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February is national children’s dental health month. In celebration of kids all over below you will find some helpful tips to keep your children’s smile healthy and bright for a lifetime.

Helpful Pediatric Dental Hygiene Tips

Watch What They Drink! – While fruit juice can be a very healthy alternative to energy drinks, soda, and other artificial drinks. Fruit juice has some dangerous dental health qualities as well. The high sugar content in these drinks can be damaging to your child’s smile increasing the risk of tooth decay. This is especially true if drinking thru a sippy cup or constantly drinking throughout the day with brushing or rinsing. A good tip is to mix in fruit juices with water. The water will help rinse away the damaging sugar and keep them hydrated on even the hottest days.

Autism Marielaina Perrone DDS
Keep Your Family Smiling For A Lifetime!

Take The Lead For Dental Hygiene. Lead by example and show your children how to maintain a healthy smile by maintaining a solid dental hygiene regimen at home along with regular dental visits. Brushing and flossing can be a daily family activity in morning and evenings if possible. Not every family follows the same schedule so this might be tough to follow.

Tooth brushing should be at least 2 minutes long covering both inner and outer surfaces of our teeth. Flossing should be same way covering all tooth surfaces to ensure cleaning all over the mouth.

By the age of 2, your child should be able to brush and even floss properly with some limited help from you. If they are under the age of 2, you should be brushing and flossing for them to ensure they are learning from you as well as keeping their developing mouth clean.

Another good tip is to make brushing and flossing into a game with rewards. Keep a chart handy in the bathroom to work towards goals for your children. Before long these habits will become a part of the normal routine and rewards will no longer be needed.

Keep Regular Dental Visits. Most fears that people have developed are from their parents. If a parent is afraid of the dentist, most children will also be afraid even without their own bad experiences. Your child should start regular dental visits by about the age of 1. This is usually when the first teeth begin to appear. Your child will also become familiar with the sights, sounds, and people in a dental office and feel comfortable over time.

Chew Sugarless Gum. Many kids love chewing gum. Chewing gum is excellent for stimulating saliva production and cleaning our mouths during the day. However, the sugar can stick to our teeth causing more damage than benefit. Choose a sugarless gum to get the best of both worlds!

Consider Dental Sealants. If your dentist has not already discussed them with you ask at your next visit. Dental sealants are a clear coating that goes over the biting surfaces of your child’s teeth covering the natural grooves where tooth decay likes to develop. Dental sealants are an excellent protectant against tooth decay.

Pediatric Dental Hygiene Conclusion

Keeping kids healthy is a top priority including their dental health. The hardest part for a kid is developing that routine so that it becomes natural and easy. Remember to schedule regular dental visits for examinations and professional cleanings.

To Floss Or Not To Floss, the age old question. Flossing is necessary to maintain optimal dental health. Flossing at least once a day helps remove the sticky layer (plaque) that develops along our gum line and between teeth. This plaque when allowed to build up will eventually irritate your gum tissues and give bacteria a place to call home leading to development of periodontal disease. The best way to get rid of plaque is to brush and floss your teeth regularly every day. Brushing alone cannot completely clean teeth. Dental floss cleans between them and areas brushing cannot.

Is Flossing Necessary?

Floss removes plaque and debris that adhere to teeth and gums in between teeth, polishes tooth surfaces and helps control development of bad breath. By flossing your teeth daily (if possible floss after every meal), you increase the chances of maintaining your smile for a lifetime and decrease your chances for the development of periodontal disease and tooth decay.

Flossing is the #1 tool we have in the fight against plaque, even more important than the toothbrush. Many people just avoid flossing but in reality it only takes a minute or two once you get the hang of it. Also, many people have never been properly shown how easy it is.

So Many Options…Which Floss Is Right For Me?

The dental floss area at the local pharmacy can be a bit confusing. Floss comes in many types. They can be waxed or unwaxed, they can have flavors, and they even come in different widths.Dental floss comes in many forms: waxed and unwaxed, flavored and unflavored, wide and regular. No matter which type of floss you choose they all clean and remove plaque about the same. Waxed floss might be easier to slide between tight teeth or tight dental work. However, the unwaxed floss makes a slight squeaking sound to let you know when your teeth are clean. Bonded unwaxed floss does not fray as easily as regular unwaxed floss but does tear more than waxed floss. The best floss is the one you are using. Choose what feels most comfortable to you. The goal of flossing is to reach areas of the mouth that brushing alone is unable to.

Flossing Technique

Traditionally there are two flossing methods: the spool method and the loop method. The spool method works well for those with good manual dexterity. Take an 18-inch piece of floss and wind the bulk of the floss lightly around the middle finger. Wind the rest of the floss similarly around the same finger of the opposite hand. This finger takes up the floss as it becomes soiled or frayed. Maneuver the floss between teeth with your index fingers and thumbs. Gently work the floss between your teeth. Do not force the floss between teeth. You can irritate and damage your gum tissues this way. Don’t rub it side to side as if you’re shining shoes. Bring the floss up and down several times, forming a “C” shape around the tooth and being sure to go below the gumline. The key is to cover all areas of the tooth to ensure a full cleaning around each tooth.

The loop method is suited for children or adults with limited dexterity, poor muscular coordination or arthritis. Take an 18-inch piece of floss and make it into a circle. Tie it securely with three knots. Place all of the fingers, except the thumb, within the loop. Use your index fingers to guide the floss through the lower teeth, and use your thumbs to guide the floss through the upper teeth, going below the gumline and forming a “C” on the side of the tooth.

Flossing Frequency

You shoot aim to floss your teeth at least once a day. You are talking 2-3 minutes each time you floss. Extra points will be given if you floss after every meal. Your teeth and gums will thank you in the long run!

Can Toothpicks Replace Flossing?

No! Toothpicks when used properly can be an effective tool at removing food between teeth, but not for daily cleaning of plaque between teeth. When you using a toothpick, do not press with too much pressure, as you can break off the end and lodge it in your gums causing damage to tissues.

Flossing Marielaina Perrone DDS
Flossing For A Lifetime Of Smiles

Can A Waterpik Replace Flossing?

There really is no substitute for daily flossing. But they are highly effective around orthodontic braces. However, they do not remove the sticky plaque attached to our teeth. Waterpicks are frequently recommended by dentists for persons with periodontal disease. Solutions containing antibacterial agents like chlorhexidine or tetracycline, available through a dentist’s prescription, can be added to the reservoir in these cases helping cleanse areas to bring them back to optimal health.

My Gums Bleed When I Floss…Should I Stop?

Bleeding gums can happen on occasion when flossing. It can occur from improper flossing technique or it is occurring because of the presence of early  periodontal disease. For many, it can be inflamed gums due to gingivitis, which is reversible. Medications and illness can also cause bleeding gums.  If your gums continue bleeding after 2 weeks of proper flossing  and brushing, see your dentist immediately for a complete dental examination and dental cleaning. Your dentist and hygienist will get you back on track to good oral health.

Flossing Conclusion

Flossing is an integral part of anyone’s daily dental hygiene regimen. If you chose not to floss, your smile may pay the price in the long run. Once you get into the habit of flossing daily it will not seem like a chore and your smile will thank you for it! Remember to see you dentist regularly for dental examinations and professional cleanings.

Maintaining good dental hygiene is important for keeping a healthy smile. Keeping good habits is essential for this but keeping bad habits can ruin your hard work. Below are the top 5 bad habits destroying your smile.

Top 5 Bad Dental Habits

  1. Not Flossing Regularly. Flossing at least once a day is critical to overall dental health. In fact, it is recommended to floss after every meal if at all possible for optimal dental health. Flossing regularly removes the food particles and cavity causing bacteria that build up in and around our teeth. Some patients may notice slight bleeding upon flossing this is a sign of periodontal disease. In its earliest form, called gingivitis, this is reversible. Speak to your dentist if this bleeding upon flossing persists as this is a sign of periodontal disease. In its earliest form, called gingivitis, this is reversible. Once it progresses, there will be damage to your oral health.
  2. Not Changing Tooth Brush Regularly. It is recommended that you replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months and definitely no more than every 6 months. Your toothbrush will wear down over time and not be as effective. It will also have harmful bacteria build up over time that can wreak havoc on your dental health. Another tip is to change toothbrush after being sick (for example the flu or a common cold).
  3. Crunching and Sucking On Ice Cubes. Some people have the bad habit of chewing the ice after finishing their drink. This can be very harmful to your teeth due to the brittleness and cold temperatures of the ice cubes. This can cause microfractures in the enamel of your teeth. Over time this can lead to big problems, like fractures of teeth and tooth decay.
  4. Grinding Your Teeth. This is also called Bruxism. It is quite common and is usually brought on by stress. Many do this at night and are not even aware of the damage they are causing to their smile. Over time, the cusps of your teeth will wear down causing bite issues, fractured teeth, and tooth decay. In severe cases, it can also cause temperomandibular joint (TMJ) issues. A simple fix for this is a night guard to wear during sleep to protect your teeth and keep them healthy.
  5. Using The Wrong Tooth Brush And Technique. A hard bristled toothbrush along with an aggressive brushing technique can cause irreversible damage to your teeth and gums. It is recommended that you use a soft bristled toothbrush and gently brush your teeth in a circular motion at a 45-degree angle. Using a sawing, back and forth motion can cause the gums to recede, and can expose the root of the tooth. If the underlying material of your teeth (Dentin) is exposed it will make your teeth extremely sensitive. This can be quite painful.

Bad Dental Habits Conclusion

Maintaining good dental habits is all about routine. Once we get into a routine it is easy to keep our smiles healthy for a life time. It is important to discuss these issues with your dentist and correct them as soon as possible to avoid long term damage.

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Well Balanced Diet Will Lead To A Healthy Smile!

All the food and drinks that enter our body pass through our mouths and come in direct contact with our teeth. This means these foods and drinks have a direct impact on the health of your smile. A typical American diet can consist of processed foods loaded with sugar and highly acidic drinks (like soda and energy drinks). The sugar and acids can erode your enamel causing tooth decay and tooth sensitivity. Focusing on our smile healthy diet will impact not only your overall health but also your dental health.

Nutrition Tips For A Healthy Smile

Avoid Sugary Sweets. Tooth decay is known to be linked with a diet rich in sugary, sticky foods along with poor dental health habits. Knowing this it makes it important to limit sugary foods and drinks and maintain good dental hygiene. Many people believe this just includes candy and cakes. However, sodas, energy drinks, and even fruit juices are also quite high in sugar. Other high sugar culprits include jarred spaghetti sauce, cereals, and canned fruits. A good tip is to read the labels of the food you are choosing at the supermarket and if you do indulge then brush, floss, and rinse following to minimize the dental health damage.

Avoid Sticky Foods. Sticky foods (raisins, honey, and molasses) can adhere or stick to the surface of your teeth and increase the risk of tooth decay. Bread and snacks like potato chips are also a known culprit. When eaten in moderation, along with a good dental hygiene regimen (brushing, flossing and rinsing regularly), these foods are acceptable to eat in small amounts.

Be On The Lookout For Acidic Foods. While many think acidic is just a drink issue it is not. Many foods, like oranges and tomatoes, are highly acidic and can damage your tooth enamel through erosion. A good tip is to eat these items in a meal vs alone. Again if you do choose these types of foods and drinks just follow good dental hygiene afterwards to limit the damaging effects.

Nutrition Marielaina Perrone DDS
Make Smart Choices For Good Dental Health

Avoid Teeth Staining Drinks For A Whiter Smile. Some drinks (coffee, tea, and red wine) are very likely to stain your teeth over time. These drinks get their staining abilities from color pigments called chromogens. These chromogens can stain and attach to your tooth’s enamel. The easy way to still enjoy these beverages is to rinse thoroughly afterward with water or if able to brush and floss.

Consume A Well Balanced Diet. It is recommended that eating a well-balanced diet that includes vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean protein such as fish or beans, and dairy to help keep your general and dental health intact. Choosing a variety of thee food items can give you all the nutrients and vitamins you need to stay healthy for a life time.

Watch For Foods That Cause Inflammation. A diet that avoids inflammatory causing foods correlates with healthier gums and fewer lost teeth. This is according to research published in June 2017 in the journal Clinical Nutrition. Certain foods (saturated fats and refined foods) contribute to inflammation in the body and oral cavity. It is important to note that periodontal disease is an inflammatory disease. So limiting foods that can increase inflammation in the body will help make a healthier smile. Periodontal disease has been shown to have links to heart disease and alzheimer’s disease as well.

Add Healthy Fats To Your Diet. It sounds odd to call something a healthy fat but it is very true. Heart and smile healthy fats include olive oil, avocado as well as salmon. These foods contain omega 3 fatty acids which have been shown to be anti inflammatory in nature.

Get Enough Calcium. Studies have shown that maintaining proper levels of calcium intake (approximately 1,000 to 1,300 mg daily) can decrease chances of developing periodontal disease. Foods that include calcium include dairy products (think milk and cheese), beans, almonds, and leafy green vegetables.

Stay Hydrated With Water. Plain regular old water is the best thing for our teeth and our health. Water can rinse our mouths as well as keep the tissues moist to protect against the harmful foods and bacteria attacking our teeth.

Chew Sugar-Free Gum Instead Of Snacking. Chewing gum stimulates saliva and has the ability to move the materials that stick to our teeth and can lead to tooth decay. The ADA studies have shown that the increased saliva also adds calcium and phosphate to the mouth, which makes tooth enamel stronger. Your breath will also be fresher throughout the day.

Dental Nutrition Conclusion

Eating healthy is not just for our overall body. Numerous studies have shown a direct connection between oral health and general health. Our body works as one and it is all interconnected. Remember to see your dentist regularly for routine examinations and dental hygiene cleanings.