Healthy habits

Pediatric Dentistry: The Benefits of Dairy

October 19th, 2012

When you were a child, your mother may have instructed you to drink all your milk to build strong bones. Now that you have children of your own, you may hear yourself parroting those instructions you received years ago. Getting enough dairy is essential for young children whose teeth are growing. A child who consumes the recommended daily serving of dairy will develop healthy, strong teeth for the rest of his or her life.

Structure of the Tooth
To fully grasp the importance of dairy for dental health, it is necessary to understand tooth structure. Your teeth are made of living tissues covered by a hard outer shell. The inner dental pulp is fed by blood vessels and connects to a nerve bed in your gums. Surrounding the pulp is dentin, a calcified tissue that is less brittle than the tooth’s outermost layer, the enamel. The enamel layer is the white part of your teeth, 96% of which consists of minerals such as calcium phosphate.

How Does Dairy Help My Child’s Teeth?
Milk and other dairy products are excellent sources of calcium. Your child’s body deposits this calcium into her growing bones, including the teeth. Calcium contributes to bone growth and strength, and it forms an important part of the solid enamel that surrounds each tooth’s fragile inner pulp.

Milk also contains vitamin D, phosphorus, magnesium, and proteins. Magnesium promotes calcium deposits in your enamel, while phosphorus forms a small barrier against acidic foods that cause cavities. Vitamin D and protein are used by a child’s body to build bone tissue and maintain dental health.

How Much Dairy Does a Child Need?
According to a 2011 study conducted by researchers at the University of Connecticut, the majority of Americans do not receive enough calcium. The U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends that children under the age of eight should receive at least two and a half cups of dairy per day. Children older than eight need three full cups — the same as adult men and women. Supplying your child with nonfat milk to drink and yogurt to eat every day is a great way to increase dairy consumption.

Growing children who do not get enough dairy in their diets risk improper tooth development and other dental health problems. Drinking sugary beverages in place of milk causes cavities and tooth decay. As a parent, it is essential to monitor your child’s dairy consumption to ensure he or she grows healthy teeth to last a lifetime.

Teeth Grinding: More Than a Bad Habit

October 5th, 2012

Perhaps you don't even know you grind your teeth. Maybe a spouse or loved one woke you up in the middle of the night and made you aware of what was happening.

For many people, teeth grinding is a habit and a mechanical reflex; when they’re awakened and informed they were grinding their teeth, they have no recollection of it at all. According to the American Dental Association, this is the nightly situation for roughly ten percent of Americans. From young children to the elderly, teeth grinding, known in the dental community as bruxism, is a serious concern.

Many people who grind their teeth in their sleep have no idea they're doing it. In fact, when they wake up in the morning they feel no jaw pain and their teeth are fine: if it hadn’t been for someone telling them about it, the teeth grinding would have gone unnoticed.

There are other people, however, who wake up with jaw pain, shoulder and neck pain, and headaches. Teeth grinding can cause a host of dental complications. From cracked teeth and receding gums to a misaligned jaw, teeth grinding is not something to take lightly.
Preventive measures are the key to combating bruxism, and our office can set you on the path to a healthy and safe night sleep.

The Reasons for Teeth Grinding

There are many reasons for teeth grinding. For some people, it’s a habit they acquired when they were a child and never grew out of. On the other hand, some research claims that the condition is related to stress, anxiety, or some other type of psychiatric issue.

Still other studies point to everything from poor muscle control or over-eating before bed to gastro-esophageal issues. However, the root cause of the teeth grinding is less important than identifying preventive measures against it.

Common solutions to teeth grinding include:
• Wearing a protective nightguard
• Stress management techniques
• Medications and muscle relaxers

When you make an appointment at our office, we will assess your situation and determine what the best course of action is. Teeth grinding is a dental concern that can cause serious health issues down the road, so be sure to take preventive measures today.

When is the Best Time to Floss?

September 21st, 2012

We always encourage our patients to practice good oral hygiene between office visits! Part of that process includes flossing, which is the process of cleaning between the teeth to remove food and debris from the areas that are hard to reach with a toothbrush. When food is allowed to remain between the teeth, it provides a breeding ground for bacteria, which can cause periodontal disease!

Should You Floss Before or After Brushing?

According to recent clinical findings, you can floss either before or after brushing, according to your own preference. By flossing first, you can brush away dislodged food debris afterward. On the other hand, brushing first allows you to loosen plaque between the teeth, making it easier to floss more effectively.

Whichever you choose, the most important goal is to floss thoroughly. That means using a fresh strand of dental floss each day, and carefully pulling it back and forth between all of the teeth. Do not skip flossing because your teeth look or feel clean.

When to Floss

Unlike brushing, you need only floss between your teeth once per day. Although you may choose to do it in the morning or afternoon, many prefer to floss at night to prevent food and debris from remaining in the crevices of the teeth overnight. This could prevent the build-up of plaque too, which is a cause of tooth decay.

Help with Flossing

If you have questions about your flossing technique or what type of floss is best for your teeth, contact our office. The staff will be more than happy to assist you in perfecting your home hygiene regimen. In most cases, you can choose between interdental cleaning picks or flexible floss strands to perform your daily flossing routine.

A Healthy Mouth Starts With What You Eat

August 23rd, 2012

Most people know that visiting the dentist is an essential part of caring for their teeth. Regular checkups and cleanings are, of course, very important. But what some people don't realize is that good dental hygiene starts long before you get to the dentist's office. You may be saying, "I know, it starts with my toothbrush and floss." But actually, oral health begins even before that. A healthy smile starts at your grocery store.

Dental checkups can detect problems early on and address them, but only good nutrition can give your teeth and gums the healthy foundation they need. If your diet is rich in tooth-friendly nutrients, you will be less prone to gum disease, tooth decay, and even jawbone loss.

So, which nutrients are the most important? Here are a few tooth-building superstars.

Calcium:
We all know that calcium builds strong bones and teeth. Most expectant mothers are even aware that the calcium-rich foods they eat during pregnancy will ensure that their babies develop strong, healthy teeth later on. But did you know that calcium is important to your teeth long into adulthood?

On its "Milk Matters" page, the National Institutes of Health tells us that calcium can protect teeth against decay. Furthermore, a 2001 study published by the US National Library of Medicine found that elderly people who had adequate amounts of calcium in their diets were more likely to retain their teeth as they aged.

Good sources of calcium include yogurt, cheeses, milk, and leafy green vegetables. If you can't get an enough calcium from your diet alone, talk to your doctor about adding a calcium supplement.

Vitamin D:
Vitamin D is sometimes called the sunshine vitamin because your skin can synthesize it during exposure to sunlight. Vitamin D could also be called the healthy smile vitamin. It not only helps your teeth, but it also keeps your gums healthy. Another study published by the National Library of Medicine has shown a connection between low levels of dietary vitamin D and gingivitis. People in the study who had more of the vitamin in their diets had healthier gums.

While most of us get plenty of vitamin D from sun exposure, people who live farther from the equator may need to take a supplement during the winter months.

Vitamin C:
Long ago, British sailors were called "Limeys" because their superiors made them eat limes on long ocean voyages. Why? Because limes are rich in vitamin C and without it, the sailors got scurvy and often lost their teeth. While there's little danger of developing scurvy today, a study in the year 2000 of people who ranged in age from 20 to 90, showed that vitamin C is still necessary for healthy gums. People in the study who had the lowest dietary intake of this essential vitamin were at the highest risk of gum disease.

Vitamin C is perhaps the easiest of vitamins to get from your diet. Rich sources include strawberries, apricots, oranges, lemons and, of course, limes. Red and yellow peppers also have lots of vitamin C, as do tomatoes and brussel sprouts.

Never put off regular dental checkups and cleanings, but in between appointments, watch your diet. Making sure these essential nutrients are a part of your daily intake will ensure that your teeth and gums are as healthy as they can be.

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