5 Ways to Care for Your Mouth When You’re Sick

5 Ways to Care for Your Mouth When You’re Sick

When you have a cold or the flu, taking care of your body is your top priority and that includes your mouth.
Here are some simple ways to care for your dental health when you’re not feeling well:
Practice Good Hygiene

When you’re sick, you know to cover your mouth when you cough and sneeze. Don’t forget to keep up your dental and toothbrush hygiene as well.

According to the Center for Chronic Disease, the flu virus can live on moist surfaces for 72 hours. The number one rule is not to share your toothbrush anytime, especially when you are sick.
You also probably don’t need to replace your toothbrush after you’ve been sick. Unless your immune system is severely compromised, the chances of reinfecting yourself are very low. But if you’re still in doubt, throw it out. Especially if you’ve had your toothbrush for 3-4 months then it’s time to replace it anyway.

Choose Sugar-Free Cough Drops

Read the label before you pick up a bag at the drugstore intending to avoid ingredients like fructose or corn syrup. Many cough drops contain sugar, and it is like sucking on candy. Sugar is a culprit when it comes to cavities. The longer you keep a sugary cough drop in your mouth, the more time cavity-causing bacteria has to feast on that sugar, which produces the acid that can weaken tooth enamel and cause cavities and decay.
Swish and Spit After Vomiting

One unfortunate side effect of the stomach flu, among other illnesses, is vomiting. You might be tempted to brush your teeth right away, but it’s better to wait. When you vomit, stomach acids are coming in contact with your teeth and coating them. If you brush too soon, you’re just rubbing that acid all over the hard outer shell of your teeth.

Instead, swish with water, a diluted mouth rinse or a mixture of water and 1 tsp. baking soda to help wash the acid away. Spit, and brush about 30 minutes later.

Stay Hydrated to Avoid Dry Mouth

When you’re sick, you need plenty of fluids for many reasons. One is to prevent dry mouth. Not only is it uncomfortable, but dry mouth can also put you at greater risk for cavities. The medications you might be taking for a cold or flu, such as antihistamines, decongestants or pain relievers can also dry out your mouth, so drink plenty of water and suck on sugarless cough drops, throat lozenges or candies to keep that saliva flowing.

Choose the Right Fluids

The safest thing to drink is water. Sports drinks might be recommended to replenish electrolytes when you’re sick, but drink them in moderation and don’t make them a habit after you’ve recovered because unless they are a sugar-free version, they contain a lot of sugar.

You might also want something to warm you up. When you have a cold or the flu, you may want something comforting to get through it, like tea. Try not to add sugar or lemon. Sugar can help to fuel cavity-causing bacteria, and lemon is acidic. It’s something to keep in mind once you’re feeling a 100% again, as well.

Dental Tips During Pregnancy

Dental Tips During Pregnancy

Did you know that a baby’s teeth begin to develop between the third and sixth months of pregnancy? That’s why making smart food choices early in pregnancy can help set your child up for healthy teeth throughout their lives. During your pregnancy, a sufficient quantity of nutrients especially vitamins A, C, and D, protein, calcium and phosphorus are needed.

To assist you in making healthy eating choices, the National Maternal and Child Oral Health Policy Center have compiled this list of tips to follow during pregnancy:

• Eat a variety of healthy foods, such as fruits, vegetables, whole-grain products such as cereals, bread and dairy products like milk, cheese, cottage cheese or unsweetened yogurt.

• Eat fewer foods high in sugar, including candy, cookies, cake, and dried fruit and drink fewer beverages high in sugar including juice, fruit-flavored drinks, soft drinks.

• For snacks, choose foods low in sugar such as fruits, vegetables, cheese, and unsweetened yogurt.

• Read food labels so you can choose foods lower in sugar.

• If you have trouble with nausea, try eating small amounts of healthy foods throughout the day.

• Drink water or milk instead of juice, fruit-flavored drinks or soft drinks.

• Drink water throughout the day, especially between meals and snacks. Drink fluoridated water (via a community fluoridated water source) or if you prefer bottled water, drink water that contains fluoride.

• To reduce the risk of birth defects, get 600 micrograms of folic acid each day throughout your pregnancy. Take a dietary supplement of folic acid and eat foods high in folate and foods fortified with folic acid, including:

o Asparagus, broccoli and leafy green vegetables such as lettuce and spinach
o Legumes (beans, peas, lentils)
o Papaya, tomato juice, oranges or orange juice, strawberries, cantaloupe and bananas
o Grain products fortified with folic acid (bread, cereals, cornmeal, flour, pasta, white rice.)

6 Tips for Cavity-Free Holidays

6 Tips for Cavity-Free Holidays

Timing matters-

Saliva production increases during meals and helps cancel out acids produced by bacteria in your mouth and also helps rinse away food particles. If you like sweets and other sugary foods, eat them with meals or shortly after mealtime.

Be picky if it’s sticky-

When it comes to picking healthy snacks, many people put dried fruit at the top of the list. But many dried fruits are sticky and sticky foods tend to stay on the teeth longer than other types of food. If you find yourself eating a lot of dried fruits such as cranberries or raisins, make sure to rinse your mouth with water and brush carefully.

Limit your alcohol intake-

Try to drink a lot of water alongside your alcoholic drinks. And remember: Too much alcohol can dry out your mouth.

Take it easy on the hard candies-

Some candies are more problematic than others. Hard candies can put your teeth at risk because, in addition to being full of sugar, they are also known to cause broken or chipped teeth. (Be careful not to break or chip your teeth when eating nuts as well!)

Watch out for starchy foods-

These are sneaky because they often get trapped in your teeth. If you choose to indulge in chips and cakes, take extra care when you floss that day to remove all the food particles that can lead to plaque build-up.

You can still have fun-

So, what can you eat? Lots of stuff! Prioritize lean protein, such as lean beef, skinless poultry and fish. Make sure to vary your diet. Eat whole grains and choose low-fat or fat-free dairy foods. The holidays are a great time of year to start thinking about healthy habits. If you do snack, make it a nutritious choice such as cheese, yogurt, fruits, and vegetables for your overall health and the health of your teeth.

Everything you Need to Know About Scaling and Root Planing

Everything you Need to Know About Scaling and Root Planing

Scaling and Root Planing is a process of deep cleaning below the gumline that helps to treat gum disease.

Why Do You Need It?

Gum disease is caused by a sticky film of bacteria known as plaque. Plaque is always forming on your teeth. However, if they aren’t cleaned well the bacteria in plaque will cause your gums to become inflamed. When this happens, your gums will pull away from your teeth and form gaps known as pockets. Plaque then gets trapped in these pockets and can’t be removed with regular brushing. If untreated, gum disease may lead to bone and tooth loss.

If gum disease is caught early and hasn’t caused any damage to the structures below the gum line, professional cleaning is needed. If the pockets between your gums and teeth are too deep, scaling and root planing might be required.

What Happens During Scaling and Root Planing?

This deep cleaning process has 2 components. Scaling is when your dentist removes all the plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) on top of and below the gumline. Your dentist can then begin root planing, smoothing out your teeth roots to assist your gums to reattach to your teeth. Scaling and Root Planing could take more than one visit to complete and may require a local anesthetic.

After Care Tips

After a deep cleaning, you may have sensitivity in your teeth and gums for a couple of days up to a week. Additionally, your gums could also be swollen, feel tender and bleed. To prevent infection and control pain or assist you to heal, your dentist can prescribe a pill or mouth rinse. Your dentist may also insert medication directly into the pocket that was cleaned. Your dentist can schedule a follow-up visit to see how your gums have healed and measure the depth of your pockets. Good dental care is essential to help keep gum disease from becoming serious or reoccur. Brush your teeth twice a day with a soft brush, clean between your teeth daily, follow your diet, avoid using tobacco and visit your dentist often.

Top 5 Risk Factors for Oral Cancer

It's estimated that over 51,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer and cancers of the throat, tonsils, and back of the tongue each year.

It’s estimated that over 51,000 people will be diagnosed with oral cancer and cancers of the throat, tonsils, and back of the tongue each year. A dentist can check for symptoms of oral cancer during a scheduled check-up. Early detection of such cancers is beneficial for treatment, but you should also know the risk factors and habits that might put you at risk. Changing a few potentially harmful habits may help reduce your chances of developing oral cancer. Read on to find out the top risk factors.

Human Papillomavirus (HPV)

The sexually transmitted disease is now associated with around 9,000 cases of head and neck cancer (explicitly those happening at the back of the tongue, in or around the tonsils) diagnosed every year in the United States according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). People who are diagnosed with HPV related cancer tend to be young and non-smokers. People with HPV positive cancer have a lower risk of death or recurrence even though these cancers are often diagnosed at a later stage because it develops in difficult-to-detect areas.
Gender
Men are twice as likely to get oral cancer. The American Cancer Society attributes this to higher rates of liquor and tobacco use by men and more men of younger age are being diagnosed with HPV related form of oral cancer.

Age

Most people who are diagnosed with oral cancer are 55 or older. However, according to the American Cancer Society HPV related oral cancers are now being diagnosed in younger people as well.

Tobacco

Whether you smoke it or chew tobacco, it drastically increases your risk for oral cancer. Smoking can cause oral cancer, as well as cancer in other parts of the body. Pipe smokers are also at a higher risk of developing cancer in their lips. Smokeless tobacco, like chew, can lead to numerous issues in your mouth, the most serious being cancer of the cheeks, gums, and lips.

Alcohol

According to the American Cancer Society, 7 of 10 oral cancer patients are heavy drinkers. Heavy drinking, as characterized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), is an average of two drinks per day or more for men and an average of more than one drink daily for women. If you are a heavy drinker and a heavy smoker, your chances of developing oral cancer significantly.

5 Questions to ask at your child’s Back-to-School dental visit

5 Questions to ask at your child’s Back-to-School dental visit

Some schools require a back-to-school dental exam and this is a good time to plan one of your child’s dental visits. A back-to-school dental visit will help to spot and deal with dental issues so your child doesn’t need to miss classes once school begins. This is also a good time to refocus on your child’s dental habits which may have fallen away during the summer.

Here are a few questions to ask at your child’s dental appointment:

How Is My Child’s Overall Dental Health?

The dentist will be looking at the big picture of your child’s mouth, including teeth and gums. The dentist will check to ensure that the teeth are lining up correctly, the child’s bite is in good shape and watch out for any orthodontic issues that may appear later.

Will My Child Get a Cleaning Today?

Back-to-school is a great time to get a cleaning to make up for those times that your kids might have forgotten to use their toothbrush while busy with summer camps and activities. However, a professional cleaning is an absolute necessity, no matter how well your kid brushes. Even if you brush twice a day it’s not possible to get rid of all the bacteria that can lead to cavities. That’s why professional cleaning goes a long way. It expels a greater amount of cavity-causing bacteria, helps to keep gum tissues healthy, and keeps your smile bright.

Does My Child Need an X-Ray?

X-rays help your dentist understand how your child’s teeth are growing and ensure the tooth roots are healthy. They are also used to check whether there is any tooth decay between the child’s teeth. The decay process can advance quickly, so the earlier it is caught the better.

Can You Check My Child’s Mouthguard?

If your child plays sports, make sure to bring their mouthguard along so the dentist can check for wear, tear, and fit. If the child is having a growth spurt, losing teeth and getting new ones, the mouthguard might need to be replaced.

What Are Sealants and Does My Child Need Them?

Sealants can be another way to keep your child from getting cavities (but they are no replacement for regular brushing and flossing!). A sealant is a thin defensive coating (made from safe dental materials) that your dentist can place on the chewing surfaces of your child’s permanent back teeth (called molars). Once they’re on, sealants work to keep cavity-causing bacteria and bits of food from settling into the nooks and crannies your child’s toothbrush can’t reach. This helps stop cavities from forming and prevents tiny existing spots of decay from getting worse.

Having sealants on your permanent molars reduces the risk of cavities by 80%. It’s best to get sealants as soon as your child’s permanent molars come through their gums (usually around age 6, then again around age 12). When permanent molars start coming in, parents should ask if sealants are recommended. Most sealants last for years, and the child’s dentist will make sure they’re holding strong at every regular visit.

Safest Halloween Treats for Braces

Halloween teens

This Halloween season is just like any other — packed with costume preparations, decorating with ghosts and pumpkins, and preparing for a night of trick-or-treating. At our dental office in Middletown, we love all the fun that Halloween brings to our patients and neighbors. But as you may have guessed, we do have some insight on the best treats. In celebration of both Halloween and National Orthodontic Month, we decided to take a different approach to talking about Halloween candy this year and are catering our top choices for braces wearers.

If you have braces, have a child who has braces, or have had braces in the past, you’re well aware that there are some guidelines to what you can safely eat and what’s best to avoid. These guidelines don’t go away for the holidays, unfortunately. But don’t worry, there are still plenty of delicious treats that are safe for braces.

Safe Candy for Braces

When it comes to selecting candy that’s safe for braces, consider if the texture of the treats is sticky, chewy, or hard. If you can label a candy as any of those, it’s best to choose another option. Candy that’s too hard can break brackets whereas sticky and chewy sweets can bend wires. Neither is ideal for successful orthodontic treatment.

The best candy for those with braces are ones that are easy to bite and chew and aren’t sticky. Some safe options include:  

  • 3 Musketeers
  • Peanut Butter Cups
  • Peppermint Patties
  • Milky Way
  • Crunch Bar/Krackel Bar
  • Pure Chocolate Bars

Worst Candy for Braces

Now that you know of some safe, yet yummy, Halloween candy options for those with braces, it’s important to also take a look at some that aren’t so great. The following treats are best avoided to reduce the chance of damage to brackets or wires:

  • Hard Candy
  • Gum
  • Caramels
  • Jelly Beans
  • Nuts or anything containing nuts

The team at our Middletown dental office hopes all of our patients and neighbors have a safe and happy Halloween!  

5 Vitamins & Minerals for a Healthy Smile

Vitamins

Vitamins and minerals are essential for a healthy body. But did you know that some are more important for your dental health than others? At our dental offices in Kettering and Middletown, we want to make sure all of our patients know which vitamins and minerals are needed to ensure healthy gums and teeth.

  • Vitamin A. This vitamin helps build a strong immune system, so it’s obvious why it’s important to whole-body health. When it comes to its importance in oral health, our focus is more on its ability to support saliva production. Saliva helps rid the mouth of bacteria and wash it away. Some foods rich in vitamin A include fish, egg yolks, and orange and yellow foods.
  • B Vitamins. Found mostly in meat, poultry, and green vegetables, B vitamins help reduce inflammation. An adequate amount of B vitamins can aid in keeping canker sores away.
  • Vitamin C. Also a immune system supporter, vitamin C keeps gums healthy. Not getting enough of it can lead to bleeding or inflammation of the gum tissue. Those who may be lacking vitamin C are at greater risk for developing gum disease. Eat broccoli, citrus fruits, and kale to get your dose.
  • Calcium. Calcium helps build strong bones, including your jaw bone. Getting enough calcium can help keep teeth strong and sturdy. Some foods high in calcium are dairy products, cauliflower, and almonds.
  • Vitamin D. Without vitamin D, all that calcium you’ve tried so hard to get won’t be absorbed, so make sure you’re getting both. Find it in milk or fortified cereals, or of course, soak it up with some sun rays.

Usually vitamins and minerals are received through the foods we eat, but sometimes we may just not be getting enough. Although we try our best to balance our diet and follow the food pyramid, sometimes life gets in the way of always eating a healthy meal. When this happens, taking a vitamin or mineral supplement may help. We encourage you to consult your physician before beginning any vitamin regimen.

Besides eating well and ensuring you’re getting all the necessary vitamins and minerals crucial for optimal oral health, maintaining regular dental checkups is also incredibly important. If it’s been awhile since you’ve been to a dentist, give our dental office in Kettering or Middletown, a call to schedule an appointment today. We’ll be happy to see you!