stuffing can cause creat cavity-enducing bacteria.

Stuffing

You probably know that stuffing isn’t great for your waistline, but many people don’t suspect that it could be bad for their teeth. The problem with stuffing is that it’s bread-based. When you eat bread, the saliva in your mouth turns the bread into a gummy, paste-like substance that coats your teeth and doesn’t come off easily. As the bread breaks down further, the starches are converted to sugars that feed cavity-causing bacteria in your mouth. 

Consider replacing stuffing with a savory side dish, like mushroom and eggplant casserole. You can also replace it with quinoa, which is full of tooth-strengthening minerals like calcium, magnesium, manganese, and phosphate. Prepare the quinoa in cooking broth from your turkey to give it that holiday flavor. If you can’t do without stuffing, consider replacing white bread cubes with whole grain bread – whole grains don’t break down as easily and are less likely to damage your teeth. 

Canned Cranberry Sauce

Cranberry sauce is a holiday favorite for a good reason. It’s sweet, tart, a great complement to turkey, and its bright red color fits in with the holiday theme. You can even save time by buying conveniently prepared sauce in a can. 

Unfortunately, canned cranberry sauce is packed with sugar, and has very few of the healthy nutrients that make fresh cranberries a superfood. Your best bet is to skip the canned stuff and find a simple recipe using fresh cranberries. That way, you can measure the sugar yourself and keep it to a minimum, and the dietary fiber that you’ll get from the fresh berries may actually help reduce tooth decay. 

Candy Canes

Candy canes can wreck havoc on your teeth!

Candy canes serve a dual purpose. Not only are they a sweet treat to munch on after a meal, they also make great Christmas tree decorations. But it’s important not to underestimate the toll that these striped sweets can take on your teeth. 

Candy canes have at least three strikes against them. They’re full of sugar, they’re sticky (so the sugar stays on your teeth longer), and on top of that, they’re hard enough to chip a tooth or damage your dental work with an unlucky bite. 

If you still want to decorate with candy canes, that’s fine, but you may want to avoid eating them. However, a dish of sugar-free peppermint gum can make a great after-dinner offering. The peppermint helps soothe overfull stomachs, the chewing stimulates saliva production, which can help wash bacteria and food particles off of your teeth, and you can still enjoy the same sweet taste. 

If it’s been more than six months since your last dental exam, protect your teeth by scheduling your next checkup before we head into 2018! 

Schedule an appointment today

What Causes Canker Sores, and How do I Get Rid of Them?

A sore inside your mouth can be a big inconvenience. It can be uncomfortable even when you’re not doing anything, and it can make things like eating and talking painful and difficult. Canker sores are some of the most common sores to show up inside of the mouth, often on the gums or on the inside of the lip or cheek. 

What Causes Canker Sores?what causes canker sores?

 Although canker sores are common, it’s not known exactly what causes them. 

It’s not entirely clear what causes canker sores to occur in the first place. It’s widely believed that there may be a genetic component to them – if your parent got canker sores, you may get them as well. 

There are two types of canker sores: simple and complex. Simple canker sores are common among patients between the ages of 10 and 20, and those who have simple canker sores are more likely to develop complex canker sores as well, which can happen at any age. 

Small injuries to your mouth are one thing that might trigger canker sores. Hard brushing, sharp foods, and dental equipment like braces or dentures can cause small bruises or inflamed areas that become canker sores. It’s also believed that deficiencies in vitamins and other nutrients can cause canker sores, as can as a weakened immune system. 

How Are Canker Sores Treated?

First the good news: canker sores are not contagious, so you can’t spread them to anyone else. They also aren't pre-cancerous or indicative of a more serious condition, so there’s no need to panic when you see them. 

The bad news is that there’s no permanent cure for canker sores. If you have one, it will go away eventually, but there’s no way to guarantee that it won’t come back. 

Treatment for canker sores usually involves treating just the symptoms – the pain and discomfort associated with the sores. You can purchase pain-relieving ointments over the counter that relieve pain and help protect the sore so that it can heal more easily. Washing your mouth with an antibiotic mouthwash can also help relieve discomfort. 

While your canker sore is healing, you may want to avoid certain foods that are likely to aggravate it. Heavily-spiced food and acidic foods like citrus fruits are common irritants that can make a canker sore more painful. 

Can You Prevent Canker Sores?

While it may not be possible to permanently cure canker sores, you can certainly lessen your chance of getting them in the future. Avoiding injuries or infections in your mouth is a good start. If you wear braces or dentures, be sure to have them inspected and adjusted on schedule. Avoid harsh brushing, but pay close attention to your oral hygiene. 

It can also help to ensure that you’re getting the right nutrients for a healthy mouth. Some of the nutrients your mouth needs are vitamin B-12, calcium, iron, zinc, and folic acid. You may need supplements if you aren’t getting enough of these in your diet. A healthy diet combined with exercise and adequate rest can also help keep the rest of your body healthier, which can keep your immune system strong enough to help prevent canker sore outbreaks. 

3 Simple Ways to Prevent Cavities

Getting a filling is a simple enough procedure, and today’s technology allows the patient to experience the procedure painlessly. However, no one wants to deal with cavities if they can avoid them. You understand the importance of brushing your teeth after every meal, but there’s more to it than that. Take a look at some easy but efficient ways to help prevent cavities and reduce your chances of needing to deal with the drill. 

Drink From The Tap

Tap water is fortified with additional fluoride that helps keep cavities at bay.

 When it comes to beverages, water is hands-down the best for your teeth. It contains no sugars or acids to eat away at your enamel, and it keeps you hydrated, which helps keep a steady supply of saliva in your mouth to wash away bacteria and food particles. So why are some dentists recommending their patients stop buying so much bottled water?

 The answer is simple: fluoride. Most tap water is fortified with additional fluoride that helps keep cavities at bay. Bottled water may contain fluoride too, but if it does, it’s usually only in trace amounts – not enough to help prevent cavities. Unless your tap water is truly unsafe to drink, you’re better off skipping the case of bottled water at the grocery store and filling up a reusable bottle at your own tap. 

 End Your Meal With Cheese

Eating cheese increases the pH levels in your mouth, helping protect your enamel.

 You probably already know that dairy products are generally good for your teeth and bones, but cheese has some specific benefits for your teeth that you may not be aware of. Studies have found that eating cheese increases the pH levels in your mouth, while other dairy products do not. A low pH level in your mouth puts you at risk for tooth decay, so raising the levels with a piece of cheese can have a protective effect. 

 There are also compounds in cheese that stick to your teeth and can temporarily shield your teeth from erosion. And of course, cheese contains calcium, which helps strengthen and re-mineralize your tooth enamel. Ending a meal with a piece of cheese is a good way to protect your teeth, especially if you can’t brush immediately, such as when you’re eating lunch at work.

 Ask Your Dentist for Sealants

 Dental sealants are thin, plastic coatings that your dentist applies over your teeth. The sealant is brushed on in liquid form, but quickly dries, forming a barrier that keeps food particles and germs off the surface of your teeth. 

 Sealants are often recommended for children, but they can also be helpful to adults, especially those that are particularly prone to tooth decay. This easy and inexpensive treatment is usually applied to the back teeth, where the most chewing occurs. It’s a quick, painless, and effective way to prevent your teeth from coming in contact with the things that cause cavities in the first place. 

Cavities are not a fact of life. You can avoid and prevent them if you know how. Talk to your dentist about cavity prevention and find out what else you can be doing to prevent cavities from forming on your teeth. Is it time to come in for your semi-anual cleaning? Scheduling online is easy, just click below to request a time that works best for you.

Schedule an appointment today

How to Model Good Dental Hygiene for Your Children

As a parent, you know that it's important to set a good example for your child when it comes to good health. You can't expect your child to eat all of their vegetables if you don't, for example. The same thing applies to dental health. If you want your children to have strong, healthy teeth, you not only have to tell them how to protect their teeth, you have to show them. Here are some tips that will help you model good dental hygiene for your kids.

Make Tooth Brushing Fun

Be a good role model
Good oral hygiene is fun for the whole family.

When they're young, children learn best through play. Therefore, you can establish good tooth brushing habits by brushing your teeth at the same time that your children do, so that they can see you participating and having fun as well.

There are a number of ways to make brushing more fun. Let your child pick out a toothbrush that they like; children's toothbrushes tend to come in bright colors and decorated with fun characters, so it shouldn't be hard to find one that appeals to your child. You can also look for child-friendly toothpaste flavors, like bubblegum, and brightly-colored hand-held flossers.

Try incorporating music into your tooth brushing time. Ideally, you and your child should brush for about two minutes. Two minutes can feel like a long time when you're doing something boring, but using a fun song as a timer can liven things up and help get your child into the habit of brushing for the appropriate amount of time. It can also help to set up a reward system. For example, you may want to start a motivational chart, awarding stickers for each time your child brushes their teeth without complaining or stalling. Once they reach a certain number of stickers, they get a reward.

Use Educational Tools

Use educational tools
Help your children learn about kids' dental care.

Learning about good oral hygiene shouldn't only happen at tooth brushing time. It's something that you can talk about any time of the day. Use educational materials that can help make an impression on your child. For example, go to the library and check out children's books about tooth brushing, losing a tooth, or learning about cavities.

You may also be able to find educational material online. Look for videos or mobile apps geared toward children that encourage good dental hygiene. Your dentist may be able to suggest some online materials that your children will enjoy.

Prepare For Visits to the Dentist

A visit to the dentist can be scary for a young child, but regular dental visits are vital to good oral health. You can help your child get ready for a visit to the dentist by reading and talking about what happens at a dental checkup, visiting the office ahead of time so that your child can meet the dentist, and allowing them to bring a comfort object like a teddy bear to the dentist's office. We also offer warm blankets or headphones to our patients, just ask when you arrive if you or your child would like one. 

Your attitude toward the dentist will make a big difference as well. If you're nervous about the dentist, your child likely will be too. Remember to be positive and confident when you have conversations about the dentist. That will help your child feel safe and relaxed.

Now is a great time to schedule your family's checkups! Give us a call or click below to request a appointment that is convenient for you.

Schedule an appointment today

Valentine's Day Prep

It’s almost Valentine’s Day! Have you thought about whether your mouth is ready to pucker up? There’s arguably more kissing on Valentine’s Day than any other day of the year. Here are a few tips to make sure you have a kissable mouth!

  • Brush your tongue. This can be the single, most beneficial treatment for bad breath. The back portion of the tongue is found to harbor the bad-breath bacteria, due to its inability to self-cleanse. Toothpaste may be used to give you the added minty taste. A tongue scraper may also be used if the toothbrush isn’t doing the job.
  • Evaluate your diet. Avoid foods with a noticeable odor, such as garlic and onions. Once the food is absorbed into the bloodstream, it is transferred to the lungs, where it is expelled. Also, try to avoid skipping meals. Eating aids in stimulating the washing action of saliva and helps to remove bacteria from the tongue.
  • Floss. Particles of food can remain between the teeth, collecting bacteria and causing a foul odor. Flossing will eliminate this, but don’t just pop the floss through. You want to floss each tooth by forming a “C” around the tooth you’re flossing (like drying off your back after a shower – same idea).
  • Use a Mouthwash. Although most mouthwashes only provide temporary relief, combining a rinse and a brush in the middle of the day can be very beneficial. This can easily be incorporated into your everyday routine. Be cautious when using mouthwashes with alcohol, as this may cause dry mouth, thus worsening the condition.

Happy Friday! Did You Know...?

Chewing sugar-free gum for 20 minutes after eating can help prevent tooth decay.

How Does Pregnancy Affect Dental Health?

If you have an older friend or relative, you may have heard the expression, "have a baby, lose a tooth." This old wives' tale suggests that every pregnancy is hard enough on the mother's dental health that they can expect to lose at least one tooth. You also may have heard that the developing baby pulls calcium from the mother's teeth, causing dental problems. Both of these are just myths, but there are dental issues that can occur during pregnancy that you need to be aware of. Take a look at how pregnancy affects your teeth, and how you should adapt your dental care habits to account for these effects.

Pregnancy doesn't have to harm your smile.
Pregnancy doesn't have to harm your smile.

Tooth Erosion

Often, one of the first symptoms of pregnancy that women experience is morning sickness. In addition to the general unpleasantness of frequent nausea and vomiting, this pregnancy symptom can be pretty hard on your teeth. The acids that come up from your stomach when you vomit can actually erode the enamel on your teeth, and if you suffer from excessive morning sickness, this can become a real problem.

You can help prevent erosion by not brushing your teeth immediately after you're done vomiting. While this may sound counter-intuitive, brushing right away can spread the acid around on your teeth, worsening the problem. Instead, rinse your mouth out with a solution of baking soda and water. This reduces the pH levels in your mouth, so that there's less acid. Then you can brush your teeth safely.

Lack of Saliva

Some women experience dry mouth during pregnancy. This lack of saliva is more than just a mere annoyance. Saliva helps clean away food particles and bacteria that cause cavities, and if you don't have enough saliva, the bacteria is free to grow and spread and cause decay.

You may need to make an extra effort to stay hydrated while you're pregnant. Drink lots of water and other liquids. Chewing sugar free gum sweetened with xylitol can not only help you keep your mouth moist, the xylitol also helps to prevent cavities from forming.

Gum Disease

Be sure to visit your dentist during your pregnancy.
Don't hesitate to visit your dentist while pregnant.

Far and away, the most widespread dental problem that occurs during pregnancy is gum disease. Pregnancy gingivitis is a problem that affects most pregnant women to some degree or another. You may notice that your gums become red, inflamed, or sensitive. In some cases, they may even bleed when you brush your teeth.

The effects of pregnancy gingivitis can be minimized and controlled by practicing good oral hygiene. Brush at least twice a day, floss at least once a day, and use an antimicrobial mouthwash. It's also a good idea to see your dentist to have the health of your gums checked early on in your pregnancy. If you already have a mild form of gingivitis, as many Americans do, pregnancy gingivitis will be that much worse. It's perfectly safe to see your dentist for checkups and routine cleanings, as well as other dental needs, during your pregnancy. You should check with your OB if you need any dental procedures requiring anesthesia, but most dental procedures are safe for pregnant women.

Maintaining your dental health during pregnancy is good for your overall health and good for the health of your baby. If you're expecting, don't hesitate to schedule an appointment.

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Happy Friday! Don't Forget to Floss!

Gentech Dentist says you miss cleaning 35% of your teeth if you don't floss!