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5 Things Families Should Know About Dental Health

Toothpaste with fluoride for infants and children

For children younger than 3 years, you should begin brushing a child’s teeth with fluoride toothpaste in an amount no larger than a grain of rice. For children 3 to 6 years of age, use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste.

Consider sealants to prevent decay or treat beginning cavities on the back teeth

Sealants act as a barrier to prevent cavities. They are a resin material applied by a dentist to the chewing surfaces of the back teeth where decay occurs most often.

Ask about all the options for calming your child during dental procedures

Dental work can be scary for some kids. Talk to your dentist about ways to help your child stay calm. Tips for a successful dental visit can include talking to your child about what to expect, like sitting in a big chair that leans back, and about how the dentist will look at their teeth. Make sure your child is not hungry before their dental appointment and scheduling an appointment at the proper time of day.

For jaw pain, try conservative treatments first

Jaw pain can be caused by stress, arthritis or an injury. A treatment plan for jaw pain should first consist of actions like exercises and anti-inflammatory drugs.

5 Things Families Should Know About Dental HealthDon’t replace fillings just because they’re old

When you have a cavity, the dentist removes it and puts a filling. These fillings can last for many years, but some people get silver fillings removed because they don’t like the color. However, the process of removing a filling for aesthetic reasons can weaken the tooth, and insurance may not cover the cost of replacement if it is unnecessary.

Infection Control: Why It Matters

Signs to Look For

Whether you’re having a routine cleaning or a more serious dental procedure, infection control is important. Procedures established by the centers for Disease Control and Prevention effectively prevent transmission of infections (such as hepatitis B, hepatitis C, and HIV) in the dental office. When you visit a dentist, look for these signs of good infection control.

Hand Washing

Hands are the most common way diseases are transmitted. Your dentist, dental hygienist and all health care providers should wash their hands before every patient. If you don’t see them washing their hands before treating you, ask about it. Hand washing is good for you too. According to the CDC, hand washing prevents the spread of colds and flu.

Protective Equipment

Infection control requires that all dental staff involved in patient care to wear the appropriate protective gear such as gloves, masks, gowns and eyewear. After each patient, all disposable wear needs to be discarded.

Dental Instruments

All non-disposable dental instruments should be cleaned and sterilized between patients. Ask your dentist about the sterilization process used in their practice. Ask to see the sterilization area. Disposable items, like needles, should never be reused.

Surface Cleaning

Before any patient enters the examining room, all surfaces need to be cleaned and decontaminated. Some offices may cover this equipment with protective covers, which are replaced after each patient.

Top 9 Foods That Damage Your Teeth

What you eat actually matters

Hard candies seem harmless, eat too many and the constant exposure to sugar can be harmful to your teeth. Hard candies also put your teeth at risk as they can also trigger a dental emergency such as a broken or chipped tooth. Better alternative? Chew sugarless gum that carries the ADA Seal.

Ice is not for chewing

Many people think ice is good for their teeth as it’s made of water, after all, and doesn’t contain any sugar or other additives. But chewing on hard substances can leave your teeth vulnerable to a dental emergency and damage enamel. Advice: Break the habit and enjoy water in its liquid form.

Watch out for your citrus intake

Frequent exposure to acidic foods can erode enamel, making teeth more susceptible to decay over time. Even though a squeeze of lemon or lime can turn a simple glass of water into a fun beverage, it’s not always the best choice for your mouth. Citric fruits and juices can also irritate mouth sores. Make sure to drink plenty of plain water.

Are all types of Coffee good?

In their natural form, coffee and tea can be healthy beverage choices. Unfortunately, too many people can’t resist adding sugar. Caffeinated coffee and tea can also dry out your mouth. Frequent drinks of coffee and tea may also stain your teeth. If you do consume, make sure to drink plenty of water and try to keep the add-ons to a minimum.

Sticky foods are the worst

Many people put dried fruit at the top of the list as a healthy snack alternative. But many dried fruits are sticky. Sticky foods can damage your teeth since they tend to stay on the teeth longer than other types of food. If you find yourself eating dried fruits or trail mix often, make sure to rinse with water after and to brush and floss carefully.

Beware of things that go “crunch”

Most of us love a satisfying crunch of a potato chip. Unfortunately, potato chips are filled with starch, which tends to get trapped in your teeth. If you choose to indulge in snacks like these, take extra care when you floss that day to remove all the food particles that can lead to plaque build-up.

Swap soda with water

Most carbonated soft drinks, including diet soda, are acidic and therefore, bad for your teeth. Caffeinated beverages, such as colas can also dry out your mouth. If you do consume soft drinks, try to drink alongside a cup of water.

Reduce / Stop alcohol consumption

Alcohol causes dehydration and dry mouth. People who drink excessively may find their saliva flow is reduced over time, which can lead to tooth decay and other oral infections such as gum disease. Heavy alcohol use also increases your risk for mouth cancer.

Are Sports Drinks safe?

They sound healthy, but sugar is a top ingredient for many sports and energy drinks. The American Academy of Paediatrics says sports drinks can be helpful for young athletes engaged in prolonged, vigorous physical activities, but are unnecessary in most cases. Before your next sip, check the label to make sure your drink of choice is low in sugar or drink water instead.

Six Harmful Habits that Impact Your Teeth (and Solutions to Help You Avoid Them)

1. Nail Biting

Biting nails can impact your jaw and can even chip teeth. “Biting nails places your jaw in a protruding position, which places unnatural pressure on it. This pressure, over long periods of time, can be associated with jaw dysfunction.

Solution: Bitter-tasting nail polishes and stress reduction can help. If certain situations are triggers for nail biting, hold something to keep your fingers busy.

2. Brushing too Hard

Brushing for two minutes twice a day is one of the best daily habits for the health of your teeth. However, make sure you do not brush too hard as it can damage teeth and irritate gums.

Solution: Use a soft toothbrush with the ADA Seal of Acceptance at the proper pressure.

3. Grinding and Clenching

This can cause chipping or cracking of the teeth, as well as muscle tenderness or joint pain.

Solution: A night-time mouth guard, can prevent harm from grinding your teeth at night. If you find yourself grinding or clenching your teeth during stressful moments of the day, relaxation exercises can also help.

4. Chewing Ice Cubes

Tooth enamel and ice cubes are both made up of crystalline structures. When you push two crystals against each other with enough force, one will break. Most of the time it’s the ice, but sometimes the tooth or a filling will break.

Solution: Cracked or broken teeth and fillings are painful and costly to repair. Because the risk of chewing ice is great, avoid it by drinking chilled beverages without ice, or using a straw. Chewing sugar free gum instead is also a safer alternative.

5. Constant Snacking

Eating frequently during day, especially on sugary foods and drinks, puts you at a higher risk for cavities. When you eat, cavity-causing bacteria feast leftover food, producing an acid that attacks the outer shell of your teeth.

Solution: Eat balanced meals to feel fuller, longer. If you need a snack, make sure it’s low in fat and sugar. If you indulge in the occasional sugary treat, follow it with a big glass of water to wash away leftover food, and brush after snacking whenever possible.

6. Using your Teeth as Tools

Your teeth were made only for eating, not to stand in as a pair of scissors or hold things when your hands are full. When you do this, you put yourself at a higher risk of cracking your teeth, injuring your jaw or accidentally swallowing something you shouldn’t.

Solution: Stop and find something or someone to give you a hand.

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