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

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.

Here are 8 common dental procedures that will help you have a happy, healthy smile!

Teeth Whitening

Over time, your teeth often lose their shade of white because of the chemicals in the food and drink that you consume. Lehigh Valley Smile Designs can create a customized mouthpiece tray that makes sure you’ll get the correct amount of whitening solution on your teeth when you use the tray.

Crowns

Crowns are designed to completely cover your tooth, giving it a normal appearance and shape. Crowns – also called caps – are used by the team at Lehigh Valley Smile Designs for a variety of dental problems. These range from using a crown to cover a large filling to providing a weak tooth with added protection. Crowns are also used after a root canal procedure, to cover a dental implant, or hold a dental bridge in place.

A variety of materials can be used to make a crown, including metal, porcelain fused to metal, resin, or ceramic materials. Although more costly than some other dental procedures, permanent crowns can have a long life if you take good care of them.

Bonding

If you have teeth with extra space between them, or teeth that are broken, stained, chipped or cracked, then bonding might be the answer to your dental problem. Bonding can often be done in one office visit and involves applying an etching solution to the tooth and then adding tooth-colored materials (often a composite resin) to the tooth’s surface. Bonding usually lasts for several years, but is more likely to chip or become stained vs. other restoration types.

Veneers

Veneers are usually made of porcelain and are designed to cover the front of your tooth to alter the color and shape. They last longer than bonding and give your tooth a better appearance. They are usually a bit cheaper than crowns. Veneers can help teeth that have spaces between them, are permanently stained, are chipped or worn, are slightly crooked, or are shaped poorly. When you come in for your initial visit, the dentist at  Lehigh Valley Smile Designs will take a tooth impression. On your second visit, the dentist will prepare the tooth before cementing the veneer on the tooth. The dentist then uses a light beam to harden the cement.

Enamel Shaping and Contouring

This procedure can help alter the shape, length or position of your teeth. The dentist uses dental enamel to enhance your teeth’s appearance. Reshaping and contouring often is used to correct overlapping or crooked teeth, irregular and chipped teeth, or minor bite problems. It is often used in conjunction with bonding.

Bridges

Often a dental bridge is called a fixed partial denture. It is used to replace teeth you are missing with artificial teeth and can be made of porcelain, gold, alloys or a combination of materials. Dental bridges are anchored onto other teeth after preparing them for crowns. Then a false tooth joins to the crowns and the bridge is cemented onto the prepared teeth.

Braces

If you have crooked teeth – or suffer from an underbite, overbite, or other problems with your jaw or teeth - braces are often your best solution. It can take a few months to several years depending on the severity of your dental issue. Braces can be made from ceramic, metal or plastic, with wire connecting them. The process is often uncomfortable, but the end result is worth it to many people

If the problem you need correcting is not severe, you may be able to use clear aligner trays to address your problem. This approach is more convenient and less painful, but often more expensive. But for many people, the cost is worth the outcome.

Implants

While implants can be one of the more expensive dental procedures, they are one of the best solutions to dental problems because of their permanence and stability. Many people prefer them to removable dentures (which can fall out easily). Your dentist at  Lehigh Valley Smile Designs surgically connects the implant to your jawbone. The result is strikingly realistic looking teeth that won’t lose their shade of white. There are multiple steps involved in putting in an implant, so you’ll need to visit your dentist several times over many months.

Of course, many of the solutions we’ve outlined aren’t needed if you take care of your teeth through proper oral hygiene, Be sure to brush twice daily, floss daily, and visit  Lehigh Valley Smile Designs every six months for a check-up and dental hygiene cleaning.

Sources: Worldental.org, WebMD

Alternatives to a Candy-Filled Halloween

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