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Halloween Fun and Dental Health

All candy can cause tooth decay because of the sugar content. Sticky candies are the worst – caramels, gummies, jelly beans, and taffy. Not only do they contain sugar which can stick to the tooth surface causing tooth decay, they can also pull out fillings leading to the need for more restoration, and the more one tooth has to be restored the weaker that tooth becomes. Chocolate is the best of the candies, it doesn’t stick and is easily brushed away.

A little lesson in tooth decay; Our bodies produce plaque bacteria naturally every 20 minutes or so. When plaque remaining in the mouth mixes with sugar it forms an acid and that’s how decay begins, acid eats through the enamel and a cavity is formed.

How do you avoid the increased risk of decay around Halloween when kids are exposed to so much candy? If your kids are anything like mine, weeks before Halloween even starts they are already calculating the loot they will get.

One of the best ways to avoid tooth decay at Halloween is to allow the kids a time period to eat what they want, say maybe Halloween night and some time during the next day and then get rid of the rest. Grazing, as we call it, little bits of candy each day for short periods of times is actually more harmful than a one time big exposure. Back to the tooth decay lesson: plaque acts like a sponge and has a certain absorbency capacity, so once it’s saturated with sugar adding more and more sugar at the same particular time  won’t do any more harm. But if you are exposed to a little bit of sugar at regular intervals you increase your chances of tooth decay because that plaque “sponge” never gets fully saturated and becomes a continual source of decay potential.

So, what can you do?

  • have children brush and floss extra thoroughly
  • limit exposure to a once and done
  • donate extra candy to a good cause, a charity organization, a food bank or send a candy care package with a nice note to some military serving overseas.
  • or bring your candy to my office from November 2nd – November 13th and I will donate it to the Shoreline Soup kitchen in my patient’s name.

photo courtesy of: www.freeimages.co.uk/index.htm

Why Are Baby Teeth Important?

Why Are Baby Teeth Important?

 

This is a question I receive in my practice quite often when parents learn their child has a cavity in a baby tooth that needs to be repaired:

“Why do you have to fix a cavity on a baby tooth that he/she will just lose anyway? Is it really necessary?”

 

It’s a great question!

 

Here’s the answer:

Baby teeth are very important. They play a critical role in chewing, and speaking – especially as language is developing, and in appearance. Baby teeth also help shape the form of the face.  As important as all that is however, probably the most critical role baby teeth play in a child’s mouth is that of holding space in the jaw for the developing adult teeth.

 

Most parents don’t realize some baby teeth will remain in a child’s mouth until he/she is approximately 12 years old, so if a cavity is found in a baby molar at around 3 years of age, on a tooth that he/she will have until he is about 12, that’s potentially a span of 9 years for the decay to grow and worsen and create all sorts of problems, for instance difficulty eating, and the potential for abscess and infection.

 

What do I tell parents in my practice? When I find decay on a baby tooth, my general rule of thumb is to assess the size and location of the cavity and factor in the approximate duration of time the tooth will remain in the child’s mouth. For instance, if the cavity is very small, and the tooth will only remain in the child’s mouth for less than 6 months and doesn’t have the potential to spread to other teeth, I will most often watch it and allow nature to take it’s course. Instructing parents on good oral hygiene as a preventative measure.. If however, the decay is not minor and the child will have the tooth for more than 6 months and the decay has the potential to easily spread to other healthy teeth, the solution is to repair.

 

As always, it’s important to remember to take your child for regular dental check-ups, twice per year, to help maintain strong and healthy baby and adult teeth.

photo credit to: freedigitalphotos.net

 

How to Prevent Dental Decay

              • Eat healthy foods: avoid sugar and starchy foods between meals. Sugars and Starches especially those that stick to the teeth contribute to tooth decay. Starches like, bread, cereal and crackers and Sugars like juices, candy, and cakes when mixed with plaque bacteria and saliva form an acid that will cause tooth decay.
            • Drink plenty of water each day.
        • Brush your teeth twice a day. Brush after breakfast and before bed.
    • Floss between teeth at least once per day. For children the preloaded hand held flossers work great!
  • Have dental sealants placed on adult molars and premolars at ages 6 and 12.
  • Visit your dentist twice per year to help maintain healthy smiles.

cheeseandfruits

With healthy foods coming into season and warm weather just around the corner, choosing healthy foods and snacks like fresh fruit and veggies will be easier than ever. 

 

Happy Holidays!

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The Holidays are a time to reflect and be grateful.  I’m grateful all year long, but like most of us, I tend to reflect more specifically on what I’m grateful for during the holiday season starting with Thanksgiving, one of my favorite holidays, and continuing on through the New Year.

I am thankful to be blessed with a wonderful family. My wife, two daughters, son in law and my beautiful new granddaughter, and don’t forget Riley – my beagle. They are my greatest blessings.

What a privilege it is to watch a family grow. For the past 38 years (and counting) I have had the privilege of watching families grow in my dental practice. You all keep me young! It seems amazing to me to be treating the children of some of the children I began with so many years ago, who have grown and now have families of their own. Where did the time go?

I am thankful for a lovely office near the shore in Old Saybrook, Connecticut, where we experience the beautiful four seasons of New England.

I am thankful for my warm and competent staff, who keep things running smoothly always.

I am thankful for all the advances in dental technology I have been privileged to witness over the years.

I am thankful for the wonderful patients I have been able to care for, helping children stay healthy dentally is sometimes a challenge and always a joy.

I hope you enjoy this Holiday season with your loved ones and reflect on what it is you are grateful for.

I’ll leave you with these 5 Dental Tips for the Holidays;

1. Crack nuts with a nutcracker, not your teeth

2. Teeth make horrible bottle openers.

3. Caramel popcorn balls are too sweet.

4. Brush and floss your teeth after the pies, fruit cakes, and cookie platters.

5. Don’t bite Candy Canes.

Credits; 5 dental tips from Top3Dentists.com

Photo credits: freedigitalphotos.net

Back to School Tips

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One thing that sometimes inadvertently gets left off the back to school checklist is proper dental care. Here are some tips to ensure a healthy dental school year~

 

Don’t Rush the Brush

In the mad rush to meet the school bus, “just 5 more minutes (zzzzz) Mom” kids will sometimes skip brushing to save time. That’s not a good habit to get into. The body produces plaque germs every 20 minutes, these germs multiply throughout the day, skipping a brushing increases the chances of tooth decay. Try to help make sure your kids get in the habit of taking time twice a day to brush those germs away. You may also want to place a 2:00 minute timer by the bathroom sink, so the brush won’t be rushed.

Precautions Playing Contact Sports

Now is the time for your children to try out for their favorite sports team. Be sure to get a properly fitted mouth guard before try-outs. Many sports now a days require a mouth guard to participate, you can purchase an over the counter mouth guard at most pharmacies, and sporting goods stores. Custom made mouth guards are available if your child finds the over the counter ones to be uncomfortable, cumbersome, or ill fitting. A child is more likely to wear a mouth guard that fits properly.

 
Packing school snacks and lunches

Sticky, gooey candy, fruit rolls up, sodas, energy drinks, and granola bars are not great snacks for the lunch box. These foods and drinks are high in sugar and with extended exposure to the teeth during the long school can cause tooth decay. Instead, aim to pack cheeses, fresh fruit, raw veggies, wheat crackers and unsweetened fruit juices.

Don’t forget to visit me

Regular dental check-ups, two times per year, keep your child’s smile healthy. Visiting us regularly can make all the difference in the world between a happy healthy smile and a not so healthy one. Regular visits help ensure the following:

- normal tooth development
- healthy teeth and gums
- good brushing habits

Summertime Dental Emergencies and Care

Kid with tubeAs summertime approaches, you can feel the excitement in the air. Summertime for kids is one of the most exciting seasons of the year. They replace their tired school backpacks with beach bags, and sports bags. It’s time for little league baseball, soccer, swimming, playing at the park, and bike riding. Parents don’t know whether to be happy or a nervous wreck worrying about their kids getting injured!

Here is some helpful advice for summertime, kids and dentistry. While accidents are bound to happen, taking precaution and quick action can be the difference between a great summer and a potentially horrible with if a dental emergency arises.

  • To minimize the chance of injuring their teeth, young athletes who participate in both contact and non-contact sports should wear custom-fitted mouth guards.
  • Athletes should visit their dentist on a regular basis to check for unusual tooth wear.
  • If the worst happens and a tooth is knocked loose or comes out, seek emergency dental treatment immediately.
  • In the case of a tooth being knocked out, be careful not to touch the root. Ideally, you should replant the tooth in the empty socket, even part way is ok.If the tooth is contaminated, rinse it gently with milk. Bring the tooth in milk to the dentist asap. Get to a dentist within 30 minutes.

Summertime also brings the tendency to “skip” good oral hygiene practices. When kids are out of their “school routine” they tend to forget to brush and floss. Also, during the summer, kids are snacking more frequently, which ups their chances of tooth decay.

Studies have shown frequent snacking increases the risk of tooth decay, as teeth are continuously being bathed in sugars, creating an acid when mixed with plaque, a sure fire recipe for tooth decay.

So how can you help?

  • Limit the snacks your child grazes on during the summer months to 1 to 2  healthier snacks a day, try to avoid sugary drinks, sports and energy drinks and sodas as much as possible.
  • Set a new regularly scheduled oral hygiene regimen. A mandatory set daily time for brushing and flossing.
  • For younger children you may also want to create a chart system for brushing. For each day the child brush during the summer a star may be placed on a chart and after a certain number of stars the child is rewarded with a treat.

Healthy Snacks for Healthy Teeth

Healthy eating habits lead to healthy teeth. A well-balanced diet plays a large role in the health of your child’s teeth and gums. Children love to snack. Most snacks that children eat can lead to cavity formation. The more frequently a child snacks, the greater the chance for tooth decay. How long food remains in the mouth also plays a role. If your child must snack, try to limit snacking to once or twice a day. Choose nutritious foods such as raw vegetables, low-fat yogurt, and low-fat cheese which are healthier and better for children’s teeth.

Here is a list of good snacks, bad snacks, and “ok occasionally” snacks:

Fresh fruitGood Snacks:

  • Cheddar cheese
  • Fresh fruit
  • Raw veggies
  • Popcorn
  • Nuts
  • Milk

Bad Snacks:

  • Sticky candy
  • Fruit roll ups
  • Soda
  • Granola bars
  • Dried fruits
  • Potato chips

Ok Occasionally:

  • Oatmeal cookies
  • Butter cookies
  • Ice cream
  • Chocolate
  • Raisins