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A Healthy Mouth Starts With What You Eat

August 21st, 2012

Most people know that visiting the dentist is an essential part of caring for their teeth. Regular checkups and cleanings are, of course, very important. But what some people don't realize is that good dental hygiene starts long before you get to the dentist's office. You may be saying, "I know, it starts with my toothbrush and floss." But actually, oral health begins even before that. A healthy smile starts at your grocery store.

Dental checkups can detect problems early on and address them, but only good nutrition can give your teeth and gums the healthy foundation they need. If your diet is rich in tooth-friendly nutrients, you will be less prone to gum disease, tooth decay, and even jawbone loss.

So, which nutrients are the most important? Here are a few tooth-building superstars.

Calcium:
We all know that calcium builds strong bones and teeth. Most expectant mothers are even aware that the calcium-rich foods they eat during pregnancy will ensure that their babies develop strong, healthy teeth later on. But did you know that calcium is important to your teeth long into adulthood?

On its "Milk Matters" page, the National Institutes of Health tells us that calcium can protect teeth against decay. Furthermore, a 2001 study published by the US National Library of Medicine found that elderly people who had adequate amounts of calcium in their diets were more likely to retain their teeth as they aged.

Good sources of calcium include yogurt, cheeses, milk, and leafy green vegetables. If you can't get an enough calcium from your diet alone, talk to your doctor about adding a calcium supplement.

Vitamin D:
Vitamin D is sometimes called the sunshine vitamin because your skin can synthesize it during exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D could also be called the healthy smile vitamin. It not only helps your teeth, but it also keeps your gums healthy. Another study published by the National Library of Medicine has shown a connection between low levels of dietary vitamin D and gingivitis. People in the study who had more of the vitamin in their diets had healthier gums.

While most of us get plenty of vitamin D from sun exposure, people who live farther from the equator may need to take a supplement during the winter months.

Vitamin C:
Long ago, British sailors were called "Limeys" because their superiors made them eat limes on long ocean voyages. Why? Because limes are rich in vitamin C and without it, the sailors got scurvy and often lost their teeth. While there's little danger of developing scurvy today, a study in the year 2000 of people who ranged in age from 20 to 90, showed that vitamin C is still necessary for healthy gums. People in the study who had the lowest dietary intake of this essential vitamin were at the highest risk of gum disease.

Vitamin C is perhaps the easiest of vitamins to get from your diet. Rich sources include strawberries, apricots, oranges, lemons and, of course, limes. Red and yellow peppers also have lots of vitamin C, as do tomatoes and brussel sprouts.
Never put off regular dental checkups and cleanings, but in between appointments, watch your diet. Making sure these essential nutrients are a part of your daily intake will ensure that your teeth and gums are as healthy as they can be.

Fun Ways to Encourage Children to Brush Their Teeth

August 14th, 2012

It's that dreaded time of day for many parents — the nighttime routine. As kids whine and stomp up the stairs as you send them off for pajamas and bedtime, you face the daunting task once again of trying to get your children to brush their teeth. While this is certainly a chore for many parents across the country, the following are several tips you can use in order to make brushing teeth a fun, enjoyable time.

1. Give them exciting toothbrushes
By buying your children special toothbrushes in their favorite colors, or decorated with their favorite TV characters, they will see their toothbrush as more of a toy than a tool. By keeping things fresh and fun, children will be excited to use their toothbrush since it represents a little bit of who they are and what they enjoy.

2. Make a rewards chart
For each night your children willingly — and without argument — brush their teeth, give them a sticker. After a week of stickers, give them a special reward.

3. Keep it fresh with different toothpaste
While adults may not care too much what flavor their toothpaste is, children are a different story. Be sure to purchase flavored toothpaste that kids will enjoy. Mint is always a good option, but many toothpaste companies create other flavors as well, including fruit flavored toothpastes and even bubble gum toothpaste.

4. Buy a fun flossing tool
Flossing is an essential part of good oral hygiene, especially for children. Encourage this habit along with tooth brushing by purchasing a fun flossing tool. These colorful contraptions get children excited about flossing their teeth, and if you find that they prefer flossing to brushing tell them that the only way they can floss, is if they brush their teeth first.

Instead of making children feel like brushing their teeth is something to be dreaded, parents can make this ritual a lot more fun and exciting using these tips. According to Parenting Squad, the more fun parents make this routine, the more children will be encouraged to brush their teeth. We all know that a healthy mouth and healthy child begin with healthy teeth — so getting kids in the good habit of brushing often is essential in the long run.

Sensitive Teeth? Try Changing Your Toothpaste

August 7th, 2012

If you have noticed that your teeth are starting to feel more sensitive than usual, you might initially avoid foods and drinks that seem to cause discomfort. For example, you feel some dental pain when you drink a hot cup of coffee in the morning or while chewing on a cold apple. While it’s a normal reaction to avoid foods or drinks that lead to pain or discomfort, it’s better to determine the cause of the problem and take steps to improve the health and quality of your teeth.

 

Causes of Tooth Sensitivity

- If only a single tooth is sensitive, it could be caused by a cavity. In other cases, the tooth might be cracked. These situations require care from a trained dental professional. You may need to get a filling, a new crown, or a root canal to reduce the tooth sensitivity.

- If many or all of your teeth are sensitive, you may have recently begun consuming increasingly larger amounts of foods or drinks that are high in acid. The acid dissolves the protective enamel of your teeth, exposing the dentin. The tooth’s dentin is sensitive to heat and cold as well as sticky or acidic foods that can trigger pain.

- Teeth whitening treatments can also cause tooth sensitivity.

- Increased stress in your life also can indirectly lead to tooth sensitivity. High stress can cause you to grind your teeth while you sleep. If you suffer from teeth grinding, also known as bruxism, one treatment option may be a special night guard appliance to wear while you sleep.

- Weather changes are another factor to consider. If it starts getting cold suddenly, the cool air you breathe in may trigger teeth pain, especially when enamel has been eroded from your teeth.

 

Reducing Tooth Sensitivity

- Avoid consuming foods and drinks that are high in acid. For example, citrus fruits and their juices can wear down your teeth’s enamel over time. Taper down your consumption to minimize teeth erosion. Try using a straw when drinking acidic juices in order to minimize their contact with your teeth. Rinse your mouth with water after consuming acidic foods and drinks.

- Start brushing your teeth with the softest available toothbrush. Use gentle motions to brush your teeth to minimize abrading their surfaces.

- You may be interested in switching to a new toothpaste to help you with the discomfort. Select a toothpaste formulated for sensitive teeth. You can find a variety of brands at your local pharmacy or supermarket. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, particularly paying attention to how long you can use the product. If your teeth are still sensitive after using the special toothpaste, you should contact our office so we can rule out a more serious underlying problem.

What is Gingivitis?

July 31st, 2012

Gingivitis is a type of periodontal disease in which only your gums are affected. Gingivitis, according to the American Dental Association (ADA), is a milder and often reversible type of periodontal disease. However, it can lead to periodontitis -- a more destructive and serious disease -- if proper professional treatment and home care aren't put into place. No tissue damage or irreversible bone damage is present in the gingivitis stage of periodontal disease.

Many people with gingivitis won't experience any discomfort, particularly in its early stage. However, as the bacteria in plaque builds up, it can cause your gums to become inflamed, which may make them red and swollen. You may also experience blood when brushing your teeth, indicates the American Academy of Periodontology.

Causes of Gingivitis

The most common cause of gingivitis occurs when plaque builds up due to inadequate oral hygiene.

Other less common causes of gingivitis include:
* diabetes
* aging
* smoking
* improper nutrition
* hormonal fluctuation
* stress
* pregnancy
* substance abuse
* certain medications
* genetic predisposition

Up to 30 percent of people in the United States may be susceptible genetically to gum disease or are six times more prone to developing gum disease, according to the American Academy of Periodontology. Therefore, if one of your family members has gum disease, it may indicate that you have a higher risk of developing the condition as well. If you are one of these people who are more susceptible to developing gum disease, your dentist may recommend more frequent cleanings, check-ups, cleanings, and treatments.

Implications of Gingivitis
If gingivitis is left untreated, it can progress to periodontitis. In periodontitis, the bone and inside layer of your gum pulls away from your teeth, allowing small pockets to form. These small pockets are danger zones because they allow bacteria to collect, and can they can then become infected. As periodontitis progresses, these pockets deepen, resulting in even more bone loss and gum tissue damage. Eventually, teeth that were once anchored in place become loose. Tooth loss often follows.

Treatment of Gingivitis
In practically all cases, gingivitis can be reversed, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Treatment includes proper control of plaque, which consists of having a professional teeth cleaning, at least two times a year. It also includes daily teeth brushing, which will eliminate plaque from the surfaces of your teeth. You should also floss daily to remove plaque and food particles from in between your teeth.

Lifestyle and health changes may help decrease the risk of developing gingivitis or reduce its severity or progression. These lifestyle changes include stopping smoking, decreasing your stress, eating a well-balanced diet, and avoiding grinding and clenching of your teeth.

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