5 Ways to Maximize Your Dental Benefits Plan

With terms like PPO, HMO, in-network, and out-of-network to describe dental benefits, it’s no surprise that many don’t understand how to make the most of their plan. This means you may be overlooking benefits that are critical to maintaining your oral health.

Don’t settle for just what you understand as part of your coverage. Read on for 5 simple tips to take advantage of everything your plan has to offer.

Tip #1: Take Time to Understand Your Plan

The best way to take advantage of your plan is to ensure you know the type of plan it is and its deductibles, copayments, and annual maximums.

There are two main types of dental plans:

    • HMO Plans – With an HMO, you’ll be required to choose a dentist in your primary network to handle most of your needs. You are charged a relatively low co-payment for office visits, procedures, etc. There is no coverage if you visit an out-of-network provider. HMOs typically have no deductible or maximum.
  • PPO Plans – With a PPO, you have the option to see both in-network and out-of-network providers, but coverage is better if you stay in network. Once you hit your deductible, you are reimbursed for a percentage of office visits, procedures, etc. The percentage may vary depending on the treatment and is much higher if you see an in-network dentist.

Key things to understand about your plan are its:

    • Deductible – The dollar amount you must pay for covered services prior to claiming benefits under your plan.
    • Copayment – A fixed dollar amount you must pay when you visit your dentist. Some plans with copayments don’t have a deductible whereas others may have both.
  • Annual Maximum – The maximum amount a plan will pay for dental care for an individual or family during a specific benefit period (often, benefit periods last for 12 months).

Tip #2: Take Advantage of All Benefits Covered Under Your Plan

In addition to understanding the basics of your plan, it is important to explore all of the associated benefits.

Most individuals are aware of and will use diagnostic and preventative services for professional cleanings every 6 months. These services are often covered in full by HMO plans and between 80% and 100% by PPO plans.

However, there are other benefits that should be included both in your plan booklet and online. These benefits may cover restorative care (like fillings), major restorative care (like crowns and bridges), as well as orthodontic care. By doing your research, you can determine what procedures are covered, what limitations each procedure has, and if there are any exclusions.

Tip #3: Use a Dentist in Your Network

One of the most significant challenges for many individuals is determining whether or not a dentist is in their network. This can be particularly difficult for plans that have multiple networks because dentists may participate in all or some of them.

If you choose a dentist that is out of your network, the amount of insurance coverage you receive for your treatments will vary. As such, seeing an in-network dentist allows you to maximize your benefits.

Coverage will differ if you go out of network on either type of dental plan:

    • HMO Plans – If you visit a dentist other than your primary or a referred specialist, your services won’t be covered (even if that dentist is also in your network).
  • PPO Plans – PPO plans allow you to visit any licensed dentist and you will still be covered. However, choosing a dentist in your network offers top savings (allowing you to maximize your benefits and coverage).

Tip #4: Control Expenses with Treatment Plans

To maximize your benefits, it is best to schedule treatments in advance to align with your annual maximum. In many cases, you can strategically plan multi-stage treatments with your dental professional to minimize your costs as much as possible. Of course, it is also important to be prepared for unforeseen dental emergencies.

Tip #5: Track Claims and Remaining Benefits

Track claims as you receive treatment so you are aware of when you are approaching your annual maximum. After each appointment, review your treatment summary to see what your carrier covered. Then, subtract this amount from your annual maximum to calculate your remaining coverage for the given benefit period.

Get What You Pay for by Maximizing Your Benefits

You sign up for dental insurance for the benefits and you should receive what you paid for. By utilizing each of the tips above, you can make the most of all your benefits and keep your smile looking great.


Sources:

10 Tips to Maximize Dental Benefits. (2014, February 14). Retrieved July 2, 2015 from https://www.dentalinsurance.com/blog/?post_type=resources&p=1554

Maximizing a dental benefits plan: 6 easy tips. (n.d.). Retrieved July 2, 2015, from https://www.deltadentalins.com/administrators/guidance/maximizing-a-dental-benefits-plan.html

Bye-Bye, Buck Teeth! How to Overcome an Overbite

“Overbite”, “overjet” or simply “buck teeth”– protruding teeth can go by many names, but “pretty” isn’t one of them. And they aren’t comfortable either; upper teeth that extend well past the lower teeth can often make it difficult to close the mouth, chew or speak easily.

It’s a common condition, but not one that people have to live with. In fact, there are just as many corrective methods for this dental problem as the names it has been given! If you (or a loved one) has buck teeth, get an in-depth look at what may have caused it and what you can do to prevent it from becoming a lifelong burden on your looks, oral health and self-esteem.

Causes of Buck Teeth

Buck teeth can easily be identified at a very early age, and can be due to a variety of factors including:

  • Genes: a person can inherit the problem if born with naturally uneven jaws
  • Habits: teeth can jut out after constant pacifier/thumb sucking or tongue thrusting
  • Crowded teeth: crookedness, facial injury and/or tooth abnormalities can play a role

The severity of the condition can vary from mild to extreme, and may gradually become worse over time if left untreated.

Treatment Options

Age and the depth of a patient’s overbite are two primary factors that can dictate the type of treatment an orthodontist chooses to correct the problem. New techniques are always being explored, but here are a few of the most common recommendations:

1. Braces
Whether metal, ceramic or clear, it’s a popular route many orthodontists take to fix protruding teeth. Teeth that are jutting out are straightened and forced closer in alignment with the lower jaw by tightening the braces over time.

2. Aligners
In mild cases of protruding teeth, clear, removable aligners may be a more comfortable and convenient option. Aligners use less force (and thus result in less pain) than braces and can be removed for added ease when brushing or flossing.

3. Surgery
Extreme cases in which the overbite is due to skeletal/jaw structure may require surgery. Patients who fall into this category are referred to an oral maxillofacial surgeon, and surgery usually involves pushing the maxilla bones (which form the upper jaw) behind, or moving the mandible (lower jaw) forward.

Surgery aside, the length of time it takes to achieve results is largely due to when the problem is treated. Younger patients whose jaws are still developing typically require less time to correct an overbite compared to adults whose jaws are not as malleable.

Benefits of Treatment

Even the mildest cases of overbite can reap significant benefits from professional treatment. Perhaps the most noticeable improvement is cosmetic in nature. Once treatment is complete, any bulging around the mouth disappears and patients may experience less strain in their facial muscles.

Being able to open and close the mouth more easily can also vastly improve speech, especially for those who adopted a slur or lisp due to an overbite. And last but not least, better alignment of the teeth can have a profound effect on oral health, making it easier to clean the teeth and minimize the risk of jaw-related disorders such as TMJ.

If you’ve been battling a case of buck teeth, get it fixed for good by finding an orthodontist near you.


Sources:

Beercroft, Matt. (2014, June 5). Overbite: Causes & Treatments. Retrieved June 17, 2015, from http://www.beecroftortho.com/2014/06/overbite-causes-treatments/

Orthodontic Disorders (2012). Retrieved June 17, 2015, from http://dentaloptionspa.com/orthodontic-disorders-aventura-fl.html

The Dirt on “Dragon Breath” And How to Slay It for Good

There’s a reason people commonly refer to halitosis as “dragon breath”: it’s a beast of an oral health problem that can put off anyone within close range! Mints and mouthwashes can mask the issue, but in order to truly defeat it, you’ll need to treat the underlying cause.

If you’ve dealt with morning breath, or struggle with bad breath throughout the day, here are some likely reasons behind it and ways to banish it once and for all.

Causes of Bad Breath

The freshness of your breath can be influenced by a number of factors, which is probably what makes it so hard to keep halitosis at bay. Perhaps the easiest way to determine the root cause (and the appropriate solution) is to ask yourself these three simple questions:

1. What have I been eating?
Not surprisingly, your food choices can have a big impact on your breath. Foods comprised of sulfur compounds in particular — such as garlic or onions — can leave a lingering odor to your breath as they are digested and absorbed into the bloodstream. Coffee is another common culprit tied to bad breath, as it can dry out the mouth and promote the growth of oral bacteria.

2. Are certain habits to blame?
If your condition seems more chronic in nature, and you’ve ruled out your diet as a possibility, chances are poor hygiene or habits could be causing your breath to smell bad. Regardless of what you eat, bad breath is sure to follow if you fail to brush and floss regularly. Food particles stuck in hard-to-reach areas will naturally give off an odor as they decompose, as can excess oral bacteria. Smoking is also linked to halitosis, leaving a stale stench on your breath from the smoke particles you inhale and the combustion of chemical compounds.

3. Could it be a side effect of another health condition?
Sometimes, bad breath is a side effect of another health issue you may be facing — whether you know about it or not. Acid reflux, bronchitis, pneumonia, diabetes and certain liver and kidney problems are just a few conditions associated with halitosis. Sleeping disorders and/or medications that contribute to dry mouth can also inhibit saliva production essential for a healthy breath.

Overcoming Bad Breath

Identifying what’s behind your bad breath situation can help you correct and/or reverse the problem, whether it be through a diet change, habit modification or doctor-prescribed treatment plan. With so many potential causes of bad breath, however, it’s easy for halitosis to re-emerge.

For long-term prevention of bad breath, here are some suggestions:

  • Quit smoking and/or the use of other tobacco products
  • Make note of medications and consult your doctor or dentist if bad breath results
  • Steer clear of problem foods that make you self-conscious of your breath
  • Promote saliva production by drinking water and chewing sugar-free gum regularly
  • Remember to brush and floss twice a day or as directed by your dentist

Seek Help from Your Dentist

Ultimately, the most important step you can take to combat bad breath is to see your dentist on a regular basis. Frequent exams can help prevent halitosis before it starts, and if you do develop bad breath despite your best efforts to avoid it, he or she can help determine the underlying cause. Be sure to ask your dentist for more information about treating and/or preventing halitosis during your next checkup, or schedule a consultation if you have any pressing questions or concerns.


Sources:

Dental Health and Bad Breath. (2014, June 23). Retrieved June 1, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/bad-breath

Dove, L. (n.d.). 10 Tips to Cure Bad Breath. Retrieved June 1, 2015 from http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/hygiene-tips/6-tips-to-cure-bad-breath.htm

Solving the Sweets Problem

Parent’s Cheat Sheet: 5 Steps to Solving the Sweets Problem

/Birthday celebrations, holidays, and countless school or extracurricular activities in between children’s social calendars can seem like endless fun, until you realize they can also translate into a non-stop, cavity-inducing sugar high. This doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that your child is destined for a long list of dental problems. Use this dental cheat sheet when a special occasion arises to keep his or her smile cavity-free.

Step 1: Set Rules

Create boundaries that can help protect your child’s oral health without cutting down on the fun, such as:

  • A sweets “allowance” that lets your child indulge, but in a limited fashion
  • Frequent drinks of water to wash sugary particles off the surface of his/her teeth
  • A full meal before dessert to fill up on nutritious foods and help curb cravings
  • “Off-limits” beverages, such as carbonated sodas or fruit juices

Keeping instructions simple, yet clear can make it easier for your child to adopt these rules without any hassle, and help him or her stick to the guidelines even if you are not present.

Step 2: Teach Your Child To Choose Wisely

Not all sweets are equally damaging to teeth, so helping your child to make smarter choices can have a big impact on the amount of sugar he or she eats. Prolonged sucking on hard candies, for instance, is one of the most harmful ways to satisfy a sweet tooth because of lengthy, direct exposure of the tooth’s surface to concentrated sugar. Likewise, sticky foods that contain ingredients such as caramel or toffee are more likely to get lodged in between teeth, and chewing on them may even result in a lost filling.

If or when possible, steer your child towards cakes and cookies instead. While these desserts are still refined carbohydrates that will break down into sugar, the amount of contact with harmful acid is significantly less than with candies and other stickier treats.

Step 3: Bring/Pack Something Nutritious

Make it easy for your child to opt for something nutritious by packing a healthy alternative. Cheese, for example, is calcium-rich and can help remineralize tooth enamel. Many manufacturers now offer single-serve packages for convenience when on the go. An apple is another tooth-healthy option when chewed, its high fiber content makes it an excellent “plaque scrubber”. Even sugar-free gum can do the trick if it contains xylitol, which can help prevent the growth of oral bacteria.

Step 4: Have Your Child Brush And Floss As Soon As Possible

Ultimately, maintaining good oral hygiene is the most effective thing parents can do at home to help keep their children’s smiles healthy. If you’re always on the go, it may be worth packing a travel-sized toothbrush, but if your child forgets to brush amidst all the excitement, make sure he or she does so upon returning home.

Flossing is just as critical, and nowadays, there are many options that parents might find to be more “kid-friendly” – such as water flossers or interdental brushes. At minimum, your child should be brushing and flossing twice a day, but don’t hesitate to add another round of cleaning if he or she has had a particularly rich meal.

Step 5: See The Dentist

Last, but not least, make sure your child visits the dentist at least twice a year (or as advised by the dentist). In addition to receiving a professional cleaning, your child’s dentist can look for developing decay and gum disease, and treat it before it becomes more serious. He or she can also help ensure your child is practicing the correct brushing and flossing techniques, and provide teeth additional protection in the form of dental sealants, if need be.

Lead By Example

Perhaps the easiest way to teach your child how to protect his or her teeth is to lead by example – and doing so not only benefits him or her, but your oral health as well! Follow these tips together with your child, and consult with your child’s dentist for additional ways you can make dental care a simple and even fun experience for your child.


Sources:

Delta Dental Names Best and Worst Halloween Treats for Kids. (2013, October 31). Retrieved July 22, 2015, from https://www.deltadental.com/Public/NewsMedia/NewsReleaseBestWorstHalloweenTreats201310.jsp

SanFilippo, Elizabeth. (n.d.). Kid’s Healthy Teeth During The Holidays. Retrieved July 27, 2015, from http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/basics/nutrition-and-oral-health/article/sw-281474979252016

Common Teeth Crises

Dental 911: How to Handle Common Teeth Crises

Dental nightmares can come true, as much as you hope it doesn’t happen to you! If you’re lucky, a quick call to the dentist can get you seen immediately, but what happens if disaster strikes when the office is closed, you’re traveling, or some other less than ideal scenario? Find out how you can help manage the situation until you get the professional care you need.

What to Do If…

You have a fractured or broken tooth:

First, check your tooth to assess the level of damage. Often, chipping or light cracking — which are typically minor and require minimal treatment, if any — can be confused with more serious tooth damage. But should you find that the crack looks deep, or your tooth has broken into pieces, you may be at risk for an infection and tooth loss. Using warm water, rinse the area clean, and apply a cold compress if you notice any facial swelling. See your dentist as soon as you can.

Your tooth gets knocked out:

No ifs, ands or buts about it — having a tooth dislodged qualifies as an emergency. Time is of the essence when it comes to your chances of saving the tooth, so contact your dentist immediately. To help protect the tooth until you get to the office, rinse it very gently in water, taking care to avoid touching the root. If possible, try to keep the tooth in its original place by gently biting on gauze or a tea bag or under your tongues. Otherwise, place the tooth in a little bit of milk to help preserve it. Never store the tooth in water.

You have a severe toothache:

Even the mildest and most fleeting of toothaches shouldn’t be overlooked, but extremely painful and persistent cases need immediate attention and could be a sign of an exposed nerve or tooth infection. To avoid aggravating the tooth any further, clear the problem area of food particles as best as you can by flossing gently and rinsing with warm water.

Your braces come loose:

It may not sound so dire, but braces that come undone can be more than just aggravating. The wires are sharp enough to get stuck in your sensitive cheeks, gum and mouth if they come free. Avoid getting poked by covering the pointed end with cotton, gauze or beeswax. Try not to pull on the wire to avoid further complications.

You get something stuck between your teeth:

Using your teeth to rip open packaging or chewing on a pen or pencil (all of which are dental no-no’s) can cause small objects to get wedged between your teeth. While it may cause discomfort, don’t reach for something sharp to dislodge it — doing so could damage your enamel and gums. Try flossing it out instead. In the event that does not work, play it safe and have your dentist remove it.

Preventative Care and Other Precautionary Measures

As dreadful as these dental emergencies sound, it’s simple to help safeguard your smile from such problems. To minimize the chance of oral trauma from occurring, follow these safety tips:

  • Wear a mouth guard when playing sports or engaging in extremely physical activities
  • Avoid eating overly hard foods, and cut food into bite-size pieces when possible
  • Use scissors to open bags or boxes, not your teeth
  • Keep objects out of your mouth, or try sugar-free gum if you have an urge to chew

Seeing your dentist regularly is also critical to detecting and treating minor problems before they become worse. Get a checkup at least every six months or as advised by your dentist.


Sources:

Dental Emergency Procedures Can Help Save a Tooth. (n.d.). Retrieved June 1, 2015 from http://www.colgate.com/app/CP/US/EN/OC/Information/Articles/Oral-and-Dental-Health-Basics/Dental-Emergencies/Dental-Emergencies/article/Dental-Emergency-Procedures-Can-Help-Save-a-Tooth.cvsp

Fractured and Broken Teeth. (2012, April 30). Retrieved June 1, 2015 from http://www.colgate.com/app/CP/US/EN/OC/Information/Articles/Oral-and-Dental-Health-Basics/Dental-Emergencies/Dental-Emergencies/article/Fractured-and-Broken-Teeth.cvsp?cid=ppc_gg_nb_stan_awareness+-+dental+emergencies_broad&kw=dental+emergencies&gclid=CPuk4I6A58UCFZY2aQod6l8AvA

How to Handle Common Dental Emergencies. (2008). Retrieved June 1, 2015 from http://www.deltadentalco.com/uploadedFiles/Wellness/DentalEmergencies040513_web.pdf

child’s first dental visit

A Child’s First Visit to the Dentist

ChildIt can be shocking to many parents, if not perplexing: many dentists now recommend you schedule your child’s first visit before he or she turns one. Before you brush it off as a bit of overzealous advice, you should know it’s supported by the American Dental Association and American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry—and with good reason!

Besides setting your child on a lifelong path of smart dental habits, a lot about your child’s oral health can be revealed and addressed even before he or she has a full set of teeth. Asking a fussy toddler to sit still and open wide may not sound like a walk in the park, but by knowing what to expect and how you can prepare, both you and your child can emerge with a smile.

The Benefits of Starting Early

Introducing your child to the dentist sooner rather than later has numerous advantages, the biggest of which is instilling the importance of regular dental visits into him or her at a very early age. Getting your child accustomed to seeing the dentist can help quell feelings of fear and anxiety that can lead to avoidance of professional dental care later on in life.

A close examination of new and emerging teeth can also help identify and treat tooth decay. Even if your child is subsisting only on milk and baby food—improper brushing as well as night-time breast/bottle-feeding can put your toddler’s teeth at risk for cavities. By working closely with a pediatric dentist, the specific causes behind any tooth problems can be determined, and corrected via a treatment plan tailored to your child’s dental situation.

Finally, a well-timed visit to the pediatric dentist can translate into cost savings. Staying on top of your child’s oral health and hygiene can keep expensive treatments like fillings, caps, space maintainers or even root canals at bay.

What to Expect

Your child’s first visit will certainly be thorough, but not overly invasive. The dentist will want to review the child’s oral history and understand his or her eating and teething behaviors, as well as daily dental routine.

Afterwards, the dentist will examine your child’s teeth with your assistance. For better access and viewing, you may be asked to help position your child’s head to rest on the dentist’s lap while his or her feet are resting on you. Depending on your child’s dental situation, sealant may be applied to the teeth for protection against cavities, followed by a demonstration of proper brushing techniques.

Once the checkup is complete, your dentist may share a treatment plan based on your child’s dental health and schedule you for a follow-up.

Getting Ready For Your Appointment

A little preparation goes a long way towards making your visit smooth and productive. Here are a few suggestions to make the most of your child’s first checkup:

  • Put your child to bed early the night before to ensure he or she is well-rested
  • Write down questions and observations to discuss with the dentist
  • Pack toys that can occupy and/or soothe your child
  • Bring your child’s dental care products in case your dentist has any questions
  • Gather your insurance information beforehand to avoid a last minute rush

Exposing your child to stories or videos that paint dentist visits in a fun, positive light can also make the experience seem less scary.

Long Term Oral Health

As good as it will feel to achieve your child’s first major “smilestone”, the truth is that every subsequent checkup is just as critical to preserving his or her dental health — as is practicing good dental habits at home.

Stay one step ahead of important dental developments by scheduling frequent checkups, and don’t hesitate to call your child’s dentist for help should questions arise in between visits.


Sources:

Your Child’s Age 1 Dental Visit. (2012, July 3). Retrieved June 8, 2015, from http://www.colgate.com/app/CP/US/EN/OC/Information/Articles/Oral-and-Dental-Health-at-Any-Age/Infants-and-Children/Toddler-Child-Transitional-Care/article/Your-Childs-First-Dental-Visit.cvsp

Your Child’s First Visit to the Dentist. (2014, May 25). Retrieved June 8, 2015, from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/childs-first-dental-visit

Teeth Polishing: Traditional vs. Prophy-Jet

Teeth Polishing: Traditional vs. Prophy-Jet

When you schedule professional dental cleanings, you expect hands-on treatment and cleaning techniques. But, what happens when dentists begin using instruments that no longer require contact with your teeth to do their job? The results may surprise you!

Today, more dentists are using Prophy-Jets, rather than traditional hand pieces to polish teeth. So, what is a Prophy-Jet and what are the benefits? Find out below!

What is a Prophy-Jet?

A Prophy-Jet is an air polishing prophylaxis system that uses air, water, and either sodium bicarbonate or a non-sodium powder to remove dental plaque, soft debris and stains whiles simultaneously polishing teeth. A Prophy-Jet is an alternative to traditional polishing equipment and differs in several ways:

  • No Contact: Traditional instruments use a rotating rubber cup to remove stains and soft deposits from teeth, whereas a Prophy-Jet sprays high-pressured water to do the same.
  • No Pastes: With a traditional polishing tool, dentists are forced to use abrasive pastes to remove stains and plaque. With a Prophy-Jet, a combination of water and baking soda is used to remove the same materials.
  • No Unnerving Noises: Traditional polishing systems make drill-like noises, causing some with dental anxiety to become uneasy. A Prophy-Jet is quieter, and is, therefore, less stress-inducing.

Benefits of the Prophy-Jet System

More and more dental practices are adopting the Prophy-Jet system over traditional methods. Key reasons for this are:

  • More Effective Cleanings: Prophy-Jets are more powerful, making it easier to remove soft deposits and stains from food, drinks, and/or smoking.
  • No Vibrations: Vibrations can be uncomfortable for patients, dentists and dental hygienists. Because Prophy-Jets don’t vibrate, patients and professionals are more comfortable during the teeth polishing procedure.
  • No Abrasive/Unpleasant Materials Used: Abrasive pastes used with traditional polishing systems can leave a sticky, unpleasant feeling and taste in patients’ mouths. A Prophy-Jet is a great alternative to eliminate these issues.

Prophy-Jets Play a Critical Role in Comprehensive Cleanings

While a Prophy-Jet on its own can’t produce the benefits of a full dental cleaning, it serves a critical role when used in combination with scaling and root planing. Typically, a Prophy-Jet is used to remove soft deposits (like plaque) from the teeth whereas scaling and root planing remove hard deposits (like calculus) from the surface of the teeth and along the gumline.

A Prophy-Jet isn’t capable of removing stains caused by genetics or trauma. However, it still helps to remove bacteria and other deposits from the mouth and keeping teeth looking great.

Additionally, a Prophy-Jet can be used to clean dental appliances like dentures, orthodontic retainers, mouthguards, and night guards. By simply bringing your appliance to the dentist, he or she can clean it for you to remove bacteria and debris you couldn’t at home.

Prophy-Jet: The Leading Alternative to Traditional Polishing

Just the sound of a traditional polishing hand piece is enough to make some apprehensive over a dental cleaning, but it doesn’t have to be this way – at least not when your dentist uses a Prophy-Jet to keep your smile looking great.

Of course, the most important thing to remember is that, Prophy-Jet or not, getting a checkup every 6 months is the best way to remove stains and keep your teeth looking great.

Foods that are staining your teeth

7 Surprising Foods That Are Staining 

Your Teeth

Wine, coffee and tea–it’s the trifecta of tooth-staining foods that almost everyone knows to avoid in order to protect their pearly whites. These beverages, however, are just the beginning of a long list of foods that can sabotage your smile, and chances are that many are flying undetected right under your very nose! From condiments to candy, put these sneaky offenders on your radar to keep tooth discoloration at bay.

Common Tooth-Staining Foods

1. Tomato-Based Meals

The high acidity level of tomatoes coupled with their bright red color can pack quite the punch on the enamel of your teeth. From your mom’s homemade spaghetti sauce or soup, or your favorite brand of ketchup, constant exposure to even the smallest of doses can be damaging.

2. Curries

As rich in color as they are in flavor, many spice blends rank high in staining power, due to brightly colored ingredients such as turmeric and saffron. Over time, their pigments can leave a yellowish tint on your teeth.

3. Dark Sauces

Whether it’s food infused with soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, or other dark liquid, you can bet that eating enough of it will also dim your smile. If it’s the base of your meal, there’s a definite risk to the enamel of your teeth, but even side dips can be just as harmful because they are often more concentrated.

4. Clear Soda

Dark sodas already get a lot of notoriety for discoloring teeth, but don’t switch to clear soda just yet! While its lighter color can make it seem like the better choice for those who love soda, it’s still high in sugars that can eat away at tooth enamel and leave them prone to staining.

5. Fruit Juices and Berries

Fruit is undeniably nutritious, and many juices now come with no sugar added, but fructose is still a form of sugar, and it is bad news for tooth enamel. In fact, the darker color of certain fruits and juices–such as blueberry or grape–can have a staining effect similar to wine.

6. Sports Drinks

Because their makers often do a masterful job of promoting rehydration and electrolyte replacement, it’s easy to overlook the sugar content and bright, fluorescent colors. Similar to soda and fruit juice, however, both the pigment and sugary nature of these drinks can leave your teeth less than white in no time.

7. Hard Candies and Popsicles

If they can turn your tongue into a rainbow of colors in a matter of seconds, just think of what they can do to your teeth! Even if consumed occasionally, prolonged sucking puts the surface of your teeth in direct contact with sugar, acid and dye–resulting in tooth decay as well as discoloration.

Tips To Prevent Tooth Staining

Cutting out many of these problem foods can go a long way in keeping your smile sparkling, but it may be unrealistic to avoid certain foods completely. Here’s how you can help protect your teeth from sugary, acidic and/or colorful food:

  • Eat thoroughly, but quickly to minimize any contact with the tooth’s surface
  • Use a straw to help bypass most of your teeth when drinking beverages
  • Drink plenty of water during and after meals to wash away food particles
  • Brush and floss your teeth after meals to help prevent stains from setting in
  • Use whitening toothpaste to help remove stains and keep teeth sparkling

Professional Treatment Options

In addition to practicing good hygiene and being more mindful about your diet choices, professional dental care can do wonders in keeping your smile bright. Seeing your dentist regularly for a cleaning and checkup can help prevent and detect tooth staining, and there are many cosmetic whitening procedures that can remedy existing discoloration, whether mild or severe. Schedule a visit with your dentist for the optimal treatment plan for you.

For fresher breath in the morning


5 Ways to Fresher Breath in the Morning

Love waking up to the smell of coffee? Think twice before you reach for a cup! Your daily dose of Joe — and other habits that can easily escape your notice — could be giving you a bad case of morning breath. But fear not! Bad breath, or “halitosis”, doesn’t have to ruin your day. Nip the problem in the (taste)buds by giving these simple tips a try:

1. Cut the caffeine.

Coffee isn’t the only beverage in town that can leave your breath less than fresh. Gulping down certain teas and energy drinks for a morning buzz may result in bad breath if they contain caffeine, which can inhibit the production of saliva. When the mouth is too dry, it allows oral bacteria, the main purveyor of halitosis, to flourish. To jumpstart the mind and body without this unpleasant side effect, turn to morning stretches and a refreshing smoothie or citrus-infused water instead. If you have to consume caffeinated beverages, be sure to hydrate with multiple glasses of water.

2. Stop smoking.

Besides putting you at risk for lung cancer, smoking cigarettes can stain your teeth and cause your breath to smell bad, dealing your oral health a double whammy. From the combustion of chemical additives to the tiny smoke particles left in your throat and lungs, it’s almost inevitable that your breath ends up tasting and smelling stale. If you feel the urge to take a puff in the morning, distract yourself by doing light chores, or going for a quick walk. Obviously, a smoking habit may cause a more chronic breath problem, so quitting cigarettes and other forms of tobacco is your best bet for a more permanent solution.

3. Don’t skip breakfast.

Pass on the coffee and cigarettes, but eat breakfast — and a nutritious one at that! After a long night’s sleep, your mouth could benefit from a boost in saliva production, and a good meal is the perfect way to do it. Grab an apple for its high water content and crunchiness, both of which can help cut down on odor-causing bacteria. Yogurt and eggs can also promote saliva production while giving you a healthy serving of calcium and vitamin D. Get creative, but be selective, as some of your favorite breakfast foods may include not-so-breath-friendly ingredients such as garlic or onions.

4. Do a better job of brushing and flossing.

You’re running late, but if there’s one thing you shouldn’t rush, it’s your morning dental routine. From stuck food particles to gingivitis and even nasty tonsil stones, it all adds up to one major case of halitosis if left unchecked. For mornings where standard brushing and flossing doesn’t seem to do the trick, get a deeper clean by scraping the gunk off your tongue and gargling with mouthwash. If you find yourself flying out the door and forgetting about your oral hygiene frequently, keep a travel-sized dental kit in your bag or at the office for convenience.

5. Check (and change) your sleeping habits.

More often than not, bad breath is noticeable the moment you wake up. The problem may not be what you eat or drink, or even how your brush and floss. Instead, it could be how you breathe during your sleep. Breathing orally throughout the night can quickly turn your mouth into a haven for oral bacteria, resulting in a parched sensation and an unpleasant odor. Depending on the severity of the situation, your dentist may recommend surgery, but something as simple as having a glass of water, sugar-free lozenge, or a humidifier on hand at night can help keep your mouth moist.

Let Your Dentist Have a Look

In some cases, morning breath that persists despite your efforts to remedy it may signal something more serious, from cavities and tooth infections, to diabetes and liver and kidney problems. Play it safe by seeing your dentist. He or she can help you determine and treat the root cause more efficiently, and provide you with a personalized treatment plan to rid yourself of the problem for good.

Holistic Treatment of TMJ

Holistic Treatment of TMJ

TMJ Disorder, It Doesn’t Have to Be a Hard Pill to Swallow
By Julia Kagan, DDS

Is TMD treatment a hard pill to swallow? In short the answer is that it doesn’t need to be. Once a diagnosis of TMJ Disorder is made there are many potential treatments and self care recommendations that assist you on your road to recovery and well being.

An oral appliance is the first line of defense against a jaw imbalance and a narrowed airway. It may be all you need to regain normal function and restored well being.

In addition to an oral appliance, physical therapy helps realign associated structures which have lost mobility. Nutritional counseling with a Functional Medicine doctor can further assess systemic concerns as you begin to unravel your condition. Postural training and adequate exercise or conditioning can develop core muscles that give you support to stay comfortable throughout your day.

Acupuncture allows your body the rest and relaxation it needs to initiate its natural healing capabilities. A brief amount of meditation can relax the nervous system to allow for calm and gentle breathing.

Natural remedies also help. A small amount of olive oil applied inside the nose before bedtime decrease air flow resistance allowing more oxygen to reach tissue cells. Magnesium oil is recommended for tense muscles, digestion and insomnia.

Which modalities are right for you? That all depends in the specific symptoms that you present with and what you and your health care practitioner decide are best suited for you on your journey to health and well-being.

There are alternatives to medication for your chronic pain. Whenyour body is in balance and well nourished, you breath, sleep and function properly. Minor physical adjustments and body awareness can make major shifts in the way that you feel on a daily basis.

Your best course of action begins with a good education.
Learn about your choices with a consultation at Stellar Dental Care.