7 Ideas to Enhance Your Family’s Oral Health

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If tooth decay and gum disease are two oral health problems you want your family to avoid this year, then we have 7 great tips to help your family have a healthy year for their teeth and gums. Remember, most gum disease and tooth decay is preventable if you practice good oral hygiene habits. Make sure you and each member of your family spend a couple of minutes a day flossing and brushing and that you make good choices to enhance your oral health. For a lifetime of healthy teeth and gums, that’s not a lot to ask, is it?

Begin at six months. Start your child’s dental care around six months, which is when their first tooth generally appears. Initially, use a damp cloth or soft brush to wipe your baby’s teeth. Once a child turns two, they can brush for themselves with adult supervision.

Consider sealants. Just 33% of kids in the United States receive dental sealants, but it is a great way to protect your child’s permanent molars when they come in at age 6. The sealant is applied by your dentist to the chewing surfaces on the molars and provides protection against decay.

The daily duo. Be sure to brush twice a day and floss once a day to avoid gum disease and tooth decay. Gum disease has been linked to heart disease, so it’s not something you want in your mouth.

Finish your meals the right way. Rinse your mouth right after a meal with water and/or an antibacterial rinse. Another tip is to chew a piece of sugar-free gum right after you eat to enhance the flow of saliva, which washes away bacteria and reduces acid.

Practice smart eating. Be sure to include whole foods in your diet because they will provide your teeth and gums the nutrients they need to stay healthy. That means to be sure to eat nuts, grains, dairy products, vegetables and fruits on a daily basis.

Say no to soda. Sugary sodas are “double trouble” because of their high sugar content and because people tend to sip them over extended periods of time. Bacteria in your mouth love sugar, because they produce acid when they break down the sugar. Acid erodes the enamel on your teeth, which can then lead to decay.

See your dentist regularly. Make an appointment for a dental check-up and cleaning every six months if you want to stay on top of your oral health. Your dental hygienist will get rid of built-up plaque on your teeth and check for tooth decay. Your dentist will also check for signs of oral cancer or gum disease.

 

SOURCE: WebMD

 

11 Tips to Help Protect Your Tooth Enamel

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Tooth Enamel Erosion: Causes and How to Prevent It

Tooth enamel is a semi-clear, hard, outer layer that protects your teeth from daily wear and tear. It also keeps you from feeling temperature extremes from the hot and cold things you eat and drink. Acids and chemicals that can damage your teeth are also fended off by it.

Every time you eat or drink anything acidic, the enamel on your teeth becomes softer for a short while, and loses some of its mineral content. Your saliva will slowly cancel out this acidity in your mouth and get it back to its natural balance. However, if this acid attack happens too often, your mouth does not have a chance to repair itself and tiny bits of enamel can be brushed away. Over time, you start to lose the surface of your teeth.

When this shell erodes, your teeth are more likely to get cavities and decay. You may notice you react more to hot or cold foods, drinks, and sweets, since they can get through holes in your enamel to the nerves inside.

A few easy habits can help you protect your pearly whites. But first you need to know what to watch out for.

 

What Causes Enamel Erosion?

Damage to your teeth’s outer layer can come from:

·        Too many sweets. Bacteria in your mouth thrive on sugar, and they make acids that can eat away at enamel. It gets worse if you don’t clean your teeth regularly.

·        Sour foods or candies. They have a lot of acid.

·        Dry mouth. Saliva helps prevent tooth decay by washing away bacteria acids and leftover food in your mouth. It also brings acids to an acceptable level.

·        Acid reflux disease, GERD, or heartburn. These bring stomach acids up to the mouth, where they can damage enamel.

·        Bulimia, alcoholism, or binge drinking. People with these conditions vomit often, which is hard on teeth.

·        Drugs or supplements that have a lot of acid. Think aspirin or vitamin C.

·        Brushing too hard. A soft brush and a gentle touch are best.

·        Grinding your teeth. Your dentist may call this bruxism. Too much of it can do damage.

 

What Are the Symptoms?

Erosion usually shows up as hollows in the teeth and a general wearing away of the tooth surface and biting edges. This can expose the dentine underneath, which is a darker, yellower color than the enamel. If your teeth start losing their outer shell, you might notice:

·        Pain when eating hot, cold, or sweet foods or drinks

·        Rough or uneven edges on the teeth, which can crack or chip when they lose their enamel

·        Smooth, shiny surfaces on the teeth, a sign of mineral loss

·        Yellow teeth

·        Cupping, or dents, that show up where you bite and chew

 

How Can I Protect My Enamel?

Because it can't be replaced, your best option is to do what you can to prevent tooth enamel loss.

·        Good dental care is the best way to keep your mouth healthy.

·        Cut down on acidic drinks and foods, like sodas, citrus fruits, and juices. When you do have something with acid, have it at meal times to make it easier on your enamel. You can also switch to things like low-acid orange juice.

·        Rinse your mouth with water right after you eat or drink something acidic.

·        Use a straw for sodas and fruit juices so they bypass the teeth. Don’t swish them around in your mouth.

·        Finish a meal with a glass of milk or a piece of cheese. This will cancel out acids.

·        Chew sugar-free gum. This lowers the amount of acid in your mouth. Gum also helps you make more saliva, which strengthens your teeth with key minerals.

·        Drink more water during the day if you have dry mouth.

·        Use a soft toothbrush. And try not to brush too hard.

·        Wait at least an hour to brush after you've had acidic foods or drinks. They soften the enamel and make it more prone to damage from your toothbrush.

·        Use fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash. Your dentist can tell you which products can protect your teeth and make them less sensitive.

·        Get treatment for conditions like bulimia, alcoholism, or GERD.

 

Work with Your Dentist

Ultimately, one of the best ways to protect your teeth's enamel is to work with your dentist. He or she can detect any erosion and offer tips on ways to reduce it. As well as using a fluoride toothpaste, your dental team may suggest you use a fluoride-containing mouthwash and have a fluoride varnish applied at least every six months. They may also prescribe a toothpaste with more fluoride in it.

If a tooth does need treatment, it is important to protect the enamel and the dentine underneath to prevent sensitivity. Usually, simply bonding a filling onto the tooth will be enough to repair it. However, in more severe cases the dentist may need to fit a veneer. If it's been a while since you've been in a dentist's chair, book an appointment today.

Sources: WebMD, DentalHealth.org

 

 

 

Sealants Can Stop Cavities Before They Begin

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A Process That Saves Time and Money on Expensive Dental Procedures

Dental sealants act as a barrier to prevent cavities. They are a plastic material usually applied to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth (premolars and molars) where decay occurs most often.

Thorough brushing and flossing help remove food particles and plaque from smooth surfaces of teeth. But toothbrush bristles can’t always reach all the way into the depressions and grooves to extract food and plaque. And fluoride in toothpaste and in drinking water protects the smooth surfaces of teeth but back teeth need extra protection.

Sealants protect these vulnerable areas by "sealing out" plaque and food. The sugar in this food is used by germs in the mouth to make acids. Over time, the acids can make a cavity in the tooth.

 

Why Get Sealants?

A healthy tooth is the best tooth, so it is important to prevent decay. That's why sealants are so important. Having sealants put on teeth before they decay will also save time and money in the long run by avoiding fillings, crowns, or caps used to fix decayed teeth.

 

Who Should Get Sealants?

Children should get sealants on their permanent molars as soon as the teeth come in - before decay attacks the teeth.

The first permanent molars - called "6 year molars" - come in between the ages of 5 and 7.

The second permanent molars - "12 year molars" - come in when a child is between 11 and 14 years old. Other teeth with pits and grooves also might need to be sealed.

Baby teeth save space for permanent teeth. It is important to keep baby teeth healthy so they don't fall out early. Your dentist might think sealants are a good idea, especially if your child's baby teeth have deep pits and grooves.

 

Can Dental Sealants Be Placed on Adult Teeth?
Yes — while less common, dental sealants are sometimes placed in adults at risk for caries, on deep grooves and fissures that do not already have fillings or dental sealants.

 

How Are Sealants Applied?

Applying sealant is a simple and painless process. It takes only a few minutes for your dentist or hygienist to apply the sealant to seal each tooth. The application steps are as follows:

1.      First the teeth that are to be sealed are thoroughly cleaned.

2.      Each tooth is then dried, and cotton or another absorbent material is put around the tooth to keep it dry.

3.      An acid solution is put on the chewing surfaces of the teeth to roughen them up, which helps the sealant bond to the teeth.

4.      The teeth are then rinsed and dried.

5.      Sealant is then painted onto the tooth enamel, where it bonds directly to the tooth and hardens. Sometimes a special curing light is used to help the sealant harden.

Even if a small cavity accidently gets covered the decay will not spread, because it is sealed off from its food and germ supply.

 

How Long Do Sealants Last?

Sealants can last up to 10 years. But they need to be checked at regular dental check-ups to make sure they are not chipped or worn away. The dentist or dental hygienist can repair sealants by adding more sealant material.

 

Do Sealants Prevent Gum Disease?

No. Dental sealants do not protect against gum disease such as gingivitis, oral cancer or many common dental conditions. Regular dental checkups are vital to monitor overall oral health.

 

Are Sealants Visible?

Sealants can only be seen up close. Sealants can be clear, white, or slightly tinted, and usually are not seen when a child talks or smiles.

 

Sources: MouthHealthy.org, National Institute for Dental and Craniofacial Research, KnowYourTeeth.com, Colgate, American Dental Association (ADA)