Avoid Stained Teeth with These Three Simple Tips

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If you want to keep your teeth bright and white, but don’t want to cut out the foods and beverages that are most likely to stain your teeth, we have three simple tips you can follow.                                                                              

So what foods and beverages are most likely to stain your teeth? The ones that are most intensely colored are the top culprits. The color comes from intensely pigmented molecules called chromogens, which have the unfortunate habit of sticking to the enamel on your teeth.

Chromogens combine with the acid in certain foods and beverages to deliver a double dose of trouble to your tooth enamel. The acid softens your tooth’s enamel, making it easier for the chromogens to stain your teeth. The chromogens also can get a boost to their staining power from a food compound called tannin.

Foods and beverages that are the biggest teeth-staining culprits are wine (red and white), black tea, colas, sports drinks, deeply colored sauces (tomato sauce, curry sauce, soy sauce), berries and hard candy. 

To minimize the impact of these foods and beverages on your teeth then follow these three simple steps:

Consider using a straw. By sipping your beverage through a straw you will help keep teeth-staining beverages away from your teeth — especially your front teeth. You probably won’t want to use a straw for coffee or wine, but you should definitely consider using a straw for juices, cola, and iced tea.

Be sure to swallow promptly. Protect your teeth from stains by promptly swallowing stain-causing foods and beverages (especially beverages). Of course you want to thoroughly chew your food and savor the flavors, but be mindful of the teeth-staining power of what you have in your mouth.

Be a water swisher. It’s may not always convenient for you to brush your teeth after eating or drinking. Even when it is, it might be better not to: dental enamel is highly vulnerable to abrasion from tooth brushing for up to 30 minutes after the consumption of an acidic food or beverage. So it’s safer simply to swish with water — and brush later, once the enamel has had a chance to re-harden. Another way to remove stain-causing substances without brushing is to chew sugarless gum after eating or drinking.

And don’t forget the importance of brushing and flossing daily and be sure to see a dentist periodically — and to avoid smoking or chewing tobacco. These long-term strategies, combined with the simple tips we’ve mentioned, should keep you smiling for years to come.

Sources: WebMD and Personal Care Dentistry

 

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

Alternatives to a Candy-Filled Halloween

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Every year about this time, when spooky ads abound and grocery aisles are fully stocked with individual-sized candy, you might be pondering whether you should stock up on the sugar-laden treats for the neighborhood kids or should you look for healthier alternatives that won’t negatively impact oral health and won't evoke a look of disgust from the children?

You can find tooth-friendly healthy food treats and fun non-food gizmos that will please the most ardent candy-lover – you just have to spend some time looking for the right “healthy Halloween” items. These healthy treats that you drop into trick or treaters’ Halloween buckets can be delicious, good for them and don't have to start with 'c' and end in 'y'.

From the Pantry

Gone are the days when you could bake a batch of homemade oatmeal raisin cookies or popcorn balls and pass them out. Most parents are hesitant to let their kids enjoy anything that is not individually wrapped. But there are plenty of individual portion treats to satisfy even the most discriminating costumed child.

Favorites from the pantry include:

  • Raisins
  • Pretzels
  • Juice boxes
  • Mini water bottles (they need them to help wash down the candy while trick or treating)
  • Plain cookies (graham crackers, Teddy Grahams, vanilla wafers, etc.)
  • Baked chips, baked tortilla chips
  • Popcorn
  • Lowfat granola or cereal bars
  • Sugar-free gum

Believe it or not, a few random non-candy items in the sack are fun to discover for both parents and kids. Moms and dads delight in finding nutritious nibbles that they can borrow to put in Johnny's lunchbox. The kids like the variety and often end up eating or drinking the nutritious treats while trick or treating for respite from all the candy.

Party Store Goodies

If you opt to generate a little more enthusiasm from your neighborhood gang, try the numerous non-food items that kids love. These items will often generate bigger smiles than the typical sugar-laden candy that is the norm on Halloween. Keep your eye out for small inexpensive gadgets and things that kids love to collect such as:

  • Decorative pencils
  • Small rubber balls
  • Erasers
  • Rubber ghosts, goblins, witches
  • Waxed lips
  • Glow sticks
  • Stickers
  • Key chains
  • Marbles
  • Tic-tac-toe or other small games
  • Bubbles
  • Chalk
  • Coloring books
  • Crayons

So How Bad is a Bucket of Candy?

OK, so you decide to wear your parent hat, remembering fondly the thrill of your own childhood when you came home after Halloween night and spilled out all your goodies onto the living room floor. Why would you want to deny kids this same memorable experience? Granted, there is nothing wrong with candy in small doses. The problem is that more kids today are overweight or obese and it is a serious health problem. Is Halloween the time or place to correct this national problem? No, but it sure doesn't hurt to sprinkle a few non-candy items to help reduce the temptation to pig-out on candy.

If candy you must, choose non-chocolate types that contain fewer calories without caffeine-like stimulants. Hard candies, jelly types, licorice are good examples of candy without the extra fat calories of chocolate and sans potential stimulants.

A Dose of Parental Guidance

As a parent, it is best to establish a plan of how all this candy will be consumed. Ideally, the distribution of the candy will be the parent's responsibility, otherwise, you may find meals skipped in preference to candy fests. Dole it out in moderation. If you have a very active child who is of normal weight, you can be more generous but not so much that it affects their appetite. Remember, kids are growing and need lots of nutrients that are not found in candy. Candy needs to be considered a treat, to be consumed after satisfying the body's need for vitamins, minerals and nutrients.

SOURCE: WedMD.com

What You Need to Know About Bruxism

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If you are one of those folks who regularly grind your teeth, then your condition is called bruxism. It can lead to damage to your teeth and other oral health issues.

So why do people grind their teeth? Generally, teeth grinding or clenching is from stress or anxiety and it usually occurs at night when you’re sleeping. You’re more apt to suffer from bruxism if you have an abnormal bite or if you are missing teeth or have crooked teeth.

You probably suffer from bruxism if you have a constant, dull headache or your jaw is regularly sore. Also, your loved one may hear you at night when you are sleeping and grinding your teeth. If you do think that you may have bruxism, consult with your dentist at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs. He will examine your jaw and mouth for signs of grinding and look for abnormalities and/or tenderness in your jaw and teeth.

We see some patients at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs who come in with teeth that have been fractured, loosened or are even missing because of a long-term history of grinding their teeth. Sometimes their teeth have been ground down to mere stumps. The solution? Crowns, bridges, implants, root canals, and partial or full dentures.

Additionally, health issues stemming from bruxism’s impact on your jaw can include hearing loss, worsening of TMD and TMJ, and changes in your face’s appearance.

So what can you do to stop grinding your teeth or reduce its impact?

Have your dentist at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs fit you with a night mouth guard to protect your teeth while you sleep.

Find ways to reduce your stress if that is a contributing factor to your bruxism. Depending on your personal situation, counseling for stress, regular exercise, physical therapy, and prescription muscle relaxants are some of the options you may consider.

Cut back from your diet– or cut out – foods and drinks that have caffeine. These include colas, coffee and coffee.

Skip the alcohol because you grind your teeth more intensely after consuming alcohol.

Avoid chewing anything that isn’t food – thinks like pencils or pen caps. Chewing gum can also be a problem since it makes your jaw muscles more used to clenching and increases the likelihood that you will grind your teeth.

Teach yourself not to grind or clench your teeth. If you position the tip of your tongue between your teeth while you’re awake, you’ll train your jaw muscles to relax. At night, hold a warm washcloth against your check in front of your earlobe to relax your jaw muscles.

SOURCE: WebMD

Amalgam vs. Composite Resin Fillings

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Your body has an amazing ability to repair and heal itself. As an example, when you break a bone, your body can create new cells that “glue” the broken bone back together. However, the body’s ability to repair itself doesn’t include your teeth. Once you injure a tooth or develop a cavity in it, your body can’t repair the tooth itself.

If you do develop a cavity in one of your teeth, your dentist can provide you with a range of options to repair and fill the problem tooth. In this blog we’ll just focus on the two most popular common fillings, amalgam and composite resin.