HOW DO I MAKE MY CHILD’S DIET SAFE FOR HIS OR HER TEETH?

The food you feed your child can have a lasting effect on his or her oral health. In fact, diet plays a major role in whether a child develops cavities and decay, which can lead to many dental visits and potential tooth loss. So what should you feed your child to ensure he or she has a healthy smile for life?

Foods to Avoid

It is normal for your child to take interest in many foods — especially those filled with sugar and carbohydrates. But as tasty as these foods are, they can cause rapid decay when eaten in excess. That’s not to say your child can never have sugar again. Dr. Seguin and Dr. Long and our staff suggest limiting starchy and sugary foods such as candy and potato chips as much as possible.

Remember that some seemingly healthy foods can present the threat of decay too. Some of the most common culprits are sticky foods like peanut butter, raisins, and granola bars, which can stick to the teeth after eating. If you serve these foods to your child, be sure to have him or her brush immediately after eating to remove any lingering sugary residue.

Beverages

Many beverages marketed toward children contain sugar servings that far exceed the daily recommendations from national health organizations. They suggest no more than three to four teaspoons of added sugar per day for young children.

Make an effort to serve only water to your child any time other than meal times. During meals, allow your child to have milk or juice, but in limited serving sizes. Most importantly, never allow your young child to sleep with a bottle or “sippie cup” full of juice or milk. Doing so can cause rapid tooth decay: a condition known as “baby bottle caries.”

WHICH TOOTHPASTE SHOULD I USE?

Toothpastes come in many forms and boast different flavors, benefits, and endorsements. All are designed to remove surface bacteria and prevent the buildup of plaque that can cause tooth decay. With so many choices, Dr. Seguin and Dr. Long and our team at Dental Care of San Antonio know that selecting the right toothpaste can be intimidating. After all, some benefits are welcome bonuses, while others are absolutely essential. So how can you know which toothpaste is best for you?

ADA Seal of Approval

While all toothpastes must first be approved by the Food and Drug Administration for sale to consumers, the American Dental Association puts these products through further rigorous tests for safety and effectiveness. Toothpaste that boasts the ADA Seal of Approval can be trusted to do exactly what it claims.

Fluoridated

Fluoride is an essential ingredient in a daily toothpaste. It helps to protect the tooth from decay by removing plaque and strengthening the enamel. Although fluoride is found in many public water supplies, many people are deficient in it due to the consumption of bottled water instead of tap water. All toothpastes with the ADA Seal of Approval contain fluoride.

Other benefits

If a toothpaste meets the ADA’s standards and contains fluoride, the next step is to clear it with your dentist. This is especially true if you decide to use a whitening toothpaste, which often contains abrasives to remove surface stains. Though abrasives are an effective aid in tooth whitening, they may not be recommended if you have weak tooth enamel.

ELECTRIC OR MANUAL TOOTHBRUSH: WHY IT DOES (AND DOESN’T) MATTER

You live in the golden age of toothbrushes. Until a few decades people used twigs or brushes made from animal hair to clean their teeth: not very soft and none too effective.

Now, you have a choice of manual brushes with soft, medium, or hard bristles. Or you might choose to go with an electric toothbrush instead.

Have you ever wondered whether manual or electric brushes provide better cleaning? Actually, they both do the job. The key is to brush and floss every day, regardless of the kind of brush you prefer.

At our San Antonio, TX office, we like to say the best brush is the one you’ll use. So if you prefer manual, go for it. If you prefer electric, turn it on.

Both types have their advantages but both types will get the job done as far as removing plaque.

Electric Toothbrushes

  • Provide power rotation that helps loosen plaque
  • Are great for people with limited dexterity due to arthritis or other problems
  • Are popular with kids who think the electric brushes are more fun to use
  • Can come with variable speeds to help reduce pressure on sensitive teeth and gums

Manual Toothbrushes

  • Can help brushers feel they have more control over the brushing process
  • Allow brushers to respond to twinges and reduce the pressure applied to sensitive teeth and gums
  • Are more convenient for packing when traveling
  • Manual brushes are cheaper and easier to replace than the electric versions.

In many ways, the golden age is just beginning. There are already phone apps available to remind you to brush and floss. New apps can play two minutes worth of music while you brush, help you compare the brightness of your smile or help explain dental procedures. Maybe someday we’ll even have programs that examine your teeth after brushing and identify spots you might have missed.

IMPROVE YOUR ORAL HEALTH WITH XYLITOL!

Xylitol tastes sweet, but unlike sugar, it is not converted to acid that can cause your teeth to decay. It’s a naturally occurring sweetener found in plants, fruits, and vegetables; even the human body produces it in small amounts. Xylitol is widely used in sugar-free chewing gum, mints, candies, and even certain forms of medicine.

The World Health Organization has approved xylitol because only a small amount is needed for its health benefits. It’s even safe for diabetics, with a glycemic index of only seven. Xylitol has 40% fewer calories than other types of carbs: less than three calories per gram.

So how can this natural sweetener benefit your oral health? Take a look at the facts. Tooth decay starts when bacteria consumes the sugars left in your mouth. When you eat sugary foods, the bacteria on your teeth will multiply and make acid that can destroy your enamel.

Xylitol is derived from fibrous parts of plants, so it does not break down like a regular sugar. It actually helps maintain a neutral pH level in the mouth, which in turn prevents bacteria from sticking to the teeth. The bacteria are then unable to digest xylitol, which means your teeth won’t develop enamel damage and cavities.

Studies have shown the consumption of xylitol as a sugar substitute or a dietary addition had a dramatic reduction in new cavities and even reversed existing cavities. These effects are long lasting: low cavity rates remained years after the trials were done.

When there’s less bacteria and acid in your mouth due to xylitol, your teeth stay healthier. The more frequently it’s ingested, the more you will prevent enamel damage.

Aim to consume around five grams a day, or one gram every three hours if possible. You can do this by consuming gum, tablets, candy, or mints that have xylitol as one of the first ingredients after your meals. You can find these products in health food stores and specialty grocery stores.

Since xylitol replaces sugar on a one-to-one ratio, it’s used in several common items:

  • Toothpaste
  • Mouth rinse
  • Baby oral wipes, gel, and pacifiers
  • Nasal wash
  • Dry mouth spray
  • Granulated forms for cooking
  • Granulated packets to add to drinks
  • Commercially prepared foods

CARING FOR YOUR SMILE AFTER INVISALIGN® TREATMENT

You went through a lot of effort and work to achieve your perfect smile. You wore your Invisalign aligner trays, brushed and flossed diligently, and now your treatment is done! What happens now?

In order to keep your teeth healthy and beautiful, you should keep several practices in play.

Retainers

Although everyone’s needs are different, many patients require a retainer after Invisalign treatment. If a retainer is recommended by Dr. Seguin and Dr. Long, use it as directed. Not wearing retainers could result in shifting teeth and potentially ruin your results.

It’s also recommended that you avoid hard, crunchy foods for the first few weeks as your teeth adjust. For younger patients, retainers are normally worn until the wisdom teeth come in or are extracted.

Brushing and Flossing

It should come as no surprise that flossing should still be done every day to remove plaque, which can develop into tartar or calculus. The build-up can lead to gingivitis and gum disease.

Your gums may be more sensitive for a week or two after your orthodontic work is completed. A warm saltwater rinse may relieve discomfort.

Because your teeth have been protected by your Invisalign aligners and are now fully exposed, they may be more sensitive the first few weeks after treatment. If that’s the case, we can recommend a sensitive toothpaste to relieve your discomfort. If your teeth are stained, a professional whitening treatment may be considered.

Regular Dental Checkups

Regular dental exams ensure your teeth stay healthy for life. Professional cleanings, X-rays, and cavity treatment can be addressed by staying on top of your routine checkups.

 

WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON’T HAVE MY WISDOM TEETH REMOVED?

One of the things Dr. Seguin and Dr. Long and our team at Dental Care of San Antonio monitor during your dental appointments is the growth of your wisdom teeth, or third molars. Third molars generally begin to erupt between the ages of 17 and 25. Wisdom teeth may require removal for many reasons, including pain, infection, or growth issues. While not all patients need their wisdom tooth removed, problems can develop if removal is not performed.

Overcrowding

Many patients have smaller mouths and jaws, which do not allow room for the third molars to grow in properly. If these teeth do erupt, overcrowding can occur. Your teeth will begin to shift or overlap each other. Wisdom teeth that erupt after orthodontic care is completed can cause the teeth to shift and negate the work performed.

Impacted Wisdom Teeth

When wisdom teeth are impacted, they are trapped below your gum line. Impacted wisdom teeth can be very painful and may be prone to abscess and infection. The impaction can lead to decay and resorption of healthy teeth.

On occasion, if wisdom teeth are not monitored properly, their growth can shift parallel to the jaw line. They can also shift backward and eventually interfere with the opening and closing of your jaw.

Greater Potential for Decay

Even when wisdom teeth grow in properly, the location can make the teeth harder to care for. This in turn can lead to the growth of more bacteria, and create health issues later in life.

If you do not have your wisdom teeth removed, they will require continued monitoring. Wisdom teeth are just as subject to decay and other problems as the rest of your teeth. Those that appear above the gum surface can often be extracted at a dental office in a fashion similar to any other tooth extraction. Impacted teeth are normally handled by an oral surgeon.

Pain in the back of the jaw and swelling may indicated wisdom teeth that are beginning to rupture or are impacted. A simple set of X-rays will determine the extent and direction of growth. Please do not hesitate to discuss your concerns during your next visit our San Antonio, TX office. We will be happy to explain wisdom teeth, and potential removal, as it applies to your specific case.

Defend Your Smile!

This is the time of year that we start to think of winter sports and the one piece of equipment that we want our patients to include in their purchases – mouth guards!

Risk Management

Most sports related activity carry some element of risk for injury. The more contact involved in the activity the higher the risk. We’ve certainly seen our share of orofacial and dental trauma over the years. With many sports now mandating the use of mouth guards for dental protection during participation we hope to see a decline in the area of sports dentistry.

Reduce Your Risks

Your Smile is precious, and in some cases, an expensive investment in orthodontia or cosmetic dentistry has been made to obtain your great smile. Wearing a mouth guard while participating in any activity that carries a significant risk for injury extends this investment and is the best way to protect Your Smile.


Accidents ~ they’re unpredictable, so be prepared!


Prevention

Wearing a mouth guard can prevent serious injuries such as:

  • concussions
  • cerebral hemorrhages
  • unconsciousness
  • broken teeth
  • jaw fractures
  • neck injuries
  • lacerations and bruising or inner mouth, lips and cheek tissues

Customize Your Protection!

Your Smile is unique! We advocate the use of mouth guards – even it’s an off-the-shelf one from a store. However, having your dentist make a custom mouth guard offers you added protection and the benefit of a more customized fit since they are constructed from a durable, vinyl material consisting  two strong layers. This not only ensures that your guard will last longer, but will also fit snugly and comfortably especially when it matters most – during impact!

Mouth Guard Care

If you think of your dental sports guard as a “petri dish full of germs” you will better understand why cleaning your mouth guard after use is an important step in caring for the guard and your smile. To read more about how your can protect yourself from germs and the wear and tear of wearing a guard, read more about it in our blog called: Sports Guard Care

How often should you go to the dentist?

Your Smile is important and the health of your teeth has an impact on your overall health. But what if your teeth feel and look great to you?

Many people still believe that unless they are experiencing pain or have broken a tooth, it’s not necessary to see a dentist for regular examinations, but in a healthy mouth you shouldn’t be feeling any pain or sensitivity with your teeth!


“Pain should not be the only factor that makes you decide to go to the dentist.”


Dental pain is usually a warning that you have left an undetected problem too long.

Each tooth has a soft inner core consisting of blood vessels, lymphatic tissue and a nerve center. It plays an important role in the growth and development of the tooth, but once the tooth comes into the mouth, it is the lifeline that brings nutrients to the tooth and also sends out sensory signals in response to trauma and disease.

If you have ever broken a tooth or have had a painful cavity, you know the pain signals that your nerve sends out as a warning! However, it is actually located far enough away from the tooth’s outer surface that by the time an advancing cavity reaches the nerve it is usually too late to repair the problem with a simple fix.

The fact is, many oral disease are silent. We usually think that if our teeth are “quiet” that they are healthy, but you have to treat your oral health as you would your overall health.

Screenshot_20171211-222802

Regular maintenance check-up exams allows us to catch and manage the early signs of disease, before they become bigger, more complicated issues. At Your Smile Dental Care, we are here to help our patients restore their smiles to optimal dental health so that their future focus can be on prevention! We think that by encouraging our patients to maintain regular check-ups and cleanings and teaching them how to prevent dental problems before they occur is time well spent.

How often should you visit?

That depends!

Our recommendations are based on your own individual, “specific to you”  oral health, medical conditions and lifestyle habits. Maintaining regular professional dental care allows us to monitor and evaluate your oral health and advise you accordingly.

Some people see us twice a year for their regular check-ups and cleanings, while others, who have more tartar build-up or who are at a higher risk for cavities and gum disease, need more frequent visits. It is important to understand that there are many changes in our lives that can impact our oral health and change the schedule of our dental visits.


“Even if you maintain an excellent oral care routine and always have good check-ups, you still need to continue a proactive attitude to help ensure that you and your dentist can always stay on top of things.”


Additionally, it is especially important to take care of your teeth and seek professional dental care if you are in one of the following high risk groups below:

  • smoke or use tobacco products
  • are pregnant
  • have diabetics
  • have current gum disease
  • have a weak immune system
  • tend to get cavities or build up plaque
  • suffer from *dry mouth (see below)
  • have limited dexterity
  • have poor dietary habits
  • Snack frequently or sip a beverage other than water all day
  • have bulimia or acid reflux

*Dry Mouth: If you suffer from dry mouth your oral health may be at risk. People can develop dry mouth for a number if reasons, especially if they have:

  • diseases, such as bulimia, Sjögren’s syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes mellitus or pernicious anemia, that alter the flow rate or content of saliva,
  • are receiving chemotherapy with drugs that cause xerostomia
  • are receiving radiation therapy directed to the head or neck.

Early Detection

Knowing that here are also a number of oral health problems that can exist before you even begin to have symptoms will better help you understand why seeing your dentist regularly is so important for your oral health. We want to catch and treat problems early before they become more complicated.

What’s Brewing in your Mouth?

GERMS!

You can’t see them, but you can sure feel, taste and even smell the hundreds of different types of germs that make their home in your mouth.

While many of these bacteria are harmless, others wreak havoc in the mouth causing tooth decay, inflammation of the gums and bad breath.

Let’s talk about bad breath. No one wants it, but everyone has it from time to time. Even though bad breath is a common condition and is oftentimes very embarrassing, it can also be an indicator of health problems in the mouth and/or rest of the body.

So what can you do to help fight bad breath as well as keep your mouth healthy?

Screenshot_20171027-012859

Tips

Aside from ensuring that you are in the habit of brushing your teeth 2-3 times a day and flossing daily, you will also benefit from following these other 13 tips:

1. Clean your tongue! Bacteria love to hide in the hair-like filaments that make up tbe upper side of the tongue, so don’t forget to also clean your tongue with a toothbrush or tongue scraper

2. Use an antiseptic mouth rinse once a day to help kill germs and fight bad breath

3. Reduce snacking in between meals. When you cut off the sugary food source that germs eat you also cut down on the number of acid attacks that occur in the mouth

4. Drink water often throughout the day to help wash away food particles and germs from the mouth and also prevent dry mouth

5. Eating a piece of sugarless candy or chewing sugarless gum will help stimulate saliva flow to wash away food debris and bacteria

6. Do not sip on sugary drinks or coffee/tea with milk, cream and/or sugar frequently or all day long

7. Consume alcohol and coffee in moderation as they also tend to dry out the mouth

8. Speak to your doctor if you suspect that you have a dry mouth condition as it can be an indicator of a health issue or be a side effect of medication

9. Ensure that other medical conditions like diabetes and heart disease is monitored by your physician regularly and is under control

10. Quit smoking or using other tobacco products

11. Eat a healthy, nutrient-rich diet that helps to control inflammation

12. Eating crispy, fresh fruits and vegetables also increases your saliva flow to help wash away other food debris and bacteria

13. Be aware that during illness and prolonged periods of hunger or fasting from meals, acids in the stomach can build up and cause foul breath also

11 Ways to Keep Your Teeth Healthy

Take care of your teeth

Achieving healthy teeth takes a lifetime of care. Even if you’ve been told that you have nice teeth, it’s crucial to take the right steps every day to take care of them and prevent problems. This involves getting the right oral care products, as well as being mindful of your daily habits.

1. Don’t go to bed without brushing your teeth

It’s no secret that the general recommendation is to brush at least twice a day. Still, many of us continue to neglect brushing our teeth at night. But brushing before bed gets rid of the germs and plaque that accumulate throughout the day.

2. Brush properly

The way you brush is equally important — in fact, doing a poor job of brushing your teeth is almost as bad as not brushing at all. Take your time, moving the toothbrush in gentle, circular motions to remove plaque. Unremoved plaque can harden, leading to calculus buildup and gingivitis (early gum disease).

3. Don’t neglect your tongue

Plaque can also build up on your tongue. Not only can this lead to bad mouth odor, but it can lead to other oral health problems. Gently brush your tongue every time you brush your teeth.

4. Use a fluoride toothpaste

When it comes to toothpaste, there are more important elements to look for than whitening power and flavors. No matter which version you choose, make sure it contains fluoride.

Take care of your teeth

Achieving healthy teeth takes a lifetime of care. Even if you’ve been told that you have nice teeth, it’s crucial to take the right steps every day to take care of them and prevent problems. This involves getting the right oral care products, as well as being mindful of your daily habits.

1. Don’t go to bed without brushing your teeth

It’s no secret that the general recommendation is to brush at least twice a day. Still, many of us continue to neglect brushing our teeth at night. But brushing before bed gets rid of the germs and plaque that accumulate throughout the day.

2. Brush properly

The way you brush is equally important — in fact, doing a poor job of brushing your teeth is almost as bad as not brushing at all. Take your time, moving the toothbrush in gentle, circular motions to remove plaque. Unremoved plaque can harden, leading to calculus buildup and gingivitis (early gum disease).

3. Don’t neglect your tongue

Plaque can also build up on your tongue. Not only can this lead to bad mouth odor, but it can lead to other oral health problems. Gently brush your tongue every time you brush your teeth.

4. Use a fluoride toothpaste

When it comes to toothpaste, there are more important elements to look for than whitening power and flavors. No matter which version you choose, make sure it contains fluoride.

While fluoride has come under scrutiny by those worried about how it impacts other areas of health, this substance remains a mainstay in oral health. This is because fluoride is a leading defense against tooth decay. It works by fighting germs that can lead to decay, as well as providing a protective barrier for your teeth.

5. Treat flossing as important as brushing

Many who brush regularly neglect to floss. “Flossing is not just for getting those little pieces of Chinese food or broccoli that may be getting stuck in between your teeth,” says Jonathan Schwartz, DDS. “It’s really a way to stimulate the gums, reduce plaque, and help lower inflammation in the area.”

Flossing once a day is usually enough to reap these benefits.

6. Don’t let flossing difficulties stop you

Flossing can be difficult, especially for young children and older adults with arthritis. Rather than give up, look for tools that can help you floss your teeth. Ready-to-use dental flossers from the drugstore can make a difference.

7. Consider mouthwash

Advertisements make mouthwash seem necessary for good oral health, but many people skip them because they don’t know how they work. Schwartz says mouthwash helps in three ways: It reduces the amount of acid in the mouth, cleans hard-to-brush areas in and around the gums, and re-mineralizes the teeth. “Mouthwashes are useful as an adjunct tool to help bring things into balance,” he explains. “I think in children and older people, where the ability to brush and floss may not be ideal, a mouthwash is particularly helpful.”

Ask your dentist for specific mouthwash recommendations. Certain brands are best for children, and those with sensitive teeth. Prescription mouthwash is also available.

8. Drink more water

Water continues to be the best beverage for your overall health — including oral health. Also, as a rule of thumb, Schwartz recommends drinking water after every meal. This can help wash out some of the negative effects of sticky and acidic foods and beverages in between brushes.

9. Eat crunchy fruits and vegetables

Ready-to-eat foods are convenient, but perhaps not so much when it comes to your teeth. Eating fresh, crunchy produce not only contains more healthy fiber, but it’s also the best choice for your teeth. “I tell parents to get their kids on harder-to-eat and chew foods at a younger age,” says Schwartz. “So try to avoid the overly mushy processed stuff, stop cutting things into tiny pieces, and get those jaws working!”

10. Limit sugary and acidic foods

Ultimately, sugar converts into acid in the mouth, which can then erode the enamel of your teeth. These acids are what lead to cavities. Acidic fruits, teas, and coffee can also wear down tooth enamel. While you don’t necessarily have to avoid such foods altogether, it doesn’t hurt to be mindful.

11. See your dentist at least twice a year

Your own everyday habits are crucial to your overall oral health. Still, even the most dutiful brushers and flossers need to see a dentist regularly. At minimum, you should see your dentist for cleanings and checkups twice a year. Not only can a dentist remove calculus and look for cavities, but they will also be able to spot potential issues and offer treatment solutions.