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October is Children’s Health Month – A Tip a Day to Brighten Little Smiles

 

 

Teaching kids about proper oral hygiene doesn’t have to be complicated or time consuming. In honor of Children’s Health Month, here’s a simple “Tip a Day” to keep your child’s smile at its brightest.

  • Start oral hygiene early! Wipe your baby’s gums daily with a clean moist gauze pad or washcloth.
  • When teeth first begin to erupt, gently brush infant’s teeth twice a day with a child-size toothbrush and water.
  • Start dental visits early – before the age of one.
  • At age 2, add a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste to the brush…and make sure your child spits it out.
  • Use only a soft-bristled brush.
  • Make sure your child has the dexterity necessary for proper brushing and flossing.
  • Brush the inside surface of each tooth first – plaque accumulates here first.
  • Don’t forget to brush the tongue.
  • Set a consistent time of day for brushing and flossing – make it a routine.
  • Consider setting a 2 minute timer for brushing – or play a favorite tune while they brush.
  • Don’t send toddlers to bed with a bottle of milk or juice. Sustained exposure to drinks containing sugar causes tooth decay.
  • Try to ensure toddlers give up pacifiers before 36 months. Long-term pacifier use can impair tooth development and cause speech-impairing malformations of the mouth.
  • Encourage kids to start drinking from regular cups between 12 and 15 months. Long term use of sippy cups can cause tooth decay and cavities.
  • Begin flossing your child’s teeth at age 4. By age 8, most kids can floss for themselves.
  • Floss daily to remove plaque from between their teeth and under the gumline BEFORE it hardens into tartar.
  • Because plaque is difficult for kids to see, consider using a plaque-disclosing tablet one time so your child can see where plaque likes to hide.
  • Praise your kids for doing a great job on their brushing and flossing.
  • Let children pick a fluoride toothpaste flavor they like.
  • Allow kids to choose their own toothbrush with the characters or colors of their choice.
  • Let your child pick a new toothbrush every few months.
  • Always replace toothbrushes after a cold, flu or infection.
  • If you opt for an electric toothbrush, you still must supervise correct brushing practices.
  • Have a discussion with your child’s pediatric dentist about sealants – not all kids need them.
  • Don’t pull out your child’s loose tooth. You could damage sensitive tissue. Allow kids to wiggle the tooth themselves.
  • Resolve to make your child’s diet healthier: serve more fruits and vegetables, less sugar and fewer carbonated beverages.
  • When kids do eat starchy or sugary foods, try to make it at mealtime instead of snack time. The extra saliva produced during a meal helps rinse food from their mouths.
  • If your tap water is not fluoridated, ask us about which daily fluoride supplements to use.
  • If your child participates in organized sports, make sure they have a properly fitted mouth guard.
  • Be a good role model by taking care of your own teeth.
  • Make sure your child comes to see us twice a year for cleanings and check-ups.
  • It’s Halloween….so which treats are best for kids? Surprisingly, one of the safest Halloween treats is sugar free gum. Stay away from lollipops and hard candies. Gummy worms and caramels stick to the teeth long after the treat has been enjoyed, so have kids rinse after eating these. Enjoy the day with smart, healthy treats!

 

 

 

While We’re Thinking Pink….Think About This

As we all know, October is National Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Sadly, breast cancer remains the second most commonly diagnosed cancer among American women – nearly 1 in 8 will develop invasive breast cancer over the course of their lifetimes.

Surprisingly, recent studies have found a link between breast cancer and oral health. In fact, The Journal of Breast Cancer Research and Treatment conducted a survey of over 3,000 people and found that individuals with chronic periodontal disease had a high occurrence of breast cancer. These people were actually 11 times more likely to develop breast cancer.

So, as we focus on annual breast check-ups during October, let’s also refocus on proper oral health. The routine is simple:

               Brush twice a day and use fluoride toothpaste.

               Floss daily

               Make sure to come to our office for a professional cleaning and check up every six months

And keep this top of mind: more than one third of people being treated for breast cancer can develop complications that affect the mouth. Women who are beginning cancer treatment should visit us at least one month before their treatment begins. Most chemotherapy agents suppress white blood cells, which protect against infection. Chemo can also affect saliva production, leading to dry mouth and serious dental implications. Oral tissues can become inflamed and gums may bleed more easily. All dental work should be completed and teeth should be cleaned prior to any cancer therapy.  Call us to discuss how to keep oral health at its optimum during this difficult time.

Optimizing smiles as we grow older

Much has been written about optimizing our health as we age. Thankfully, most of us now get regular physicals, track cholesterol numbers, exercise daily, etc. But, what about our oral health? Can we be proactive about keeping a bright, healthy smile? Thankfully – YES! Here are some simple, smart tips to help you retain your pearly whites your whole life long.

KEEP YOUR GUMS HEALTHY: Bacteria (plaque) is always forming on your teeth. If you don’t remove it, it can cause soreness, swelling and bleeding gums. If left untreated, it can cause infections that affect the bone underneath. Be on the lookout for signs of gum disease, including: bleeding when you brush; receding gums; loose teeth and bad breath. Schedule an appointment with us if you start noticing these symptoms of periodontitis.

DON’T LET YOUR MOUTH DRY OUT: Saliva helps keep your teeth clean and protects your mouth from decay. A dry mouth increases your chance of tooth decay. Your medication could be to blame, so be sure to drink plenty of water. You may also find sugarless candy or sugarless gum can help.

BE KIND TO SENSITIVE TEETH: Worn enamel, gum issues and tooth decay can all make your teeth more sensitive. Good dental care is the best prevention. Brush, floss, and come and see us regularly. We may even recommend switching to different toothpaste to make you more comfortable.

PREVENT CHIPS, ENSURE YOU’RE GETTING SUFFICIENT FLUORIDE: Stop chewing ice or other hard foods that cause chips in your enamel or even break teeth. And, if you prefer bottled water over tap water, make sure you are getting enough fluoride. You may want to add a daily fluoride rinse to your brushing routine.

BE ON THE LOOKOUT FOR ACID: Fizzy drinks, citrus fruits and juices all contain acid. Sugar and starchy foods can cause your mouth to make acid – which wears away the enamel on your teeth. Try to eat sugary or starchy foods with your main meals – when your mouth makes the most saliva to help wash acid away.

WATCH OUT FOR SHIFTING TEETH: Have you noticed that food seems to be getting stuck in new places in your mouth? Yes, this annoying phenomenon is a “thing!” Teeth actually shift as we age. Misaligned teeth can lead to teeth erosion and may even damage supporting tissue and bone. If your teeth have shifted dramatically, you may need to consult an orthodontist. Let’s talk about it during your next visit.

BE VIGILANT AGAINST SIGNS OF ORAL CANCER: As we age, there is a small chance of developing cancer of the mouth, throat, tongue or lips. Of course, we don’t need to discuss how damaging smoking is to your health. But, in the “golden years,” it also makes sense to drink alcohol more moderately. And, all Floridians – no matter our age - should use lip balm with sunscreen whenever we go outside. Early warning signs of oral cancer include sores, red or white patches, and any long-lasting changes in your mouth. Let us check them right out.

Start the School Year with a Smile

BTS (Back to School) = TMTD (Too Much To Do)! As parents, we all have a fair amount of trepidation about getting kids back into the structure of a new school year. Besides making adequate study time for homework, there is the frantic scheduling of after-school activities, carpools, etc.

But this year, let’s make Back To School a great time to get your family into new oral health routines. I promise, the following tips are simple – and they’ll make a difference as the year goes by:

SCHEDULE A DENTAL EXAM FOR YOUR CHILD: According to the American Dental Association, a dental exam is as important as immunizations and booster shots and should be a regular part of your regular back to school preparations. Tooth decay affects U.S. children more than any other chronic infectious disease.  Dental pain or disease can lead to difficulty in eating, speaking, playing and learning - as well as hours of missed school.

GET THE KIDS INTO A REGULAR BRUSHING AND FLOSSING ROUTINE: As you’re doing your back to school shopping, head to the dental care aisle and buy new toothbrushes and floss. Children should change their toothbrushes every three months, or after an illness. (Here’s a suggestion: change their toothbrushes each time your child gets their report cards.) Make sure you get the kids into the routine of regular flossing, too.

SWITCH TO HEALTHIER LUNCHES AND SNACKS: Now is the time to re-evaluate what you’re packing for their lunches. Switch away from chips and sugary snacks. Include more grains, milk, cheese, raw veggies, yogurt and fruit. Also, try changing from juices to water.

INVESTIGATE MOUTHGUARDS FOR AFTER SCHOOL SPORTS: If your child participates in certain team sports, (like soccer, baseball, football, basketball and lacrosse) make sure they have a properly fitted mouthguard. This can prevent discomfort for them – and expense for you.

Gum Disease, Prevention Begins At Home

If you are consistent with your oral health, you will see those gums healing fast if is detected at an early stage. A good hygiene routine is needed, make sure your children do too. Believe me, deep cleanings are expensive and if you do not have insurance to cover a good portion of it, you will not be very happy.

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