Category: Cavity Prevention

Brushing Alternatives Away from Home

Brushing alternative
A few simple steps can help your school-age child have cleaner teeth.

By now everyone has settled into the school year routine of homework, carpools, and lunchboxes. But does your child’s routine include tooth care at school? Do they have any brushing alternatives?

Ideally, your child has the tools, time, and opportunity for brushing their teeth after finishing lunch. But because most schools can’t facilitate mass brushing, here are a couple of tips you can teach kids. These early actions may help instill a habit of good oral care around meals – even when it’s inconvenient.

Rinse

rinse brush alternative

All it really takes is a mouthful of water from the drinking fountain, a couple of quick swishes around their mouth, and then spit it back out. This helps to dislodge food particles from nooks, crannies, and in-between spaces of teeth. It also helps by washing away any sugary or acidic residue from the surface of teeth. (Just make sure that the Spit Out is back into the drinking fountain or a sink – not at another student!)

Rub

If your child is old enough, they can bring their own travel brush and paste and visit the bathroom sink after lunch. But if a brush isn’t an option, using a finger with a paper towel or napkin wrapped around it makes a decent substitute. This simple contact with tooth surfaces, along with rinsing, is great at removing meal residue.

Chew

Do you know those gum commercials that claim to help prevent cavities? They’re true. We’ve often pointed out the importance of saliva and the natural substances it contains. Chewing stimulates saliva production and helps flood teeth with natural cleaning and strengthening compounds. The kicker? It MUST BE Sugar-Free!

As children’s teeth are developing, it’s more important than ever to keep cavity-causing substances from settling on their teeth for extended periods of time. We can help reinforce these brushing alternatives with them at their next visit. Just have them ask us!

 

Root Canals – How Much Ouch?

root canal
While they’re not ideal, root canals aren’t as unpleasant as you might think.

Did You Know?

Earlier this month there was actually an official celebration of Root Canal Awareness Week. Even though it’s not something most would “celebrate,” the procedure isn’t as bad as its reputation suggests.

What They Are

The pulp at the center of your teeth contains nerves, blood vessels, and other soft tissue. A damaged tooth or unfilled cavity often allows decay to spread unchecked. This can lead to infection and permanent damage to the root of the tooth. At this point the options are extraction of the infected tooth or a root canal.

Since we obviously want and need our own natural teeth whenever possible, root canals are usually the best treatment option. Under local anesthesia, the affected pulp is carefully removed and placed with a solid filler, usually a natural polymer prepared from latex made from the Percha tree. The affected tooth is then fitted with a crown that will last decades if cared for properly.

What to Expect

The entire procedure usually lasts less than 90 minutes, and is only slightly more uncomfortable than a regular filling. However, there can be another pain — the cost. It’s usually around $1,000, depending on the tooth and the degree of damage. Though many insurance plans cover the cost of root canals as medically necessary procedures, co-pay amounts can vary, and some don’t cover them at all. So your best bet is to avoid needing one. Which — it turns out — is pretty easy to do.

Just BRUSH! Dental experts estimate that the average person spends around 48 seconds brushing their teeth — far less than the 2-3 minutes recommended by dentists. Since many root canals result from advanced cavities or decay, the other main tactic to avoid root canals is to see your dentist regularly. When we do visual exams and take x-rays, it allows us to spot problem areas before they become big issues.

Have you made your next six-month appointment? Besides checking your mouth, we’ll give you this special Root Canal Prevention kit – For FREE!

Dental Sealants

sealants
Like weatherproofing, dental sealants lock out harmful substances.

 

We know that we go on and on about tooth care… it’s kind of in our job description. But what if your kids’ brushing routines are on point, and they’re still getting cavities — even sometimes multiples during a single checkup? If you have taken the right dietary steps, and are 100% confident that they’re brushing properly and often, your kids’ cavities might not be entirely their fault.

Just like faces and bodies and personalities, each set of teeth is unique to its owner. We all have common tooth features, but sometimes the natural contours on teeth can cause problems. In some children and adults, the pits and fissures on the chewing surfaces of back teeth are especially deep or irregularly shaped. Food, plaque, and other cavity-causing substances gather in these nooks and crannies, thwarting even the most diligent brushing attempts.

Sealants to the Rescue

The good news is that there’s an option other than simply filling in the cavities as they occur. Around since the 1960’s, dental sealants have gained popularity in recent years for adding a protective layer to teeth and preventing decay. The treatment is simple, painless and performed in our offices. It consists of painting a thin plastic coating on chewing surfaces of the molars and pre-molars. The sealant is then hardened with ultraviolet light, much like modern fillings. According to the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, sealants are recommended for children between the ages of 6 -12, and the treatment can remain effective for up to 10 years. Even small cavities that existed before treatment will not spread, since the sealant cuts off the source of decay.

Debunking BPA Concerns

In recent years dental sealants have come into question for containing Bisphenol A (BPA). It is widely used in consumer packaging, as well as plastic water bottles, canned foods, pacifiers, cash register tape, and many other products. BPA is present in most U.S. residents, its effects on overall health have yet to be conclusively determined. And while dental sealants do contain traces of BPA, the levels are far lower than other common areas of exposure. In fact, according to the ADA, exposure from breathing normal everyday air is 100 times higher than standard dental sealants.

Even more good news – if Drs. Meyer or Johns determine it would reduce cavities, dental insurance is likely to cover the treatment cost. Along with a fluoride-based toothpaste and good brushing habits, sealants provide a One-Two punch that prevents nearly all tooth decay.

If you have a question about sealants for your child, ask us at their next appointment.

Pizza for Breakfast?!   

brushing and meals
Breakfast on the go is sometimes necessary, but how can you protect your teeth? 

You’ve been there — a late wake-up, rushing out the door, needing to put anything in your stomach to start the day. And the only thing available to eat that doesn’t require a plate or utensils is… Pizza. And so pizza is what you eat for breakfast.

Contrary to many opinions, that cold leftover slice isn’t really awful for you. As for your teeth, a good brushing is all that’s required to erase the evidence in your mouth… though it won’t help with your dietary guilt. And that’s true for most foods: as long as you remove excess food residue, what you eat for breakfast won’t harm your teeth.

 

Brushing Away OJ? Don’t.

A new school of thought has emerged that brushing before breakfast is as effective as brushing after. And provided that breakfast isn’t anything with excessive sugar (sweetened cereals, syrup, jelly/jam), this is true.

But according to the Mayo Clinic (via lifehacker.com), when you brush is even more important than what you eat for breakfast. However, the Mayo experts note that the exception to this rule is when consuming food or drink that contains high levels of acid, including fresh fruits and orange juice – both of which are breakfast staples. That’s because the naturally-occurring sugars and acid in these foods temporarily weaken the tooth enamel, and normal brushing can actually cause damage. For this reason, it is recommended that you either brush before breakfast, or wait at least 30 minutes after eating.

 

A Healthy Diet DOES Matter

However, there are many nutrition choices that really do matter to your mouth. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, several specific foods contribute to good dental and overall health. They recommend eating these:

  • Calcium-rich foods —including milk, yogurt and cheese, fortified soy products, canned salmon, almonds and dark leafy greens— help promote tooth and bone health.
  • Eggs, fish, lean meat, dairy, nuts, and beans contain phosphorus, which is good for strong bones and tooth enamel.
  • For good gum health and immune functions, eat plenty of foods rich in Vitamin C, including citrus fruits, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, potatoes, and spinach.

Always remember that the best plan is to brush after eating if you can – Even if it means you have to rinse away acidic food residue with water before brushing. If you have more questions about making healthy food choices for your body AND mouth, ask Drs. Meyer or Johns at your next appointment.