Smokeless Tobacco Still Means Trouble

Let’s Clear The Air: Smokeless Tobacco Still Means Trouble!

Chew it, dip it, suck it or “snuff” it–there’s no smoke involved with many forms of tobacco, but no matter how you use it, you’re still playing with fire! While cigarettes catch a lot of heat for causing lung cancer, many don’t realize that other types of nicotine use can be just as damaging to your general and oral health. Before reaching for the stuff, get a closer glimpse at what you’re really being sold and why it might be more harmful than you think.

Types of Smokeless Tobacco

Cigarettes have long dominated the market, but tobacco comes in countless shapes and sizes. Their novelty may tempt your curiosity, but just one try can put you on the path to addiction and some serious throat and mouth problems. Here are just a few examples of common smokeless tobacco products you’d be wise to avoid:

  • Chewing tobacco: loose leaves (often in pouch form) for placement inside the cheeks
  • Snuff or “Dip”: ground or shredded tobacco stored in tins for sniffing or chewing
  • Snus: a pasteurized form of snuff that doesn’t require spitting
  • Tobacco lozenges: powdery, tobacco-infused candies that dissolve in the mouth

Other variations include plugs, twists and bricks, but risks are the same regardless of their appearance. It’s also worth noting that regulations may differ by country, so the lack of clear warnings doesn’t mean that the product is any less toxic.

Oral Health Risks

Virtually every aspect of your oral health is affected by tobacco use, and it doesn’t take much for nicotine to do its damage. Telltale signs you may notice immediately include:

  • Stained teeth, from frequent contact with tobacco juice
  • Periodontitis, as prolonged exposure to tobacco can irritate the gums
  • Bad breath, when tobacco particles mix with your saliva and other food particles
  • New cavities, due to the sugar often used to sweeten tobacco products

Tooth sensitivity, enamel erosion and a decrease in your sense of taste and smell are other possible side effects. As costly as these dental complications may be, it pales in comparison to the lethal threat of cancer.

Symptoms Of Oral Cancer

Given that smokeless tobacco contains well over 20 carcinogenic chemicals, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that its use can result in cancer of the mouth, lip, tongue and throat (in addition to many other cancers of the body). Clear warning signs of oral cancer include white or red lesions inside the mouth (typically referred to by dentists as “leukoplakia”) that fail to heal over time, but not all symptoms are easily detected without the professional help of your dentist.

Tackling Your Tobacco Problem

Seeking professional help is your best bet both to kick your nicotine habit to the curb, as well as to prevent lasting and potentially irreversible damage to your health. Quitting tobacco use likely won’t happen overnight, but your dentist can most certainly offer guidance and point you to effective treatments and/or alternatives. Although it may be difficult to share your struggles, being open about the problem with your dentist and seeing him or her frequently is critical to minimizing the risk for oral cancer and other serious health problems.


Sources:

It may be smokeless, but it’s still tobacco. (2011 May). Retrieved July 22, 2015, from https://www.deltadentalins.com/oral_health/smokelesstobacco.html

Katz, Harold. (2011, March 5). Chewing Tobacco Can Cause Bad Breath, and Worse. Retrieved July 14, 2015,from http://www.therabreath.com/articles/news/oral-care-industry-news/chewing-tobacco-can-cause-bad-breath-and-worse-3329.asp

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2014, November 15). Chewing Tobacco: Not Safer than Cigarettes. Retrieved July 16, 2015,from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/quit-smoking/in-depth/chewing-tobacco/art-20047428?pg=1

Everyday Habits That Harm Your Smile

8 Everyday Habits That Harm Your Smile

Your teeth are supposed to last a lifetime. But some common habits could be reducing the durability of your teeth without you even realizing it.

By recognizing the habits that can compromise the structure and health of your smile, you can take steps to protect it.

1. Avoiding Regular Dental Care

Many individuals skip regular dental cleanings or avoid getting necessary procedures due to anxiety, a lack of time, or other personal reasons. However, doing so can cause tooth decay, gum disease, and other common oral health issues.

As such, you should be sure to visit the dentist every 6 months for a professional cleaning and also, as necessary, if you notice a change or issue with your teeth.

2. Brushing Too Hard

Brushing is an essential component of good oral health, but not when done incorrectly. Brushing too hard can wear down enamel, irritate your gums, increase your teeth’s sensitivity, and cause cavities.

By purchasing a soft bristled or an electronic toothbrush, you can avoid the damage while still cleaning your teeth and removing plaque.

3. Using the Wrong Materials to Clean Teeth

Have you ever had something stuck in your teeth and not had floss? If so, you might have reached for things like paper clips, toothpicks, or even pieces of paper that easily slide between your teeth. However, each of these items can cause gum and tooth damage.

You can easily resolve this problem by keeping a small container of floss or an interdental cleaner in your purse, backpack or car.

4. Grinding Your Teeth or Clenching Your Jaw

Many Americans grind their teeth or clench their jaw, which can cause fractures or other damage and may lead to headaches and jaw pain. If grinding or clenching happens while sleeping, a night guard that cushions your teeth and reduces impact on your jaw can help. If it happens during the day, chewing gum may help to prevent it.

5. Biting Your Nails, Pens, Ice, or Other Hard Objects

When you bite your nails, chew on pens, or crunch ice or even hard candy, you could be causing splinters and cracks in your teeth. But that’s not all!

In fact, biting any foreign object can also introduce bacteria into your mouth and cause infections. By eliminating these bad habits, you can keep your teeth protected and eliminate additional germs in your mouth.

6. Using Your Teeth Improperly

How often do you bite open a package or try to cut something with your teeth? You may do it without thinking twice and probably more frequently than you realize.

Biting even just a thread off of your shirt could cause micro cracks that, over time, can lead to more serious structural damage. It’s easy to avoid this by grabbing for a can opener, knife, or pair of scissors instead.

7. Drinking Soda, Sports Drinks, and Alcohol

While everything is acceptable in moderation, soda, sports drinks, and wine can cause significant damage when consumed in large amounts. Sports drinks and soda, which contain acid and sugar that feed bacteria and erode enamel, leave teeth susceptible to cavities.

Alcohol contains acid that produces similar effects. Additionally, because alcohol dries out the mouth, it reduces saliva production and allows bacteria and plaque to thrive.

By limiting your consumption of all of these drinks, you can do your part to keep your teeth protected.

8. Tobacco Use

If you smoke cigarettes or cigars or use chewing tobacco, you’re also at risk. Nicotine not only yellows teeth, it also can cause oral cancer. Chewing tobacco is even worse because carcinogens directly contact gum tissues and can remain there for a long time.

While quitting any tobacco use is difficult, it’s worth it when you consider the oral (and general) health risks of daily, or even infrequent, use.

Transform Your Everyday Habits From Harmful to Beneficial

While the habits described above are harmful, there are simple ways to correct them. Transforming destructive habits into protective measures can keep your teeth looking great for years to come.


Sources:

Everyday Habits That Can Harm Your Teeth. (2014, November 9). Retrieved June 3, 2015 from http://www.nusmiledentalfl.com/blog/2014/november/everyday-habits-that-can-harm-your-teeth.aspx

Everyday Habits That Damage Your Teeth. (2012, October 31). Retrieved June 3, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/features/your-teeth-bad-habits?

Not a fan of flossing? Try these alternatives

Not a Fan of Flossing? Try These Alternatives.

First there was the toothpick, then there was floss, and now there are a bevy of new dental tools making their way to the shelves of your local stores. Why the need to keep innovating? Simply put: plaque removal is just not fun…but these alternatives sure help!

For those fed up with flossing, or the many who fail to follow through with it altogether, gingivitis is not inevitable. Give these new solutions a try and say goodbye to knotted string, cramped fingers and excessive plaque build up for good.

1. Floss Picks

If you’re overwhelmed by all the new dental care products available, this could be a solid upgrade for you. Floss is strung tightly between two points to provide optimal tension no matter your angle of approach, with a handle for added comfort. Some varieties even come with a tongue scraper as an added bonus, and most are sold in convenient bags that make sharing more hygienic and easy.

2. Electronic Flossers

Now you can completely forget manual flossing and let an electronic device do the job. Similar in appearance to the floss pick but attached to an energy source, vibrations are emitted to remove plaque quickly and efficiently. Having the flossing motion done for you can make the process faster, but you should pay extra attention to the speed setting and pressure applied to your gums to avoid bleeding and other oral injuries.

3. Interdental Brushes/Flossers

It doesn’t get much simpler than this. Instead of using string, a small brush with fine bristles is inserted between the gaps of your teeth. One swift motion in and out is all it takes, quickly removing plaque and gently (but effectively) stimulating your gums in less time than floss. No sawing and string winding are necessary, and it can be done with one hand.

4. Water (or Oral) Irrigators

For comfortable, yet efficient plaque removal, oral irrigators are your best bet. Instead of floss, picks or brushes, strong pulses of water are directed between your teeth to dislodge bacteria and stuck food particles. Oral irrigators are also effective at removing tonsil stones, a common cause of halitosis (bad breath). Home devices can range in size with varying speed options, but portable options also exist for added convenience.

Which One is Right for You

Any of these solutions is better than not flossing at all, but a little research and even a few product trials can help you figure out the best floss alternative for your budget and lifestyle.

Consulting with your dentist can also help narrow down your options based on your oral health. He or she may recommend one option and advise against others due to individual factors such as gum sensitivity, past dental work and orthodontic hardware.

For added assurance on the safety and effectiveness of the product you choose, look for the American Dental Association (ADA) seal of approval on the packaging. Finally, always proceed with extra care, and stop immediately if you notice excessive bleeding, receding gum lines or other issues you think may be linked to a flossing/plaque removal product.


Sources:

Connelly, D. (n.d.). Flossing Alternatives. Retrieved June 4, 2015, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/thomas-p-connelly-dds/flossing-alternatives_b_1119217.html

Dental Floss Picks – Alternative for Dental Flossing. (n.d.). Retrieved June 4, 2015, from http://www.oralb.com/topics/dental-floss-picks.aspx

Gum Removal – Right for You?

Gum Removal: Going to Great Lengths for Your Smile

/Unless you were blessed with a perfect smile, something’s usually got to give in order to improve it…even your gums! Dentists call it “crown lengthening”, but if you’re worried this means you’ll walk away with receded gums, it’s not what you think. In certain cases, less gums are actually a GOOD thing – and if your dentist has confirmed you are a candidate for such a procedure, here’s why.

Cosmetic vs. Restorative Crown Lengthening

From an aesthetic standpoint, some may find their smiles to look “too gummy”, and wish for a more balanced look. Treatment varies based on the severity of the problem, but a gum lift, even if it’s just to one or a few teeth suffering from excess gum lining or unevenness, can help the smile appear more symmetrical. In general, this type of procedure usually focuses on the upper front gums, since they are the most visible when you smile.

Beyond appearances alone, there may also be health reasons a dentist would recommend crown lengthening. If, for example, he or she discovers tooth decay below the visible surface of the tooth, gum removal or contouring may be the only way to ensure the tooth is thoroughly cleaned and filled. On a similar note, accidents or injuries that cause a tooth to fracture may require exposing more of the tooth’s surface in order for it to be fully restored.

Regardless of whether you undergo this treatment for cosmetic or restorative purposes, however, crown lengthening can benefit your oral health by exposing more of the tooth’s surface for thorough and easy cleaning.

What to Expect

While crown lengthening is considered a form of oral surgery, and may come at an additional cost above what your insurance covers, it is a relatively short, one-time procedure. Afterwards, there is no special maintenance required other than good at-home hygiene and regular dentist checkups.

During the surgery, little if any pain is felt thanks to anesthesia, but sedation is an option for those who may feel anxious about the work involved with gum removal. The dentist will make small incisions and gradually remove gum tissue, and if necessary, also remove some bone close to the root area of the tooth. Gums are then stitched up, and patients can expect a healing time of 1-2 weeks before stitches are removed. A total healing period of up to three months is normally required before any crowns or fillings are put in place.

Risks of Crown Lengthening

A special mouth rinse is typically prescribed for recovering patients, and a water irrigator may also be recommended to gently remove food particles, but it is still possible to encounter the following risks:

  • Infection, if bacteria from food gets stuck and inflames the raw gum area
  • Excessive bleeding due to medications or existing health conditions
  • Tooth sensitivity, especially if bone was removed close to the root of a tooth
  • Loose teeth, if too much gum or bone was removed

If you experience any of the above, contact your dentist and/or periodontist immediately.

Weighing Your Options

As rewarding to your smile as crown lengthening can be, the decision of whether or not to undergo the procedure should not be made lightly. Cost, time and other factors should be carefully considered, and being aware of all the pros and cons is critical. If you are curious about crown lengthening, or if your dentist has recommended it, schedule a consultation with him or her for further information specific to your dental needs and overall health situation.


Sources:

Crown Lengthening. (2013, March 4). Retrieved July 13, 2015, from http://www.colgate.com/app/CP/US/EN/OC/Information/Articles/Oral-and-Dental-Health-Basics/Checkups-and-Dental-Procedures/Periodontal-Disease/article/Crown-Lengthening.cvsp

Sheehan, Jan. (2009, August, 19). Crown Lengthening for a Prettier Smile. Retrieved July 26, 2015, from http://www.everydayhealth.com/dental-health/cosmetic-dentistry/crown-lengthening.aspx

How to Stop Thumb-Sucking

No Crying Necessary: Simple Ways to Stop Thumb Sucking

Thumb SuckingAt first it was adorable, but now it has become worrisome. Starting to fear your child is addicted to thumb sucking? Push those worst-case scenarios and harsh weaning tactics from your mind. Here is the truth about the dental risks, when it is necessary to intervene, and effective ways to break the habit for good.

Long-Term Effects of Non-Nutritive Sucking

Prolonged sucking can ultimately lead to a number of oral issues: jaw misalignment, protrusion of the upper teeth, crookedness and/or bite problems.

Left unchecked, sucking can also alter the natural position of the jawbone and change the shape and sensitivity of the roof of the mouth, which can lead to a lisp over time.

While corrective action and regular dentist visits can save your little one from such dental trauma, timing can make a big difference in the experience for parent and child.

When Should Parent Intervene?

According to the American Dental Association, dental problems associated with thumb sucking typically occur with the arrival of permanent teeth. This means that if your child only has primary teeth, you can table extreme measures to curb the habit for now.

In fact, thumb sucking is a natural, self-soothing reflex for many babies and toddlers, and a wise (and non-traumatic) course of action may simply be to wait and see if your child outgrows the behavior over time.

If your child starts to lose baby teeth, however, and still sucks his or her thumb aggressively, you’ll need to step in to prevent dental problems from emerging.

How to Put an End to the Thumb Sucking for Good

Just as there are different reasons that drive children to suck their thumbs, there are also a number of options to help stop it. Here are a few tried-and-true methods worth considering:

  1. Provide alternate means of comfort: if the habit seems born out of anxiety or stress, see if a well-timed hug or kiss, or offering a favorite toy does the trick
  2. Reward his or her efforts: enthusiastic praise, a sticker, or other special treat can be very motivating and make the process fun
  3. Use creative reminders: agree on a special signal to help discretely halt the behavior if you catch your child doing it in public, and try a bandage over the finger or a sock over the hand to deter thumb sucking at night
  4. Seek help from the dentist: a mouth guard or special coating for the thumb may ultimately be recommended depending on your child’s dental situation

No matter which route you choose, keeping a positive approach and demeanor will go a long way in making the experience less stressful for both you and your child.

It could also be helpful to team up with your dentist to tackle the issue. A dental examination and professional guidance can help point you in the right direction depending on the severity of thumb sucking and your child’s age. Schedule a consultation to share your concerns, and/or provide an update on the situation during your next appointment.


Sources:

Feature, H. (n.d.). Help Children Stop Thumbsucking: 9 Tips. Retrieved June 2, 2015, from http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/9-ways-to-wean-a-child-off-thumb-sucking

Thumbsucking. (2014). Retrieved June 2, 2015, from http://www.mouthhealthy.org/en/az-topics/t/thumbsucking

Understanding Fluoride Treatment for Kids

Understanding Pediatric Fluoride Treatment

It’s undeniable that fluoride has played a major role in the decline of dental cavities in the United States. However, what isn’t so clear to many parents is whether or not fluoride treatments are safe and/or beneficial for children.

After all, children receive fluoride on a regular basis from many different types of foods and even water. Through these sources alone, minerals lost due to plaque, bacteria, and sugars are remineralized on teeth.

So, is an additional fluoride treatment at the dentist necessary and if so, at what age are the treatments most beneficial? Read on to find out.

Why You Should Consider Fluoride Treatments for Your Child

While it’s true that fluoride found in foods and water can replace lost minerals, it sometimes isn’t enough to strengthen teeth and protect against cavities. In fact, if you don’t consume enough natural fluoride, demineralization will occur much more quickly than remineralization, leaving enamel at risk and causing tooth decay.

Fluoride treatments speed up the natural remineralization process, providing prolonged protection against demineralization and related tooth decay. They are particularly effective in children because they can reverse early decay while protecting permanent teeth as they develop.

Scheduling Your Child’s Fluoride Treatments

Children should start fluoride treatments at around 6 months of age and continue at least until they turn 16 (and ideally, beyond this age as well). Treatments vary based on age and also on whether they are done at home or at the dentist’s office:

    • Drops, Chewables, Tablets, or Lozenges – These treatments are typically used at home for children 6 months and older who don’t receive enough fluoride in their water.
    • Fluoride Toothpaste – After the age of two, children’s teeth should be brushed using a pea-sized amount of toothpaste with fluoride.
    • Fluoride Varnish – Once baby teeth have appeared, children should have a fluoride varnish applied to protect against tooth decay. Typically, varnishes are applied by a dentist twice per year for children two and older.
    • Gels and Foams – As children get older, a dentist commonly applies gel or foam fluoride treatments using a mouth guard. This typically takes about five minutes.
  • Mouth Rinses – A fluoride mouth rinse may be prescribed for children over 6 years of age who are at risk for tooth decay due to genetics or other factors. A mouth rinse is typically used in combination with other fluoride treatments.

Protecting Your Child from Too Much Fluoride

The most common concern about fluoride treatments is that large amounts can be toxic to the brain, bones, kidney, and thyroid. However, products intended for home use have extremely low levels of fluoride, meaning that you generally don’t have to worry.

Still, there are precautions you can take to ensure you’re not only keeping potentially dangerous products away from children, but also using fluoride properly:

  • Store any fluoride supplements or products out of reach of young children.
  • Use limited amounts of fluoridated toothpaste on a child’s toothbrush.
  • Don’t allow children to use fluoridated toothpaste without supervision until the age of 6.

Fluoride Treatments Play a Vital Part in Your Child’s Smile

Although some parents view fluoride skeptically, professional treatments are integral to your child’s smile starting at 2 years of age.

By doing your part at home and scheduling regular appointments, you can help prevent cavities and give children the strong teeth they need both now and in the future.


Sources:

Dental Health and Fluoride Treatment. (2014, October 9). Retrieved on June 3, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/guide/fluoride-treatment

Guideline on Fluoride Therapy. (2014). Retrieved June 3, 2015 from http://www.aapd.org/media/Policies_Guidelines/G_fluoridetherapy.pdf

Reinberg. S. (2014, May 6). Docs Should Give Toddlers Fluoride Treatments: Panel. Retrieved on June 3, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/parenting/news/20140506/doctors-should-give-toddlers-fluoride-treatments-us-task-force

How To Brush To Really Impress Your Dentist

Back to Basics: Brushing Tips to Impress Your Dentist

You’ve been brushing for as long as you can remember, but could it be you’ve been doing it incorrectly all along? From the type of bristles you choose to the level of pressure you should place on your teeth, this step-by-step guide to better brushing is chock full of tips to help you get the most out of your dental routine.

Step 1: Pick the right products.

Just as everyone’s dental situation is different, so are the tools necessary to meet your unique health needs. For example, those with tooth sensitivity should stay away from whitening toothpastes and opt for a gentler, enamel — fortifying brand instead. Choosing a brush with softer bristles can also help combat enamel erosion. If gingivitis is a problem, it may benefit you to try a paste or gel designed for tartar control, and pick a brush with varied bristles for help with hard-to-reach areas.

Step 2: Watch the clock.

Timing is everything when it comes to proper hygiene. Most people know that it is important to carve our time in the morning and night to care for teeth, but many don’t realize that the duration of brushing is critically important. Done right, brushing teeth should take approximately two minutes. Any shorter, and you’ve likely skipped a few areas that could develop into problems down the road. To keep you on track, set a timer and watch your pace to make sure every area of your mouth gets enough attention or you can opt for an electronic toothbrush with a timer.

Step 3: Start with hard to reach areas first.

Mapping out a brushing game plan can make a big difference, especially when you find yourself in a rush and/or multi-tasking. Your front teeth may be the easiest to access, but the back molars can be a haven for food particles and starting there can help ensure you clean out the tough spots in case something disrupts your efforts (or, let’s face it, you start to lose focus on the job at hand).

Step 4: Brush up on the proper technique.

You’ve got the time, the tools, and a plan of attack in place — but don’t forget about your technique! Going too hard and too fast not only runs the risk of missing key problem areas, but also it can do some serious damage to your gums and enamel. For a safe and thorough cleaning, hold your toothbrush at a slight angle, and gently brush back and forth. The front of your teeth are hard to miss, but to clear each tooth of plaque buildup, be sure to brush along the gumline and the inside and back surfaces as well.

Step 5: Clean your tongue.

Often overlooked, your tongue houses a ton of oral bacteria responsible for bad breath. Despite its name, your toothbrush works well on tongues too! After you’ve finished brushing your teeth, give your tongue a good cleaning with your toothbrush or a tongue scraper. Your breath will smell better and your palate will feel refreshed.

Step 6: Finish up with floss.

No dental care routine is complete without flossing. Even the best brushing technique can’t get between the tighter spaces of your teeth. To reach every nook and cranny in your mouth, grab some floss and string it gently between and around each tooth. If you find flossing difficult, try one of the many alternatives now available at your local grocery or drugstore: dental pics, interproximal brushes, or water flossers.

Step 7: Choose foods that act as natural scrubbers.

Believe it or not, you can help keep your teeth clean by chewing certain foods. It’s nowhere near a substitute for brushing and flossing, but chomping on crunchy fruits and vegetables can have a brushing effect that minimizes buildup. Another simple way to help prohibit the growth of oral bacteria is to chew sugar-free gum that contains xylitol.

Share the News with Your Dentist

Last, but not least, let your dentist in on your new brushing skills. Keeping him or her appraised on your efforts and products that work (or don’t work) for you may in turn affect your treatment plan, and/or result in prescribed dental products and additional guidance to help you achieve your oral health goals.


Sources:

Grant, L. (2014, July 22). The Truth About Healthy Teeth: At-Home Dental Care. Retrieved June 1, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/healthy-teeth-14/brushing-teeth-mistakes

How to Brush. (2006, June 12). Retrieved June 1, 2015 from http://www.colgate.com/app/Colgate/US/HomePage.cvsp

Your Child’s Sippy Cup….Could there be Problems?

Your Child’s Sippy Cup: Is it a Friend or Foe?

Shaped like your child’s favorite action heroes and in every vibrant color imaginable, sippy cups seem like an innocent way to prevent spills. But with increased cavities and speech issues abound, pediatric dentists have recent research suggesting that what was once a friend is now a foe.

Of course, sippy cups can play an integral role in your child’s development. But in light of these recent developments, it’s important to know how to properly use them and to be aware of potential problems that can occur due to misuse.

How are Sippy Cups Supposed to be Used?

Sippy cups are a parent’s dream. After all, they allow children to take care of themselves and transition to adult cups easier than they would otherwise be able to. However, sippy cups weren’t developed or intended for prolonged use, no matter the level of convenience they offer.

In fact, sippy cups should be used as a transitional tool to wean children off of bottles until they’re able to use an adult cup. Most often, this means that sippy cup usage should stop between the ages of one and two, depending upon a child’s motor development.

Common Health Concerns Associated With Sippy Cups

Many parents understand that sippy cups can be problematic when used improperly, but not as many recognize the primary health concerns that can surface due to improper use:

    • Tooth Decay – Sugary substances in your child’s sippy cup will feed the oral bacteria in his/her mouth, thereby weakening the enamel and causing decay.
  • Speech Difficulties – Sippy cups can cause speech issues. This can happen when a child drinks from a cup as if it were a bottle, misplacing the tongue and pushing out the teeth, which can result in a lisp or other articulation complications.

Turning a Common Foe Back Into a Friend

A quick online search will turn up dozens of articles telling you that sippy cups are an absolute foe, but it isn’t that simple. While it’s true that sippy cups can cause problems, proper usage makes them a friend and asset as you transition your child into adult cups.

So, how can you turn this foe into a friend once again? Here are a few suggestions:

    • Choose the Right Sippy Cup – Not all sippy cups are created equal. Try to purchase ones that have a spout and two handles to promote motor development. As your child ages, you may even want to purchase a sippy cup with a straw rather than a spout. Also, if you’re using a sippy cup for juice, it’s beneficial to avoid “no-spill valves” as valves can concentrate sugary fluid on your child’s teeth over a longer period of time.
    • Limit Time With the Sippy Cup – Some kids will run around all day with their cups if you let them! Instead, take the cup away when your child is finished.
    • Offer Juice Only at Mealtimes – If you want to offer juice to your child, do so at mealtimes only. Increased saliva production will help break down the sugars and rinse them away to prevent tooth decay.
  • Minimize Sugary Liquids – Instead of juice, opt for water during the day and at bedtime.

Friend or Foe: You Decide

A sippy cup can be your best friend or worst enemy: it all depends on how you use it.

By keeping the tips above in mind, your little one can enjoy his/her favorite sippy cups and you can rest assured that his/her teeth and development won’t be derailed in the process.


Sources:

Davis, J. (2002, May 22). Sippy Cups Causing Too Many Cavities. Retrieved June 2, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/baby/news/20020322/sippy-cups-causing-too-many-cavities

Mann, D. (2008, February 11). So Long Sippy Cups, Hello Straws. Retrieved June 2, 2015 from http://www.webmd.com/children/news/20080212/so-long-sippy-cups-hello-straws

Smokeless Tobacco Still Means Trouble

Let’s Clear The Air: Smokeless Tobacco Still Means Trouble!

/Chew it, dip it, suck it or “snuff” it–there’s no smoke involved with many forms of tobacco, but no matter how you use it, you’re still playing with fire! While cigarettes catch a lot of heat for causing lung cancer, many don’t realize that other types of nicotine use can be just as damaging to your general and oral health. Before reaching for the stuff, get a closer glimpse at what you’re really being sold and why it might be more harmful than you think.

Types of Smokeless Tobacco

Cigarettes have long dominated the market, but tobacco comes in countless shapes and sizes. Their novelty may tempt your curiosity, but just one try can put you on the path to addiction and some serious throat and mouth problems. Here are just a few examples of common smokeless tobacco products you’d be wise to avoid:

  • Chewing tobacco: loose leaves (often in pouch form) for placement inside the cheeks
  • Snuff or “Dip”: ground or shredded tobacco stored in tins for sniffing or chewing
  • Snus: a pasteurized form of snuff that doesn’t require spitting
  • Tobacco lozenges: powdery, tobacco-infused candies that dissolve in the mouth

Other variations include plugs, twists and bricks, but risks are the same regardless of their appearance. It’s also worth noting that regulations may differ by country, so the lack of clear warnings doesn’t mean that the product is any less toxic.

Oral Health Risks

Virtually every aspect of your oral health is affected by tobacco use, and it doesn’t take much for nicotine to do its damage. Telltale signs you may notice immediately include:

  • Stained teeth, from frequent contact with tobacco juice
  • Periodontitis, as prolonged exposure to tobacco can irritate the gums
  • Bad breath, when tobacco particles mix with your saliva and other food particles
  • New cavities, due to the sugar often used to sweeten tobacco products

Tooth sensitivity, enamel erosion and a decrease in your sense of taste and smell are other possible side effects. As costly as these dental complications may be, it pales in comparison to the lethal threat of cancer.

Symptoms Of Oral Cancer

Given that smokeless tobacco contains well over 20 carcinogenic chemicals, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that its use can result in cancer of the mouth, lip, tongue and throat (in addition to many other cancers of the body). Clear warning signs of oral cancer include white or red lesions inside the mouth (typically referred to by dentists as “leukoplakia”) that fail to heal over time, but not all symptoms are easily detected without the professional help of your dentist.

Tackling Your Tobacco Problem

Seeking professional help is your best bet both to kick your nicotine habit to the curb, as well as to prevent lasting and potentially irreversible damage to your health. Quitting tobacco use likely won’t happen overnight, but your dentist can most certainly offer guidance and point you to effective treatments and/or alternatives. Although it may be difficult to share your struggles, being open about the problem with your dentist and seeing him or her frequently is critical to minimizing the risk for oral cancer and other serious health problems.


Sources:

It may be smokeless, but it’s still tobacco. (2011 May). Retrieved July 22, 2015, from https://www.deltadentalins.com/oral_health/smokelesstobacco.html

Katz, Harold. (2011, March 5). Chewing Tobacco Can Cause Bad Breath, and Worse. Retrieved July 14, 2015,from http://www.therabreath.com/articles/news/oral-care-industry-news/chewing-tobacco-can-cause-bad-breath-and-worse-3329.asp

Mayo Clinic Staff. (2014, November 15). Chewing Tobacco: Not Safer than Cigarettes. Retrieved July 16, 2015,from http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/quit-smoking/in-depth/chewing-tobacco/art-20047428?pg=1

High Tech Toothbrushes. Are they worth it?

High-Tech Toothbrushes: Is It Worth Going Electric?

The verdict is in: electric toothbrushes are here to stay, and they mean business for your teeth! By now, you’ve probably seen them on the shelves, on TV or in magazines. Dentists endorse them, and most are ADA-approved — but if you still swear by your manual toothbrush, these benefits just might convince you otherwise.

The Pros Of Using An Electric Toothbrush

Making the switch from a manual to an electric toothbrush doesn’t change the amount of time it takes to thoroughly brush your teeth (approximately 2 minutes), nor should it alter your brushing technique, but this is where the similarities end. Some of the biggest advantages of electric toothbrushes over traditional toothbrushes are:

1. Effortless brushing.
Because a motor oscillates and rotates the bristles for you, it requires less energy to brush your teeth. Many even find the rounded handle of electric toothbrushes to be easier to hold, and with less force required, brushing can still be done thoroughly without using a tight grip. For the elderly, those with chronic arthritis, and children and adults with dexterity challenges, this alone can make electric toothbrushes the better choice for oral health maintenance.

2. Better cleaning ability.
Thoughtful bristle design coupled with the automatic power of electric toothbrushes makes it easy to remove plaque from hard to reach areas. The constant rotating and even pressure can also result in a more consistent cleaning than you might achieve with a standard toothbrush. Often, electric toothbrushes come with a variety of heads that you can experiment with until you find one that cleans your teeth the best.

3. Other hygiene-helping features.
Thanks to technology, electric toothbrushes come with many other bells and whistles that can help ensure proper hygiene. From timers that notify you once you’ve brushed long enough, to sensors that alert you if too much pressure is being applied or if the head needs to be replaced, electric toothbrushes can help you stay on track to meet multiple oral health goals.

4. Less plastic to be thrown away.
Unlike manual toothbrushes, you don’t need to toss out the whole brush once the bristles are worn. Only the head of an electric toothbrush needs to be replaced, which means a lot less plastic that is thrown out in the long run. From an environmental standpoint, electric toothbrushes are also a better choice than battery-operated toothbrushes because they can be recharged.

Other Factors To Consider

Just as there are pros to using an electric toothbrush, there are a few cons to be aware of before making a final decision.

  • Price: Electric toothbrushes are significantly more expensive than manual toothbrushes; the price difference may cause some initial sticker shock. However, to keep costs down you can always purchase one electronic toothbrush and multiple detachable heads – for each member of the household.
  • Convenience: Those who are frequently on the go may find it slightly cumbersome to have to pack a charger.

If you’re interested in an electric toothbrush, however, don’t cross it off your list without trying a battery-operated toothbrush first. It’s similar in concept and feel, but much more affordable, and it can help you determine whether electric toothbrushes are worth the investment.

Comfort Matters Most

A toothbrush loaded with features won’t do you any good unless you’re comfortable with it. For the sake of your oral health, it’s worth considering all the toothbrush options available, but choose the one you believe will best help you maintain good hygiene…whether it be manual or powered. If you’re still unsure and need additional guidance, ask your dentist for help; he or she may recommend a particular brand based on your unique dental needs.


Sources:

McManus, M. (n.d.). 5 Benefits of Electric Toothbrushes. Retrieved June 1, 2015 from http://health.howstuffworks.com/wellness/oral-care/products/5-benefits-of-electric-toothbrushes.htm

Power Toothbrush or Manual Toothbrush. (n.d.). Retrieved June 1, 2015 from http://www.oralb.com/topics/power-toothbrush-or-manual-toothbrush.aspx