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What Builds Healthy Smiles?

May 23rd, 2022

DAILY BRUSHING AND flossing are essential to keep a growing child’s smile healthy, but we already know that. We hopefully also know how important it is to set regular dental appointments. Cutting back on sugar intake and limiting it to mealtimes instead of little snacks throughout the day is another important way to reduce the risk of tooth decay.

These aren’t the only things that go into a healthy smile, however. Certain vitamins and minerals help build and protect them.

Important Vitamins for Oral Health

Saliva is the first line of defense our teeth and gum have against tooth decay and gum disease, and vitamin A keeps the saliva flowing. We can get it from foods like melon, sweet potatoes, beef liver, and spinach.

One powerful antioxidant that helps our bodies fight inflammation and heal is vitamin C. Not getting enough can mean gums that are more prone to bleeding and looser teeth, including for kids. Citrus fruits are great sources of vitamin C, but they’re also acidic, so it’s a good idea to rinse with some water after eating an orange!

Vitamin D is what ensures that we can make good use of the other vitamins and minerals we consume. Vitamin D signals our intestines to absorb them into the bloodstream. Getting enough of it will lead to stronger, denser bones, and we can get it in our diet by eating fish, eggs, and dairy products.

Vitamins B2, B3, and B12 are important for oral health too. They all reduce the risk of oral canker sores, and B3 also helps us convert our food into energy. Good sources of B3 are fish and chicken, there’s plenty of B12 in pasta, bagels, almonds, and spinach, and B2 sources include red meat, chicken, fish, liver, and dairy products.

The Minerals Our Teeth Are Made Of

It’s common knowledge that calcium builds strong teeth and bones and that we can get plenty of calcium from dairy products, but magnesium, zinc, and iron are also important minerals for our oral health. Magnesium helps the body to absorb calcium, and we can get it from leafy greens, beans, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.

Iron helps to maintain the oxygen levels in our cells. Having an iron deficiency results in problems like increased risk of infections, mouth sores, inflammation of the tongue, and more buildup of oral bacteria. We can get iron from red meat and liver.

Finally, zinc makes it harder for plaque to build up along the gum line, making it easier to fight oral bacteria. Foods like wheat, cereal, cheese, wild rice, and beef contain zinc. Cheese is particularly good because it also contains casein, which helps keep our tooth enamel strong.

Building and Keeping Lifelong Healthy Smiles

If your child hasn’t been getting each of these nutrients for building a strong, healthy smile, we recommend incorporating more of the foods we mentioned into their diets. Sometimes allergies or food intolerances can make this tricky, so the pediatrician may be able to recommend multivitamins and supplements. Whatever your situation, don’t forget the brushing and flossing!

We’re looking forward to seeing those growing smiles again!

 

Disclaimer: the content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Do Your Friends Know These 6 Mouth Facts?

May 9th, 2022

IF YOU’RE SHORT on fun topics of conversation for your next party, might we interest you in some weird mouth trivia? We’re sure you’ll be able to impress your friends.

1. The Bumps on Newly Erupted Adult Teeth Have a Name

You might remember what it was like when your adult front teeth came in and they had bumps on the ends of the chewing surfaces. If not, maybe you’ve seen those bumps on your child’s teeth. Well, those bumps are completely normal and they are called mamelons. The theory about why we have them is that they help the teeth erupt from the gums, and in most cases, they will wear away over time from chewing.

2. Our Sense of Taste Relies on Spit

None of the ten thousand taste buds we have on our tongues would be any use if it wasn’t for our saliva. That’s because we don’t taste the food molecules on their own; they have to be dissolved in our spit before the receptors on our taste buds can detect them.

3. More on Those Taste Buds

Most people assume that the visible bumps on our tongues are taste buds. Those bumps are called lingual papillae and they contain many taste buds each. Individual taste buds are too small to see with the naked eye. Lingual papillae come in four different types: filiform, fungiform, foliate, and vallate. They serve slightly different purposes, but all types except for the fungiform ones contain taste buds.

Tying this back to oral health, the difficulty with the bumps on our tongues is that they make a rough texture where bacteria love to hide. When we let it build up, it can give us a lingering bad taste in our mouth and make our breath very sour. What’s more, it can actually dull our sense of taste! This is why it’s so important to clean our tongues every day, and the best tool for the job is a tongue-scraper, not just a quick scrub with your toothbrush.

4. Guess Which Group of Muscles Doesn’t Need Bones to Move

The tongue! It’s the only muscle group we have that doesn’t rely on the skeleton to move, and it has an amazing range of motion. The tongue can curl, uncurl, lengthen, shorten, and some people can even roll theirs. If it couldn’t do all of this, we’d have trouble eating and speaking! The tongue is composed of eight muscles, four of which are intrinsic (the ones that form the tongue itself) and four of which are extrinsic (the ones that attach the tongue to the throat and mouth).

5. The Incredible Stamina of the Tongue

There’s a myth that the tongue is the strongest muscle in the body, and while that one isn’t true, the tongue does have incredible stamina. It has many built-in redundancy systems thanks to being made up of eight different muscles working together, so it doesn’t really get tired after a workout.

6. Our Adult Teeth Start Developing Before We’re Born

As early as six weeks into the development of a fetus, the baby teeth begin developing, and it only takes another six weeks before the adult teeth follow suit. It takes many more months for the baby teeth to finish forming under the gums and years for the adult teeth to become fully formed, but isn’t it wild how early that process starts?

Share Your Weird Mouth Trivia With Us!

As dental health professionals, we love mouth facts, even if that’s not always the most popular trivia category at parties. We’d love to hear any weird mouth facts that you know the next time you come in for a dental exam!

The most important fact: we have the best patients!

 

Disclaimer: the content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

Your Child’s Toothbrush

April 25th, 2022

THESE DAYS, THERE are so many toothbrushes to choose from that it’s hard to find the right one for ourselves, let alone our kids. It’s not as simple as just picking one, because not all children’s toothbrushes are created equal. Let’s go over a few of the factors to consider when searching for the perfect toothbrush for your child.

The Experts on Toothbrushes

Our top goal as dentists who work with young patients is to provide better dental care for families, which includes knowing which toothbrushes will be most helpful for children who are learning how to take care of their own teeth. Here’s a handy guide that can help you navigate the toothbrush aisle the next time you need to replace a toothbrush (which should be every few months — certainly by the time the bristles look bent).

Electric Versus Manual

The first big question you might be asking is whether to get a manual toothbrush or an electric one for your child. While both types of toothbrushes have the same capacity to clean teeth, with recent studies showing that electric toothbrushes remove as much plaque as manual toothbrushes, electric toothbrushes might be the better choice for some kids.

A child with a tendency to brush too hard, who has limited dexterity, who needs help getting to their molars, or who has special needs and difficulties may be more effective brushing with an electric toothbrush. If your child is great at brushing and wouldn’t benefit in this way, a manual toothbrush will be just great for them!

Search for the ADA Seal of Acceptance

A good way to narrow down the pool of toothbrushes to choose from is to only look for toothbrushes with the American Dental Association’s Seal of Acceptance. The Seal is awarded to toothbrushes every year by the ADA’s Council on Scientific Affairs, supported by a team of more than 750 leading scientists in fields like microbiology, pharmacology, toxicology, and chemistry. You know you can trust an ADA-approved toothbrush!

Bristle Hardness

This one might seem a little counterintuitive. We tend to think that firm bristles mean more effective scrubbing. However, we’re not trying to scrub out tile grout when we clean our teeth; teeth and gum tissue can be damaged by overbrushing, particularly with hard bristles. This is why we recommend soft-bristled brushes to our patients, especially for young children. Soft bristles are better for gums but still effective against plaque and food debris.

Toothbrush Size

It’s important to find a toothbrush that fits your child’s hand and mouth. They won’t be able to brush effectively with something too big, so make sure it’s a child-sized brush. A non-slip grip might also be a good idea if they have a tendency to drop their toothbrush.

Help your child brush for two minutes with this catchy toothbrush song:

 

Disclaimer:

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

 

Training a Generation of Flossing Masters

April 11th, 2022

NEXT TO BRUSHING, the best tool we have for preventing tooth decay and gum disease is daily flossing, which is why it’s important to help our kids develop a flossing habit early on. Here are some great tips for parents with kids who are learning how to floss:

1. Explain what flossing does for their teeth. They will be more motivated to floss if they understand why it’s important.
2. Help them see flossing as one of the coveted Big Kid skills, like tying their shoes or riding a bike without training wheels. They’ll be excited to prove how grown up they are by flossing.
3. If using traditional floss, demonstrate pulling out the right amount (about eighteen inches) and loosely wrapping it around their middle fingers, with just an inch or two left in the middle to slide between teeth.
4. Help them get the hang of good flossing technique. Use a back-and-forth motion and form a C-shape around a tooth to slide the floss down to the gums without snapping. Flossing should be gentle, not painful!
5. Show them how to move the floss along so they’re using clean floss for each tooth. The point is to get rid of plaque, not just move it around!
6. If traditional floss is too challenging, use floss picks or flossers instead.

Disclaimer:

The content on this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of qualified health providers with questions you may have regarding medical conditions.

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