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Fluoride Facts

Many people have confusion or misinformation about fluoride and what exactly it does for dental health. Between fluoridated water, fluoride toothpaste, and in-office treatments, there’s a lot to unpack! Luckily, we’re here to help you understand everything about this useful addition to your oral care routine.

What is fluoride?

Fluoride is a naturally occurring cavity fighting agent. It’s often present in natural bodies of water such as rivers and lakes, or is added to products such as toothpaste and mouthwashes. Fluoride works by rebuilding decaying enamel, keeping teeth strong and resistant to cavities and erosion.

Is it safe?

Studies have been done for over 70 years in the United States on the effects of fluoride and fluoridated water on the teeth. Not only is it completely safe for both children and adults, studies have shown that fluoride can help reduce the risk of cavities and decay by at least 25%!

What is the benefit of fluoridated water?

When you drink water with fluoride in it, it becomes part of the saliva. Because saliva is in our mouths all the time, it’s essentially washing our teeth with a tiny bit of fluoride constantly, allowing for consistent protection. As of 2012, almost 75% of the United States population lives in a community where the public water (the stuff that comes out of your tap!) is fluoridated.

My community doesn’t have fluoridated water. What should I do?

There are many fluoride toothpastes and mouthwashes on the market that can help strengthen your enamel little by little every day. Your dentist can also do fluoride treatments in-office, with either a fluoride foam or a varnish. Whichever fluoride you use, it’s easy, pain-free, and beneficial.

Much like anything else, moderation is key in terms of fluoride use. Too much and you’re at risk of fluorosis (a pain-free and functionally harmless discoloration of the enamel), or too little and you won’t get the benefits. Talk to your dentist to determine how much and which methods of fluoride are best for you.

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5 Vitamin C Rich Foods to Improve Your Dental Health

We all know that vitamin C is useful for our overall health. From beating the common cold to promoting good eyesight, it’s known as something of a cure-all vitamin. So, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that increasing your vitamin C intake can be beneficial for your oral health as well. Vitamin C helps to strengthen blood vessels and reduce inflammation, both of which are key ingredients in the recipe for healthy gums. Furthermore, vitamin C increases collagen production, which keeps gums strong, elastic, and less susceptible to periodontal disease. So, which foods should you be eating more of to gain the full benefits? Here are 5 to get you started.

Bell peppers

Many people believe that when it comes to bell peppers, all colors are created equal. In terms of their flavor this might be true, but if you’re looking for the highest vitamin C content, pick red bell peppers over their green or yellow counterparts. Feel free to eat as many as you like, too. A full cup of bell peppers is only worth about 45 calories, so you can snack guilt-free!

Kiwi

Did you know that in addition to being significantly less acidic (and therefore better for your teeth) kiwi fruit has about twice the vitamin C content of lemons and oranges? Kiwi is also high in fiber and an enzyme called actinidain which helps to break down protein, easing digestion and overall intestinal function.

Strawberries

In addition to being a delicious summer treat, strawberries are loaded with vitamin C. But that’s not all! Strawberries are also rich in flavonoids, which can counteract bad (or LDL) cholesterol in the blood and help unclog plaque from the arteries. Sweet!

Broccoli

Turns out your mother was telling you to eat your broccoli for a reason! Besides their high concentration of vitamin C, they could also help you fend off cancer due to a high sulfur content found in most cruciferous vegetables.

Kale

Finally, this trendy superfood has received quite a bit of press in the last few years, and for good reason. It’s high in vitamins C, A, and K, as well as fiber and iron. Don’t like the taste? Stick it in a fruity smoothie and drink the benefits!

Filling your diet with these vitamin rich foods will not only help your teeth and gums, but your overall health. As with everything, however, practice moderation; there can be too much of a good thing! Consult your dentist for advice on how much vitamin C you should be getting, or for more dietary tips for a healthy smile.

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How to Encourage Children to Brush Their Teeth

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 20% of children between the ages of 5 and 11 are affected by tooth decay, and improper or infrequent brushing is often the culprit. If you’re finding yourself wondering what the big deal is about imperfect baby teeth if they’ll just fall out anyway, you’re missing the bigger picture. Not only can decayed baby teeth lead to discomfort for your child, but poor brushing habits during childhood can set a bad precedent for dental health routines later, when teeth are permanent and the stakes are higher. So, what do you do if your child refuses to brush? We have a few suggestions to make 2 minutes twice a day a little more enticing for your little one.

Give Incentives

You know better than anyone else what tends to motivate your child. If your family has a chore chart with stickers, add a section where your child can earn rewards for brushing without being asked. If they’re interested in special privileges like playing their favorite game or an extra hour of TV time, allow them to earn it by showing you their clean teeth. When they know that brushing consistently will give them rewards, the more likely they are to do it.

Get Them Involved

Children love to feel like they are part of “grown-up” activities. When they’re at an appropriate age to begin brushing on their own (around 2 years old) take them on a special “Big boy/girl” trip to the store to pick out their own toothbrush and toothpaste. Let them pick out the ones they want, and emphasize what a special grown-up treat this is. Not only will they have picked out the toothbrush and toothpaste that will make them look forward to brushing, but being able to brush their teeth will feel more like a privilege than a responsibility.

A Family Affair

At the end of the day, your children want to be just like you. If you brush your teeth with them and model how much you enjoy it, chances are your children will too. Additionally, brushing your teeth together right before another family activity like breakfast or bedtime will make oral hygiene a part of the daily routine.

In addition to good habits at home, regular dental checkups should also be part of your child’s oral health routine. Contact us today to set up an appointment, or ask your dentist for more helpful tips to empower children to take responsibility for their own health.

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A Guide to Dental X-Rays

During a dental appointment, it’s not uncommon for your dentist to want to take a closer look at what’s going on inside your mouth using an X-ray. They’re useful tools for dental professionals, but for the rest of us, they can sometimes be a little intimidating. Here’s a quick guide on some of the most common types of dental X-rays, so you can be more relaxed in the chair and impress your dentist with your knowledge!

Bitewing X-rays

These are probably the most common type of X-rays you’ll receive in a dental office. They are so named for their shape, and are primarily used to determine whether there are cavities in the areas between the teeth. These can catch problems early that, left undetected, would need a root canal to fix.

Panoramic X-rays

If you’ve ever stood in the middle of an X-ray machine at a dentist’s appointment, it was one of these. This type of X-ray machine rotates around the head, giving your dentist a specific and detailed view of all the teeth and bones in your head, typically used to help your dentist map out extractions or braces.

Periapical X-rays

These are similar to bitewings, but they capture focused images of a couple teeth at a time rather than a specific side of your mouth. They are mainly used on patients starting in middle age and older, because these patients are more prone to infections and abscesses; exactly the types of problems that these X-rays are good at detecting!

Dental Cone-beam CT (CBCT) Scans

These are traditionally reserved only for cases in which more information about the teeth is needed than the other kinds of X-rays can deliver. They provide three-dimensional images of the teeth, roots, and jaw, but use a bit more radiation than the others, so dentists prefer to use them sparingly!

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Why You May Have Developed a Gap

Have you noticed a little extra space between your teeth recently? If you’ve had perfectly spaced pearly whites for your whole life and have suddenly developed a gap, you’re not alone. Here are a few reasons why a gap could be appearing in your mouth.

In some cases, the way that you swallow can be what’s moving your teeth. Some people get into the habit of pushing their tongue outward when they swallow, which puts a lot of pressure on the teeth and can force teeth apart.

Bone loss can also cause dental problems. Women with osteoporosis may notice the spacing out of teeth because, quite simply, there isn’t enough bone to go around anymore.

Others still suffer from a too closely attached labial frenum. The labial frenum is the tissue band that attaches the upper lip to the gums. If it is attached too closely to the front teeth, it can cause a gap over time.

Even though there may be nothing wrong medically with the space between your teeth, dentists understand the desire for an aesthetically perfect smile. Depending on the underlying cause, your dentist will decide whether braces, veneers, or composite bonding are the best tools to close the gap and bring back your confidence

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What to Do When Your Child Damages a Tooth

It’s summertime, and that means children are spending their days outside. Good news for parents trying to reduce screen time, but bad news for teeth? With the longer days and warmer weather, the odds of kids taking a nasty spill are greatly increased. So, what should you do if your child’s teeth take a hit? Read on for some possible scenarios, and how to handle them.

Scenario 1: Bumped Baby Tooth

If your child still has all his baby teeth, you may be in the clear. Upon impact, the tooth may get knocked clean out, or simply loosen a little bit. If the bumped tooth just gets a bit wiggly, it may tighten back up over time. As long as it’s kept clean and not irritated with overly crunchy or chewy diets, this tooth is likely to heal on its own.

Scenario 2: Fractured Tooth

If your child chips a piece from a permanent tooth, and you can find the piece, hang onto it! There’s a possibility it can be bonded right back on to the piece of the tooth that’s still attached. Keep your child comfortable, and the area clean, and get to your dentist ASAP.

Scenario 3: Tooth Knocked Out

Okay, worst case: your child’s permanent tooth comes right out! First, retrieve the tooth, attempt to put it back in the socket, and have your child hold it in place. The tissue and blood in the socket is a more natural environment for the tooth. If it won’t go back in, cold milk is a good alternative until you can get to the dentist. The longer you wait, the greater the chance of the tooth dying, so time is of the essence!

Best practice is to see the dentist whenever your child’s tooth takes any kind of hit, just to be on the safe side. It’ll bring you peace of mind, and allow your child to get back out there more quickly!

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