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.

Blood thinners

Taking Blood Thinners? Here’s What It Means for Your Oral Health

Thinking about holding off on dental work because you’re on blood thinners? As tempting as it may be to cancel a trip to the dentist for fear of complications, ultimately, you may end up compromising your oral health. Anti-coagulant medication will most certainly impact your dentist’s approach to your care, but many procedures can still be conducted safely and successfully. If you’re taking blood thinners due to a current or previous health condition, here’s what you need to know.

How Anti-Coagulants Work
Commonly prescribed anti-coagulants such as warfarin, dabigatran etexilate, or clopidogrel (more widely known by their respective brand names: “Coumadin”, “Pradaxa” and “Plavix”), and even over-the-counter aspirins and NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like “Advil”) help reduce the chance of a heart attack or stroke by keeping harmful clots from developing in blood vessels. Certain properties inhibit the release of the chemical thromboxane and other critical factors essential to the clotting process.

While this can be significantly beneficial for those with a coronary condition or history of coronary-related issues, heavy bleeding due to invasive surgical procedures is a serious risk, as are autoimmune reactions. Because of the probability for adverse side effects, it is critical that patients on anti-coagulants share their medical history with care providers prior to proceeding with any form of health treatment.

Dental Implications
Although caution must always be used when dealing with patients on blood thinners, the good news is that many such individuals undergo common (and even some complex) dental procedures everyday without suffering any significant complications. Of course, if blood thinners are only being taken temporarily, it may make more sense to hold off on dental work until you have fully recovered, but in most cases, it is safer to undergo care for non-invasive procedures such as teeth cleaning, fillings, and restoration work without halting your medication. Bruising and slightly longer healing times may be expected, but by applying additional post-treatment measures such as fibrin sponges, silk sutures, and medicinal gauzes, your dentist can keep excess bleeding well under control.

For more invasive procedures that require oral surgery, such as a wisdom tooth extraction, root canal or dental implant, a consultation between your dentist and physician will be required. Approach for treatment will largely depend on weighing the severity of your dental needs against the nature of your larger health condition, and whether it is safe to pause medication for the surgery. Oftentimes, diagnostic blood tests will be requested to help determine your eligibility for surgery.

Other Oral Risks
Anti-coagulants may also come with other oral health risks outside of the dentist’s office. It is not uncommon to experience bruising and/or bleeding of the gums due to brushing and flossing, and injuries to the mouth due to an accident or sports may result in heavier bleeding than normal. See your dentist for changes you may need to make to your personal hygiene and everyday routine in order to help protect your oral health.

Toothache trouble

Toothache Trouble? How to Make the Wait Less Painful
It can happen to anyone: the sudden onset of a throbbing toothache at the most inconvenient of times. Perhaps it arrives in the middle of the night, or worse, at the start of your weekend–when a whole lot of time and agony seem to stand between you and the next available dentist appointment.
You’ll live, of course, but there is no need to suffer so badly! With a little observation and resourcefulness, the wait for professional care can be a lot less excruciating.

Conduct a Self-Exam
Understanding what is causing your tooth to ache can help you identify the best solution for interim relief. While a cavity is the more probable culprit, other common reasons include:

• A damaged filling that has left a sensitive nerve exposed
• An abscessed tooth, which tends to feel more painful due to an infection of the root
• A jaw complication (“TMD”” or “TMJ”) resulting from excessive chewing or grinding
• Sinusitis, an inflammation of the nasal area often confused with tooth pain
You won’t know for sure what’s truly to blame until you see your dentist, but a quick assessment of your symptoms and the location of your discomfort may prove telling. For instance, extremely sharp, shooting pain and fever suggest an abscessed tooth is likely, whereas tenderness in the jaw area and a clicking sound is usually due to TMD.

How to Ease the Pain at Home
Countless tips are touted to zap your toothache as quickly as it started, but aside from visiting your dentist, there is no long lasting cure. For temporary relief however, here are a few tried-and-true measures you can take:
• Take a dose of store-bought pain medication, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
• Soak the problem tooth in clove oil to help dull the throbbing
• Avoid yawning or chewing, especially if you suspect your toothache is jaw-related
• Pass on extremely cold or hot foods that may cause acute pain in your tooth
• Wear a mouth guard while sleeping to prevent grinding down on the tooth
• Use an ice pack or cold compress near your problem tooth to minimize any swelling
Rinsing your mouth with water and salt, and stepping up your normal dental routine in general can also keep the problem from getting worse.
(Please note that these suggestions are for adults only. If your child suffers a toothache, consult with his or her pediatrician for safe treatment options.)

Long Term Preventative Care
Once your appointment is under way, use the time you have with your dentist to its fullest. He or she will be able to determine the cause and treat the toothache accordingly. After the problem has been treated, be sure to ask for a detailed explanation and recommendations to help you avoid a similar experience in the future.
Brushing, flossing and regular check-ups continue to play central roles in the world of preventative care, but based on your unique dental situation, additional procedures may be recommended as part of your treatment plan.

Baby teeth and Hygiene

Baby Teeth and Bad Hygiene: What’s There to Lose?

Wisdom Tooth Don’t fall for it, parents! Just because baby teeth are temporary doesn’t mean they don’t matter. Despite what naysayers and wishful thinkers might have you believe, forgetting to care for primary teeth comes at a steep price for your child.

If you’re questioning whether it’s worth wrangling your little one into a dental routine now, these facts prove that adopting good habits early on can pay off big time for your child’s oral health down the road.

1: Baby teeth help shape your child’s speech.
Forming and pronouncing words correctly depends largely on the presence and alignment of baby teeth. Premature loss of any primary teeth can result in speech impediments such as a slur or lisp, and negatively impact both a child’s ability to communicate and his or her self-esteem. Depending on the severity of the case, a speech pathologist may be required to help correct the problem(s).

2: Baby teeth facilitate proper chewing and eating.
In addition to efficiently breaking down solid foods, chewing correctly is important for other reasons. Tooth loss and/or alignment issues can cause unnecessary stress to the jaw and result in serious complications over time, and chewing problems can also interfere with the development of key facial muscles. Improper chewing can even contribute to a nutritional imbalance if poor oral health starts impacting food choices.

3: Baby teeth act as a placeholder for permanent teeth.
Permanent teeth will emerge, but how and where has a lot to do with your child’s first set of pearly whites. Each primary tooth reserves a spot for a permanent tooth, but the loss of this initial placeholder can cause shifting and result in harmful misalignments. Cosmetic issues aside, misaligned teeth can make brushing and flossing more difficult, result in crowded and/or impacted teeth, and contribute to jaw disorders such as TMJ.

4: Maintaining healthy baby teeth helps to instill effective dental habits.
Teaching the ins and outs of good oral hygiene can have a lifelong impact on your child. Introducing healthy dental habits early on can solidify the importance of preventative dental care, making it easier for him or her to stick with these habits throughout adulthood. This can mean a lifetime of optimal oral health, and significantly reduced chances for costly dental problems.

Dental Tips for Baby Teeth
Brushing and flossing may not be your child’s favorite activity, but introducing healthy habits the moment that first tooth appears can make it easier for both parent and child to stick to a routine.

While there is no set timeline for baby teeth to erupt, here are some general guidelines the American Dental Association provides for cleaning and caring for baby teeth:

• From birth (no teeth present): wipe gums clean with a moistened gauze or cloth
• Ages 0-3 (teeth present): brush twice daily with a tiny dab of fluoride toothpaste*
• Ages 3-6: brush twice a day, but use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste
• Any age when teeth touch each other: add flossing to your daily routine

Paying a visit to the pediatric dentist before your child’s first birthday, and getting regular checkups are also crucial to his or her oral health. Depending on your child’s individual situation, certain in-office treatments and/or instructions for at-home care may be recommended.

*Note: Fluoride toothpaste should be expectorated and not swallowed. If you feel your child will swallow the fluoride toothpaste it can be substituted with non-fluoride toothpaste.