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Teeth

Mouth Guards

September 6th, 2018

It's officially football season and therefore the perfect time to talk about mouth guards! They are absolutely necessary when playing sports like football or hockey, but people of all ages playing any contact sport should consider using a mouth guard to protect the teeth from impact. This article from Colgate gives a great overview of mouth guards and their importance when playing sports:

Important Reasons For Mouth Guards

A mouth guard is a soft plastic or laminate device used in sports to prevent oral injuries to the teeth, mouth, cheeks, tongue and jaw. The American Dental Association projects that one third of all dental injuries are sports related.1 The use of a mouth guard can prevent more than 200,000 oral injuries to the mouth each year.

The types of dental injuries that can occur without the use of a mouth guard are chipped or broken teeth, fractured crowns or bridgework, lip and cheek injuries, root damage to the teeth, fractured jaws, and concussions. Any athlete may be at risk for oral injury and any injury can be prevented with the use of a mouth guard.

Mouth guards are mandatory in collision sports such as football, hockey and boxing where the risk of injury is likely. Children and adults involved in incidental contact sports like basketball, baseball, softball, wrestling, soccer and volleyball may consider wearing a mouth guard to prevent injuries to the mouth.

A study of high school athletes found that seventy-five percent of injuries occurred when mouth guards were not worn and forty percent occurred during baseball and basketball. Nine percent of all athletes suffered some type of oral injury while another three percent reported a loss of consciousness. Fifty-six percent of all concussions were suffered when mouth guards were not worn. Trauma related to sports is more prevalent than previously reported.2

Child or adult, a mouth guard is essential for all athletes. For more information about the right mouth guard for you, consult your dental professional.

Fluoride - Friend or Foe?

August 23rd, 2018

You've undoubtedly heard people speculate about whether or not fluoride is actually necessary in our drinking water. Some even go so far as to buy a filtration system heavy-duty enough to filter out the fluoride! So what's the deal? Do we really need fluoride in our water? This article from the ADA breaks it down!

5 Reasons Why Fluoride in Water is Good for Communities

  1. Prevents tooth decay. Fluoride in water is the most efficient way to prevent one of the most common childhood diseases – tooth decay. An estimated 51 million school hours and 164 million work hours are lost each year due to dental-related illness. Community water fluoridation is so effective at preventing tooth decay that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention named it one of 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.
  2. Protects all ages against cavities. Studies show that fluoride in community water systems prevents at least 25 percent of tooth decay in children and adults, even in an era with widespread availability of fluoride from other sources, such as fluoride toothpaste.
  3. Safe and effective. For 70 years, the best available scientific evidence consistently indicates that community water fluoridation is safe and effective. It has been endorsed by numerous U.S. Surgeons General, and more than 100 health organizationsrecognize the health benefits of water fluoridation for preventing dental decay, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Medical Association, the World Health Organization, the American Dental Association, and the American Academy of Pediatrics.
  4. Saves money. The average lifetime cost per person to fluoridate a water supply is less than the cost of one dental filling. For most cities, every $1 invested in water fluoridation saves $38 in dental treatment costs.
  5. It’s natural. Fluoride is naturally present in groundwater and the oceans. Water fluoridation is the adjustment of fluoride to a recommended level for preventing tooth decay. It’s similar to fortifying other foods and beverages, like fortifying salt with iodine, milk with vitamin D, orange juice with calcium and bread with folic acid.

Get more facts about fluoride in water.

Fun Tooth Facts

August 9th, 2018

We've come a long way in our dental knowledge through the years, and it's fun to look back and see what our ancestors thought about our pearly whites. We also know so much more about how teeth develop -- it may happen a lot earlier than you think! Thank you Colgate for this entertaining article!

3 Fun Facts About Teeth

by Wendy J. Woudstra

People today tend to know a lot about their oral health, but the humans of ages past relied entirely on conjecture for answers about their teeth. Here are some fun facts about teeth that our ancestors certainly did not know.

Cavities Are Not Caused by Tooth Worms

In medieval times, most people thought dental cavities were made by tiny tooth worms. These little worms were thought to bore holes in teeth and then hide, out of sight, beneath the surface. The wiggling they did inside the tooth was believed to cause the pain of toothaches.

Today, of course, science has told us the truth about cavities, namely that they are really tooth decay caused by enamel-eroding bacteria in the plaque that builds up around teeth. When we eat sugary or starchy foods, the bacteria feed on the remnants left on our teeth, while simultaneously creating an acid that eats away at enamel.

Thankfully, we also know a lot more about preventing and treating tooth decay today than our medieval ancestors did; with preventative dental care, good oral hygiene, and a tooth-friendly diet, we can keep our teeth healthy for a lifetime. You can learn more about maintaining good oral health in the Colgate Oral Care resources.

Everyone Has the Same Number of Teeth (Mostly)

The great philosopher Aristotle believed that men had more teeth than women. Even though he was married, he must never have counted, because men and women both develop 20 primary or baby teeth, and when their permanent teeth come in, both sexes receive 8 incisors, 4 canines, 8 premolars, and 10 secondary molars.

Things get complicated, however, when it comes to the third molars, often called wisdom teeth. While most people grow wisdom teeth between the ages of 17 and 21 years old, in about 35 percent of the population, wisdom teeth never develop. Some scientists believe that in the future that percentage will continue to grow until humans no longer grow wisdom teeth at all.

Your Primary and Permanent Teeth Start to Develop Before You're Even Born

You may not realize that although you don't have any teeth visible when you're born, the tooth buds of your 20 primary teeth, as well as the 32 permanent teeth you will one day develop, are already present in your jaw. The only exception is your wisdom teeth, which don't begin to develop at all until adolescence.

All these fun facts about teeth serve as reminders that you can never know too much about taking care of your teeth and gums. Daily preventative care and regular visits to the dentist will ensure that you have a healthy smile for years to come.

Long in the Tooth?

June 28th, 2018

Gum recession is very common but do you know why your gums may be receding? This article from PatientConnect365 provides a great overview of gum recession and how to prevent it.

 

Are My Gums Receding? And Why?

Progressive change can be difficult to notice, especially when it occurs to us and not someone else. Changes occurring along our gum line certainly fall into this category, and since recession is measured in millimeters it's especially easy to miss.

So, how much gum erosion is normal, and what causes it? Let's take a look.

Is Gum Recession Normal?

Gum recession is often considered a normal part of aging. Even the expression "long in the tooth" stems from our gum line receding and exposing more of our teeth as we age.

However, there is nothing normal about gum recession. Luckily, for most of us it can be prevented.

Rather than keep things as they are, embracing gum recession as the well-paid price of wisdom, be vigilant against gum erosion!

Though there are a host of factors that contribute to the erosion of your gumline, a vast majority are preventable.

The Biggest Offenders

  • Clenching or grinding your teeth
  • Over-vigorous, or improper brushing
  • Aggressive flossing
  • Exposure to acids in sports and energy drinks
  • Tobacco use
  • The frequent use of whitening products

All the above causes of gum loss can be prevented.

All of them.

If you grind your teeth at night, wear a mouth guard.

If you brush as though you're sanding down the statue of David, learn proper technique from your dentist, or from a video online.

Bleeding a lot when flossing? You're not slicing cheese - go easy, there, friend!

If you smoke, drink too many energy drinks, or chew tobacco, cut back, or stop altogether. None of that stuff is good for you in any way imaginable.

And lastly, if you're trying to look like a movie star by abusing whitening strips, you can stop now. Your teeth have got to be super-white already!

Be Proactive

What's next? How can you tell if your gums are receding faster than the Amazon rainforest?

Well, the most proactive step is to visit your dentist. In fact, if you're going regularly, your dentist has been monitoring the recession for some years now.

If you've ever noticed your dentist poking around in your mouth, all while reciting numbers to the hygienist, they’re probably doing two things: measuring the recession of your gums, and gauging the depths of your gum pockets. Both speak to the health of your gum line.

So, the next time you hear your dentist reading off what seem like lottery number, just ask about the health of your gums … your dentist will be happy to keep you in the loop.

The first sign of gum recession is usually tooth sensitivity, so be on the lookout. Reduce, or eliminate the above discussed habits, and ask your dentist how you're doing in terms of taking care of your gums.

With a little bit of knowledge and proactive behavior, no one will ever say you're long in the tooth. And, that's a good thing!

Good Info For Nursing Moms

May 31st, 2018

So we've posted before about pregnancy and dental health, but what about breastfeeding and dental health? There are things that nursing moms should know for their health and the health of baby. This article from MouthHealthy has a ton of helpful info!

 

Breastfeeding: 6 Things Nursing Moms Should Know About Dental Health

Woman breastfeeding infant

Breastfeeding is one of the first (and most personal) decisions a mother makes for her baby. It can help your baby’s body fight infections and reduce health risks like asthma, ear infections, SIDS and obesity in children. Nursing moms may lower their chances of developing breast and ovarian cancer. But did you know breastfeeding can impact the dental health of both baby and mom? Here’s how:

Breastfeeding May Help Build a Better Bite

Several recent studies, one in Pediatrics in 2015 and one in the August 2017 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association, found that babies who were exclusively breastfed for the first 6 months were less likely to have teeth alignment issues such as open bites, crossbites, and overbites, than those exclusively breast fed for shorter lengths of time or not at all.

Still, this doesn’t mean your exclusively breastfed baby won’t need braces someday. Other factors, including genetics, pacifier use, and thumbsucking, affect alignment. “Every baby, every child is different,” says Dr. Ruchi Sahota, mother and American Dental Association spokesperson. “The best thing for mom to do is to take the child to the dentist and make sure the dentist is able to monitor eruption, that baby teeth are coming out at the right time and permanent teeth are coming in at the right time.”

You Don’t Have to Wean When Your Baby Gets Teeth

It’s a question that often pops up in parenting message boards and conversations with new moms: Should I stop breastfeeding when my baby starts teething? The answer is not if you don’t want to.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding for the first year of a baby’s life; the World Health Organizationencourages moms to go for two. “As it goes with breastfeeding, every child is different, every mother is different,” Dr. Sahota says. “You should stop breastfeeding when you think it’s the best for you and the baby but not just because the teeth come in.”

Breastfeeding Reduces the Risk for Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Another benefit of exclusive breastfeeding, Dr. Sahota says, is a reduced risk of baby bottle tooth decay, the frequent, prolonged exposure of the baby’s teeth to drinks that contain sugar. This type of tooth decay often occurs when a baby is put to bed with a bottle – even ones containing formula, milk or fruit juice. (Water is fine because the teeth won’t be bathed in sugary liquids for a prolonged time.) It most often occurs in the upper front teeth, but other teeth may also be affected.

Breastfed Babies Can Still Get Cavities

It’s one of the most common questions nursing mothers ask: Can breastfeeding cause cavities? Yes, it can. Although natural, breast milk, just like formula, contains sugar. That is why, breastfed or bottlefed, it’s important to care for your baby’s teeth from the start. A few days after birth, begin wiping your baby’s gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth every day. Then, brush her teeth twice a day as soon as that first tooth emerges. Use fluoride toothpaste in an amount no more than a smear or the size of a grain of rice.

Need Dental Work Done? Double Check Your Medications

If you need to have a dental procedure that requires medication while nursing, check with your dentist, personal physician and pediatrician to make sure it is safe for baby. “It’s important to know there are antibiotics we can give you that won’t hurt the baby,” Dr. Sahota says. “It’s not only safe to go to the dentist while you’re pregnant and while you’re nursing, it’s very important to do so for the best health of your child.”

Another helpful resource for nursing moms is the U.S National Library of Medicine’s Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed). Simply search for any medication and get information about how it affects your supply, your baby and if there’s an alternative available. Talk to your doctor about what you find.

Mom, Take Care of Yourself

Dr. Sahota says there’s one thing she sees in new moms, breastfeeding or not. “I definitely see moms who are, as simple as it sounds, are not able to take care of themselves as well as they did before the baby,” she says. “Moms that are just not brushing as much as they used to, whether they’re brushing once a day or not brushing at all.”

A dip in dental care could lead to more gum disease and cavities. Cavity prevention is especially crucial for moms, as even the simple act of sharing a spoon with could transfer that bacteria into your baby’s mouth. “It’s really important to do the basics: Brush twice a day, floss once a day. See your ADA dentist regularly,” she says. “Make sure you have prevented decay and don’t have any cavities so you don’t transfer that to your baby.”

Dr. Sahota says she also sees more teeth grinding (bruxism) in moms. “I see a lot more head and neck muscle tension, which causes our jaws to be a little bit more tense and then that causes us to grind our teeth,” she says. “Trouble sleeping when we’re pregnant, that can cause us to grind our teeth a little bit. Postnatally, stress can increase and it can also be an issue.”

All moms need to stay hydrated, especially if breastfeeding. “Not drinking enough water, that in itself is a very dangerous thing for your mouth,” she says. “If we have a dry mouth, we put ourselves at risk for gum disease, for cavities, so many things.”

And there’s one last piece of advice Dr. Sahota gives all moms. “Just like if you’re on an airplane, you have to put your oxygen mask on first before you put it on your child,” she says. “If you’re not healthy, you will not have the time and the energy to make sure your children are also healthy.”

Be Wise About Your Wisdom Teeth!

May 3rd, 2018

Have you been putting off getting your wisdom teeth removed? Sure, it may be a little nerve wracking, but you'll be glad you got it done in the long run!

This article from MouthHealthy details the reasons why taking care of your wisdom teeth early is important:

Wisdom Teeth

With age comes wisdom. Specifically, wisdom teeth.

Your mouth goes through many changes in your lifetime. One major dental milestone that usually takes place between the ages of 17 and 21 is the appearance of your third molars. Historically, these teeth have been called wisdom teeth because they come through at a more mature age.

When they come through correctly, healthy wisdom teeth can help you chew. It’s normal to feel a little discomfort when your wisdom teeth appear, but if you have pain, see your dentist immediately.

Room to Grow?

Wisdom teeth can lead to problems if there isn’t enough space for them to surface or they come through in the wrong position. If your dentist says your wisdom teeth are impacted, he or she means they are trapped in your jaw or under your gums.

As your wisdom teeth make their way through your gums, your dentist will be monitoring your mouth for signs of the following:

  • Wisdom teeth that aren’t in the right position can allow food to become trapped. That gives cavity-causing bacteria a place to grow.
  • Wisdom teeth that haven’t come in properly, which can make it difficult to floss between the wisdom teeth and the molars next to them.
  • Wisdom teeth that have partially come through can give bacteria a place to enter the gums and create a place for infection to occur. This may also lead to pain, swelling and stiffness in your jaw.
  • Wisdom teeth that don’t have room to come through are thought by some to crowd or damage neighboring teeth.
  • A wisdom tooth that is impacted can form a cyst on or near the impacted tooth. This could damage the roots of nearby teeth or destroy the bone that supports your teeth.

Why You Might Need to Have Your Wisdom Teeth Removed

Every patient is unique, but in general, wisdom teeth may need to be removed when there is evidence of changes in the mouth such as:

  • Pain
  • Infection
  • Cysts
  • Tumors
  • Damage to neighboring teeth
  • Gum disease
  • Tooth decay (if it is not possible or desirable to restore the tooth)

Your dentist may also recommend removal of wisdom teeth as part of treatment for braces or other dental care.

Before making any decisions, your dentist will examine your mouth and take an x-ray. Together, you and your dentist can discuss the best course of treatment.

Keeping Your Wisdom Teeth?

Wisdom teeth that are not removed should continue to be monitored because the potential for developing problems later on still exists. As people age, they are at greater risk for health problems—and that includes potential problems with their wisdom teeth. Be sure to, floss around your wisdom teeth and visit your dentist regularly. Regular dental visits allow your dentist to evaluate your wisdom teeth and your overall dental health.

 

3-2-1 GLO!

April 26th, 2018

Ever tried tooth whitening with less than desirable results? Some teeth whitening solutions cause sensitivity or pain following application. The same bleaching agents that brighten your teeth can also cause you discomfort. So what's the point? Well, if you've sworn off teeth whitening for this reason, you may want to explore new options...

We at Got Smile are excited that we now offer the award-winning Glo Whitening System! This system is unique because it is 100% "zinger" free. In clinical trials all of the participants noticed immediate results and NONE reported any pain or sensitivity following treatment. This is due to the absence of sensitivity-causing ingredients commonly present in other tooth-whitening products: alcohol and carbamide-peroxide.

GLO stands for Guided Light Optic. The GLO Brilliant Teeth Whitening Device, used along with the whitening gel and mouthpiece, illuminates with a bright blue light as it gently warms. According to GLO's website, "heat accelerates the whitening gel inside the closed system mouthpiece, resulting in faster, more efficient, and longer lasting whitening without the sensitivity. It is clinically proven to whiten teeth by five shades in as little as five days with little to no sensitivity."

Still unconvinced? GLO is also convenient, because you can either whiten in-office or in the comfort of your home! The take-home kit includes everything you need to get started, including the GLO mouthpiece and hands-free controller.

For more information see GLO's website

We can't wait to share GLO with you! Feel free to stop by or call us (402-393-2484) with any questions. :)

 

From White Spots to Root Canal

April 5th, 2018

All dental abscesses begin the same way - with a tiny white spot of an early cavity. That is why it is important to understand the process of how an abscess forms! By catching enamel damage early you can save yourself the pain and hassle of an infected tooth and the treatment that comes along with it. This image illustrates the progression of cavity (dental caries) to abscess.

Image result for what is a root canal

You can see how the infection slowly eats its way through the enamel, into the tooth pulp, then through the root into the tissue below! Fortunately there are warning signs that alert you to tooth damage long before it gets too serious. It's your job to listen to what your teeth are telling you and seek treatment at the first sign of discomfort!

The following article from PatientConnect365 gives a great overview of the stages of tooth decay, and includes the stage just before the enamel is damaged - characterized by reversible white spots!

Did you know there are five distinct stages of tooth decay? And, that in the first stage of decay, you can actually take steps to reverse the progression of the disease? Indeed, it’s true. In the first stage of decay, whether you’re a child or an adult, the application of fluoride via fluoride treatments, your toothpaste and even the local water supply can stop a cavity from penetrating through the enamel and reaching its second stage. Even the saliva in your mouth and the foods you eat help to re-mineralize a tooth in jeopardy. But that’s just the first stage! What about the rest?

Understanding how a cavity progresses can assist you in preventing each successive stage from occurring in your children. There’s always a lot going on in that little mouth!

  1. Stage One: White Spots
    In stage one, the tooth begins to show signs of strain from the attack of sugars and acids, and white spots will begin to materialize just below the surface of the enamel. These white spots are representative of the demineralization of the tooth and can be easy to miss because they’re likely to occur on your child’s molars. A dental exam, of course, is designed to catch such cavities! Can you see why regular visits to the dentist are recommended?  As mentioned previously, at this stage, the cavity can be repaired without the need to excavate the tooth.
  2. Stage Two: Enamel Decay
    Stage two marks the beginning of the end for the surface enamel that is being attacked. Initially, the tooth erodes from the underside outward, so the outer enamel will still be intact for the first half of this second stage. Once the cavity breaks through the surface of the enamel, there is no turning back, and your child will need to have the cavity corrected with a filling.
  3. Stage Three: Dentin Decay
    If a cavity in your child’s mouth were to progress beyond stage two without you knowing, you’d tend become aware of it when it started to hit stage three because it would probably start to cause some pain. At this level, the cavity begins to eat away at the second level of tooth material that lies beneath the enamel: the dentin. A filling can still be used to stop the onslaught of bacteria assaulting the tooth in order to prevent the cavity from reaching the tooth’s most critical component: the pulp.
  4. Stage Four: Involvement of The Pulp
    Once the cavity reaches the pulp, it’s going to hurt. A lot. So if you’ve unfortunately missed all the signs to this point, a screaming child or moaning teenager will certainly let you know there is a big problem. Stage four is serious, and a root canal is the only option of treatment at this stage, save for a complete extraction.
  5. Stage Five: Abscess Formation
    In the fifth and final stage of a cavity, the infection has reached the tip of the root and exited the tip of the tooth’s structure. This in turn infects the surrounding tissues and possibly the bone structure. Swelling would be commonplace and pain severe. In children (as well as adults) an abscess can be fatal if not dealt with immediately. Root canal or extraction would be the order of the day should decay reach this stage.

As you can see, cavities don’t happen overnight. In the early stages, regular visits can stall and reverse the progression of these dastardly little devils, so it really does pay to visit the dentist at pre-selected intervals. You can keep your kids far from stage five their whole lives, and if a little bit of prodding to get them to the dentist accomplishes that, you can rest easy despite the griping.

Time for Some Spring Cleaning!

March 22nd, 2018

It is now officially spring and that means it's time for spring cleaning -- of your teeth! If your fall and winter holidays were full of sweets and other treats a check-up will be the perfect way to start out this spring. That way you're covered all summer long and your next cleaning will be right before the next round of yummy holidays! This article from Know Your Teeth provides great information on how to properly clean your teeth this spring. :)

 

Spring Clean Your Teeth

Add a dental visit to this year's spring-cleaning list. A professional dental cleaning at least twice a year can improve your oral health, reports the Academy of General Dentistry (AGD), an organization of general dentists dedicated to continuing dental education.

"A prophylaxis, also known as a 'prophy' or professional dental cleaning, reinforces the at-home oral health regimen," says AGD spokesperson Anne Murray, DDS. "It is designed to preserve health, prevent the spread of disease and give the dentist an opportunity to locate other areas in the mouth that may need attention."

It is strongly recommended that a dentist or hygienist perform a dental cleaning every three to six months, says Dr. Murray. She discourages consumer use of over-the-counter tooth polishing instruments.

"People with healthy teeth and gums typically do not experience soreness after a cleaning," says Dr. Murray. Those with less-than-perfect oral hygiene habits may experience discomfort or heightened sensitivity during a dental cleaning. The dentist can use a topical anesthetic before the cleaning to alleviate pain.

What is a dental cleaning?

Diagnostic services may include:

  • Reviewing and updating medical history, including heart problems, cancer treatment, pregnancy, diabetes, joint replacement, medications, surgeries or any other major changes in health history
  • Blood pressure check
  • Oral cancer examination and screening
  • Evaluation of gum tissue
  • Checking biting, chewing and swallowing patterns
  • X-rays, examination of teeth to detect decay
  • Treatment planning
  • Referral to specialists for specific treatment

Preventive services may include:

  • Removal of plaque and tartar
  • Stain removal
  • Fluoride application
  • Sealants
  • Polishing of fillings or crowns

Educational services may include:

  • Tooth brushing and flossing instructions
  • Nutritional counseling
  • Recommendations for future treatment: when to return for following hygiene treatment, periodontal (gum) concerns, restorative options, etc.
  • Evaluation of possible cosmetic enhancements
  • Evaluation of self-care effectiveness
  • Tobacco-cessation counseling

St. Patty's Day Festivities

March 14th, 2018

This Saturday is a day that many party-goers look forward to for months. St. Patrick's Day is a day filled with green beer, bar food, music, fun, and friends. Just be careful not to over indulge! Your teeth may end up paying the price. This article from Delta Dental AR has some good information regarding how partying too hard or too often can negatively affect your smile. Have fun and be safe! (And never forget to brush and floss!)

St. Patrick’s Day Partying: Not What The Dentist Ordered

St. Patrick’s Day is notorious for 2 things: green beer and corned beef and cabbage. With alcohol playing such a large role in this annual celebration, it stands to reason that the negative effects of drinking will also join the party. When you get a little tipsy, it’s not just your eyesight and reaction time that suffer.

Drinking green beers

Think about the last time you went to bed after a few drinks. Did you remember to brush and floss your teeth? Did you sleep well? Probably not. If getting tipsy is a regular occurrence, that $5 cocktail can turn into an expensive dental visit down the road.

Below are 5 examples of how drinking too much or too often can affect your dental health:


1.Bad Habits
— After you’ve knocked a few back, it’s easy to forget to brush and floss before bed. By forgoing your nighttime dental routine, you let all that sugar and bacteria sit on your teeth overnight.

2.Weight Gain — High amounts of sugar in alcohol is obviously bad for your teeth, but it is also bad for your waistline, which can indirectly affect your mouth. Studies have shown that gum disease may progress more quickly in the presence of higher body fat.

3.Poor Sleep — Although you may fall asleep faster after a few drinks, your sleep patterns are interrupted, and you don’t sleep as well. A Japanese study has linked lack of sleep with more rapid progression of periodontal disease.

4.Chewing Ice — While this may provide a few moments of refreshment between rounds, it can cause severe tooth and gum injuries followed by a painful, expensive visit to your dentist. If ice chewing ever becomes a craving, talk to your dentist right away, because it could signify iron deficiency anemia.

So on March 17, think about your teeth before downing another drink. A harmless night out can leave you with a mouthful of bacteria and a lowered ability to protect your teeth.

Pregnancy and Dental Appointments

January 25th, 2018

Pregnancy is a time of lots of changes! The changes you may not think about are changes that can happen with your teeth and gums. Are there limitations to the dental work you can receive while pregnant? This wonderful article from the ADA outlines some important info to keep in mind when going to the dentist before baby arrives:

Is It Safe To Go To the Dentist During Pregnancy?

In between trips to the doctor, hospital tours and setting up the nursery, don’t let visiting the dentist fall off your pregnancy to-do list before your baby comes. Getting a checkup during pregnancy is safe and important for your dental health. Not only can you take care of cleanings and procedures like cavity fillings before your baby is born, but your dentist can help you with any pregnancy-related dental symptoms you might be experiencing.

The American Dental Association, the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics all encourage women to get dental care while pregnant. “It is a crucial period of time in a woman’s life and maintaining oral health is directly related to good overall health,” says Aharon Hagai, D.M.D.

Here are some common concerns women have about going to the dentist during pregnancy.

When to Tell Your Dentist You Are Pregnant

Even if you only think you might be pregnant, let your dental office know. Tell them how far along you are when you make your appointment. Also let your dentist know about the medications you are taking or if you have received any special advice from your physician. If your pregnancy is high-risk or if you have certain medical conditions, your dentist and your physician may recommend that some treatments be postponed.

How Pregnancy Will Affect Your Mouth?

Although many women make it nine months with no dental discomfort, pregnancy can make some conditions worse – or create new ones. Regular checkups and good dental health habits can help keep you and your baby healthy.

Pregnancy Gingivitis
Your mouth can be affected by the hormonal changes you will experience during pregnancy. For example, some women develop a condition known as “pregnancy gingivitis,” an inflammation of the gums that can cause swelling and tenderness. Your gums also may bleed a little when you brush or floss. Left untreated, gingivitis can lead to more serious forms of gum disease. Your dentist may recommend more frequent cleanings to prevent this.

Increased Risk of Tooth Decay
Pregnant women may be more prone to cavities for a number of reasons. If you’re eating more carbohydrates than usual, this can cause decay. Morning sickness can increase the amount of acid your mouth is exposed to, which can eat away at the outer covering of your tooth (enamel).

Brushing twice a day and flossing once can also fall by the wayside during pregnancy for many reasons, including morning sickness, a more sensitive gag reflex, tender gums and exhaustion. It’s especially important to keep up your routine, as poor habits during pregnancy have been associated with premature delivery, intrauterine growth restriction, gestational diabetes and preeclampsia.

Pregnancy Tumors
In some women, overgrowths of tissue called “pregnancy tumors” appear on the gums, most often during the second trimester. It is not cancer but rather just swelling that happens most often between teeth. They may be related to excess plaque. They bleed easily and have a red, raw-looking raspberry-like appearance. They usually disappear after your baby is born, but if you are concerned, talk to your dentist about removing them.

Medications

Be sure your dentist knows what, if any, prescription medications and over-the-counter drugs you are taking. This information will help your dentist determine what type of prescription, if any, to write for you. Your dentist can consult with your physician to choose medications—such as pain relievers or antibiotics—you may safely take during the pregnancy. Both your dentist and physician are concerned about you and your baby, so ask them any questions you have about medications they recommend.

Local Anesthetics During Pregnancy

If you’re pregnant and need a filling, root canal or tooth pulled, one thing you don’t have to worry about is the safety of the numbing medications your dentist may use during the procedure. They are, in fact, safe for both you and your baby.

A study in the August 2015 issue of the Journal of the American Dental Association followed a group of pregnant women who had procedures that used anesthetics like lidocaine shots and a group that did not. The study showed these treatments were safe during pregnancy, as they cause no difference in the rate of miscarriages, birth defects, prematurity or weight of the baby. “Our study identified no evidence to show that dental treatment with anesthetics is harmful during pregnancy,” said study author Dr. Hagai. “We aimed to determine if there was a significant risk associated with dental treatment with anesthesia and pregnancy outcomes. We did not find any such risk.”

Dental X-Rays During Pregnancy

Yes, it's safe to get an X-ray during pregnancy. Although radiation from dental X-rays is extremely low, your dentist or hygienist will cover you with a leaded apron that minimizes exposure to the abdomen. Your dental office will also cover your throat with a leaded collar to protect your thyroid from radiation.

**At Got Smile Dental we usually do not take x-rays during pregnancy even though the risk of exposure is very small.

Sparkling Water and Your Enamel

January 18th, 2018

It's so refreshing, but can too much be bad for your teeth? Is it the same as water or more acidic like soda? This great article from MouthHealthy gives us the answers:

Is Sparkling Water Bad for My Teeth?

Is the satisfying fizz of your favorite sparkling water putting you at risk for tooth decay? Because any drink with carbonation—including sparkling water—has a higher acid level, some reports have questioned whether sipping sparkling water will weaken your tooth enamel (the hard outer shell of your teeth where cavities first form).

So, Is Sparkling Water Affecting My Teeth?

According to available research, sparkling water is generally fine for your teeth—and here's why. In a study using teeth that were removed as a part of treatment and donated for research, researchers tested to see whether sparkling water would attack tooth enamel more aggressively than regular lab water. The result? The two forms of water were about the same in their effects on tooth enamel. This finding suggests that, even though sparkling water is slightly more acidic than ordinary water, it's all just water to your teeth.

Tips for Enjoying Sparkling Water—and Protecting Your Teeth

  • Sparkling water is far better for your teeth than sugary drinks. In addition, be sure to drink plenty of regular, fluoridated water, too—it’s the best beverage for your teeth. Water with fluoride naturally helps fight cavities, washes away the leftover food cavity-causing bacteria feast on and keeps your mouth from becoming dry (which can put you at a higher risk of cavities).
  • Be mindful of what’s in your sparkling water. Citrus-flavored waters often have higher acid levels that does increase the risk of damage to your enamel. Plan to enjoy these in one sitting or with meals. This way, you aren’t sipping it throughout the day and exposing your teeth over and over again to the slightly higher level of acid it contains.
  • Sparkling water brands with added sugar can no longer be considered just sparkling water. They are a sugar-sweetened beverage, which can contribute to your risk of developing cavities. So remember—sparkling or not—plain water is always the best choice.

Tooth Friendly Foods

January 4th, 2018

It's the time of New Year's resolutions. This year you are thinking about boosting your oral health, perhaps? :) Well, maybe your resolution to eat healthier is a little less tooth-specific, but the good news is that eating well for your health and eating well for your teeth have a lot of overlaps! This article from Colgate provides a list of the 7 best foods for your teeth, which are also healthy for your whole body!

Healthy Foods List: Seven Best Foods For Your Teeth

by Amy Freeman

When it comes to the health of your teeth, you really are what you eat. Sugary foods, such as candy and soda, contribute to tooth decay. One of the first areas to decline when your diet is less than ideal is your oral health, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). Use this healthy foods list to improve your diet and the health of your mouth.

Cheese

If you're one of the many people who profess a love of cheese, you now have another reason to enjoy this tasty food. A study published in the May/June 2013 issue of General Dentistry, the journal of the American Academy of General Dentistry, reported at EurekAlert! found that eating cheese raised the pH in the subjects' mouths and lowered their risk of tooth decay. It's thought that the chewing required to eat cheese increases saliva in the mouth. Cheese also contains calcium and protein, nutrients that strengthen tooth enamel.

Yogurt

Like cheese, yogurt is high in calcium and protein, which makes it a good pick for the strength and health of your teeth. The probiotics, or beneficial bacteria, found in yogurt also benefit your gums because the good bacteria crowd out bacteria that cause cavities. If you decide to add more yogurt to your diet, choose a plain variety with no added sugar.

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens typically find their way onto any healthy foods list. They're full of vitamins and minerals while being low in calories. Leafy greens such as kale and spinach also promote oral health. They're high in calcium, which builds your teeth's enamel. They also contain folic acid, a type of B vitamin that has numerous health benefits, including possibly treating gum disease in pregnant women, according to MedlinePlus. If you have trouble getting leafy greens into your diet, add a handful of baby spinach to your next salad or throw some kale on a pizza. You can also try adding some greens to a smoothie.

Apples

While the ADA recommends steering clear of most sweet foods, there are some exceptions. Fruits, such as apples, might be sweet, but they're also high in fiber and water. The action of eating an apple produces saliva in your mouth, which rinses away bacteria and food particles. The fibrous texture of the fruit also stimulates the gums. Eating an apple isn't the same as brushing your teeth with a toothpaste that contains fluoride, such as Colgate® Total®, but it can tide you over until you have a chance to brush. Pack either a whole apple or apple slices in your lunch to give your mouth a good scrubbing at the end of the meal.

Carrots

Like apples, carrots are crunchy and full of fiber. Eating a handful of raw carrots at the end of the meal increases saliva production in your mouth, which reduces your risk of cavities. Along with being high in fiber, carrots are a great source of vitamin A. Top a salad with a few slices of raw carrots, or enjoy some baby carrots on their own.

Celery

Celery might get a bad reputation for being bland, watery and full of those pesky strings, but like carrots and apples, it acts a bit like a toothbrush, scraping food particles and bacteria away from your teeth. It's also a good source of vitamins A and C, two antioxidants that give the health of your gums a boost. Make celery even tastier by topping it with cream cheese.

Almonds

Almonds are great for your teeth because they are a good source of calcium and protein while being low in sugar. Enjoy a quarter cup of almonds with your lunch. You can also add a handful to a salad or to a stir-fry dinner.

Along with adding more leafy greens, dairy products and fibrous vegetables to your diet, pay attention to what you're drinking. Since it has no calories or sugar, water is always the best pick, especially compared to juice or soda. Your diet makes a big difference when it comes to a healthy smile.

When it comes to the health of your teeth, you really are what you eat. Sugary foods, such as candy and soda, contribute to tooth decay. One of the first areas to decline when your diet is less than ideal is your oral health, according to the American Dental Association (ADA). Use this healthy foods list to improve your diet and the health of your mouth.

Cheese

If you're one of the many people who profess a love of cheese, you now have another reason to enjoy this tasty food. A study published in the May/June 2013 issue of General Dentistry, the journal of the American Academy of General Dentistry, reported at EurekAlert! found that eating cheese raised the pH in the subjects' mouths and lowered their risk of tooth decay. It's thought that the chewing required to eat cheese increases saliva in the mouth. Cheese also contains calcium and protein, nutrients that strengthen tooth enamel.

Yogurt

Like cheese, yogurt is high in calcium and protein, which makes it a good pick for the strength and health of your teeth. The probiotics, or beneficial bacteria, found in yogurt also benefit your gums because the good bacteria crowd out bacteria that cause cavities. If you decide to add more yogurt to your diet, choose a plain variety with no added sugar.

Leafy Greens

Leafy greens typically find their way onto any healthy foods list. They're full of vitamins and minerals while being low in calories. Leafy greens such as kale and spinach also promote oral health. They're high in calcium, which builds your teeth's enamel. They also contain folic acid, a type of B vitamin that has numerous health benefits, including possibly treating gum disease in pregnant women, according to MedlinePlus. If you have trouble getting leafy greens into your diet, add a handful of baby spinach to your next salad or throw some kale on a pizza. You can also try adding some greens to a smoothie.

Apples

While the ADA recommends steering clear of most sweet foods, there are some exceptions. Fruits, such as apples, might be sweet, but they're also high in fiber and water. The action of eating an apple produces saliva in your mouth, which rinses away bacteria and food particles. The fibrous texture of the fruit also stimulates the gums. Eating an apple isn't the same as brushing your teeth with a toothpaste that contains fluoride, such as Colgate® Total®, but it can tide you over until you have a chance to brush. Pack either a whole apple or apple slices in your lunch to give your mouth a good scrubbing at the end of the meal.

Carrots

Like apples, carrots are crunchy and full of fiber. Eating a handful of raw carrots at the end of the meal increases saliva production in your mouth, which reduces your risk of cavities. Along with being high in fiber, carrots are a great source of vitamin A. Top a salad with a few slices of raw carrots, or enjoy some baby carrots on their own.

Celery

Celery might get a bad reputation for being bland, watery and full of those pesky strings, but like carrots and apples, it acts a bit like a toothbrush, scraping food particles and bacteria away from your teeth. It's also a good source of vitamins A and C, two antioxidants that give the health of your gums a boost. Make celery even tastier by topping it with cream cheese.

Almonds

Almonds are great for your teeth because they are a good source of calcium and protein while being low in sugar. Enjoy a quarter cup of almonds with your lunch. You can also add a handful to a salad or to a stir-fry dinner.

Along with adding more leafy greens, dairy products and fibrous vegetables to your diet, pay attention to what you're drinking. Since it has no calories or sugar, water is always the best pick, especially compared to juice or soda. Your diet makes a big difference when it comes to a healthy smile.

 

Six tips for cavity-free holidays!

December 21st, 2017

The holidays are here, which means lots of baked delights, fun drinks, and peanut brittle! We love delicious treats as much as the next guy but we also know it's important to take care of your teeth during this sweets-filled time. This article from MouthHealthy has some great tips on how to take care of your pearly whites over the next couple weeks!

Timing matters

Timing matters. While everything is fine in moderation, it helps to eat sweets and other sugary foods with meals or shortly after mealtime. Saliva production increases during meals and helps cancel out acids produced by bacteria in your mouth and helps rinse away food particles.

Be picky if it's sticky

When it comes to picking healthy snacks, many people put dried fruit at the top of the list. But many dried fruits are sticky and sticky foods tend to stay on the teeth longer than other types of food. If you find yourself eating a lot of dried fruits such as cranberries, make sure to rinse with water and brush carefully.

Limit your alcohol intake

‘Tis the season for egg nog, Brandy Alexanders and glog! If you choose to imbibe, try to drink water alongside your drinks. And remember: Too much alcohol can dry out your mouth.

Take it easy on the hard candies

Some candies are more problematic than others. Hard candies can put your teeth at risk because in addition to being full of sugar, they’ve also been known to cause broken or chipped teeth. (Be careful not to break or chip your teeth when eating nuts as well!)

Watch out for starchy foods

These are sneaky because they often get trapped in your teeth. If you choose to indulge in chips and cakes, take extra care when you floss that day to remove all the food particles that can lead to plaque build-up.

You can still have fun

So, what can you eat? Lots of stuff! Make lean protein choices, such as lean beef, skinless poultry and fish and vary your diet. Eat whole grains and choose low-fat or fat-free dairy foods. The holidays are a great time of year to start thinking about healthier habits. If you do snack, make it a nutritious choice—such as cheese, yogurt, fruits, and vegetables—for your overall health and the health of your teeth.

 

What is Periodontal Disease?

December 14th, 2017

Periodontal disease is more common than you think! It is important to know the symptoms early in order to prevent potential  damage to your teeth and jaw bone. This article from the Mayo Clinic gives a great overview of the steps you can take if you think you may have periodontitis (periodontal/gum disease):

Diagnosis

To determine whether you have periodontitis and how severe it is, your dentist may:

  • Review your medical history to identify any factors that could be contributing to your symptoms, such as smoking or taking certain medications that cause dry mouth.
  • Examine your mouth to look for plaque and tartar buildup and check for easy bleeding.
  • Measure the pocket depth of the groove between your gums and teeth by placing a dental probe beside your tooth beneath your gumline, usually at several sites throughout your mouth. In a healthy mouth, the pocket depth is usually between 1 and 3 millimeters (mm). Pockets deeper than 4 mm may indicate periodontitis. Pockets deeper than 6 mm cannot be cleaned well.
  • Take dental X-rays to check for bone loss in areas where your dentist observes deeper pocket depths.

Treatment

Treatment may be performed by a periodontist, a dentist or a dental hygienist. The goal of periodontitis treatment is to thoroughly clean the pockets around teeth and prevent damage to surrounding bone. You have the best chance for successful treatment when you also adopt a daily routine of good oral care and stop tobacco use.

Nonsurgical treatments

If periodontitis isn't advanced, treatment may involve less invasive procedures, including:

  • Scaling. Scaling removes tartar and bacteria from your tooth surfaces and beneath your gums. It may be performed using instruments, a laser or an ultrasonic device.
  • Root planing. Root planing smoothes the root surfaces, discouraging further buildup of tartar and bacteria, and removes bacterial byproducts that contribute to inflammation and delay healing or reattachment of the gum to the tooth surfaces.
  • Antibiotics. Topical or oral antibiotics can help control bacterial infection. Topical antibiotics can include antibiotic mouth rinses or insertion of gels containing antibiotics in the space between your teeth and gums or into pockets after deep cleaning. However, oral antibiotics may be necessary to completely eliminate infection-causing bacteria.

Surgical treatments

If you have advanced periodontitis, treatment may require dental surgery, such as:

  • Flap surgery (pocket reduction surgery). Your periodontist makes tiny incisions in your gum so that a section of gum tissue can be lifted back, exposing the roots for more effective scaling and root planing. Because periodontitis often causes bone loss, the underlying bone may be recontoured before the gum tissue is sutured back in place. After you heal, it's easier to clean these areas and maintain healthy gum tissue.
  • Soft tissue grafts. When you lose gum tissue, your gumline recedes. You may need to have some of the damaged soft tissue reinforced. This is usually done by removing a small amount of tissue from the roof of your mouth (palate) or another donor source and attaching it to the affected site. This can help reduce further gum recession, cover exposed roots and give your teeth a more pleasing appearance.
  • Bone grafting. This procedure is performed when periodontitis has destroyed the bone surrounding your tooth root. The graft may be composed of small fragments of your own bone, or the bone may be synthetic or donated. The bone graft helps prevent tooth loss by holding your tooth in place. It also serves as a platform for the regrowth of natural bone.
  • Guided tissue regeneration. This allows the regrowth of bone that was destroyed by bacteria. In one approach, your dentist places a special piece of biocompatible fabric between existing bone and your tooth. The material prevents unwanted tissue from entering the healing area, allowing bone to grow back instead.
  • Tissue-stimulating proteins. Another technique involves applying a special gel to a diseased tooth root. This gel contains the same proteins found in developing tooth enamel and stimulates the growth of healthy bone and tissue.

All About Abscesses

November 16th, 2017

An abscess can become serious very quickly; it's important to recognize the signs if you have one! Great article from Colgate.

What Is It?

An abscess is a limited area of pus formed as a result of a bacterial infection. The body's immune system reacts to the infection, and sends white blood cells to the area to try to get rid of the bacteria. Pus is a mixture of live and dead white blood cells, enzymes and parts of destroyed cells and tissues. When there is no way for pus to drain, it forms an abscess.

Abscesses can form in almost every part of the body. In the mouth, abscesses form in gum tissue or in the roots of teeth and in the surrounding areas of the tooth. They can be caused by trauma (food or debris embedded deep in the gum), by bacteria that enters through a cavity and gets into the dental pulp, or from a deep periodontal pocket. People with a lowered resistance to infection are at increased risk of developing an abscess. At first, the abscess may cause a toothache, which can be severe. The tooth's nerve can become infected and the infection can burrow through to the gum, forming a visible boil that can rupture in the mouth. Once the abscess ruptures, the pain often decreases significantly, but dental treatment is still necessary. If the abscess does not drain, the infection can spread to other areas of the head and neck and can become life threatening.

Symptoms

The main symptom is persistent, throbbing pain. At first, the tooth will be sensitive to heat and pressure while chewing. Later, you may develop a fever. Swollen lymph nodes under the jaw or in the neck can be tender and you may feel pain in the sinus area. If the abscess ruptures, a sudden rush of foul-smelling and foul-tasting fluid will spill into the mouth.

Diagnosis

Usually, your dentist can diagnose a tooth abscess by examining your mouth. He or she may push on the swollen area of the gum and do a pulp test on the affected tooth to see if it is still alive. A pulp test can involve:

  • Gentle tapping (percussion) on the tooth
  • Temperature testing
  • Using an electric tester on the tooth

Your dentist also may take an X-ray to look for bone erosion around the tip of the tooth's root.

Expected Duration

Once the abscess is drained, most symptoms go away immediately or within a few days, but the abscess will not be cured unless the cause is eliminated.

Prevention

Good oral hygiene can help prevent abscesses by keeping teeth and gums free of food and debris. Regular dental checkups are also important. If you have a weakened immune system because of medication or another condition, let your dentist know before every appointment. You may receive antibiotics before the appointment to reduce the risk of infection.

Treatment

Saving an abscessed tooth begins with draining the infection, which usually relieves pain and removes much of the infection. Root canal treatment may be necessary and should be started as soon as possible to remove diseased tissue.

If the abscess involves gum tissue, your dentist may suggest that you rinse with warm salt water (1/8 of a teaspoon of salt in 8 ounces of water) a few times a day for several days. You may be prescribed antibiotics to help make sure the infection has been eliminated. Have dental X-rays performed six months later to confirm if healthy bone and tissue are filling the area of the abscess. If the bone does not fill in after the treatment, you may need to visit a periodontist who can surgically reshape the gum so that it is easier to keep clean, or an endodontist who can surgically remove a persistent abscess.

When To Call A Professional

If you have a toothache or notice evidence of an abscess on your gum, visit your dentist. Even if the abscess drains and the pain decreases, a visit to the dentist for complete treatment is crucial.

Prognosis

The outlook is excellent if detected promptly and treated appropriately.

 

©2002-2005 Aetna, Inc. All rights reserved.
Reviewed by the faculty of Columbia University College of Dental Medicine

Fluoride in Your Water: The Great Debate

October 26th, 2017

Fluoride - is it necessary? Is it safe? This article from EverydayHealth is a great overview of why fluoride is added to our drinking water.

Most communities in the United States drink from fluoridated water supplies, but the benefits and risks are still being hotly debated. Here's what you need to know.

You’ve heard about fluoride from your dentist — there are fluoridated toothpastes, mouth rinses, even supplements. But do you know what fluoride is?

Fluoride is found naturally in water (rivers, lakes, streams, and oceans) and in many foods, such as grapes and tea. It’s also added to certain processed cereals and infant formulas. And this mineral has a big benefit: It protects your teeth from the plaque bacteria and sugars that hang around your mouth after you eat, preventing tooth enamel from being eaten away and cavities from forming.

In fact, evidence suggests that fluoride not only prevents decay, but also reverses it by enhancing re-mineralization, the rebuilding of tooth enamel that has begun to decay. That’s why the American Dental Association (ADA), as well as most dentists, believes that small amounts of fluoride should be added to water supplies so that everyone gets an adequate amount.

The scientific evidence is quite clear, says Howard Pollick, BDS, MPH, a professor in the department of preventive and restorative dental sciences at the School of Dentistry at the University of California in San Francisco, and a spokesman for the American Dental Association. “Fluoride prevents tooth decay,” he says.

However, others believe that adding fluoride to water supplies is unnecessary and dangerous. A recent government study found that about two in five teens have dental fluorosis — white spots and streaks on their teeth — from consuming too much fluoride.

A Short History of Fluoride

On Jan. 25, 1945, the city of Grand Rapids, Mich., was the first to add fluoride to its municipal water supply. Studies had shown that children had fewer cavities if they lived in areas where the water contained more fluoride. Today, nearly three-quarters of Americans live in communities with fluoridated water supplies.

Dr. Pollick says that many communities have less than 0.3 parts per million of fluoride in their water — less than what U.S. public health officials recommend for the prevention of tooth decay.

However, fluoride today is more widely available in toothpastes, mouthwashes, and rinses, as well as in a gel, foam, or varnish that dentists can apply to teeth, than it was in the mid-1940s when communities began fluoridating their water.

Government health officials recently acknowledged these changes in lifestyle and lowered the recommend levels for water fluoridation. In January, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommended that the fluoride level in drinking water be set at 0.7 milligrams per liter of water. Their previous recommendation had been a range of 0.7 to 1.2 milligrams.

Still, Pollick says research shows that the benefits of fluoridation outweigh the risks and that, by fluoridating the water, children from poorer families who don’t have as much access to dental health care are at least consuming fluoride. Dental fluorosis is mostly a cosmetic issue that can be dealt with, he says, and there’s no evidence that fluoridation poses a cancer risk, as some activists claim.

“We’re confident,” says Pollick, who served on the EPA panel that recommended the changes, “that water fluoridation is safe and a cost-effective way of reaching an entire community.”

The Argument Against Fluoridation

Though the American Dental Association supports fluoridation, critics believe that any amount of fluoride added to water is too much — claiming it puts people at risk for adverse health conditions, including fractures, brain damage, and cancer.

“Water fluoridation is not safe,” says Kathleen Thiessen, PhD, of the Center for Risk Analysis at SENES Oak Ridge Inc. in Tennessee. “At levels of exposure typically encountered in the United States, even with the recent lower recommended fluoride concentration, people are exposed at or above a level that is associated with a higher risk of adverse health effects.”

Bill Osmunson, DDS, MPH, a general and cosmetic dentist in Bellevue, Wash., says that dental fluorosis is more than just a “cosmetic problem,” and it can be costly to treat. “Some patients pay $20,000 to $30,000 to have it repaired, and the repair doesn’t last forever," he says.

According to Dr. Osmunson, studies show that excess fluoride can cause fractures to teeth and bones, kidney damage, thyroid issues, heart disease, brain damage, and cancer. The amount of tooth decay that is seen doesn’t vary between communities where the water is fluoridated and those where it isn’t, Osmunson says. So, he asks, why put people at risk?

But according to the National Cancer Institute, the evidence from many studies done on fluoride exposure in both humans and animals shows no association between fluoridated water and risk for cancer. Adults who get too much fluoride have been shown to be at risk for a painful bone condition called fluorosis of bone — but this is exceedingly rare at the fluoride levels found in the United States.

ADA’s Bottom Line

According to the ADA, the new recommendation for fluoride levels should provide an effective level of fluoride that will continue to reduce the incidence of tooth decay in children and adults of all ages and incomes, while minimizing the rate of dental fluorosis.

If you have concerns about fluoridation and want to avoid fluorosis, talk to your dentist.

Halloween Candy: Your Dental Health Survival Guide

October 12th, 2017

Halloween is less than two weeks away! Make sure you know how different types of candy can affect your teeth! This article from MouthHelathy gives a great run-down of your favorite Halloween treats:

With Halloween comes ghosts, goblins and goodies—and the sugar in those treats can play some unwanted tricks on your teeth if you’re not careful.

Here’s why: The bacteria in your mouth are probably more excited to eat Halloween candy than you are. When the bacteria eat the sugar and leftover food in your mouth, a weak acid is produced. That acid is what can contribute to cavities.

But don’t hang up your costume just yet. “Halloween is about candy, dressing up and having fun,” says ADA dentist Dr. Ana Paula Ferraz-Dougherty. “It’s OK to eat that candy on Halloween as a splurge as long as you’re brushing twice a day and flossing once a day all year long.”

To help you sort through the trick-or-treat bag loot, we have a rundown of some common candies and their impact on your teeth:

Chocolate

Chocolate is probably your best bet, which is good because it’s also one of the most popular kinds of candy handed out on Halloween. “Chocolate is one of the better candies because it washes off your teeth easier than other types of candy,” Dr. Ferraz- Dougherty says. “Dark chocolate also has less sugar than milk chocolate.”

Sticky and Gummy Candies

Be picky if it’s sticky. These are some of the worst candies for your teeth. “This candy is harder to remove and may stay longer on your teeth, which gives that cavity-causing bacteria more time to work,” Dr. Ferraz-Dougherty says.

Hard Candy

Hard candies are also ones to watch on Halloween. “They can actually break your teeth if you’re not careful,” Dr. Ferraz- Dougherty says. “You also tend to keep these kinds of candies in your mouth for longer periods of time so the sugar is getting in your saliva and washing over your teeth.”

Sour Candy

You might want to pass on things that make you pucker – especially if they are sticky and coated in sugar. “Sour candy can be very acidic,” says Dr. Ferraz-Dougherty. “And that acidity can weaken and damage the hard outer shell of your teeth, making your teeth more vulnerable to cavities.”

Popcorn Balls

Have some floss handy if you’re enjoying one of these fall favorites. “Kernels can get stuck in-between your teeth," Dr. Ferraz-Dougherty says. "They are also sticky, sugary and can be hard.”

Choosing a Toothbrush: Manual vs. Electric

September 28th, 2017

What kind of brush do you use? This article from everydayHEALTH weighs to pros and cons of both manual and electric brushes!

How do electric toothbrushes stand up against good old-fashioned manual brushing? We went to the experts to find out.

The electric toothbrush has become very popular in recent years — some even say it provides superior dental care. But how does it actually compare to manual brushing?

“The idea of a toothbrush is to remove plaque and to stimulate the gums,” explains John Ictech-Cassis, DDS, DMD, clinical associate professor at the Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine. “Most toothbrushes will keep the teeth clean if you know how to use them.”

Manual Toothbrushes: A Classic Route to Good Dental Care

“There are many advantages to the manual toothbrush,” says Dr. Ictech-Cassis. “We’ve been using this toothbrush for many years. It has a good track record.” Advantages include:

  • Cost and availability. “It’s inexpensive and accessible,” says Ictech-Cassis. “This is the toothbrush that the majority of dentists give away.” Electric toothbrushes may simply be too expensive for many people, so it’s nice to know that you can do a great job brushing with a manual toothbrush.
  • Easy to travel with. “It’s easy to take a manual toothbrush with you when you travel. It’s not bulky like an electric toothbrush,” says Ictech-Cassis. You’ll be less likely to let your good dental care habits lapse on vacation with a toothbrush that you can easily bring along, he adds.
  • Puts less pressure on teeth and gums. “You can feel [how much pressure you're using] as you grasp the toothbrush,” Ictech-Cassis notes. “This helps you to avoid putting too much pressure on your teeth. With an electrical model you can’t feel that as well.” Placing too much pressure on your teeth can wear away at the tooth enamel, causing pain, sensitivity, and an increased risk of tooth decay.
  • Good for kids. Even young children can use manual brushes safely and effectively once they’ve learned how, Ictech-Cassis points out.

Electric Toothbrushes: Recommended in Some Cases

Nevertheless, Ictech-Cassis admits that there are some situations where an electric toothbrush has clear advantages. "We recommend it for people who can’t do a good job with a manual toothbrush,” he says. For older people or people who have less manual dexterity, like those who have arthritis, the electric toothbrush may clean more effectively, he says. According to the American Dental Association (AMA), people with limited ability to move their shoulders, arms, and hands can benefit from the larger handle and powered brush of an electric model.

How to Choose an Electric Toothbrush

Today, electric toothbrushes are outfitted with a variety of features. Though they make nice additions, pressure sensors that tell you if you’re brushing too hard or timers that indicate when you’ve brushed long enough don’t directly affect how well the toothbrush actually cleans your teeth.

Electric toothbrushes “try to stimulate the gums and teeth with different configurations of the bristles," Ictech-Cassis says. “Even the most inexpensive electric models will keep your teeth clean, but you may have to move them a little more to reach the difficult areas.”

Although almost any toothbrush can do an effective job, research suggests there is one electronic toothbrush bristle configuration that seems to be better at removing plaque and preventing gum disease. Electric toothbrushes with bristles that rotate together in one direction, and then switch and rotate in the opposite direction — a process known as rotating-oscillating — appear to be more effective than manual brushes and other electric brushes that spin in only one direction. If you do opt for an electronic toothbrush, a model with rotating-oscillating bristles is probably your best bet.

How Often Should You Get a New Toothbrush?

Whether you choose a manual or an electric toothbrush, choose one with soft bristles and be sure to change the bristles on the electric brush when they become worn down. “Bristles are very important,” Ictech-Cassis says. “Brushes need to be replaced every three months or when the bristles are no longer straight and firm. In that condition, they will not clean the teeth as well as they should.”

Bruxism a.k.a. Clenching

September 19th, 2017

Have you ever woken up with a sore jaw or do you suffer from tension headaches? Clenching your teeth can lead to several issues in your teeth and jaw. Dr. Smith is experienced in treating bruxism and getting a proper mouthguard or splint can make all the difference in the world!

This article provides a brief overview of bruxism and the possible causes. See the original article from Colgate

Clenching Teeth At Night

by Rachael Moshman

BRUXISM

Definition

Bruxism is also known as grinding and/or clenching of your teeth. It’s a very common condition that affects approximately 30 million to 40 million children and adults in the U.S.1

Signs & Symptoms

If you notice any of the following symptoms, you may be experiencing bruxism:

  • Rhythmic contractions of the jaw muscles
  • A grinding sound at night
  • Jaw muscles that are tight or painful
  • Long-lasting pain in the face
  • Swelling (occasionally) on the side of your lower jaw caused by clenching2

Grinding and clenching teeth at night is a condition called bruxism. It occurs in many people at some point in their lifetime. The severity and the duration of the problem vary according to individual circumstances. Here's what you need to know:

Symptoms that you're grinding or clenching your teeth at night

Facial pain and fatigue, especially in the jaw area, are common due to prolonged clenching of the muscles. Many people who suffer from bruxism wake up with headaches. Teeth often become painful, sensitive or loose. They may crack, chip or show wear in the enamel. Your sleeping partner may notice loud sounds when your teeth grind together, but it's also possible to do it silently.

Why is it happening?

Physical or emotional stress is the main culprit for bruxism. Physical factors frequently include fitness levels, nutrition, overall health and sleep habits. External emotional stressors can include money, work and relationship challenges.

Treatment options

Figuring out the source of the stress and addressing it can eliminate the grinding. Perform a relaxing routine before bed, such as light yoga, a warm bath or a cup of herbal tea. Some people say that placing a warm cloth over their jaw as they go to sleep helps reduce grinding and clenching.

See your dentist to determine if any damage has occurred as a result of grinding your teeth. Your dentist may suggest that you wear a night guard while you sleep. This is a device worn inside the mouth to cushion teeth during grinding and clenching. In severe cases, your doctor may recommend jaw exercises to help sooth and relax overworked muscles.

Grinding in children

Children can have problems with clenching and grinding at night as well. Just because they are young doesn't mean that they are immune to stress. If you hear your child grinding in the night, or they complain of headaches, tooth pain or facial discomfort, visit a pediatric dentist to see about a night guard.

When it isn't addressed, grinding and clenching often leads to serious damage in the teeth and jaws. It also leaves the sufferer exhausted and in pain. If you suspect grinding and clenching, contact your dentist today.

Sparkling Water - Is It Safe For Your Teeth?

September 14th, 2017

Great article from USNews details how a popular, refreshing drink may affect our teeth.

Health Buzz: Sparkling Water Is Safe for Your Teeth, Dentist Says

But that's not the whole story.

By David Oliver , Associate Editor, Social Media |March 30, 2017, at 4:41 p.m.

Hewlett says the best knowledge we have now is that there's been no evidence to indicate that sparkling water harms tooth enamel.

 

Chances are you or someone you know prefers sparkling water like trendy La Croix over tap or still mineral water. Whether it's the allure of the fizz or dissatisfaction with the run-of-the-mill beverage, people flock to what's more exciting.

But does this excitement compromise the safety of your teeth? In short, the answer is no.

That's according to Dr. Edmond Hewlett, a professor in the University of California–Los Angeles School of Dentistry. A dentist for more than 35 years, he tells U.S. News when you drink sparkling water, carbon dioxide breaks down in your mouth and becomes carbonic acid. The question then becomes whether the acid is harmful.

Hewlett says the best knowledge available shows no evidence indicating sparkling water harms tooth enamel – the hardest substance in the body – though he notes it's not an area studied intensely.

study published last year in the Journal of the American Dental Association found that most commercially accessible U.S. beverages "are potentially erosive to the dentition," aka teeth's arrangement or condition.

The study characterized beverages like numerous Gatorade and Powerade drinks as extremely erosive, while other Gatorade and Propel drinks were simply erosive. Comparatively, S. Pellegrino Sparkling Natural Mineral Water was listed as "erosive," while Perrier carbonated mineral water was tagged "minimally erosive." The American Dental Association pointed out the Pellegrino is on the edge of "erosive" and "minimally erosive," per the data. Its pH could range from 5.05 (minimally erosive) to only 4.87 (erosive).

The Atlantic cited a 2007 study that said, "It would be inappropriate to consider these flavored sparkling waters as a healthy dental alternative to other acidic drinks."

But Hewlett, also a consumer adviser for the American Dental Association, says that the acidity occurring in sparkling water is less in magnitude than what you might get with citrus juice or many sodas and sports drinks on the market. The more acidic the drink – think carbonated sodas with citric acid or bottled water with fruit derivatives – the greater the risk of tooth erosion with frequent consumption, he says.

So is there risk in drinking sparkling water after all?

"There is a theoretical risk of tooth erosion, but the drinks would have to be consumed over a long period of time," Damien Walmsley, a professor of dentistry at the University of Birmingham in England, told The Atlantic last year. "My advice is to keep acidic drinks to meal times, and if you have to sip drinks between meals, then plain water is the safest."

"For an average, healthy person, carbonated, sugar-free beverages are not going to be a main cavity-causing factor," Andrew Swiatowicz, a dentist in Wilmington, Delaware, told The Atlantic. "If you are at all concerned, you can always dilute the carbonated water with regular water, or even just swish with regular water after."

There's something else to keep in mind when drinking potentially erosive beverages. Hewlett says it's well-known in the dental community that people can have a habit of swishing or holding carbonated beverages in their mouths. Doing this with drinks that have higher erosion potential could evidently increase erosion risk.

One of his students found this out the hard way, seemingly developing tooth erosion from this habit when drinking diet cola beverages.

On a positive note, sparkling water serves as a good source of hydration, which can help temporarily increase saliva flow. This reduces your risk of tooth decay and buffers acid in the mouth as a protective factor.

Hewlett says the best beverage to drink for your oral health is water with fluoride, and head to a professional if you have erosion questions.

"Consulting with your dentist is the best way to address any concerns about erosion and get expert advice on what to do to either prevent it from happening or stop it from happening if it's already occurring," he says.

How Does Coffee Stain Teeth?

August 31st, 2017

There's nothing like a warm cup of coffee on a chilly morning! But what does that mean for our teeth? This article from Colgate offers some tips to prevent the dreaded "coffee smile." Luckily, there are things we can do to protect our teeth and still enjoy our morning cup of joe.

View original article on Colgate.

Most of us can't live without a daily dose of coffee to jump start the day, but could the beverage that puts morning smiles on our faces also be making those smiles less brilliant?

How Does Coffee Stain Teeth?

Although the enamel of your teeth is the hardest substance in the human body, it is not flat and smooth. On the contrary, your tooth enamel contains microscopic pits and ridges that can hold particles of food and drink.

Pigments from dark-colored drinks such as coffee, tea, and soda can become embedded in those cracks and ridges and, if the proper steps are not taken, can cause permanent, yellowing stains on your teeth.

Does Coffee Stain Teeth Less If You Add Cream?

While it may seem that lighter-colored coffee would stain less, the same pigments and acids are present in coffee with cream as black coffee; thus, adding any sort of whitener to your coffee will not prevent your teeth from becoming stained, unless you put significantly less coffee in your cup to make room for the cream.

How Can One Prevent "Coffee Smile"?

Giving up coffee, tea, or other tooth-staining beverages is the best way to prevent the staining caused by those drinks, but for most people, this is not an acceptable solution.

Rather than abstaining, try to consume your coffee at specific break times, rather than sipping constantly throughout the day. After finishing your coffee, you can then rinse your mouth out with water or brush your teeth to remove the potentially yellowing pigments from your teeth.

Using a whitening toothpaste and brushing regularly is a good way to maintain whiter teeth at home. In addition, visiting your dentist's office for regular cleanings can remove many of the surface stains on your teeth, giving you a whiter smile, no matter how many cups of coffee you need to make it through the day.

The Four Types of Teeth and How They Function

August 3rd, 2017

This article from EverydayHealth is so interesting! We all know the basics of what a tooth is, but do you know what they are made of?

Your teeth and the structure of your mouth play important roles in your ability to eat and speak and stay healthy.

Written by 

Medically reviewed by Christine Wilmsen Craig, MD

Most of us take our teeth for granted … until something goes wrong. Our teeth help us chew and digest food, play an important role in speech, and impact our health overall. And by brushing up on your dental health knowledge, you’ll be taking the first step toward giving your teeth the attention they deserve.

How much do you know about your pearly whites?

The Development of Teeth

Humans have two sets of teeth, primary (or baby) teeth and then permanent teeth, which develop in stages. Although the timing is different, the development of each of these sets of teeth is similar. Here are some facts about how people develop teeth:

  • Teeth tend to erupt in parallel, meaning that the top molar on your left side should grow in at about the same time as the top molar on the right.
  • Tooth development begins long before your first tooth becomes visible. For example, a baby’s first tooth appears at around six months of age, but development of those teeth actually begins during the early second trimester of pregnancy.
  • The crown of a tooth forms first, while the roots continue to develop even after the tooth has erupted.
  • The 20 primary teeth are in place by age 3 and remain until around 6 years of age when they begin to fall out to make way for the permanent set of teeth.
  • Adult teeth start to grow in between 6 and 12 years of age. Most adults have 32 permanent teeth.
  • Permanent teeth are larger and take longer to grow in than primary teeth.

The Parts of the Tooth

A tooth is divided into two basic parts: the crown, which is the visible, white part of the tooth, and the root, which you can’t see. The root extends below the gum line and anchors the tooth into the bone. Your teeth contain four kinds of tissue and each does a different job. These include:

  • Enamel. Enamel is the visible substance that covers the tooth crown. Harder than bone, enamel protects the tooth from decay. Enamel is made up of phosphorous and calcium.
  • Dentin. Underneath the enamel you find dentin, which is calcified and looks similar to bone. Dentin is not quite as hard as enamel, so it is at greater risk for decay should the enamel wear away.
  • Cementum. This tissue covers the tooth root and helps anchor it (cement it) into the bone. It is softer than enamel and dentin; the best way to protect this softer tissue from decay is by taking good care of your gums. Cementum has a light yellow color and is usually covered by the gums. But with inadequate dental care, the gums may become diseased and shrink, exposing the cementum to harmful plaque and bacteria.
  • Pulp. Pulp is found at the center of your tooth and contains the blood vessels, nerves, and other soft tissues that deliver nutrients and signals to your teeth.

Types of Teeth and What They Do

Teeth help you chew your food, making it easier to digest. Each type of tooth has a slightly different shape and performs a different job. Types of teeth include:

  • Incisors. Incisors are the eight teeth in the front and center of your mouth (four on top and four on bottom). These are the teeth that you use to take bites of your food. Incisors are usually the first teeth to erupt, at around 6 months of age for your first set of teeth, and between 6 and 8 years of age for your adult set.
  • Canines. Your four canines are the next type of teeth to develop. These are your sharpest teeth and are used for ripping and tearing food apart. Primary canines generally appear between 16 and 20 months of age with the upper canines coming in just ahead of the lower canines. In permanent teeth, the order is reversed. Lower canines erupt around age 9 with the uppers arriving between 11 and 12 years of age.
  • Premolars. Premolars, or bicuspids, are used for chewing and grinding food. You have four premolars on each side of your mouth, two on the upper and two on the lower jaw. The first premolars appear around age 10 and the second premolars arrive about a year later.
  • Molars. Primary molars are also used for chewing and grinding food. These appear between 12 and 15 months of age. These molars, also known as decidious molars, are replaced by the first and second permanent premolars (four upper and four lower). The permanent molars do not replace, but come in behind the primary teeth. The first molars erupt around 6 years of age (before the primary molars fall out) while the second molars come in between 11 and 13 years of age.
  • Third molars. Third molars are commonly known as wisdom teeth. These are the last teeth to develop and do not typically erupt until age 18 to 20, and some people never develop third molars at all. For those who do, these molars may cause crowding and need to be removed.

Your mouth is important. Don’t take your teeth or oral health for granted. For good dental health, brush and floss your teeth regularly, don't smoke, eat a healthy diet, and see your dentist regularly for dental cleanings and checkups. A healthy mouth makes for a healthy body ... and a pretty smile.

Sealants can stop cavities before they begin

July 13th, 2017

See original article from Delta Dental

Children are prone to cavities because of the natural shape of their growing teeth. When first molars come in around age 6, deep crevices called pits and fissures form on the chewing surfaces of these back teeth. Pits and fissures are so narrow that the bristles of a toothbrush cannot reach into them, making them difficult to clean; however, these crevices provide plenty of room for bacteria to grow.

Children's eating habits also lead to cavities because their diets generally include frequent snacking. Children are usually brushing their own teeth by age 6, and they may not be doing an adequate job. They rarely brush as often as necessary and their technique may need an occasional check by an adult.

What can you do? Sealants may be the answer

Dental sealants can protect your children from cavities. Sealants are applied to the chewing surfaces of molars to act as a barrier between the tooth and harmful bacteria. They are most effective when applied to decay-susceptible biting surfaces as soon as the teeth come in. Here's how sealants work: The sealing material is applied to the tooth surface using an "etching" fluid. The sealant partially penetrates the tooth enamel, ensuring that it is firmly attached to the tooth. Once applied, the sealant fills in the tooth's grooves, hardens and creates a thin plastic barrier that keeps cavity-causing bacteria out of the pits and fissures.

Application is fast and painless

Your child will be happy to know that with sealants, there is no drilling and no discomfort. Sealants can be applied by either your dentist or a registered dental hygienist, and application takes less time than having a tooth filled.

After many years in use, sealants have proven to be safe, durable and effective. Check your Delta Dental Evidence of Coverage booklet to see if your plan includes coverage for sealants. Usually, sealants are covered when applied to first molars through age 8 and second molars through age 15. However, coverage for some groups may be different. Ask your dentist about how your child can benefit from the application of sealants.

Other cavity prevention techniques

Regular at-home preventive care — brushing and flossing after every meal — can also help keep your child's dental problems to a minimum. From age 2, children should begin to brush their own teeth with a parent's help. Use a small, soft brush with a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.

Children need a balanced diet to help their bodies — including teeth — develop. Calcium is extremely important for strong teeth and to the structure of the face and jaws. Make sure your child gets an adequate supply of calcium by eating calcium rich foods such as milk, yogurt and cheese, which have been shown to inhibit the effects of harmful acids. Discourage snacks that are high in sugar or starch, and sticky foods that may remain in contact with teeth longer.

What Are Mouth Rinses?

June 29th, 2017

Original article from KnowYourTeeth

Mouth rinse or mouthwash is a product used for oral hygiene. Antiseptic and anti-plaque mouth rinse claims to kill the germs that cause plaque, gingivitis, and bad breath. Anti-cavity mouth rinse uses fluoride to protect against tooth decay. Mouth rinses are generally classified either as cosmetic, therapeutic, or a combination of the two. Cosmetic rinses are commercial, over-the-counter (OTC) products that help remove oral debris before or after brushing, temporarily suppress bad breath, diminish bacteria in the mouth, and refresh the mouth with a pleasant taste. Therapeutic rinses have all of the benefits of cosmetic rinses but also contain an added active ingredient that helps protect against some oral diseases. Therapeutic rinses also can be categorized according to use: anti-plaque/anti-gingivitis rinses or anti-cavity fluoride rinses, for example.

Dentists will prescribe special rinses for patients with more severe oral problems, such as cavities, periodontal disease, gum inflammation, and xerostomia (dry mouth). Therapeutic rinses also are strongly recommended for those who can't brush due to physical impairments or medical reasons.

Should I use a mouth rinse?

Whether or not you should use a mouth rinse depends upon your needs. Many dentists consider the use of fluoride toothpaste alone to be more than adequate protection against cavities. Although anti-cavity rinses with fluoride have been clinically proven to fight up to 50 percent more of the bacteria that cause cavities, and most rinses are effective at curbing bad breath and freshening the mouth for up to three hours, initial studies have shown that most OTC anti-plaque rinses and antiseptics are not much more effective against plaque and gum disease than rinsing with water.

Most dentists are skeptical about the value of these anti-plaque products, and studies point to only a 20 to 25 percent effectiveness, at best, in reducing the plaque that causes gingivitis. Mouth rinses can cause harm by masking the symptoms of an oral health disease or condition.

How should I use a mouth rinse?

Before using mouth rinses, dentists suggest that you brush and floss your teeth well. Then, measure the proper amount of rinse as specified on the container or as instructed by your dentist. With your lips closed and the teeth kept slightly apart, swish the liquid around with as much force as possible. Many rinses suggest swishing for 30 seconds or more. Finally, thoroughly spit the liquid from your mouth. Teeth should be as clean as possible before applying an anti-cavity rinse to reap the full preventive benefits. Consumers should not rinse, eat, or smoke for 30 minutes after using rinses, as these practices will dilute the fluoride and rinse it away.

Are there any side effects?

Yes, and they can vary depending on the type of rinse. Habitual use of antiseptic mouthwashes that contain high levels of alcohol (18 to 26 percent) may produce a burning sensation in the cheeks, teeth, and gums. Many rinses with more concentrated formulas can lead to mouth ulcers, sodium retention, root sensitivity, stains, soreness, numbness, changes in taste sensation, and painful mucosal erosions. Most anti-cavity rinses contain sodium fluoride, which can lead to fluoride toxicity if taken excessively or swallowed. Because children tend to accidentally swallow mouthwash, they should only use rinses under adult supervision. If you experience any irritating or adverse reactions to a mouth rinse, discontinue its use immediately and talk to your dentist.
Reviewed: January 2012

An apple a day may keep the dentist away!

June 15th, 2017

See original article from Delta Dental

Dietary habits of schoolchildren encourage an increase in sugar intake leading to a greater risk of cavities, reports the Academy of General Dentistry.

Over a 15-month period, researchers tracked the dietary habits and monitored the teeth of preschool children before and after the start of school. Results show that decayed, missing or filled teeth and initial cavities of the children jumped from 9.7 (at age five) to 15.3 cavities (at age six), an increase of 5.6 cavities within one year. Over the length of the study, the percentage of cavity-free schoolchildren dropped from 23 to 19 percent.

The easiest way parents can help children prevent tooth decay and cavities at school is to monitor their eating habits. For example, parents can offer their children healthy snack alternatives, such as apples, bite-size carrots or other foods that are naturally sweet, and instruct children to avoid candies, chocolate, caramels, chocolate milk and other foods that contain refined sugar. Cavity-causing organisms feed on sugar and turn it into acid, which attacks tooth enamel and causes tooth decay. Sticky, chewy candy especially can linger on teeth throughout the day. If children do happen to eat sugary snacks at lunch, they should brush and rinse with water or eat a piece of fruit to help clean teeth surfaces and gums.

Also, parents should find out what their child's school lunch program offers. If programs do not offer healthy alternatives, talk to the school about incorporating healthy lunches or snacks.

Finally, parents should consider professionally-applied sealants as another way to protect children's teeth from cavities. Sealants, a thin coating of bonding material applied over a tooth, act as a barrier to cavity-causing bacteria. They can be put on as soon as the child's first permanent molars (back teeth) appear.

An apple a day may keep the dentist away. Academy of General Dentistry.

Toothpaste 101

June 1st, 2017

See the original article on everydayHEALTH

Toothpaste 101

Brushing your teeth is the cornerstone of good oral health. Learn about the different types of toothpaste and how to select one that's right for you.

By 

Medically Reviewed by Cynthia Haines, MD

Toothpaste is not always paste. It can be a gel, powder, or paste that you brush onto your teeth and gums to help get rid of accumulating plaque and improve your oral health. According to the American Dental Association (ADA), toothpaste is important to oral health because it helps to remove plaque and its bacterial buildup on teeth and fights off periodontal (gum) disease. Most toothpaste also contains fluoride, which bolsters tooth enamel and fights tooth decay.

What's in Toothpaste?

The exact composition of different toothpastes may vary slightly depending on the benefits being touted by the particular brand (such as whitening teeth or reducing gum inflammation). In general, toothpastes include the following ingredients:

  • Gentle abrasives, such as magnesium carbonate, dehydrated silica gels, calcium carbonate, hydrated aluminum oxides, and phosphate salts.
  • Glycerol, sorbitol, or other so-called “humectants,” substances that keep the toothpaste from drying out.
  • Thickeners like seaweed or mineral colloids, synthetic cellulose, or natural gum to give the toothpaste a homogeneous appearance and texture.
  • Fluoride to help make tooth enamel stronger and more resistant to decay.
  • Flavoring agents that do not cause tooth decay, such as saccharin.
  • Detergents, such as sodium lauryl sarcosinate, to make the toothpaste foamy.

How to Pick the Right Toothpaste for Your Teeth

With the dizzying array of toothpaste choices in a typical drugstore aisle, it can be daunting to try and find one that's right for you. “One almost needs a PhD degree to weather the dental 'aisle of confusion',” says Richard H. Price, DMD, spokesperson for the ADA, and a former clinical instructor at Boston University Henry M. Goldman School of Dental Medicine.

When choosing a toothpaste, the first order of business is to make sure that the product is safe and will do what it claims. Toothpastes containing fluoride are regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) since they make disease-fighting claims. These products will display a standard “drug facts” panel on the packaging listing active ingredients, warnings, and other relevant information. Toothpastes without fluoride are considered cosmetics and, therefore, do not fall under FDA supervision. However, these products should still provide a list of ingredients. To avoid counterfeit and unregulated products, steer away from any toothpaste that doesn’t clearly state ingredient information or is not properly labeled.

Confused toothpaste shoppers can find additional guidance by looking for the ADA seal of approval. This symbol indicates that the manufacturer has participated in a voluntary testing program conducted by the ADA to gauge a product’s safety and effectiveness. Any toothpaste containing sugar, for example, will not get the ADA seal of approval.

“With the ADA seal on it, you know that it will do what it says,” notes Dr. Price, who is retired from a 35-year private group dental practice in Newton, Mass.

Hundreds of oral care products bear the ADA seal. To see a complete list of ADA-approved toothpastes, check out the ADA Web site.

The Benefits of Fluoride in Toothpaste

A key ingredient in toothpaste is fluoride. Fluoride has broad benefits for people, both young and old. “Fluoride toothpaste is not just for kids — it is beneficial for us our whole lives,” says Price. “The fluoride in the toothpaste heals and remineralizes microscopic cavities as they form, it hardens the tooth surface, making it more resistant to the acid attack of bacteria, and slows down the action of these acid-producing bacteria.”

Fluoride Safety

Although the FDA requires fluoride toothpaste to carry a warning label urging parents to contact a poison control center if their child accidentally consumes a large quantity of toothpaste, the ADA’s Council on Scientific Affairs takes the position that the FDA warning overstates the risks of ingested fluoride to children. According to the ADA statement, children cannot swallow enough fluoride from toothpaste during normal brushing to cause any serious problems. Nevertheless, to be on the safe side, Price recommends limiting children under age 5 to a pea-sized amount of toothpaste and supervising their brushing since most young children haven’t learned to rinse rather than swallow at the end of brushing.

Toothpaste for Particular Tooth and Gum Conditions

No matter what your personal oral health needs are, there’s likely a toothpaste for you.

If you have sensitive teeth, look for products with ingredients such as potassium nitrate or strontium chloride. To fight gingivitis or tartar buildup, choose a toothpaste that contains pyrophosphates, triclosan, and zinc citrate. In addition, you can find products designed to combat bad breath or formulated with special abrasives to help whiten stained teeth.

“If you have special needs, such as teeth that are sensitive to cold or heat, or problems with tartar buildup, look for toothpastes that address these issues that carry the ADA seal, or speak with your dentist for a recommendation,” Price advises.

Seven Foods that will Give You a Smashing Smile

November 11th, 2015

As the saying goes, you are what you eat. But did you know that what you eat also affects your smile? Chow down on these seven tasty treats, recommended by Dr. Mark Smith and Dr. Kristin Schroeder and our staff, for a healthier mouth and a smashing smile!

Sesame Seeds

These tiny seeds that you find in some Chinese and Thai dishes (as well as on top of your hamburger bun) are packed with bone-building calcium. They help to preserve and protect the bone that supports your teeth and gums. As a bonus, they also help to build up your tooth enamel while sloughing away plaque.

Kiwi

This funny little fruit has the highest amount of Vitamin C of any fruit, including oranges! What does this mean for your chompers? Well, you need Vitamin C to keep your gum tissue healthy and strong. Without it, they are more susceptible to periodontal disease.

Sweet Potatoes

These are not just for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner! You should add sweet potatoes to your regular diet. These tasty spuds are rich in Vitamin A, which your body uses to form tooth enamel and heal gum tissue.

Onions

You know those strong vapors from onions that make you cry? Well, they come from the sulfur compounds in the vegetable, which gives them a superpower-packed antibacterial punch. Get ready, though: Onions are most effective for your smile when you eat them raw!

Cheese

If you love cheese, you will love this news! Munching on some cheese helps prevent gum disease and cavities. The reason is that cheese is very high in calcium and phosphate, which help to balance the pH levels in your mouth. This in turn helps to preserve your tooth enamel and kill harmful bacteria.

Green Tea

Sipping on some green tea can not only help prevent cavities and gum disease, it can also kill the bacteria that cause bad breath. Score! Green tea has catechins, which actually kill the bacteria that cause plaque. So drink up! Your smile depends on it!

Celery

Have some fun with that crunchy stuff because, guess what? It is great for your smile! When you chew celery you produce saliva. Your saliva neutralizes cavity-causing bacteria. As a little added bonus, while you are chewing, it is giving your gums a little massage and cleaning between your teeth.

So grab some of these healthy snacks and give your mouth something to smile about!

Halloween: Candy, costumes, and more!

October 28th, 2015

All Hallows' Eve, more commonly known as Halloween, is a yearly event celebrated on October 31, and one that is anticipated by the young and young at heart all over the world. Some scholars claim that Halloween originated from Celtic festivals that honored the dead or that celebrated the harvest, while others doubt that there's any connection at all to Samhain (a Gaelic harvest festival.) Regardless of its origin, our team at the dental and cosmetic dental office of Dr. Mark Smith and Dr. Kristin Schroeder hopes that Halloween is fun and enjoyed by all of our awesome patients!

Trick or treat?

In North America, Halloween is predominantly celebrated by children who dress up in costumes, which range from scary to cute, who then go around the neighborhood knocking on doors asking "trick or treat", and they are given candy in return. Trick-or-treating is a time honored tradition, and though many parents groan at the pounds and pounds of candy collected by youngsters and fear for the health of their teeth, there are a few things you can do to help their teeth stay in great shape until the candy is gone:

  • Limit the amount of candy they can consume each day
  • Have them brush their teeth after eating candy
  • Avoid hard, chewy candies as they can stick in hard to brush places
  • Keep candy out of sight to reduce temptation
  • Don't buy candy too far in advance to limit pre-Halloween consumption
  • Help or encourage your children to floss

Halloween Fun

Halloween isn't just about gorging on candy; there are other events associated with this festive day including carving jack-o'-lanterns, painting pumpkins, decorating sugar cookies, bobbing for apples, going to haunted houses, or just curling up on the couch with a bowl full of popcorn and watching some classic, scary movies.

Halloween Around the World

Some countries, like Australia, frown upon Halloween, claiming it is an American event and not based in Australian culture, while others like Italy have embraced the fun and celebrate much as Canadians and Americans do. Mexicans have been celebrating this fun day since around 1960, and it marks the beginning of the Day of the Dead festival. Some countries in Europe have come late to the party, but since the 1990s, countries like Sweden, Norway, and Germany have started celebrating Halloween as well, and finding children in costumes or having ghosts hanging in windows has become commonplace.

Halloween is about fun; stepping outside our normal lives and donning a costume or gathering with friends to knock on doors and ask for candy is as much a part of our culture as hot dogs and barbecue on Labor Day. Have a safe and happy Halloween from the team at Got Smile Dental Group!

What happens during my hygiene appointment?

September 23rd, 2015

Regular visits to the dentist are important for people of all ages. Seeing Dr. Mark Smith and Dr. Kristin Schroeder as recommended provides preventive care for oral diseases. If a disease is already present, early detection can prevent hefty dental bills and further damage to the teeth and gums. Once you have made the decision to visit Got Smile Dental Group, you may ask yourself, “What happens during my hygiene appointment?”

Preparation

Arrive at your appointment a few minutes early and bring along any insurance cards or medical information. While it may seem irrelevant, a full medical history can be important, since certain conditions include symptoms that occur inside the mouth.

Initial appointment

In some offices, the first appointment is a screening appointment, during which a dental hygienist will go over your medical and dental history with you, assess the condition of your teeth and gums, then schedule a future appointment to complete the cleaning and any other treatments you may need. In other offices, the screening and cleaning will be done over the same appointment. The dental hygienist may:

  • Count your teeth
  • Clean your teeth by using a small tool to scrape them in order to remove plaque
  • Brush and floss your teeth
  • Apply a fluoride treatment using foam that sits on your teeth within a tooth mold, or a gel that can be “painted” on with a small brush
  • Inspect your teeth for cavities or signs of decay
  • Administer oral X-rays. You will be covered with a special blanket to protect your body and then given a small piece of plastic on which to bite.

Seeing the dentist

After the dental hygienist completes his or her portion of the appointment, the dentist will usually come in and inspect your teeth. After an initial inspection, the dentist may:

  • Perform a quick tooth count as well as a more thorough inspection, looking for signs of decay in and around the teeth
  • Use a small tool called a “probe” in order to check for signs of gum disease around the base of your teeth
  • Visually inspect the skin around your mouth, called the “mucosa”

If you need any further dental work completed, you will usually be required to make an additional appointment. To learn more about hygiene visits, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Mark Smith and Dr. Kristin Schroeder, please give us a call at our convenient Omaha, NE office!

We are committed to your oral health!

August 19th, 2015

Dental visits are often negatively associated with discomfort in many people’s minds. But at Got Smile Dental Group, Dr. Mark Smith and Dr. Kristin Schroeder and our team have created an atmosphere focused on dispelling those myths. Our team is truly passionate about dentistry, and we are trained to gently accommodate each individual patient’s needs, with every procedure and visit performed with the utmost focus on your comfort.

If you are a patient of record at Got Smile Dental Group, we are committed to your oral health and are available to you. If you would like to learn more about stress-free dentistry at our Omaha, NE office, or to schedule an appointment, we encourage you to give us a call!

Sleep Apnea: How we can help

August 12th, 2015

At Got Smile Dental Group, we understand that getting high-quality sleep is vital to maintaining your overall health. Insufficient sleep can lead to an inability to concentrate, motor vehicle accidents, and difficulty performing at work. Since approximately 18 million Americans suffer from sleep apnea, this poses a significant public health problem. If you think you may have sleep apnea, talk to Dr. Mark Smith and our team about devices that can help you get a good night’s rest.

What is sleep apnea?

Sleep apnea is a relatively common disorder in which breathing stops or becomes very shallow during the night. These bouts of paused breathing may last a few seconds or as long as several minutes. When 30 or more breathing interruptions occur per hour, sleep apnea leads to dramatic reductions in sleep quality. In many cases, this condition is caused by your airway becoming blocked or collapsed during sleep.

Anyone can get sleep apnea, but there are certain factors that increase your risk. Having small airways, being overweight, being male, or having a family history of sleep apnea increases the likelihood that you will develop the disorder. If you think you have sleep apnea, visit highly encourage you to visit our Omaha, NE office for a thorough physical exam, comprehensive medical history, and a sleep study.

Treatment Options

Several treatment avenues are available for people with sleep apnea. One popular option is to wear an oral appliance. For example, a mandibular advancement device (MAD) looks like a sports mouthguard and slightly repositions your jaw, to keep your airway unobstructed. Another option is a tongue-retraining device (TRD), which holds your tongue in place to ensure that your airway stays open during the night.

For individuals with mild-to-moderate sleep apnea, dental devices are a smart option. Many patients enjoy improved sleep, reductions in snoring, and less fatigue during daytime hours. If you’re curious about getting an oral appliance to help with your sleep apnea, please consult our team at Got Smile Dental Group. After a consultation and examination, we can fit the type of device that works best for your condition.

Best Tips to Make Your Teeth Look Whiter

June 24th, 2015

Your teeth were once naturally white and bright. Wouldn't it be great to keep them that way all of your life? Unfortunately, everyday living can dim our smiles. Food, coffee, some juices, and soft drinks can stain your teeth. Poor brushing and flossing can also leave tooth stains. Injuries to teeth or gums can cause some yellowing as well, and in some cases, medicines can discolor teeth.

So, you may need some extra help to maintain or restore your teeth's natural beauty. Here are some of the best ways to whiten your teeth:

1. Reduce additional staining by drinking with a straw or cutting back on coffee and soft drinks.

2. Brush and floss every day.

3. Try a whitening toothpaste or mouthwash.

4. Visit our office for teeth cleaning and an exam every six months.

We can also help you whiten your teeth with in-office professional teeth whitening at our Omaha, NE office. These whitening products are much more effective than whiteners you can buy at the store and are completely safe. Since they're stronger, application by a member of our team is essential to achieve the best results.

Some teeth can resist bleaching. If that's the case, we can try several techniques:

  • Deep bleaching that applies whitening agents over several visits.
  • Veneers and bonds that cover existing stains with a whiter, brighter surface.
  • Laser whitening that uses light to clean stubborn stains off teeth.

Take Care!

You may come across “bleaching stations” in shopping malls or at fairs. Avoid using these as the so-called whitening techniques can irritate your teeth and gums, leaving them highly sensitive to pain. Note too, that the operators of these whitening stands will make customers apply the bleach themselves, to avoid charges of practicing without a license. That should serve as a red flag and a caution to seek trained professionals, like Dr. Mark Smith, instead.

Thanks to Invisalign®, you can have a perfect smile without metal wires or brackets!

June 10th, 2015

When it comes to straightening your smile, our team at Got Smile Dental Group knows that having a mouth full of metal braces may not be your idea of fun. Luckily for you, Dr. Mark Smith can offer a cosmetic alternative: Invisalign!

Using a series of clear, comfortable, and completely customized aligners, you can get the smile you’ve always wanted without traditional braces.

Since Invisalign aligners are discreet, they’re hardly noticeable when you speak and smile, and because they’re removable, you can eat and drink whatever you want. Just remember to brush and floss before putting your aligners back in! Treatment with Invisalign is just as effective as with metal braces, and the results are just as amazing!

If you want to know more about Invisalign, contact our Omaha, NE office to schedule an appointment.

Invisalign Teen® Benefits

April 29th, 2015

You can probably see how teeth straightening can make your smile more attractive, but you might be wary of how Invisalign Teen treatment works. If you’re like most teens at our Omaha, NE office, you love hanging out with your friends, and you don’t want to be different, watch what you eat, or worry about how you look. Invisalign Teen has several benefits over traditional metal braces that can make your treatment easier.

People won’t know you’re wearing them.

Invisalign Teen consists of clear trays that are virtual impossible for others to see. Chances are, the only people who know that you are getting your teeth straightened will be your family and any of your friends whom you choose to tell. You won’t need to answer to “Tinsel Teeth” and “Metal Mouth” as some of your classmates with metal braces do.

You can eat what your friends eat.

You take your Invisalign Teen aligners out of your mouth for meals and snacks, so you can eat just like you normally would. You don’t need to worry about food getting stuck in your braces or leading to a bracket popping off. Unlike with braces, you can enjoy the following foods with your friends during Invisalign Teen straightening treatment:

  • Popcorn at the movies
  • Trail mix with dried fruit when you’re hanging out together
  • Ribs and chicken wings at a party
  • Eating a peanut butter sandwich, apple, and carrot sticks for lunch

You can take care of your teeth more easily.

It would be a shame if you took the trouble to straighten your teeth and then found out that you had developed tooth decay while wearing braces. This is less of a problem with Invisalign Teen aligners because they are removable. You can brush and floss your teeth as normal just by taking the trays out of your mouth.

Getting straighter teeth can be a serious confidence-booster in the long run, and with Invisalign Teen, the treatment isn’t that bad. You can wear these clear aligners without letting people know that you’re straightening your teeth, and they won’t interfere with your diet or dental hygiene.

Alleviate Tooth Sensitivity

April 15th, 2015

If a sip of ice water, spoonful of ice cream, or piping hot latte is enough to send shivers up your spine from tooth sensitivity, be assured you are not alone. It’s estimated that as many as one in eight adults suffers from tooth sensitivity.

What causes sensitive teeth?

Some of the causes of tooth sensitivity include brushing too hard, a cracked tooth, receding gums, periodontal disease, tooth bleaching, or other conditions that expose the sensitive roots of your teeth. For example, brushing too aggressively can injure your gums, and lead to exposed roots and tooth sensitivity.

When the enamel on the outside of the tooth or tissue located between the teeth breaks down or wears away, nerves inside the tooth trigger sensitive teeth that are particularly noticeable when you drink or eat anything hot or cold.

How to alleviate tooth sensitivity

Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do, both at home and at the dental office, to reduce the discomfort of sensitive teeth. Brushing with desensitizing toothpaste is one of the ways to reduce tooth sensitivity: it works well for many patients, and is typically the first course of action.

  • Brush with toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth.
  • Change the way you brush by using a soft toothbrush and not brushing too aggressively.
  • Avoid brushing teeth after consuming acidic foods and beverages, like orange juice and pickles.
  • Drink water or milk after eating or drinking acidic foods or beverages.
  • Sip through a straw when you drink acidic beverages.
  • Wear a mouthguard at night to prevent teeth grinding that wears down teeth.
  • Ask Dr. Mark Smith about fluoride dental treatments or plastic resin.

For moderate-to-serious cases of tooth sensitivity, more invasive professional dental treatments are available. These include a bonding agent designed to seal/cover the exposed root, obtaining new gum tissue through graft (for receding gums), fillings, crowns, inlays, or bonding. When tooth sensitivity is persistent and results in hypersensitivity, endodontic treatment in the form of root canal may be recommended.

To learn more about tooth sensitivity, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Mark Smith, please give us a call at our convenient Omaha, NE office!

What should I use to clean my baby’s teeth?

March 25th, 2015

You might think babies don’t need to brush their teeth, especially when they don’t have any. But by starting good habits like brushing when your child is young, you can lay the foundation for them to continue those good habits into adulthood.

When do I start?

The best time to start brushing your baby’s teeth is before he or she has any. Develop the habit of wiping your baby’s gums with a wet, soft washcloth or gauze every day. There is no need to use toothpaste, just wrap the gauze or cloth around your finger, moisten it with a little water, and gently rub it over the gums.

This helps your little one get used to brushing while it eliminates bacteria in the mouth that can harm emerging teeth. You don’t need to apply a lot of pressure or even take very long: just a quick, gentle rub over the gums will do it.

What do I use?

When your child’s teeth begin to come in, you will need to switch from a cloth to a baby toothbrush. Find one that has a grip big enough for your hand, but a head that is small enough to maneuver easily in your infant’s mouth.

You don’t need to use any toothpaste until your son or daughter is about a year old. Even then, though, you’ll want to use just a tiny amount: about the size of a grain of rice. When your toddler is about two years old, you can use a pea-sized amount.

By around six years of age, your child will probably rinse and spit without your help. At that point, you may want to introduce a child-friendly fluoride mouthwash.

How do I do it?

Your child probably won’t be able to brush his or her teeth alone until about the age of five or six. This means that you will need to do it. To brush your child’s teeth, gently use the brush over all the teeth and gums, even areas where the teeth have not come in yet.

As your child grows and becomes more independent, you can allow him or her to hold the toothbrush while you guide your child’s progress. Make sure you talk to your child while you are brushing, and explain why you brush: what you are doing and how you are doing it.

In addition to regular visits with Dr. Mark Smith, instilling good oral health habits in your child early on will ensure a lifetime of good dental health.

The Invisalign® Treatment Process

March 18th, 2015

Invisalign is gaining traction as a sought-after solution for orthodontic problems. Unlike traditional braces, which require the placement of brackets on teeth and the connection of unsightly wires, Invisalign works nearly invisibly (as its name suggests). Particularly for those who do not wish to draw attention to their orthodontic work, Invisalign provides an attractive solution.

Consultation with a Treatment Provider

Our practice has received specialized training to work with Invisalign. During your consultation appointment, Dr. Mark Smith and Dr. Kristin Schroeder will assess your smile needs. In some cases, the type of problem may not lend itself to correction through Invisalign, and we may offer an alternative solution.

Creation of a Custom Treatment Plan

Invisalign works using a series of customized clear trays that fit almost perfectly over the teeth. To create these trays, Dr. Mark Smith will take X-rays and impressions of your teeth. These are submitted to a specialized laboratory that makes a 3D image of your smile. This is used to create a specialized treatment plan that provides an estimate of how long treatment will take.

Arrival of Custom Trays

Once your customized trays have arrived, the treatment begins. For Invisalign to work properly, you must wear the aligners 20 to 22 hours per day, removing them only to eat, drink, and brush your teeth. The trays gently draw your teeth into proper alignment, correcting your orthodontic problems as you go about your everyday life.

In general, you will replace your aligners with a new set every two weeks. This is to encourage your teeth to continue moving throughout the treatment process. You’ll need to check in with our Omaha, NE office every six weeks or so to ensure treatment progresses smoothly.

Beautiful Smile: Complete!

Once you complete your individualized treatment plan, you’ll have the smile you’ve always dreamed of. Like with traditional braces, Dr. Mark Smith and Dr. Kristin Schroeder may recommend that you wear a retainer to ensure that your teeth remain in their new positions.

Dr. Schroeder visits schools for Children’s Dental Health Month

March 4th, 2015

February was National Children’s Dental Health Month, and to honor this, Dr. Schroeder visited elementary schools throughout District 66 throughout teaching students tips about dental hygiene! Using an interactive presentation (involving a rubber glove, some Crisco, and some M&M minis), she showed students how plaque sticks to their teeth and how to brush properly to remove it. The schools Dr. Schroeder visited include Prairie Lane, Rockbrook, Westbrook, Westgate, Sunset Hills, Oakdale, Swanson, and Loveland.

Today, we want to talk about the importance of getting proper oral health care for your children. Oral health has been closely tied to the overall health of our entire body, so making sure that our children have the best oral health care can not only ensure that they have great smiles, but they are protected from the negative effects of poor oral health as well.

Special Care for Children’s Teeth

Oral health care should begin with the very first tooth that grows in your baby’s mouth. Even though these teeth will fall out within a few years, baby teeth hold a space for your child’s permanent ones, and it’s important that your child has a healthy mouth when those permanent teeth arrive. Without proper care, even baby teeth can decay and cause a host of problems, including:

  • Painful teeth and gums
  • Difficulty chewing, eating, and sleeping
  • Gum disease and inflammation
  • Embarrassment when talking and smiling

Develop Good Oral Health Habits Early

As a parent, you can teach your child the right way to care for teeth and make sure he or she visits Drs. Richardson and Stagg regularly for cleanings and checkups. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, almost 50 percent of children under 12 have some form of tooth decay, and it is one of the most common childhood diseases. Alarmingly, a report by the National Institutes of Health, Oral Health in America, found that almost six out of ten children have cavities or other tooth decay (also called “caries”).

There are many things you can do to help your child maintain a healthy mouth with strong teeth and gums.

  • Brush your children’s teeth twice a day when they are babies, then teach them to do it on their own when they get older.
  • Be sure your child gets enough fluoride—you can find out whether it is already in your drinking water, and provide supplements if it is not. If you are unsure how to get more fluoride, give our office a call to discuss. In addition, make sure your child is brushing with fluoride toothpaste.
  • Feed your child a healthy diet, high in fruits and vegetables and low in added sugars. We especially recommend you avoid sugary drinks.
  • Bring your child to our office for regular dental checkups and cleanings. Coming in every six months is recommended.

Helping children develop healthy habits to care for teeth while they are young is important. These habits can set the stage for good oral health care throughout their entire life. They can avoid many of the problems that result from poor oral health, including gum disease, cavities, and tooth decay. Start encouraging those habits now during National Children’s Dental Health Month, and help your children reap the benefits through the rest of their lives.

Oral Health Concerns for Infants

February 4th, 2015

Because babies’ teeth don’t appear until around six to eight months of age, it’s a natural misconception that they don’t need dental care. But the steps you take as the parent of an infant can help your baby maintain good oral health and develop healthy dental habits in the future.

It’s easy to take care of a baby’s teeth and gums, especially when oral hygiene for your infant becomes part of the normal daily routine. Learn more about how you can promote good dental health for your baby with these tips and considerations.

Taking Care of Baby’s Oral Hygiene

  • Dental Hygiene for Birth to Six Months. Cleaning your infant’s gums is as important as cleaning teeth will be later. Hold your baby in your arms, and with a clean, moistened washcloth wrapped around your index finger, gently massage his or her gums.
  • Dental Hygiene for Six to 12 Months. After teeth begin to appear, it’s time to switch to a soft, children’s toothbrush for teeth cleaning. New research has shown that fluoride toothpaste is safe and recommended for use once your baby’s first tooth arrives. Gently brush your baby’s teeth after each feeding, in the morning, and before bedtime, just as you did before teeth appeared.
  • Good Bedtime Habits. One of the most important things you can do to protect your infant from tooth decay is to avoid the habit of putting baby to bed with a bottle. Use other soothing bedtime activities, such as rocking and lullabies, to help your baby drift off to sleep.
  • A Note about Dental Decay. Many people are unaware that dental decay is transmissible. Avoid placing your baby’s bottle, sippy cup, or pacifier in your own mouth to test the temperature. Likewise, don’t share utensils with your baby.

Partner With Your Dentist

Your baby should receive his or her first dental health checkup by the age of six months. Even though your infant may not have teeth yet, Dr. Mark Smith can assess the risk your baby might face for oral diseases that affect hard or soft tissues. Dr. Mark Smith can also provide you with instructions for infant oral hygiene, and explain what steps to add as your baby grows and develops.

Got Smile Dental Group is your partner for good oral health, and we’re here to make caring for your baby’s dental hygiene and health easier and more enjoyable for you.

What’s in toothpaste and how does it work?

January 21st, 2015

Dr. Mark Smith and our team recommend that you brush your teeth two to three times a day, for at least two minutes each time. But have you ever wondered what’s in toothpaste and how it actually works? The mouth is home to more than 500 types of microorganisms that feed on leftover food that gets stuck on and around your teeth. Toothpaste is the best line of defense against all those pesky microorganisms (especially when you brush two to three times a day). Here’s how it works.

Abrasives

Toothpaste contains mild abrasive additives that combat microorganisms and fight plaque. When you brush, the abrasives in toothpaste dislodge food particles and microorganisms more effectively than if you simply brush your teeth with water. The abrasives also work to remove food stains and polish the surface of the tooth. Some toothpastes include ingredients like triclosan and Xylitol. These chemicals prevent the growth of bacteria that produce plaque. Plaque not only causes cavities, but it can also lead to more dangerous issues like periodontal disease.

Fluoride

Fluoride is key ingredient in toothpaste. As the microorganisms in your mouth feed off the leftover food particles, they leave behind acid and sulfur byproducts that wear away the enamel of the teeth. This is the fancy, technical way of saying that the acid on your teeth causes cavities. As for the sulfur byproduct –well, that’s just a fancy, scientific name for bad breath. Fluoride works to fight the acid and help protect the teeth. By brushing, the fluoride is incorporated into the tooth enamel, which in turn makes the tooth more resistant to acid and plaque.

Flavoring and Sweetening Agents

Not all toothpaste tastes the same, right? The type of flavoring or sweetening agents added to the toothpaste doesn't have anything to do with fighting microorganisms and plaque, but taste is one of the most important selling points in finding a toothpaste brand you like. Flavoring agents mask the taste of some of the other ingredients in toothpaste, and without those agents chances are nobody would be brushing their teeth two to three time a day.

How long will a root canal last?

December 10th, 2014

According to the American Association of Endodontists, root canals have a success rate of over 95% and in most cases they last a lifetime.

There are a few factors that ensure the root canal will last and should be followed.

  • You want to make sure you allow Dr. Mark Smith to perform a permanent restoration of the tooth. That means getting the filling and the crown immediately after the canals have been cleaned of all bacteria and debris.
  • Practice good oral hygiene; that means brushing and flossing at least three times a day especially after meals and before bed.
  • Just because a tooth has had a root canal that does not mean the tooth is safe for as long as it remains in your mouth. That tooth can still get a cavity. Since the nerves are no longer present in that tooth you will not feel any pain or experience any other signs of a cavity. That’s why it is important to get regular cleanings and checkups.
  • If the tooth becomes fractured or you develop an abscess, you will feel pain and know there is a problem with the tooth.

Why do root canals fail?

As mentioned above, only about five percent of root canals fail, and sometimes it is not actually a “failure.” In cases, of teeth that have more than one root, it is possible that only one root was infected and filled. If the remaining root(s) become infected in the future, they will also need a root canal performed on them.

There are a few other reasons why your root canal may fail:

  • The first reason is you may not have taken good care of your tooth (teeth). This is commonly seen in children and teens who often have inconsistent oral hygiene habits.
  • If the tooth has more than one root, and one of the roots has a minute infection that is undetectable and goes unnoticed it can cause the root canal to fail. While this scenario is very unlikely, it does occasionally happen.
  • Over time, the seal can become weak and bacteria can enter the tooth. This is also very uncommon but it does happen.

No procedure dental or medical comes with a 100% guarantee to last a lifetime, but if you take care of your treated tooth, the chances of success are great.

If you have any additional questions about root canals and your oral health, be sure to ask a member of our team at our Omaha, NE office.

Is soda really bad for your teeth?

November 19th, 2014

You take a sip of soda – and someone remarks, “That’s going to ruin your teeth!”

Is that true? Is sweet soda the enemy of a healthy smile? The answer, unfortunately, is that one glass might not hurt your teeth, but drinking soda regularly can do some real damage.

Sodas are one of America’s favorite drinks. The American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry says about half of us drink soda regularly, averaging 2.6 glasses each day.

That’s a lot of soda considering the drinks are acidic, full of sugar, and have little or no nutritional value. It may surprise you to learn that it’s actually the acidity of cola, not the sugar, which poses the biggest threat to teeth. Over time, repeated exposure to soda wears down tooth enamel, leaving teeth stained and less able to prevent cavities.

As enamel wears away, teeth can become discolored, take on a rough texture, and become highly sensitive to hot or cold. Your teeth may start to tingle, and brushing or flossing can cause pain. If not checked by dental care, teeth may start to erode, becoming thinner and more likely to crack. It’s a pretty high price to pay for a glass of soda.

Of course, sodas are not the only culprits in tooth erosion. Coffee, wine, and some fruit juices are also acidic, though these drinks tend to have less acidity that a typical soda.

So what can you do to protect your teeth?

1. Cut back – way back – on acidic drinks.

2. Add more water to your daily diet in place of sodas.

3. Use a straw when you drink.

4. Don’t confuse diet soda with a healthy alternative. Diet drinks are just as acidic as regular sodas.

5. Rinse your mouth with water after drinking soda. The rinse may remove some acid from your teeth, although abstaining from the soda would do more good.

6. Hold off on brushing your teeth after drinking soda. Brushing too hard can weaken enamel that is already covered in acid.

7. Pay attention to your teeth, both how they look and how they feel. Let Dr. Mark Smith and Dr. Kristin Schroeder know if you see signs of discoloration or erosion, or feel tingling. Make an appointment at our Omaha, NE office if you feel tooth or gum pain when eating or drinking.

Manual vs. Electric Toothbrushes: What’s the Difference?

September 25th, 2012

Everybody is jumping on the electric toothbrush bandwagon in recent years, with many experts in the dental field claiming electric toothbrushes provide superior dental care. It’s true that electric toothbrushes are recommended for those who can’t do a good job brushing manually or who have arthritis or other conditions. But manual toothbrushes do have some advantages, according to an article we recently found including:

• Cost. While electric toothbrushes may be expensive for many people, manual toothbrushes are both inexpensive and accessible.

• Less pressure on your teeth & gums. While we can feel the amount of pressure we’re using as we grasp our manual toothbrush, we can’t feel the pressure nearly as well with an electric toothbrush. Placing too much pressure on our teeth can wear away at the tooth enamel, which causes pain, sensitivity, as well as an increased risk of tooth decay.

• Simple to pack. Manual toothbrushes are easy to carry around for those business or family trips. People are less likely to let their good dental care habits lapse on vacation with a toothbrush that they can easily bring along!

• Better for kids. Learning at a young age how to properly use a manual toothbrush helps children get a feel for how to properly take care of their oral hygiene.

Electric toothbrushes, on the other hand, are more effective in removing plaque and are considered a better alternative to maintaining gum health. Remember, whether you choose a manual or an electric toothbrush, our team encourages you to choose one with soft bristles and be sure to change the bristles on the electric brush when they become worn down. We also encourage you to replace your toothbrush every three months, when the bristles are no longer straight and firm or after you recover from a cold.

Give our team a call if you have any questions. Or, feel free to connect with us on Facebook!

Happy brushing!

Four Common Causes of Toothaches

August 29th, 2012

If you have ever suffered from a toothache, you know how excruciating the pain can be. Tooth pain is usually caused by irritation to the nerves in the roots of the teeth, although there are other potential sources of the pain as well. Fortunately, there are ways to both prevent and resolve a toothache, regardless of its cause.

 

Causes of Tooth Pain

Some of the most common causes of tooth pain include:

1) Tooth Decay – Also known as cavities, tooth decay occurs when bacteria erodes the enamel of the tooth, which can eventually expose the nerve. This is the most common cause of tooth pain.

2) Gum Disease – Also known as periodontal disease, occurs when bacteria populate along and below the gum line.

3) Injury – An injury can include a small chip or a large break in the tooth.

4) Impaction – Teeth often become impacted beneath the surface of the gums. This condition is most common in molars, such as the wisdom teeth. An impacted tooth may cause no pain at all, or it could become extremely painful if it begins to affect the nerves and teeth around it.

 

Pain Resolution

Determining the source of your pain starts with a trip to the dentist. Usually, your dentist will conduct a thorough examination that may include X-rays. If your X-rays or examination reveal tooth decay, the solution may involve a simple filling, a root canal or even a tooth extraction. Your dentist will decide which option is best for you based on how advanced the tooth decay is, as well whether an infection is present within the tooth.

If, however, gum disease is causing your tooth pain, the solution may be as simple as a root planing and scaling, followed by administration of oral or topical antibiotics to kill the bacteria causing your symptoms. If you have a cracked, chipped or broken tooth, your dentist may resolve your pain by either filling the crack, or covering the tooth with a crown designed to prevent bacteria from entering the tooth.

If your dental X-rays reveal that you have an impacted tooth, you will most likely need to have it extracted to avoid causing damage or misalignment to the other teeth. Impacted teeth can also become infected, which is why it is important to remove impacted teeth before they begin to cause problems.

 

Prevention

Although there are ways of treating a toothache, the best way to treat it is by preventing it altogether. Some causes of tooth pain are not preventable, such as an impacted tooth or a predisposition to tooth sensitivity. However, tooth decay and gum disease are easily prevented by using good hygienic practices at home and visiting your dentist for regular examinations and cleanings. By brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing, as well as wearing protective mouthguards when participating in high impact activities, you can significantly decrease your chances of developing tooth pain in the future.

Fun Ways to Encourage Children to Brush Their Teeth

August 15th, 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 10th, 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.

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