Tips to Keeping Your Smile Bright For a Lifetime

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Keep your family’s gums and teeth healthy for a lifetime by following these 10 tips for good oral health. You’ll help them keep their smiles bright, avoid toothaches and cavities, and even improve their overall health.

Good oral hygiene can be maintained by spending a few minutes each day on flossing and brushing, along with making smart choices about what you eat and drink. In fact, just about all gum disease and tooth decay can be prevented with proper oral hygiene. Additionally, recent research has linked gum disease to other health issues, including an elevated chance of heart disease.

Here’s 10 tips to help your family maintain good oral hygiene from their early years to retirement and beyond.

Begin at an early age. Your child’s first tooth will appear around six months, and that is when you should start your child’s dental care. Start by wiping their teeth with a clean, damp cloth or an extra-soft toothbrush. Once they reach the age of 2, let them try brushing their teeth themselves while you supervise. If you begin when they are young, you can help your child not be one of the 50 percent of kids between 12 and 15 who have cavities.

Get sealed. Dental sealants are thin protective coatings that your dentist applies to your child’s back teeth to prevent decay. A good time to do this is when you child’s permanent molars come in, which is usually around 6.

Be a friend to fluoride. The good news is that three out of four citizens of the United States drinks water that is fluoridated. But if you drink mainly bottled water, you’re skipping the fluoride, and missing out on the enamel-strengthening fluoride provides. Most toothpastes and mouth rinses have fluoride in them, and you can ask your dentist about having fluoride applied to your teeth the next time you are in for a visit.

Practice a 2+1 regimen. Get in the habit – and stay in the habit – of brushing twice a day and flossing once a day. Plus, be sure to switch to a new toothbrush every three months.

Be a swisher or a chewer After meals, swish your mouth with an antibacterial rinse and/or chew sugar-free gum. The antibacterial rinse will kill bacteria in your mouth, and they are the initial culprit in the formation of a cavity. Chewing gum increases the flow of saliva to your mouth, and saliva washes away that dreaded bacteria and the acids they produce.

Use a mouth guard. If you have a son or daughter playing contact sports, then invest in a custom-fitted mouth guard to ensure their future oral health. Your dentist can make a custom fitting and order a mouth guard for them at an affordable cost.

Give up the tobacco. Tobacco and good oral health do not go well together. Smoking – or chewing tobacco – inevitably leads to stained teeth and boosts your risk of gum disease and oral cancer. If you use tobacco, stop. If you don’t use tobacco, don’t start.

Be a smart eater. Your teeth and gums will love you if you eat a healthy diet. Your gums and teeth will get all the nutrients they need if you stick to a well-balanced diet heavy on whole foods. And eat fish – the omega-3 fats found in fish have been shown to reduce inflammation, which will lower your risk of gum disease.

Say no to sugary foods. The bacteria in your mouth (remember them) love sugar, because they consume it and then produce acids. Those acids attack your tooth’s enamel, which can lead to tooth decay. Two sugar-filled items to really avoid are sugary drinks (soft drinks and fruit drinks), which you tend to sip and thus raise the acid levels in your mouth for an extended period of time, and sticky candies, which attach to your teeth.

See your dentist regularly. Make sure to see your dentist every six months for a hygiene visit and a check-up. That way, any plaque that you haven’t been able to remove will be removed, and any signs of decay will be spotted. Your dentist will also check for any signs of oral cancer or gum disease, and if you are grinding your teeth.

SOURCE: WebMD

Tips to Prepare Your Child for Their First Dental Visit

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It’s important to schedule your child’s first dental visit before their first birthday. At that point, children’s baby teeth are starting to appear and are susceptible to decay and cavities. Although their baby teeth are not permanent, decay in baby teeth can lead to an increase in the risk of decay to their permanent teeth once they start to develop.

Many new parents are surprised by this recommendation, but they also don’t realize that preschool-aged children are getting more cavities. In fact, 25 percent of kids had a cavity by age four in the United States. Cavities are appearing in children as early as two years old.

Why Baby Teeth Are Important

Parents who have never taken their child to the dentist often are surprised to find out that baby teeth (also called primary teeth) need to stay in place until they naturally fall out. Baby teeth are important for a number of reasons:

  • Helping proper chewing
  • Speech development
  • Saving space for permanent teeth
  • Supporting a healthy smile

Preparing for the Initial Visit to the Dentist

Preparation is a key to a successful first dental appointment for your child. Be sure to contact your dentist prior to your child’s first visit to discuss the procedures at the office so you avoid surprises. Have the dental office send you the forms you need to fill out for your child ahead of time. Or if they have online forms, use that option.

Be sure to discuss your child’s first visit to the dentist in a relaxed and positive manner. They will pick up on any negative feeling you have about dental offices, so maintaining a patient and calm approach to their questions is important.

Help your child practice brushing their teeth prior to the first visit so they will be used to the feel in their mouth of a toothbrush. Learn as much as you can about a child’s first dental visit and their oral health before you take them to the dentist for the first time. Delta Dental has a great set of resources on their website at www.mysmilekids.com. It’s filled with fun activities and interesting stories to teach kids about their teeth.

Send a list of any medical issues that affect your child to your dentist, along with a list of medications they take. Keep the phone number for your child’s pediatrician easily accessible in case your dentist asks for additional health information.

Finally, bring your child’s most-loved blanket, toy or stuffed animal so that they feel secure and comforted on their first visit to the dentist. 

What to Expect At Your Child’s First Visit

Make sure to schedule your child’s first dental visit early in the day so that they are alert and feeling fresh. Expect a bit of fussing from your child during the visit, but many parents are surprised how easily their child accepts the dentist’s examination. In fact, many kids like the novelty of the visit and the extra attention.

Your dentist will check the development of your son’s or daughter’s teeth and look for any problems. They will do a thorough – but gentle exam of your child’s teeth, jaw, bite, gums and oral tissues.

This first visit is also a great time to chat with your dentist about tips for dental care for your child, including diet’s impact on oral health, risk of cavities, oral hygiene, use of fluoride, oral habits (thumb and finger sucking), and preventing trauma to their mouth.

Developing trust with successful visits to the dentist will provide your child with an important foundation for their future oral health. This will reduce potential anxiety and fear, which will make for plenty of stress-free visits in the future. Most experts recommend that children see the dentist about every six months so don’t forget to schedule your child’s second appointment on your way out the door!

Sources: Parents.com, KnowYourTeeth.com, Colgate.com, DeltaDentalIns.com

Give Your Teeth A Healthy Thanksgiving This Year

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If you’re looking for ways to make this year’s Thanksgiving meal a little healthier for your oral health, then we have seven tips to help you keep everyone’s teeth and gums happy this year.

Slow Down on the Sugar

If you love sweets, then Thanksgiving is often a sugared-filled delight for you. Marshmallow-topped sweet potatoes, cranberry relish, and a variety of pies covered in whipped cream are often packed with sugar. That’s tough on your teeth because sugar is a favorite food of bacteria in your mouth. And bacteria consuming sugar is the first step in the creation of a cavity in your mouth. There’s a simple solution to avoid all that sugar – switch to erythritol or xylitol. They don’t create cavities but are great as sweeteners.

Beware of Brightly-Colored Foods and Drinks

If your Thanksgiving spread includes red wine, cranberry relish, cherry or blueberry pie, then you might want to reconsider your choices. Brightly-colored food and drink can dull the enamel on your teeth and increase the odds of staining. So this year, cut back on bright foods and be sure to drink lots of water to wash away those stain-causers.

Reduce the Starches

Stuffing, cornbread and rolls are all starch-filled – which is why most of us love them. But consider cutting down on the amount you eat this year. You’ll get a double bonus if you do that because you’ll be reducing the calories you consume and reducing the opportunity for bacteria in your mouth to use the starches as food (starches convert to sugar when you eat them) that can lead to cavities. This year have an extra portion of protein or vegetables instead of a starch-filled food.

Acid Makes Your Teeth’s Enamel Unhappy

Acidic foods and beverages are tough on the enamel that covers and protects your teeth. The reason? The acid softens your teeth’s enamel, making it easier for bacteria to start the process of creating cavities. Cranberry juice and red wine are the biggest culprits in terms of acidity. But you can reduce the impact by keeping a glass of water handy and sipping from it between drinks of your acidic beverage. Also, be sure to wait at least 30 minutes before you brush after you have eaten acidic foods. The acid softens your enamel and the bristles on your toothbrush can damage the enamel.

Get A Little Nutty

You can strengthen and remineralize your teeth by spending some time at the nut dish this Thanksgiving. That’s because nuts are loaded with calcium and good minerals. Plus the nuts produce lots of saliva when you chew them!

Think “Rainbow” When You Fill Your Plate

If your plate on Thanksgiving looks like a rainbow of colorful vegetables, then your teeth will be happy. That’s because vegetables are packed with minerals and vitamins. Orange and red vegies will provide you with lots of Vitamin C, while green leafy vegies will deliver lots of calcium. A bonus is the fact that chewing raw vegetables will create lots of saliva, which will naturally wash away your oral enemy – bacteria. And don’t forget – celery’s fibrous strands are great at helping clean between your teeth!

Drinks Lots of Water…And Have a Cup of Tea

Damage to your enamel caused by acids is reversed when you drink fluoridated tap water. You also double your cavity-fighting efforts if you brew some green or black tea using fluoridated tap water. Teas kill bacteria and thus fight cavities. Sipping water or tea while you eat will also wash away acids caused by starchy and sugar-laden foods.

Sources: MouthHealthy.org (American Dental Association), DeltaDental.com, Colgate.com

8 Options for A Great Grin

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If you feel like your pearly whites need some help to enhance your smile, then you have an array of options to choose from at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs. These range from changing the shape of your teeth to closing gaps in your smile; from making them whiter to removing plaque and taking care of cavities.