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February is National Children’s Dental Health Month

February 2nd, 2017

According to the Center for Disease Control, tooth decay is one of the most common chronic conditions of childhood in the United States. They go on to report that 20% of children age 5-11 and that 13% of adolescents age 12-19 have at least one untreated decayed tooth.  This is one reason the American Dental Association focuses on children’s dental health each February.

Left untreated, tooth decay may lead to pain, low self-esteem, difficulty socializing and sleeping, impact speech and eating, as well as affect overall health.

The U.S. Surgeon General’s office reports that an estimated 51 million school hours were lost annually due to dental-related illness. Similarly, a study of school children in North Carolina published in the American Journal of Public Health found that "children with poor oral health status were nearly 3 times more likely ... than were their counterparts to miss school as a result of dental pain."

The answer lies in education for children, teachers and their caregivers, and access to quality dental care providers.

TIPS FOR DENTAL HEALTH
Here are some things parents and caregivers can do to ensure children’s dental health:

  • Teach children to brush at least two times each day to remove food from their teeth and prevent bacteria that cause decay.
  • Limit sugary drinks and snacks that can cause decay. Water is best since it creates an environment bacteria don’t like.
  • Protect your child’s teeth with fluoride by using a fluoride toothpaste. If your drinking water is not fluoridated, ask your dentist if your child needs a fluoride varnish or fluoride supplements
  • Talk to your child’s dentist about dental sealants to protect teeth from decay
  • Have your child visit a dentist for a first checkup by age 1, and then regularly as recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics.

RESOURCES FOR YOUR CHILDREN
The ADA provides fun educational activities for children to help parents, caregivers and teachers teach the importance of good dental health. Download these for your kids!

Make it a habit! Use this calendar to keep track of brushing

Choose tap water coloring page

On the Go! Learn why Buck and Flossy choose tap water and healthy snacks, and follow the 2 Minutes 2 Times” rule for brushing.

What to choose? This fun activity page helps kids determine choices for good oral hygiene.

For more information on National Children’s Health Month, visit http://www.ada.org/en/public-programs/national-childrens-dental-health-month. To have a Dental Hygienist visit your school to talk about good dental hygiene, contact us!

10 Reasons Teeth Yellow

January 5th, 2017

White teeth are often considered a sign of beauty and many believe a person’s smile is a deciding factor in social status and career advancement. It’s no wonder that the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry reports that products and procedures for teeth whitening topped $12 billion last year – a number expected to grow over the next ten years.

So why do teeth yellow or become discolored? And, is success guaranteed for every person and with every treatment? Here are some things to consider:

YOUR ENAMEL
Your teeth are made up of non-living and living material. The non-living part of the tooth is enamel and can be easy to whiten. The living part of the tooth is the inner part of the tooth – the dentin. Some people are born with teeth that appear more yellow (or white) simply because of the thickness of their tooth enamel. Your enamel is semi-translucent so if it is thin, the naturally yellowish color of your dentin (the hard, dense, bony tissue forming the bulk of a tooth beneath the enamel) will show through. Unfortunately, there is no way to increase the thickness of your enamel but everyone can prevent further thinning.

AGE
Have you ever noticed how white a young child’s teeth are compared to an adult? This is because yellowing is a natural part of the aging process. As we age, our enamel thins and our dentin yellows causing teeth to appear more yellow and sensitivity problems. According to the Mayo Clinic, the answer is in saliva production since saliva neutralizes damaging acids and limits bacterial growth that can dissolve tooth enamel.

FOODS
The foods we eat play an important role in how white our teeth are. A steady diet that is high in sugar and starches, without proper dental hygiene, can cause bacteria fermentation that leads to enamel erosion. Foods that contain high levels of tannin, such as wine, tea and coffee, and dark foods such as blueberries and curry spices can stain teeth, while foods and beverages that are acidic can wear the enamel, causing the yellowish color of the dentin to show through. People are often surprised by the acidity in tomato sauces, sports drinks and sodas. While there’s no need to avoid these foods and beverages completely, dentists recommend protecting your teeth by limiting carbonated soft drinks, acidic sports drinks and sweetened liquids, swish your mouth with water to dilute sugar and acid, brush regularly and get regular dental cleanings to remove plaque build-up.

SMOKING
The number one reason teeth yellow is lifestyle – the foods we eat, our hygiene, smoking and chewing tobacco. With smoking, the nicotine from the tobacco leaves a yellowish or brownish stain on the surface of your teeth – a great reason to stop!

POOR HYGIENE
Inadequate brushing and flossing to remove plaque and stain-producing substances can cause tooth discoloration. Neglect can also allow acid to build up which can etch the enamel of teeth and allow the more yellowish inner dentin to show through. Fortunately, it’s a very easy challenge to correct. The answer? Swish with water after eating and brush regularly with a fluoride-based toothpaste to keep teeth clean and as white as possible. Then, don’t put off your bi-annual professional cleanings.

YOUR MEDS
A number of common medicines used to fight illnesses can also cause discoloration of our teeth. Webmd.com reports that antibiotics tetracycline and doxycycline are known to discolor teeth when given to children whose teeth are still developing. Minocycline, a derivative of tetracycline, often prescribed to fight acne, can also cause teeth staining. Antihistamines and antipsychotic drugs, and drugs for high blood pressure can also cause teeth discoloration. If this is a concern for you, be sure to go over your medications with your doctor to avoid surprise side effects.

Finally, if discoloration is a concern, be cautious of mouth rinses containing antibacterial agents chlorhexidine and cetylpyridinium chloride that can stain teeth.

ILLNESS
Certain medical conditions affect tooth enamel such as dry mouth (xerostomia), acid reflux (GERD) and gastrointestinal problems. These can contribute to erosion of your teeth’s enamel exposing the dentin below. Yellowing can also occur after suffering high fever at a young age or neonatal jaundice, and with Sickle Cell Disease.

In addition, chemotherapy and/or radiation not only kill cancer harmful cells but can harm cells in the mouth causing teeth to become more of a brownish color. The treatment can also affect salivary glands, causing a dry mouth which can lead to erosion of enamel. If you are undergoing chemotherapy or radiation, be sure to add your dentist to your medical team throughout the process. Ideally, your dentist and cancer doctor will talk if you begin to experience problems in your mouth.

YOUR WATER
While fluoride is good for your teeth, excessive fluoride can actually yellow teeth. It’s called “fluorosis” and occurs primarily in areas where drinking water contains high levels of naturally occurring fluoride, such as well water.

YOUR GENES
Inherited disorders that cause teeth to develop improperly, such as dentinogenesis imperfecta and amelogensis imperfecta, can also cause discoloration of teeth. In the former, the teeth may appear blue-gray or yellow-brown in color, and in the latter, teeth may appear small, discolored, and pitted or grooved. In both cases, the teeth are often weaker than normal making them prone to rapid wear, breakage and loss. Generally, teeth whitening (bleaching) is not recommended for these disorders since the underlying cause is the yellow-brown dentin of the teeth.

TRAUMA
An accident that damages the tooth’s interior can lead to discoloration. In some cases, there can be bleeding that needs professional attention. If you or someone you know cracks a tooth, call your dentist for an evaluation.

Grinding your teeth is known as bruxism. The habit can cause weakening of teeth, including cracking and yellowing. The challenge with grinding is that it’s often done at night. If you believe you grind your teeth, talk to your dentist about a guard to protect your teeth.

Since healthy teeth are important for a beautiful smile, proper dental hygiene and regular dental check ups continue to be the best prevention against yellowing teeth. Removing food that can cause bacteria is important as is removing plaque and tarter that appears yellow. A professional cleaning will also remove staining. While you’re there, if you aren’t happy with the color of your teeth, talk to your dentist to learn which teeth whitening treatment might work best for you.

One More Reason to Love Pumpkin

October 27th, 2016

Its pumpkin season and the super food is everywhere – in coffee, in baked goods and in decor. But did you know that this squash is also good for your teeth; particularly, pumpkin seeds?

The seed has long been valued as a good source of phosphorus, manganese, and copper. It also contains iron and protein so it is deserving of its place in our list of nutritional powerhouses. In addition to these necessary nutrients, pumpkin seeds contain zinc which keeps bones and teeth strong.

Magnesium works with calcium to create hard enamel that resists tooth decay.

Finally, pumpkin seeds contain vitamin A which promotes healing and keeps gums healthy.

Our favorite way to eat pumpkin seeds is roasted with a bit of salt. Simply preheat your oven to 300 degrees (F). Toss pumpkin seeds in a bowl with a bit of melted butter or oil and seasonings of your choice. Spread your seeds in a single layer on a baking sheet and bake for 45 minutes, stirring occasionally, until golden brown. Cool and enjoy!

Protecting Your Baby’s Smiles

September 27th, 2016

Did you know that your baby’s teeth begin developing during the fifth week of pregnancy? That means, making good choices early in pregnancy and throughout their little lives can protect your baby’s smile.

While You Are Pregnant
This is a time to focus on eating a balanced diet with enough calcium, phosphorous, and vitamins A and D. For calcium rich foods, choose milk, yogurt and cheese, along with leafy greens and fruit.  Those leafy greens, such as kale and spinach, will also provide your vitamin A. Other sources include carrots and sweet potatoes. Nuts and seeds, meats, poultry and fish are great sources for phosphorous. Meats and fish also provide vitamin D. The side benefit of eating to benefit your baby’s teeth is that your teeth will be stronger too!

During Infancy
Using a warm, wet washcloth (no toothpaste yet) is a great way to keep baby’s gums healthy while waiting for those first teeth to emerge. The cloth will dislodge bacteria and stimulate gums.

Ages 2 to 6
Baby teeth begin appearing between 6 and 12 months of age and most children will have all baby teeth erupted by age 2-3. Begin teaching dental hygiene by using a small, soft-bristled toothbrush with a pea-size amount of toothpaste twice a day.

Research shows that children who develop cavities in their baby teeth are more likely to develop cavities as an adult so this is also a good time to visit your dentist for regular cleanings. Begin early so that your little one becomes comfortable with the setting.

Ages 6 to 12
By age six, your little one may begin losing baby teeth so that permanent teeth can come in. This is a great time to visit your dentist to ensure teeth are aligned properly. Thumb sucking, tongue thrusting or crowding which can cause poorly aligned teeth, or misaligned jaws, can lead to poor eating habits and health issues. Your dentist will quickly identify issues and refer you to an orthodontist, if necessary.

From the moment your little one is a flutter in your tummy, taking care of his or her teeth is important. For more information on dental care for your baby, speak to your dentist. If you need a referral to a dentist, call us!