Scaling and Root Planing

Scaling and Root Planing

Some cases of acute periodontal (gum) disease that do not respond to more conventional treatment and self-care such as flossing may require a special kind of cleaning called scaling and root planing.

The procedure begins with administration of a local anesthetic to reduce any discomfort. Then, a small instrument called a “scaler,” or an ultrasonic cleaner, is used to clean beneath your gum line to remove plaque and tartar.

The root surfaces on the tooth are then planed and smoothed. This lets the gum tissue heal and reattach itself to the tooth.

Sealants

Sealants

What are Sealants?
The premolar and molar teeth are the largest teeth in the mouth. They have a larger surface area and have several grooves and pits on the chewing surface. These grooves can be deep and are a prime place for plaque and acid to build up and cause cavities. It is for this reason that many dentists will suggest applying sealants, especially on young children. A sealant is a coating that is applied to the chewing surface of the teeth creating a smooth surface to act as a barricade protecting it from decay. Though dental sealants are not a cure-all in preventing tooth decay, they are cost-effective and helpful to patients – particularly children – in controlling decay in certain areas of the mouth.

Applying a sealant is a quick and easy procedure. It does not involve any anesthetic. After the teeth are cleaned, a chemical liquid is applied to the tooth. This will etch the tooth surface making it feel a little rough. After a few seconds the etching solution is rinsed away. The etching allows the sealant to bond with the tooth. The sealant is then applied in a liquid form and a light is applied to the surface of the tooth to speed up the hardening process. Sealants can be reapplied every 5 to 10 years. Sealants are very effective in preventing decay and in some cases can prevent additional damage where decay has already begun.

We base our diagnosis and recommendation for dental sealants on the patient’s susceptibility to tooth decay and how the teeth were shaped when they originally formed below the gum. Though there is no specific age at which sealants are indicated, often Dr Bunt will recommend that the best time to apply them is when the six-year molars appear.

Once your teeth have been sealed, you should avoid chewing on ice cubes, hard candy or very sticky foods as much as possible. Here are some tasty, healthful snack alternatives that, combined with sealants, fluoride and good home care, can help to reduce your susceptibility to tooth decay:

  • peanut butter
  • air-popped popcorn
  • fresh fruit
  • fresh veggies
  • sugar free, fruit yogurt
  • low- fat cheese

If you have any questions about sealants, please ask us. Our goal is to help preserve your smile throughout your life, and sealants are a cost-effective choice to help make that possible.

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Seniors and Oral Health

Seniors and Oral Health

More and more people are avoiding the need for dentures as they grow older, going against the notion that false teeth are a normal part of growing older.

In fact, there’s usually no reason for you NOT to keep your teeth your entire life, providing you maintain a healthy balanced diet and practice good oral hygiene.

Another desirable side effect of good oral hygiene: avoiding more serious problems such as hypertension, cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and even stroke. Indeed, medical research is beginning to show that a healthy mouth equates to a healthy body and a longer life.

Dexterity and Arthritis

People who suffer from arthritis or other problems of dexterity may find it difficult and painful to practice good oral hygiene.

Thankfully, industry has responded with ergonomically designed devices such as toothbrushes and floss holders that make it easier to grasp and control.

You can also use items around the house to help you. Inserting the handle of your toothbrush into a small rubber ball, or extending the handle by attaching a small piece of plastic or Popsicle stick may also do the trick.

Floss can also be tied into a tiny loop on either side, making it easier to grasp and control the floss with your fingers.

Repair of Fractured Teeth

Repair of Fractured Teeth

What is a crown?

Crowns are synthetic caps, usually made of a material like porcelain, placed on the top of a tooth.

Crowns are typically used to restore a tooth’s function and appearance following a restorative procedure such as a root canal. When decay in a tooth has become so advanced that large portions of the tooth must be removed, crowns are often used to restore the tooth.

Crowns are also used to attach bridges, cover implants, prevent a cracked tooth from becoming worse, or an existing filling is in jeopardy of becoming loose or dislocated. Crowns also serve an aesthetic use, and are applied when a discolored or stained tooth needs to be restored to its natural appearance.
Procedures
A tooth must usually be reduced in size to accommodate a crown. A cast is made of the existing tooth and an impression is made. The impression is sent to a special lab, which manufactures a custom-designed crown. In some cases, a temporary crown is applied until the permanent crown is ready. Permanent crowns are cemented in place.

Crowns are sometimes confused with veneers, but they are quite different. Veneers are typically applied only to relatively small areas.
Caring For Your Crowns
With proper care, a good quality crown could last up to eight years or longer. It is very important to floss in the area of the crown to avoid excess plaque or collection of debris around the restoration.

Certain behaviors such as jaw clenching or bruxism (teeth grinding) significantly shorten the life of a crown. Moreover, eating brittle foods, ice or hard candy can compromise the adhesion of the crown, or even damage the crown.

Prevention Tips for Children

Prevention Tips for Children

Infants
The first dental appointment for children should be after the child turns 6 months of age and before their first birthday. The reason for such an early appointment is because the primary (first) teeth should have started to erupt and this is the time to detect anything of concern. Some of the issues that could cause problems are thumb sucking and baby bottle tooth decay.

Thumb-Sucking

Children find comfort from sucking a thumb, finger or a pacifier. This is normal. However, if the infant or child is doing this often, it can cause malformed teeth and an irregular bite pattern.

Thumb sucking engages powerful muscles that can alter the shape of the palate. This, in turn, can effect the position of the teeth and lips. If the child continues to suck their thumb or fingers after the four anterior teeth have erupted, conditions can worsen and it may require surgery to be corrected.

It is recommended that if by 4 years of age a child is still sucking their thumb or fingers you should seek the advise of your dental professional.

Baby bottle tooth decay
Baby bottle decay is caused by sugars found in breast milk, formula and in juices. Natural sugars found in milk and 100% fruit juice will have the same effect as refined sugar on the teeth. When an infant drinks from their bottle, the bacteria in their mouth will mix with the sugars from the drink. This mixture creates a mild acid that will attack the enamel of their teeth and form cavities. We can control this damage by managing how much sugar is given to the infant and controlling how long it stays there. Children that go to bed with a bottle of milk or juice are at an increased risk of decay. The sugars will pool in their saliva and have all night to work on destroying the outer layer (enamel) of the teeth. It is also risky to give a child juice between meals as this is just a continuos coating of sugar on the teeth throughout the day. In order to avoid baby bottle tooth decay, do not allow a baby to nurse on a bottle of milk or juice before going to sleep. Water is also the best choice to give between meals. Do not dip pacifiers into sweet substances and, as early as possible, teach your child to drink from a cup. Baby bottle tooth decay can interfere with the proper formation of the permanent teeth if it is left untreated.

Teething
Babies can begin teething as early as three to four months of age. This is a period where the teeth begin to sequentially erupt. The pain that children feel varies. Some babies can become irritable while others donʼt seem to be bothered at all. Symptoms of teething are swollen gums, drooling, crankiness, difficulty sleeping, and loss of appetite. You can help to alleviate some of the symptoms of teething by gently massaging your childʼs gums with a clean finger, a small cool spoon or a wet gauze pad. A teething ring may also help. The ADA (American Dental Association) and CDA (Canadian Dental Association) also report that if your child shows rashes, diarrhea and/or fever call your physician. These are NOT normal symptoms of teething.

Primary and Permanent Teeth
Most children at three years of age have 20 ʻprimaryʼ teeth. These teeth eventually get replaced by permanent teeth by the time the child turns 12 years of age. Somewhere between the age of 17-31, the 4 permanent molars, also known as wisdom teeth, may emerge.

It is very important that a childʼs primary teeth are kept healthy because they will determine the placement for the permanent teeth. If the primary teeth become diseased or do not properly erupt it can alter the growth pattern for the permanent teeth, leading to over crowding.

Brushing

Cleaning your baby’s mouth before teeth erupt
It is important to start cleaning a childʼs mouth before they even have any teeth. This is essential for two reasons. It develops a habit of keeping the mouth clean. Provides a clean and healthy environment for the primary teeth to erupt. The idea is to wipe all the gums. Firstly, with the baby in a comfortable lying position, make sure you can see clearly into the babies mouth. With a clean damp washcloth over your finger, wipe the babies gums. You can also buy special infant toothbrushes that fit right over your finger. Do not use toothpaste as the baby may swallow it. Once the teeth have grown through the gums you can clean the teeth with a child size, soft bristled toothbrush and a pea size amount of toothpaste. It is important to teach the child to spit out the paste when finished. It is recommended to avoid toothpastes containing fluoride on children under the age of two.

Proper technique for brushing your childʼs primary teeth
Use a soft bristled toothbrush with rounded edges. Make sure the toothbrush allows you to reach all the way to the back of the mouth. Hold your toothbrush at a 45 degree angle to your teeth. The bristles of the brush should be directed towards the gum line. Brush all three surfaces of the teeth, the chewing surface, the cheek side, and the tongue side. Brushing your teeth should take a minimum of 2 minutes to complete. Most people will miss the same spots repeatedly. To avoid this, change up your usual brushing pattern. The Canadian Dental Association and the American Dental Association recommend that you replace your toothbrush every three months.

Toothaches

Toothaches can be common in young children. Sometimes, toothaches are caused by erupting teeth, but they also could indicate a serious problem.

You can safely relieve a small child’s toothache without the aid of medication by rinsing the mouth with a solution of warm water and table salt. If the pain doesn’t subside, acetaminophen may be used. If such medications don’t help, contact your dentist immediately.

Fluoride
Fluoride is a mineral found in food and most drinking water systems. Fluoride is important to our oral health because it makes our teeth more resistant to decay. If your drinking water does not have acceptable levels of fluoride there are supplements that your dentist could recommend. A fluoride toothpaste sometimes is not enough. Too much fluoride can also pose a problem. Dental fluorosis, a condition that can affect the look of the tooth is the result when too high an amount of fluoride is ingested in early childhood.

Toothaches
Young children often experience a toothache. This could be a result of erupting teeth. You can help to relieve a childʼs toothache by rinsing the mouth with a solution of warm water and table salt. If there is no relief using this solution you can also give acetaminophen.

If the Acetaminophen does not alleviate the pain, there could be a more serious condition and you should contact the dentist immediately.

Injuries
Most children who have a trauma to their mouth, jaws and teeth are due to accidental play, whether it is playing or sport or by putting foreign objects in their mouth. In order to prevent injury to the jaw, teeth, lips and gums it is strongly recommended that during playtime children are adequately supervised and that children wear mouth guards while participating in sports. Mouth Guards are small and fit securely around the childʼs teeth and prevent injury to the whole mouth. Childrenʼs mouth guards are small and when first inserted into the mouth they mold to the childʼs teeth. In the case of a tooth that is avulsed (knocked out), hold the tooth by the crown and try to re-implant it into the mouth. Never touch the tooth by the root. Then bite on a clean cloth or gauze to hold the tooth in place and go directly to your dental office. If the tooth cannot be put back into the socket, submerge the tooth in saline, cold milk or the victims own saliva and go to the dental office. This is an emergency visit and you should not have to wait long to be seen. The longer you wait, the less likely it is that the tooth can be re-implanted into the socket. When there is an injury in your mouth make sure you rinse your mouth to remove any blood or particles. In order to control the swelling, place a cold cloth or cold compress on the cheek near the injury site. If the tooth is fractured, do a warm water rinse and apply a cold pack or compress. The cold pack along with Ibuprofen will help to control the swelling.

To repair a fractured tooth the dentist will first determine if the fracture is minor or severe and if the nerve is exposed or damaged. In less severe cases, it could be as simple as just adding some filling material to restore the look of the tooth and smooth out any sharp edges. In a severe case the dentist will have to decide if the tooth can be saved. If a child has a primary (baby) tooth that is loose it is often just a case of the roots dissolving as the permanent teeth come in. These teeth usually come out on their own or when a child bites into something hard, such as an apple. If the tooth is very loose you can encourage the child to wiggle it until is falls out. Never yank the tooth as it may break and become infected. If the primary tooth is loose due to injury, apply a cold compress to the mouth and gums to lessen the pain and swelling. Contact your dentist immediately. The dentist will have to take an x-ray to determine the extent of the damage. Braces and retainers can sometimes cause irritation. Placing a small piece of orthodontic wax, gauze or cotton over the wire tip can provide relief. If a piece of the retainer or braces is stuck into the soft tissue, do not detach it yourself. Contact the dental office immediately.

Sealants
The premolar and molar teeth are the largest teeth in the mouth. They have a larger surface area and have several grooves and pits on the chewing surface. These grooves can be deep and are a prime place for plaque and acid to build up and cause cavities. It is for this reason that many dentists will suggest applying sealants, especially on young children. A sealant is a coating that is applied to the chewing surface of the teeth creating a smooth surface to act as a barricade protecting it from decay.

Oral Cancer

Oral Cancer

Oral cancer is one of the most common cancers today and has one of the lowest survival rates, with thousands of new cases being reported each year. Fewer than half of all people diagnosed with oral cancer are ever cured.

Moreover, people with many forms of cancer can develop complications-some of them chronic and painful-from their cancer treatment. These include dry mouth and overly sensitive teeth, as well as accelerated tooth decay.

If oral cancer is not treated in time, it could spread to other facial and neck tissues, leading to disfigurement and pain.

Older adults over the age of 40 (especially men) are most susceptible to developing oral cancer, but people of all ages are at risk.

Oral cancer can occur anywhere in the mouth, but the tongue appears to be the most common location. Other oral structures could include the lips, gums and other soft palate tissues in the mouth.

Warning Signs
In general, early signs of oral cancer usually occur in the form of lumps, patchy areas and lesions, or breaks, in the tissues of the mouth. In many cases, these abnormalities are not painful in the early stages, making even self-diagnosis difficult.

Here are some additional warning signs:

  • Hoarseness or difficulty swallowing.
  • Unusual bleeding or persistent sores in the mouth that won’t heal.
  • Lumps or growths in other nearby areas, such as the throat or neck.

If a tumor is found, surgery will generally be required to remove it. Some facial disfigurement could also result.

Prevention
Prevention is the key to staving off oral cancer. One of the biggest culprits is tobacco and alcohol use. Certain kinds of foods and even overexposure to the sun have also been linked to oral cancer. Some experts believe certain oral cancer risk factors are also hereditary. Give this Oral Cancer screening a try:

7-step-oral-cancer-screening

A diet rich in fruits and vegetables is one of the best defenses against oral cancer. Maintaining good oral hygiene, and regular dental checkups, are highly recommended.

At Whites Road Dental Care, an oral cancer screening is completed every 12 months for every patient when you come in for your regular check up and scaling appointment with your hygienist.

Oral Health and Seniors

Oral Health and Seniors

Aging and oral health

North Americans are generally leading longer and healthier lives. Today’s seniors are also enjoying good oral health, keeping their natural teeth longer than previous generations.

The maintenance of good oral health is stressed throughout one’s life. It remains a very important corner stone to good overall health and quality of life. Neglect of teeth and gums leads to infections in the mouth. There is a growing body of medical evidence that shows that the inflammation that results due to the infection in the mouth may be closely linked to other diseases such as diabetes and heart disease, and in severe cases can even lead to respiratory infection like pneumonia. But, by simply keeping up with regular brushing and flossing as part of your daily regimen, you can maintain good oral health. Your regular dental visits are a further assurance to help screen for other serious diseases including oral cancer.

Follow the same simple rules that have supported you throughout your life including:

  • Maintain a daily regimen of brushing and flossing
  • Avoid alcohol or drink only moderately
  • Avoid tobacco
  • Eat a healthy and balanced diet that incorporates fruits, vegetables and fiber-rich foods.
  • Limit sugar-intake
  • Visit the dentist regularly. Please do ask us any questions that you may have with respect to your oral health and update us on any changes to medications that you may be taking. If you are caring for an elderly parent, ask about ways for you to support their oral health care.

With increased age, seniors can be faced with several major overall problems related to their oral health:

  • Age changes; general changes in their body physiology
  • Dealing with the effects of disease and drug therapy; seniors may become more susceptible to oral disease such as decay, gum disease and oral cancer. Additionally, increased use of medications, physical and cognitive deterioration and changes in diet may begin to impact oral health.
  • Due to an incapacity to be mobile, seniors may not be able to always receive proper and timely dental care.

Here are a few other influencing factors to consider and discuss with your dentists.

Cavities and decay – Due to the lack of fluoride when many of today’s seniors grew up, they had a higher tendency to develop decay at a younger age, and consequently had more fillings than many of today’s younger population. Today, many of these fillings, if not looked after with proper oral hygiene at home, can develop re-decay around their margins. Another factor that leads to an increased incidence of decay in seniors is due to gum recession. Over time, if one is not careful in maintaining good oral hygiene, our gums can significantly recede. As the gums recede, the roots are more exposed and therefore susceptible to decay causing acids.

Gum disease – Gum disease (gingivitis and periodontitis) are essentially caused by the bacteria found in plaque. The research evidence suggests that older patients develop plaque more quickly, but that the majority can prevent and maintain their gums and their health by focusing on good home care and regular preventive care at the dentist’s office.

Oral cancer – The incidence of oral cancer is higher among seniors. Regular dental visits can help to spot early signs of oral cancer and pre-cancerous conditions.

Dry mouth (xerostomia) – Older adults are susceptible to dry mouth, an appropriate environment for bacterial growth. Dryness of the oral cavity can result from a number of factors. Medications can influence the secretion of saliva from the salivary glands. The lack of normal saliva production leads to a very dry environment in the mouth. This dry environment results in an imbalance in the normal bacteria in the mouth and can lead to an overgrowth of microorganisms that result in increased dental decay and soft tissue infections of the mouth. Without saliva, your body losses one of its natural defenses to cleanse the mouth of harmful cavity causing bacteria.
To help combat a dry mouth, avoid caffeine and tobacco. Make sure you drink plenty of water and avoid refined sugar.

Medications – Many Seniors are prescribed medications that contain sugar and can cause dry mouth, both factors that can influence oral disease. Common causes of dry mouth include certain prescription medications (eg. Antidepressants, antihistamines, pain medications, etc.), anxiety states, certain cancer therapies that might involve irradiation of the head and neck, chemotherapy, states of anxiety, Sjogren Syndrome, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, Parkinson’s disease, and certain foods and tobacco. It’s important to tell your dentist about any medications you are taking and other possible symptoms, such as abnormal bleeding, taste alterations and soft-tissue symptoms like swelling and discoloration.

Diet – Unfortunately, many seniors may begin to experience mouth or teeth problems that make them less likely to consume a healthy diet which further leads to a negative impact on oral health. Some of the reasons for this include a decrease in appetite, physical disabilities, dementia, such as Alzheimer’s, or untreated tooth decay. All the more reason if possible to for our aging population to try and keeping their natural teeth longer in life. By virtue of being able to use their teeth, seniors make better nutrition choices, allowing them to continue to enjoy a wide variety of foods that further support ongoing oral health.

Health conditions – While diseases of the mouth and surrounding areas are a serious health risk, their relationship to overall general health is often not considered important or is simply overlooked.

Gum disease that is left untreated can lead to an increased risk of diseases of the respiratory system. This is primarily caused when the toxic bacteria that are contained in plaque make their way from the mouth to the lungs. The result is either respiratory infections or worsening of already existing cardiovascular conditions.

Seniors that are living with diabetes are a more susceptible population group to the affects of periodontal disease (i.e. gum disease that has advanced to the point of causing loss of bone and tissue attachments around existing teeth). Diabetics with uncontrolled gum disease are therefore more susceptible to tooth loss.

Seniors that may have compromised immune systems due to existing chronic ailments or medications are more susceptible to getting fungal and viral infections of the mouth.

Sensitive Teeth – A great number of people complain of tooth sensitivity, but more so amongst the senior population. The sensitivity is usually the result of a lifetime of wear and tear of the teeth and gums caused by factors such as brushing too aggressively, lack of oral hygiene leading to receded gums and overall gum disease, broken and fractured teeth, bruxism (grinding of teeth), acidic foods and complications resulting from certain dental treatments. The triggers for tooth sensitivity can be anything from thermal stimulation (hot or cold foods or drink), sugary or acidic foods, even just breathing in cold air.

Dentures – Many seniors who have lost some or all of their teeth are wearing removable dentures to replace those missing teeth. The proper care and maintenance of these partial or complete dentures is paramount to maintaining the health of the mouth. Poorly fitting dentures, and those that are not removed regularly to allow oral tissues and existing teeth to be adequately cleaned, can lead to further dental and oral tissue problems. Seniors that wear dentures are advised to continue regular dental visits to ensure proper fit and function of their dental prosthesis.

Tips for seniors and caregivers
Regular dental visits are a perfect time to speak to the dentist about concerns that you may have with regards to your oral health (or that of someone under your care) and will help to spot trouble early. It is also a time to update the dentist as to any medical issues or medications that you may be taking that could adversely affect your oral health.

Some additional tips for seniors and caregivers:

Brushing and flossing
Review the tips for proper brushing and flossing as instructed by your dentist or dental hygienist.

Always choose a soft toothbrush, run the bristles under warm water so as to further soften the brush against gum tissue, and remember to replace worn brushes every 3 to 6 months.

If your suffer from any condition that makes holding the toothbrush a challenge (e.g. arthritis or any other health conditions), speak to your dentist or dental hygienist about options

Denture Care
When cleaning or caring for your denture, in order to avoid accidental breakage should they fall, make sure to have a folded towel or a sink full water over which you handle your denture.

Avoid letting your dentures dry out. When not worn, do not simply leave them out exposed to the drying affects of air. Remember to soak them in a glass with water or a denture cleaning solution.

Never place your dentures in hot water, as that will cause the denture material to warp.

Brush, clean and rinse your dentures daily.

Message to Caregivers
If you are caring for a senior who is faced with physical or cognitive deterioration, please take note of their oral health by simple observation inside their mouth for any problems. Their oral health does impact the quality of their lives, and upon their overall systemic health. Maintain their regular dental visits in order that any problematic symptoms or troubling signs can dealt with early. If possible, attend the dental visit with the elder in your care in order to provide as much relevant medical information as possible.

Oral Hygiene Instruction

Oral Hygiene Instruction

Oral hygiene instruction is helpful and educational information meant to teach and guide our patients to prevent new cavities, and to maintain healthy teeth and gums. At your initial oral hygiene visit, your hygienist will instruct you on
the proper methods of brushing and flossing. Follow up visits will be to further assess your progress in maintaining good oral health, and to help review and reinforce techniques of cleaning at home.

The following are helpful recommendations:

    • Flossing is the foundation for healthy gums, so floss your teeth once a day. Dental floss will get into areas between your teeth and under your gums that your toothbrush cannot. Slide the floss between your teeth and wrap it into a “C” shape around the base of the tooth and gently under the gumline. Wipe the tooth from base to tip two or three times. Be sure to floss both sides of every tooth.
    • Brush your teeth twice a day, and make sure to brush your teeth after you floss, as this is a more effective method of cleaning your teeth. Use a soft bristled tooth brush (safer on your gums) and a circular motion that moves the brush bristles ‘away’* from the gums ( *on the top arch, this would mean you are brushing in a circular direction which is top-down; on the bottom arch, you would be brushing in a bottom-to-top circular motion. Use care to not speed through brushing, taking at least 2-3 minutes to do a thorough job.
    • Eat a well balanced diet, avoiding excessive snacking between meals, especially sticky, sugary foods.
    • Use either a fluoride or antiseptic rinse as directed by the dentist or hygienist.
    • Avoid smoking

Twice-daily brushings and regular flossing are excellent for maintenance between office visits, but a healthy mouth and beautiful smile require routine general and preventive care to stay that way. Our practice offers hygiene care that includes regular oral examinations and cleanings. Our preventive hygiene services include fluoride, professional breath control, and periodontal (gum disease) treatments designed to help you maintain your smile’s health and beauty. Keep your teeth and gums strong and disease-free. Contact our office today to schedule a cleaning or consultation.

Nutrition and Your Teeth

Nutrition and Your Teeth

It has long been known that good nutrition and a well-balanced diet is one of the best defenses for your oral health. Providing your body with the right amounts of vitamins and minerals helps your teeth and gums-as well as your immune system-stay strong and ward off infection, decay and disease.

Harmful acids and bacteria in your mouth are left behind from eating foods high in sugar and carbohydrates. These include carbonated beverages, some kinds of fruit juices, and many kinds of starch foods like pasta, bread and cereal.

Children’s Nutrition and Teeth

Good eating habits that begin in early childhood can go a long way to ensuring a lifetime of good oral health.

Children should eat foods rich in calcium and other kinds of minerals, as well as a healthy balance of the essential food groups like vegetables, fruits, dairy products, poultry and meat. Fluoride supplements may be helpful if you live in a community without fluoridated water, but consult with our office first. (Be aware that sugars are even found in some kinds of condiments, as well as fruits and even milk.)

Allowing your children to eat excessive amounts of junk food (starches and sugars)-including potato chips, cookies, crackers, soda, even artificial fruit rollups and granola bars-only places them at risk for serious oral health problems, including obesity, osteoporosis and diabetes. The carbonation found in soda, for example, can actually erode tooth enamel. Encourage your child to use a straw when drinking soda; this will help keep at least some of the carbonated beverage away from the teeth.

Smart Snacks for Healthy Teeth
There’s no discounting the importance of continuing a healthy balanced diet throughout your adult life.

What’s wrong with sugary snacks, anyway?
Sugary snacks taste so good — but they aren’t so good for your teeth or your body. The candies, cakes, cookies and other sugary foods that kids love to eat between meals can cause tooth decay. Some sugary foods have a lot of fat in them, too. Kids who consume sugary snacks eat many  different kinds of sugar every day, including table sugar (sucrose) and corn sweeteners (fructose). Starchy snacks can also break down into sugars once they’re in your mouth.

How do sugars attack your teeth?
Invisible germs called bacteria live in your mouth all the time. Some of these bacteria form a sticky material called plaque on the surface of the teeth. When you put sugar in your mouth, the bacteria in the plaque gobble up the sweet stuff and turn it into acids. These acids are powerful enough to dissolve the hard enamel that covers your teeth. That’s how cavities get started. If you don’t eat much sugar, the bacteria can’t produce as much of the acid that eats away enamel.

How can I “snack smart” to protect myself from tooth decay?
Before you start munching on a snack, ask yourself what’s in the food you’ve chosen. Is it loaded with sugar? If it is, think again. Another choice would be better for your teeth. And keep in mind that certain kinds of sweets can do more damage than others. Gooey or chewy sweets spend more time sticking to the surface of your teeth. Because sticky snacks stay in your mouth longer than foods that you quickly chew and swallow, they give your teeth a longer sugar bath. You should also think about when and how often you eat snacks. Do you nibble on sugary snacks many times throughout the day, or do you usually just have dessert after dinner? Damaging acids form in your mouth every time you eat a sugary snack. The acids continue to affect your teeth for at least 20 minutes before they are neutralized and can’t do any more harm. So, the more times you eat sugary snacks during the day, the more often you feed bacteria the fuel they need to cause tooth decay.

If you eat sweets, it’s best to eat them as dessert after a main meal instead of several times a day between meals. Whenever you eat sweets — in any meal or snack — brush your teeth well with a fluoride toothpaste afterward.

When you’re deciding about snacks, think about:

•    The number of times a day you eat sugary snacks
•    How long the sugary food stays in your mouth
•    The texture of the sugary food (Chewy? Sticky?)
If you snack after school, before bedtime, or other times during the day, choose something without a lot of sugar or fat. There are lots of tasty, filling snacks that are less harmful to your teeth—and the rest of your body — than foods loaded with sugars and low in nutritional value. Snack smart!

Low-fat choices like raw vegetables, fresh fruits, or whole-grain crackers or bread are smart choices. Eating the right foods can help protect you from tooth decay and other diseases. Next time you reach for a snack, pick a food from the list inside or make up your own menu of non-sugary, low-fat snack foods from the basic food groups.

How can you snack smart? Be choosy!
Pick a variety of foods from these groups:

Fresh fruits and raw vegetables

Berries
Oranges
Grapefruit
Melons
Pineapple
Pears
Tangerines
Broccoli
Celery
Carrots
Cucumbers
Tomatoes
Unsweetened fruit and vegetable juices
Canned fruits in natural juices

Grains

Bread
Plain bagels
Unsweetened cereals
Unbuttered popcorn
Tortilla chips (baked, not fried)
Pretzels (low-salt)
Pasta
Plain crackers

Milk and dairy products
Low or non-fat milk
Low or non-fat yogurt
Low or non-fat cheese
Low or non-fat cottage cheese

Meat, nuts and seeds
Chicken
Turkey
Sliced meats
Pumpkin seeds
Sunflower seeds
Nuts

Others
(these snacks combine foods from the different groups)
Pizza
Tacos

Remember to:
•    Choose sugary foods less often
•    Avoid sweets between meals
•    Eat a variety of low or non-fat foods from the basic groups
•    Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste after snacks and meals

Note to parents
The foods listed in this leaflet have not all been tested for their decay-causing potential. However, knowledge to date indicates that they are less likely to promote tooth decay than are some of the heavily sugared foods children often eat between meals.
Candy bars aren’t the only culprits. Foods such as pizza, breads, and hamburger buns may also contain sugars. Check the label. The new food labels identify sugars and fats on the Nutrition Facts panel on the package. Keep in mind that brown sugar, honey, molasses and syrups also react with bacteria to produce acids, just as refined table sugar does. These foods also are potentially damaging to teeth.

Your child’s meals and snacks should include a variety of foods from the basic food groups, including fruits and vegetables; grains, including breads and cereals; milk and dairy products; and meat, nuts and seeds. Some snack foods have greater nutritional value than others and will better promote your child’s growth and development. However, be aware that even some fresh fruits, if eaten in excess, may promote tooth decay. Children should brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste after snacks and meals. (So should you!)
Please note: These general recommendations may need to be adapted for children on special diets because of diseases or conditions that interfere with normal nutrition.

Mouth Guards

Mouth Guards

In sporting activities there is a great need to protect your smile. Anyone who participates in a sport that carries a significant risk of injury to teeth, lips, cheek and tongue, should wear a mouth protector. This includes a wide range of sports like football, hockey, basketball, baseball, gymnastics, and volleyball.

A properly fitted mouth protector will stay in place while you are wearing it, making it easy for you to talk and breathe.

There are three types of mouth protectors:
1.   Stock
Stock mouth protectors are inexpensive and come pre-formed, ready to wear. Unfortunately, they often don’t fit very well. They can be bulky and can make breathing and talking difficult.
2.    Boil and bite
Boil and bite mouth protectors can be purchased at many sporting goods stores and may offer a better fit than stock mouth protectors. They should be softened in water, then inserted and allowed to adapt to the shape of your mouth.  It is extremely important to follow the manufacturer’s directions in order not to end up with a poor-fitting mouth protector.
3.    Custom-fitted
Custom-fitted mouth protectors are made by your dentist for you personally. They are more expensive than the other versions, but because they are customized they can offer a better fit than anything you can buy off the shelf.  They are also designed to suit the needs of the individual athlete, with various thickness indicated for different sports.